Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Fuel Tax

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: It is not possible to predict accurately the effect of such a large change on the demand for cars or lorries. Our estimates of the effect of fuel price changes on car ownership are based on past experience of much smaller changes in such costs. We make forecasts of lorry traffic but not of the numbers of lorries.

Transport and the Economy

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: Savings in shorter journey times and in the costs of operating vehicles resulting from investment in road or rail schemes are included in the department's appraisal framework for assessing transport investments.

30 Jul 2002 : Column WA174

No allowance is made for any other effects on productivity from transport investment. This question was examined by the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment (SACTRA) as part of their 1999 report Transport and the Economy. SACTRA concluded that changes in productivity across the economy, as a result of transport investment, were too complex and difficult to measure.

GM Crops: Prime Minister's Strategy Unit

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To explain the role of the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit in the public dialogue on GM crop issues.[HL5671]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The Prime Minister's Strategy Unit (formerly the Performance and Innovation Unit) will carry out an assessment of the overall costs and benefits of genetically modified (GM) crops, including their effect on conventional and organic farming interests.

People's Panel

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they plan to release the results of the final wave of research from the People's Panel.[HL5672]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The Cabinet Office will publish on Wednesday 31 July the last of three sets of results using the People's Panel that have tracked satisfaction with public services over the past four years. This rounds off the work of the panel, which has itself come to an end, as announced in January. A summary of the results will be issued on the day and full results will be made available on the Cabinet Office website. Copies will also be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Selby Road/Rail Accident Reports

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on the recommendations of the reports produced in February this year by the Health and Safety Commission and the Highways Agency following the Selby road/rail accident on 28 February 2001.[HL5732]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: Good progress is being made in implementing these recommendations. Representatives of highway authorities, railway infrastructure authorities and rail safety organisations are working with the Department for Transport on the immediate priorities. They have agreed the basis for a protocol for apportioning responsibility and costs of mitigation measures. In addition, following adoption of an initial CSS/Railtrack risk prioritisation

30 Jul 2002 : Column WA175

framework, progress is being made in developing a second stage assessment tool for sites where the risk of a road vehicle accidentally getting onto the railway is not clear cut. Progress is also being made on good practice guidance on measures to help manage risk at specific sites, the identification of the data required to be collected following incidents where road vehicles get onto railway property and the revision of barrier standards.

We are pleased to say that we are on track to complete these recommendations by spring next year.

Unfounded Asylum Applications

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are to take to deal with asylum applications that are certified to be manifestly unfounded. [HL5674]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Government continue to regard the Oakington reception centre as a cornerstone in their overall strategy for processing asylum applications as speedily and fairly as possible. It operates together with a fast-track appeals process to bring those applications determined as unfounded quickly to the point of being returnable. The Government wish to build on this process still further in cases where the asylum applicant has been certified as manifestly unfounded and is detained at the end of the Oakington process. The chief adjudicator has agreed that hearings of appeals in such cases will be listed for hearing between six and eight days after they are received by the immigration appellate authorities.

Veterinary Surgeons

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 11 July (WA 105), why veterinary surgeons on both the supplementary and the temporary lists are subject to restrictions which result in their being unavailable to assist with the eradication of a foot and mouth outbreak; whether these restrictions would also bar them from participating in actions against other highly infectious diseases; and whether the restrictions should be amended.[HL5465]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1948 established the current requirements for practice in the UK, including the requirement for all veterinary surgeons to have attended a course of study at a recognised university as a requisite for admittance to the Register of Members. The Supplementary Veterinary Register (SVR) came into force under that Act and provided for individuals, who had not

30 Jul 2002 : Column WA176

attended a course of study at a recognised university, to continue to practice in certain restricted categories of employment. Further restrictions were imposed on individuals who were registered under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, which replaced the 1948 Act. Those listed in the SVR are not members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (MRCVS) and the restrictions placed upon them preclude their being used as veterinary surgeons in FMD control and other notifiable disease control measures.

Section 7 of the 1966 Act permits a person holding a foreign veterinary qualification to practise temporarily or otherwise subject to restrictions directed by council.

It is granted in order that a person holding a foreign veterinary qualification may carry out acts of veterinary surgery in accordance with the duties of a specified position, in a specific location and who is responsible to a named MRCVS. It does not permit the temporary member to carry out any other veterinary procedure, except where that procedure would be permitted by a lay person. Such appointments are usually restricted to those in employed positions in veterinary schools and designated veterinary laboratories and research establishments or to those in full-time post-graduate education.

It does not permit the temporary member to use the letter MRCVS, nor to sign prescriptions or certification, which requires the signature of a MRCVS.

Those listed in the temporary register are not members of the RCVS and the restrictions placed upon them preclude their being eligible for employment as veterinary surgeons used in FMD control and other notifiable disease control measures.

We are in the preliminary stages of modernising the Veterinary Surgeons Act. A Meeting with the RCVS has taken place. The issue of registration was a discussion point, alongside a number of other areas of the Act. We hope to consult on the proposals later this year.

Royal Parks: Pedestrian Crossings

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why pedestrian crossings in the Royal Parks are not marked in the same way as pedestrian crossings elsewhere.[HL5503]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): Responsibility for the subject of this question has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency and I have asked its chief executive, William Weston, to reply.

30 Jul 2002 : Column WA177

Letter from the Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Agency, Mr William Weston, dated 30 July 2002.

I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport to reply to your Parliamentary Question about pedestrian crossings in the Royal Parks as this is an operational matter for which the Agency is responsible.

The Royal Parks are primarily for the quiet enjoyment of the public, with priority being given to pedestrians. As such, it is our policy to reduce the impact of traffic in the Royal parks wherever we can.

As the roads in the parks are not public highways, we are not obliged to use standard signage and road markings. Although we try and keep as close to the conventional versions as possible, we adapt road traffic features like pedestrian crossings so that they are appropriate to a park setting. This reduces the visual impact of the roads on the park landscape and makes it more obvious to drivers that they are not on an urban street.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page