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Armed Forces Pension Scheme

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Bach: Where the Government have introduced unmarried partners benefits for death due to service in the existing Armed Forces pension schemes and for all deaths in the future pension and compensation schemes, the eligibility criteria and treatment are and will be identical for heterosexual and homosexual unmarried partners.

Saltley Area Resignalling Project

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the new platforms at the renovated Moor Street station, Birmingham, will be connected to the Birmingham to Marylebone main line. [HL4404]

Lord Davies of Oldham: Network Rail advises that the work required forms part of the wider Saltley area resignalling project due to be completed in 2006.

Bus Lanes: Camera Enforcement

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Macdonald of Tradeston on 16 January (WA 51) stating that they hoped to make the relevant regulations to introduce camera enforcement of bus lanes outside London within the next few weeks, whether these regulations have yet been published; if so, on what date; and, if not, when they will be published. [HL4333]

Lord Davies of Oldham: Section 144 of the Transport Act 2000 provides general enabling powers for local authorities outside London to enforce bus lanes. The work on preparation of the regulations including resolving relevant legal points has taken longer than expected but the Department for Transport and the Department for Constitutional Affairs hope to be able to make the relevant regulations later this year.

Airport Arrivals

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many arrivals from all destinations at (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick and (c) Manchester there have been in the last three years for which figures are available.[HL4518]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The available information is as follows:

Passenger arrivals and departures(1): millions



Civil Aviation Authority

(1) Passengers joining or leaving an aircraft at the airport shown. Published CAA figures do not separately identify arrivals or departures.

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Cycling Offences

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is illegal for cyclists to (a) cross junctions whilst traffic lights are red, (b) cycle without lights after lighting up time, (c) cycle on a pedestrian pavement, or (d) proceed down a one-way street in a prohibited direction; and, if any of the above are offences, how many successful prosecutions there were in the Greater London area in 2002 in respect of each offence.[HL4520]

Lord Davies of Oldham: I can confirm that the manoeuvres by a bicycle referred to are illegal.

The available information on successful prosecutions in Greater London is contained in the table below:

Persons(1) proceeded against and those found guilty for offences connected with pedal cycles, Greater London 2001

Offence descriptionPersons proceeded againstPersons found guilty
Neglect of traffic directions and signs (including traffic light signals and one way streets)22
Lighting and reflector offences (all types)22
Riding on footpath (including pavement)119

(1) Principal offence basis.

Biofuels for Road Transport

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps would have to be taken to enable the United Kingdom to meet the 2005 and 2010 European Union targets for biofuels for road transport. [HL4562]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Biofuels Directive requires member states to set their own indicative targets for sales of biofuels for road transport in 2005 and 2010. The Government will be consulting early next year on possible targets for the UK and on what steps it might take to meet them.

Channel Tunnel Rail Link

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Strategic Rail Authority is seeking proposals for through passenger rail services on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link to serve Dover and Folkestone; and [HL4572]

    What risk assessment has been made of the operation of higher speed trains on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link in respect of Shakespeare Cliff tunnel; and whether they will place a copy of such work in the Library of the House; and [HL4573]

    What discussions have taken place between train manufacturers and the Strategic Rail Authority concerning the manufacture of passenger rolling stock suitable for operating on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link and Shakespeare Cliff tunnel; and what conclusions have been reached. [HL4574]

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Lord Davies of Oldham: The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) consulted earlier this year on options for Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) services to a variety of destinations including Folkestone and Dover. The authority is now assessing these in the context of an integrated Kent franchise which would combine CTRL domestic and other Kent services. It expects to hold a further public consultation shortly.

The possibility of building end doors or escape hatches into the trains to allow emergency evacuation in Shakespeare Tunnel has been discussed with manufacturers. But this needs to be reconciled with structural safety requirements and air pressure pulses associated with high speed running and a satisfactory solution has yet to be identified. The SRA nevertheless continues to work with the industry and, subject to a way forward being identified, Dover remains a possible destination for CTRL domestic services.

The operation of CTRL domestic services nevertheless remains dependent on the approval of a satisfactory business case within the SRA's affordability constraints.

Communications Interceptions

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What legal restraints apply to the taped recording of telephone or other conversations without the recorded consent of the persons being recorded; and, where consent is given, to any subsequent editing of the recording; and[HL4259]

    Whether the taped conversation with the late Dr David Kelly reported to the Hutton inquiry was recorded with Dr Kelly's consent; and if so, whether the consent was also recorded.[HL4258]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): There are circumstances in which it can be lawful to record communications between third parties, or for one party to a private conversation to record a conversation with another person or persons without their knowledge. Depending on the precise circumstances, such recording might be covered by, among others, the Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

The circumstances of the recording which was submitted as evidence to Lord Hutton's inquiry are not a matter for the Government.

Civil Courts

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What reductions have been made to the "modernising the civil courts programme" during the three years to April 2003, as a result of the rejection of the funding bid by HM Treasury last year.[HL4323]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): The Court Service announed its plans to modernise the civil and family courts in a report published May 2002. That report made it clear that the ambitious scope of the programme would require some additional funding from central funds. In the event these funds were not allocated as part of the 2002 spending review. Government investment focused on the Crown Court in recognition of its role in the criminal justice system.

This decision had no impact on plans during the three years to April 2003, but will have an impact on the speed at which the modernisation programme can be implemented. We remain committed to modernising the civil and family courts and will push ahead with our plans to introduce modern IT-based services for all court users.

This will include developing new online services to complement our highly successful Money Claim Online service, installing a new IT infrastructure in a wide number of courts, opening the courts up to email services, and continuing to improve the IT services provided to the judiciary.

Northern Ireland: Legal Aid

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the basis for offering legal aid in Northern Ireland differs from that in England; and, if so, how and why. [HL4385]

Lord Filkin: Legal aid in Northern Ireland is currently provided under the Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance (Northern Ireland) Order 1981. The basis for offering legal aid in Northern Ireland under the 1981 order is broadly similar to the position in England and Wales under the Legal Aid Act 1988. Criminal legal aid is provided on the same basis in the two jurisdictions: that is whether it is in the interests of justice that the defendant is given legal aid. Civil legal aid is provided in Northern Ireland against a statutory test of whether there are reasonable grounds for bringing, defending or being a party to an action: whereas in England a funding code applies which sets out different tests for different categories of case.

The Access to Justice (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 establishes the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission, which will assume responsibility for the administration of legal aid on 1 November 2003. The commission will consider how to reform the delivery of publicly funded legal services in Northern Ireland in a manner which is consistent with the needs of the users of those services and the legal services culture in Northern Ireland. Specifically the commission will bring forward a new Northern Ireland funding code to set out grounds against where legal aid will be available for civil actions.

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