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Northern Ireland: Traffic Accidents

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The number of people killed as a result of a road traffic collision in the month of January in each year since 1998 is provided in the table below. Also provided are end-of-year figures for the total number of deaths in each of the previous five years.

YearNumber killedTotal number of deaths

Forensic detail for all of the collisions in 2003 is not yet available and it is difficult at this stage to say why the figures are higher than in the previous five years.

On 6 November 2002, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Angela Smith MP launched the Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy 2002–12. This document sets out the strategic objectives to improve road safety over the next decade. It seeks to promote an integrated partnership approach across the statutory road safety agencies and departments and throughout the wider community.

From a general road safety perspective, the strategy makes clear the Government's commitment to improving road safety for everyone throughout Northern Ireland. It contains 161 actions focused on the main causes of deaths and serious injuries and aims at a one-third reduction (from the average for the period 1996–2000) in the number of people killed or seriously injured on Northern Ireland's roads by 2012 and within that overall target, a 50 per cent reduction in the numbers of children killed or seriously injured.

Some of the action measures to achieve the strategic objectives are already in place, others are scheduled to be in place within the next three years and further action measures will be introduced over the following four to 10 years.

Copies of the Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy 2002–12 have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

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Questions for Written Answer

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which Minister in the Cabinet Office is responsible for supervising the answering of Questions for Written Answer, bearing in mind that of the 52 Questions which remained unanswered after the standard period of two weeks at 4 March, 11 are the responsibility of the Cabinet Office; and whether the Minister concerned will bring in outside advisers to ensure that all questions are answered within two weeks.[HL2046]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I have overall responsibility for monitoring progress in answering Questions for Written Answer in the House of Lords.

I regret the number of questions that currently remain unanswered. However, in order to provide a full and accurate reply, it is sometimes necessary to await the outcome of consultation and discussions.

It is my practice to review outstanding questions weekly with ministerial colleagues and raise any delays with the relevant Minister. I also remind them of the need, wherever possible, to respond to Written Questions within the 14-day timescale.

I continue to look at further ways of improving this performance.

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Rail Industry

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they are offering Rail Research UK £7 million to offer strategic advice to the rail industry (as reported in the Observer on 2 March); and whether this is likely to duplicate strategies which the Strategic Rail Authority is required to produce under the Transport Act 2000.[HL1973]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): Rail Research UK is being set up by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPRSC) as a centre for railway systems research and

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as part of the council's objective to support high quality research in the engineering and the physical sciences that is in tune with industry's needs.

The centre involves 12 research groups from seven UK universities and will be jointly led by the Universities of Birmingham and Southampton. It will concentrate on providing a strong engineering base for railway systems research and achieving a safer and more reliable railway whilst reducing the impact on the environment.

Rail Research UK's role will complement the statutory requirements placed upon the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) by providing evidence-based research for the development of a safer and more reliable rail system.

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