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18 July 2007 : Column WS23

Written Statements

Wednesday 18 July 2007

British Council

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My honourable friend the Minister for Europe (Jim Murphy) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Copies of the British Council annual report, incorporating the trustees' annual report and accounts, for the financial year ended 31 March 2007 have been placed in the Library.

During the period, the British Council received £188,124,000 grant-in-aid from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland

Lord Rooker: The Minister of State for Northern Ireland (Paul Goggins) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland's annual report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2007 is published today.

Copies will be available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Railways: Franchising Process

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Tom Harris) has made the following Ministerial Statement.

The Future of Rail White Paper and the Railways Act 2005 set out a new role for Transport for London (TfL) in relation to rail, giving it more say in the specification of rail services and allowing it greater flexibility to make choices about the balance between rail and other modes. I am today publishing guidance that explains how the new role of TfL in the franchise specification, letting and management process under the Railways Act 2005, will work in practice. Copies of the guidance have been placed in the Libraries of the House and can also be found on the Department for Transport's website at www.dft.gov.uk.

The London suburban commuter rail network does not stop at the GLA boundary. Certain rail services terminate just outside the Greater London area. Because of this, the Mayor and TfL were not able to propose changes to “inner suburban” services, to improve service levels or better integrate services with other transport modes. The Future of Rail White Paper set out a commitment to change this by enabling TfL to specify and pay for enhancements to these services.

Following consultation on the proposal, I am today announcing that TfL, as part of the franchise specification process, can propose and pay for extra

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train services or improvements to stations on a number of these “inner suburban” routes.

It is vital to ensure that the rights and interests of rail passengers outside London are protected by those democratically accountable to them. Therefore, TfL will be required to consult local transport authorities in the affected areas beyond the boundary, as well as regional assemblies and London TravelWatch.

Were TfL to seek any reductions to service levels, the governance arrangements are stronger. TfL would be required to obtain the agreement of affected local transport authorities. In instances where TfL and local transport authorities cannot reach agreement, the disputes should come to the Secretary of State for Transport and feed through the normal franchise dispute resolution process. The Secretary of State shall be the final arbiter of any disagreements.

Section 17 of the Railways Act 2005 amends Schedule 10 to the Greater London Authority Act 1999 so as to ensure that within six months of Section 17 coming into force the membership of the TfL board includes at least two members who can represent the interests of people living, working and studying in areas outside Greater London served by rail services running into London. A commencement order bringing Section 17 of the Railways Act 2005 into force on 8 August 2007 was made on 10 July 2007. These governance arrangements have been put in place to ensure that the rights and interests of rail passengers outside London are suitably protected.

TfL will not be able to propose changes to fares on “inner suburban” routes that run beyond the boundary. As a general rule, TfL will not be allowed to propose additional stops on long-distance and inter-city services, although the department will look at individual proposals on a case-by-case basis.

The “inner suburban” services that terminate beyond the GLA boundary, and on which TfL will be able to propose changes to services levels are:

services from Charing Cross, Victoria or Cannon Street, terminating at Dartford;services from Blackfriars or Victoria, terminating at Sevenoaks, via Swanley;services from Charing Cross, Cannon Street or Victoria, terminating at Sevenoaks, via Orpington;services from Victoria or London Bridge, terminating at Caterham;services from Victoria or London Bridge, terminating at Tattenham Corner;services from Victoria or London Bridge, terminating at Epsom or Epsom Downs;services from Waterloo, terminating at Hampton Court;services from Waterloo, terminating at Shepperton;services from Waterloo, terminating at Windsor and Eton Riverside;services from Waterloo, terminating at Epsom;services from Paddington, terminating at Slough;services from King’s Cross Thameslink, terminating at St Albans;

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services from King’s Cross or Moorgate, terminating at Welwyn Garden City;services from King’s Cross or Moorgate, terminating at Hertford North;services from Liverpool Street, terminating at Hertford East;services from Liverpool Street, terminating at Shenfield; andservices from Fenchurch Street, terminating at Grays, via Rainham.

The services above reflect the main weekday services and may alter for operational purposes or for some late-night or weekend services.

Transport: Renewable Fuel Obligation

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Jim Fitzpatrick) has made the following Ministerial Statement.



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I have today published a summary of the responses to the Government's consultation on the design and longer-term evolution of the proposed renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO). Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House, and are available on the Department for Transport's website at www.dft.gsi.gov.uk.

There were over 6,000 responses to the consultation, the great majority highlighting concerns over the sustainability of biofuels. The Government have already indicated how they intend to strengthen the RTFO's environmental safeguards in the light of these concerns, as set out in a Written Ministerial Statement on 21 June (Official Report, cols. WS 45-46). The changes we proposed in that Statement put the UK at the international forefront of work to promote sustainable biofuels.

The Government have given careful consideration to the issues raised by stakeholders, and the document I have published today summarises how we intend to take them into account in finalising the RTFO order which is due to be laid in Parliament in the autumn.


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