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30 Apr 2002 : Column WA81

Written Answers

Tuesday, 30th April 2002.

[The first Written Answer should have been printed in the Official Report of Thursday, 25th April.]

UK Population and Parliamentary Electors

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the population of the United Kingdom at the time of the last general election; and what percentage of that population was eligible to vote. [HL3804]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Data supplied by the Government Actuary's Department give the estimated population of the United Kingdom on 30 June 2001 as 59,987,000. This includes children, foreign nationals and other persons not entitled to vote here. The total number of persons registered as parliamentary electors and thereby eligible to vote on 7 June 2001, including those on the overseas electors list, was 44,403,238.

Labour Voters

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What percentage of the electorate voted Labour at the last general election. [HL3803]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The table below sets out the number of votes and the percentage of the total electorate who voted for all parties represented in the House of Commons at the last general election. No other party received more than 166,500 votes—0.38 per cent of the total electorate. From this it can be seen that 10,724,953 electors voted for candidates representing the Labour Party out of a total electorate of 44,407,238. This represents 24.15 per cent.

Party:Votes*Percentage of total electorate
Liberal Democrats4,814,32110.84
Ulster Unionist216,8390.48
Plaid Cymru195,8930.44
Sinn Fein175,9330.40
Kidderminster HHC28,4870.06


* Taken from Table 3 in Election 2001: The Official Results published by the Electoral Commission


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Paddington Tube Station: 18 April Closure

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the closure of Paddington Station on 18 April arises from any factor within their responsibility.[HL3886]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Paddington mainline rail station was not closed on 18 April. Paddington Tube station (Circle and District Lines) was closed that day from 09:00 for 50 minutes due to a fire alarm in "Hotel Reservation".


Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Galileo is to be compatible with the United States global positioning system; and, if so, what action is being taken to ensure that this is so.[HL3944]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Transport Council of the European Union at its meeting on 26 March reiterated the need for Galileo to be interoperable with the global positioning system (GPS). The Council intends that this should be achieved through a co-operation agreement between the European Union and the United States. The UK is participating in the negotiations on the agreement and will continue to press within the EU for this outcome. Additionally, the UK will contribute to the technical work of the Galileo development and validation phase with the objective of ensuring that the systems are interoperable.

Lord Rotherwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking with regard to the United States' concerns about the security implications of Galileo.[HL3945]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: In discussions within the European Union for the Transport Council on 26 March, we ensured that the US concerns, which the UK shared, were taken into account. It is our intention to continue to work within the EU and in the negotiations with the US to ensure that the security implications of Galileo are considered in full and that a solution acceptable to the UK, the EU and the US is concluded.

Postal Votes

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have yet come to a view on the desirability of introducing, in addition to the list of postal votes issued, a register, open to inspection by the public, of electors whose postal votes have been returned.[HL3951]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: We are considering the responses received to our consultation paper on recording the return of postal ballot papers and intend to announce our conclusions shortly. Rebo

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their view on the desirability or otherwise of political parties or candidates encouraging electors to apply for postal votes to be sent to a common address, at which they are not residing either permanently or temporarily during the election, such as a party headquarters, a candidate's committee room or the home of a candidate or party officer or known activist; and whether the legislation was intended to allow this to happen; and[HL3952]

    Whether returning officers are permitted to exercise discretion over whether to send a ballot paper to an address which is not that of the elector if they have grounds for suspicion that sending a ballot paper to such an address may lead to the fraudulent use of that ballot paper.[HL3953]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: It is for each elector who applies for a postal vote to decide the address to which the voting papers should be sent. We expect electors to choose the address that they consider to be the most convenient and secure for the receipt of the papers. If an electoral registration officer (ERO) or an acting returning officer (ARO) has a suspicion of electoral fraud, it is for them to notify the police. Where an application meets the statutory requirements, it must be accepted, and, where practicable, the ERO will confirm the arrangements by notifying the elector. Once these arrangements are in place, the ARO has no discretion to disregard them.

Speed Cameras

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give consideration to placing speed limit signs alongside speed camera signs in order to remind drivers of the speed at which they should be driving.[HL3967]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: New visibility rules for those areas participating in the safety camera netting-off scheme were announced on 3 December 2001. One of these rules is for camera warning and speed limit reminder signs to be placed in advance of camera sites. Those areas remaining outside the new funding system will be issued guidance that will closely follow that for the netting-off scheme. Rebo

Airline Passengers

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 11 April (WA 125)

    (a) to what extent health issues were taken into account alongside safety considerations for the proposed new seat sizes for airline passengers;

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    (b) whether there should be more generous minima for long-haul flights;

    (c) to the extent that minimum seat space is intended to facilitate sufficiently speedy emergency evacuation, whether the new proposals will be tested by people who not only represent a realistic cross-section of likely passengers in terms of both age and general fitness but also have been subjected to simulated flight conditions for several hours; and

    (d) whether the definitions of seat size to be discussed with representatives from the industry and consumer groups will, as recommended by the Select Committee for Science and Technology in its 5th Report, Session 1999–2000, HL Paper 121, take account of reductions in space from the seat in front being reclined, from material in seat-back pockets and from fold-down tables.[HL3983]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: (a) The seat spacing proposals in the CAA-sponsored ICE Ergonomics research were based primarily on emergency evacuation requirements. ICE Ergonomics were additionally asked to consider the medical aspects of long-term sitting and the scope for addressing this within the minimum seat spacing requirements. The report concluded that there was a lack of prospective, controlled data and that the contribution of seat design and spacing to the development of thromboembolic disease was not yet known.

(b) Any decision to increase the safety-based minima on UK aircraft on long-haul flights would be a matter for the CAA.

There is currently no evidence to justify an increase in the minima on long-haul flights on the grounds of health. On the basis of our current understanding of travel-related DVT, it is immobility that presents the most significant risk factor and this issue is addressed in the advice on DVT published by the Department of Health. Our present plans for further research on DVT incorporate an assessment of whether there are elements specific to the aircraft environment that can also increase the risk of DVT, including seat spacing on long-haul flights.

(c) Validation of the findings from the ICE Ergonomics research is a matter for the Joint Aviation Authorities to take forward. Any passenger trials would almost certainly involve a cross-section of the public, including age and general fitness. While the effects of sitting for several hours could be embodied within such testing, it would not be possible to do so under conditions that truly simulated the atmospheric and environmental conditions that exist in the flying environment.

(d) There are a number of factors that affect the amount of space and the degree of comfort afforded by any given seat on an aircraft, including the position of the seat in front, the design and construction of the seat itself and the build of the occupant. In addition, different seats on the same aircraft can have different seat pitch or seat width. It is difficult to include all the

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relevant variables within a single set of measurements without compromising the clarity of the information. The work the department is currently undertaking on a definition of seat size, and on which it is consulting interested parties, aims to provide passengers with a consistent and straightforward basis on which to make comparisons when terms such as "seat pitch" and "seat width" are used.Rebo

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