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Railtrack: Thameslink 2000 Costs

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: It is not correct that £800 million of public funds has been spent on this project;

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£800 million is Railtrack's last official estimate of the total costs of the project when completed. Whether those costs, or any revised level of costs coming out of the procurement review which Railtrack and the Strategic Rail Authority are undertaking, are incurred will depend upon the outcome of Railtrack's application for an order under the Transport and Works Act 1992. The order which, if made, would give the promoters the powers they need to carry out the work, has been the subject of a public inquiry. The inspector's report is expected in the spring of 2002 and it will then be for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to decide whether to make the order.

At this stage, any costs which Railtrack has incurred, for instance in taking the project forward to the Transport and Works Act stage, have been incurred by Railtrack in order to comply with its obligations pursuant to the Thameslink 2000 agreement. They have thus been incurred by Railtrack on its own account.

M6: Lighting

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to provide lighting to unlit sections of the M6 between junction 19 of the M1 and junction 5 of the M6; what are the estimated current costs; and what are the completion dates.[HL844]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I have asked the chief executive of the Highways Agency, Tim Matthews, to write to the noble Lord.

Letter to Lord Corbett of Castle Vale from the chief executive of the Highways Agency, dated 24 October 2001.

The Minister for Housing and Planning, Lord Falconer, has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the provision of lighting on the unlit sections of the M6 between junction 19 of the M1 and junction 5 of the M6.

The Highways Agency is responsible for the management of the motorway network, including the provision of lighting. When considering whether or not to light a particular section of motorway, the Agency is required to strike a balance between the potential benefits anticipated from reduced accidents and the capital maintenance and energy costs which would be incurred. Increasingly, account must also be taken of the results of environmental pollution from any additional lighting, particularly in rural areas where there is little or no existing light pollution. In effect, this means that lighting is only installed where there is a poor night-time accident record.

The M6 is currently lit at its junction with the M1 (Junction 19), at Junction 2 and north of Junction 4. We estimate that the cost of lighting the remaining sections would be in the region of £7 million. However, there are no plans at present to provide any additional

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lighting on this length as the accident rate is lower than on other comparable sections of unlit motorway. In the circumstances, such expenditure would be difficult to justify given that there are greater priorities elsewhere.

If you would like further information, please contact Peter Adams at our Birmingham office. He can be contacted at Broadway, Broad Street, Birmingham B15 1BL, or by telephone on 0121 678 8215.

Abandoned Vehicles

Lord Glentoran asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What they intend to do about the increasing number of vehicles abandoned by the roadside.[HL851]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government share the noble Lord's concerns about the growing problem of abandoned cars and expect to announce proposals for dealing with this problem by 31 October.

Mr Alun Evans

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 18 October, whether the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, or his special adviser, Miss Moore, were involved in any discussions or correspondence relating to the removal of Mr Alun Evans from his post prior to his removal; and if so, whether those discussions or correspondence at any point concerned Mr Bob Kiley.[HL885]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I refer the noble Baroness to my Answer to the noble Lord, Lord Peyton of Yeovil (Official Report, 18/10/01; Col. 707).

National Football Stadium

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the timetable for reaching a final decision on the site of a proposed national football stadium in England.[HL843]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): Patrick Carter is currently continuing discussions with the Football Association on the future of the national stadium project arising from the conclusions of his review of that project. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State will make an announcement on the extent of any future government role in that project once those discussions have conclued and she has discussed the issue further with both Sport England and the Football Association.

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Historical Manuscripts Commission: Annual Review 2000-01

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the annual review 2000-01 published by the Historical Manuscripts Commission.[HL830]

Baroness Blackstone: I welcome the Historical Manuscripts Commission's annual review for 2000-01. This is a valuable account of the work undertaken by the commission over the past year.

Import Inspections

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether more inspectors have been employed at ports of entry to deal with food imports coming into this country since the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and to specify the respective numbers and places at which they are deployed; and[HL134]

    When they will respond to the question for Written Answer tabled by Baroness Byford on 28 June.[HL877]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): This information is not held centrally. All products of animal origin imported from third countries into the UK must enter, and are subject to veterinary inspections, at designated UK border inspection posts (BIPs). The inspection services at the BIP are the responsibility of the local authority. Central government has no powers to instruct the local authority over the number of inspectors. However, the BIP has to be approved by the European Commission, which conducts periodic inspection missions, and which has to be satisfied that the inspection services are adequate. If they are not, the approval of the BIP may be suspended. Central government may also suspend the approval if inspection services are inadequate, reporting its action to the Commission.

Products of animal origin produced within the EU may circulate freely in the single market and are not subject to border checks. They are subject to checks at the point of destination within the UK.

In respect of food not of animal origin, the Food Standards Agency monitors general food enforcement activity by all local authorities, including port health authorities, and has recently begun a programme of audits to provide more detailed information on enforcement standards.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is co-ordinating action across government to improve our ability to detect and prevent illegal imports. Improved publicity for travellers has been introduced. Posters have been placed at main airports and information is being provided by the travel industry and FCO posts abroad. National legislation

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has been amended to make it easier for local authorities to act when illegally imported products of animal origin are found and the Food Standards Agency is encouraging local authorities to ensure that checks for illegal imports are part of their routine inspections of food premises. An improved system of sharing and analysis of information has been introduced to enable enforcement bodies to better target action. We are also looking at other ways in which enforcement of import controls may be improved.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Cost to Public Funds

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give the total cost to public funds so far of the foot and mouth epidemic, indicating separately the costs of compensation to farmers, cost of services provided by the Ministry of Defence, and the total paid to all civilian contractors.[HL656]

Lord Whitty: Unfortunately not all the information is held in the form requested. However, to date the cost of the foot and mouth epidemic for DEFRA stands at £1.567 billion (excluding the cost of the livestock welfare disposal scheme). From this amount £1.051 billion has been paid out as compensation to farmers, and £348 million has been paid out to civilian contractors.

For providing military assistance, the Ministry of Defence charges departments only for costs such as overtime, allowances and travel and subsistence which as of 31 July stood at £5.34 million. The full cost of FMD to the MoD is expected to be approximately an additional £12 million but the final figure will not be known for some time yet.

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