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World Class Programme Lottery Grants

Lord Moynihan asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: UK Sport has made 10 de-commitments, affecting seven sports totalling over £0.5 million in the past 18 months. In the same period, there have been no significant cancellations or reductions against projections in world class programme grants by Sport England. However, Sport England has made adjustments to some sports programmes due to failing programmes.

Railway Lines:Crash Barriers on Overhead Road Bridges

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: The current Highways Agency advice note that covers the provision of road safety barriers at bridges crossing over railway lines is the interim requirements for road restraint systems (IRRRS). This advice note was introduced in July 2002 as an interim advice note to the Highways Agency's design manual for roads and bridges. This is mandatory for trunk roads and commended to local highway authorities.

TD19/85 remains in force only for minor safety barrier replacement works. It also remains in force for schemes already under construction, and those under preparation at the time of issue of the IRRRS, where a change to implement the IRRRS would have resulted in significant additional cost or delay.

Technical memorandum H9/73 is no longer in force; this document was superseded completely by TD19/85. jenny

Bus Services: Cancellations

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Davies of Oldham: The monitoring of compliance with the terms of subsidised bus contracts is the responsibility of the local transport authority which issues the contract. In addition, the Traffic Commissioner is responsible for enforcing the bus service registration rules which require the operator of a local bus service—whether subsidised or commercial—to run that service in accordance with the timetable details registered with the commissioner.

I understand that the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (GMPTE) undertakes regular monitoring of its subsidised bus contracts, and the results show that in 2002–03 nearly 92 per cent of these ran as required under the terms of the contracts. GMPTE reports that this indicates a higher level of cancellation of subsidised services than is the case in other PTE areas.

In order to inform the Government's 10-year plan target for bus reliability, national data are collected on the number of scheduled services run. The latest figures show that 98.6 per cent of all local bus services were run as scheduled. These data are not collected separately for subsidised services and are not available on an area basis.

I also understand that GMPTE already penalises operators for lost mileage on subsidised services, and is currently considering proposals for operators to assist passengers who are affected by the non-operation of subsidised services.

The Government have no plans currently to impose requirements on operators to compensate passengers for service cancellations.

UK Merchant Fleet: Officer Cadetships

Lord Mackenzie of Culkein asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps are being taken to ensure that there is a substantial increase in the number of officer cadetships in the United Kingdom merchant fleet, given that the average age of British deck and engineer officers is near 50.[HL5082]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government's Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme provides support for training officers and ratings, meeting around 50 per cent of the costs. It provided funding for 557 new officer cadets in the year 2002–03, an increase of 77 from the previous year. The current budget is £9.4 million a year.

Seafarer training is also a key element of the UK tonnage tax, which imposes a minimum training obligation on companies entering the scheme. This is to train one officer trainee per year for every 15 officer posts in the company's effective officer complement.

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The MTO is cumulative and covers each trainee for up to three years.

The number of actual trainees under tonnage tax during 2002–03 was 670, while the cumulative training commitment for 2003–04, with several returns still outstanding, is already over 1,000.

Although the increase in cadet recruitment is very encouraging, the Government recognise that it is not enough to achieve stability in UK officer numbers. We are therefore examining ways in which the take-up of SMarT can be increased within the current budget.

Ferry Crews: National Minimum Wage

Lord Mackenzie of Culkein asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any crew members serving on United Kingdom ferries are paid at rates which are less than the national minimum wage.[HL5083]

Lord Davies of Oldham: Most seafarers working on board a ship registered in the United Kingdom must be paid at least the national minimum wage even if they work for long periods outside the United Kingdom. But a seaman need not be paid the national minimum wage if all his work takes place outside the United Kingdom or (while he is working outside the UK) if he is not normally resident in the United Kingdom, even if he is on a British-registered ship.

Enforcement of the national minimum wage is carried out by the Inland Revenue's national minimum wage compliance teams, on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry. Compliance officers investigate every complaint received about employers failing to pay their workers the minimum wage.

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Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Bassam of Brighton on 9 October (WA 82), what further work is needed before they are able to decide whether the public should be given direct access to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.[HL4806]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: As the Government's response to the Public Administration Select Committee's report on ombudsman issues (HC 448) makes clear, we are working to explore what more can be done under existing statutory arrangements to promote joint working between ombudsmen and ensure that ombudsmen arrangements are fit for purpose. We share the commitment of the ombudsman to delivering an accessible, flexible and comprehensive ombudsman service. We recognise there are constraints on joint working which must be addressed as part of this work. The issue of direct access to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration is being considered as part of this work.

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

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Bassam of Brighton on 9 October (WA 83), whether they will make the list of departmental contacts available to the media and to the public.[HL4807]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The list is intended to be primarily of use to the ombudsman and her staff. There are no plans for it to be published formally, although it will be made available on request. A copy has been sent to the noble Lord.

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