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7 May 2003 : Column WA139

Written Answers

Wednesday, 7th May 2003.

Northern Ireland: Paramilitary Intimidation

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will lay before both Houses a monthly report recording the number of individuals and families forced by paramilitary organisations to leave Northern Ireland and to go into exile; and listing the number of attacks carried out by such groups; and recording which factions are responsible where that is known. [HL2255]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): From 1 April 2002 to 31 March this year, there have been 300 paramilitary style attacks (137 assaults and 163 shootings). The police do not hold statistics on the number of persons forced to leave Northern Ireland through paramilitary intimidation.

The Northern Ireland Office has recently been liaising with representatives of the Maranatha Community who have considerable experience in this area, on the nature/extent of the exiles problem.

Maranatha estimates that it deals on average with one person per week. This is broadly consistent with figures published by NIACRO's Base 2: in its most recent annual report covering the calendar year 2001, it records 497 of its clients leaving home, 39 of whom left Northern Ireland.

Waterways Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Privy Seal on 2 April (WA 132), how much was spent in Northern Ireland by Waterways Ireland during the year 2002 for capital expenditure; and how much the Government contributed to Waterways Ireland. [HL2442]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Waterways Ireland spent £0.076 million in Northern Ireland during the year 2002 on capital expenditure. The total Northern Ireland drawdown by Waterways Ireland for 2002 amounted to £2.176 million.

Buxton-Matlock Rail Link: Possible Reinstatement

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What options are being considered for passenger and freight traffic in the study about the possible reopening of the Buxton-Matlock rail line; who are the study partners; how much each partner is contributing to the study; which customers, stakeholders and other groups have been consulted; and when the study results will be published.[HL2575]

7 May 2003 : Column WA140

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): A two-stage feasibility study is proposed. The first stage will develop and assess options to reinstate the link that formerly existed between Buxton and Matlock. This is expected to conclude in September 2003. If the partners agree to continue, stage two would develop the preferred option in detail. Stage two will be completed in April 2004. The breakdown of funding is illustrated in the table below. The scheme is sponsored by Derbyshire County Council who would be responsible for deciding the basis of publication.

Derbyshire County Council100,000
Buxton & High Peak District Council100,000
East Midlands Development Agency (Rural Development Agency)50,000
Objective 2RS/5B (EU funding)100,000
Peak Park Transport Forum10,000
Countryside Agency250,000
Rail Passenger Partnership scheme190,000
Total Funding800,000

Cambridgeshire: Proposed Guided Busway

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    With regard to the proposed guided busway in Cambridgeshire: (a) under what regulations it will be required to be constructed and operated; (b) whether the level crossing design and operations for guided busway across roads will differ from rail level crossings; (c) who will be responsible for installing and maintaining fencing, and to what standard; (d) whether pedestrians will be allowed to cross the guided busway at uncontrolled crossings; (e) what responsibilities the Health and Safety Executive will have for the design and operations; (f) whether the guided busway will require a safety case; and (g) what is the proposed frequency of operation of the guided buses. [HL2576]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: Cambridgeshire County Council is still developing the technical details of the proposed Cambridge Rapid Transit System, with a view to applying in due course to the Secretary of State for an order under the Transport and Works Act 1992 (the TWA). Such an order, if made, could contain the legal powers necessary for the construction and operation of the proposed guided busway.

Rail Franchise Operators: Inter-available Ticketing

Viscount Astor asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which mainline rail franchise route operators do not operate inter-available ticketing. [HL2587]

7 May 2003 : Column WA141

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: National Express Group PLC's Gatwick Express, operating on the London-Gatwick airport corridor, is the only franchise operator exempted from having to operate a compulsory inter-available ticketing regime.

Train Operating Companies: Penalty Fares

Viscount Astor asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider it is of benefit to the consumer that South Central and Thameslink trains charge penalty fares and Gatwick Express do not. [HL2588]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: Train operating companies are free to choose whether or not to charge penalty fares as a means of controlling ticketless travel. The charging of penalty fares is governed by regulations under the Railways Act 1993 as amended by the Transport Act 2000.

Road Safety Warning Signs: Nocton Incident

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 22 April 2002 (WA 10), whether British Transport Police and Lincolnshire Police have completed their investigation on the incident of a car attempting to drive over a non-existent railway bridge at Nocton; and whether the Health and Safety Executive has made a decision about prosecuting Lincolnshire County Council for failing to provide warning signs about the non-existence of the bridge. [HL2644]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: A joint investigation between the British Transport Police and the Lincolnshire Police resulted in an advice file being submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who, after receiving advice from independent counsel, concluded that there was insufficient evidence for criminal proceedings. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does not intend to prosecute Lincolnshire County Council for failing to provide warning signs near the bridge at Nocton because in this case, as in most other road traffic accidents, investigation is undertaken by the police and any prosecution by the CPS, not the HSE.

Birth Rate Plus

Baroness Cumberlege asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are monitoring Birth Rate Plus; and, if so, which National Health Service trusts show a deficit in the number of qualified midwives, as measured by using Birth Rate Plus, and by how many full-time equivalent posts. [HL2578]

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Baroness Andrews: Birth Rate Plus is a tool developed for use by individual units and trusts. The use of Birth Rate Plus is not centrally monitored by the Department of Health.


Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all staff working in the National Health Service are trained on what to do in the event of an asthma attack; and[HL2590]

    When high quality treatment, care and information from asthma-trained health professionals will be available to all 5.1 million people with asthma in the United Kingdom regardless of their postcode.[HL2589]

Baroness Andrews: Information on the training individual National Health Service staff receive is not held centrally.

For doctors, the content and standard of postgraduate medical training is the responsibility of the United Kingdom competent authorities, the Specialist Training Authority for specialist medicine and, for general practice, the Joint Committee on Postgraduate Training for General Practice. Their role is that of custodians of quality standards in postgraduate medical education and practice. They are independent of the Department of Health. In addition, the General Medical Council's Education Committee has the general function of promoting high standards of medical education and co-ordinating all stages of medical education to ensure that students and newly qualified doctors are equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes essential for professional practice.

All of these bodies have a vested interest in ensuring that doctors are equipped to deal with the problems they will encounter in practice—both in hospital and in general practice—including conditions such as asthma. It is not however practicable or desirable for the Government to prescribe the exact training that any individual doctor will receive.

Patients with asthma, their families and carers are able to access the full range of NHS services for asthma sufferers. The information, support and services an individual receives will depend on the extent and severity of asthma they have.

Under the terms of the Chronic Disease Management Programme for Asthma, general practitioners are required to prepare with the patient an individual management plan.

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