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Endangered Species

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what was the percentage change in UK populations of species now deemed to be endangered of (a) mammals, (b) birds, (c) amphibians, (d) reptiles and (e) fish over the last 20 years; and if he will make a statement. [142119]

Mr. Mullin: The UK Biodiversity Action Plan identifies 575 priority species for conservation action. The available evidence indicates that focused initiatives for endangered species, like the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, are being effective in halting the declines of endangered species through targeted conservation action, although the evidence suggests that there remains a general decline in UK biodiversity.

Monitoring of UK flora and fauna is not comprehensive and precise figures for percentage change of populations of particular species are not always available. Comprehensive monitoring programmes are often put in place only when a species decline is significant enough to warrant conservation action to preserve that species. The National Biodiversity Network, for which my Department has provided financial support, will provide the mechanism to enable such ecological information to become more accessible.

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(a) Mammals

Few detailed data on population change are available for mammals, although my Department, with its scientific advisers the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, is currently undertaking work to develop an integrated monitoring system for mammals. By way of illustration, successive surveys of England indicate a partial recovery of the otter population, although in contrast the water vole has undergone a severe population crash.

(b) Birds

The UK's endangered birds species have experienced mixed fortunes in recent decades. A recently calculated index of the populations of rare breeding birds has more than doubled since 1970, reflecting the success of targeted conservation action on species such as the red kite, cirl bunting and stone curlew, taken by both statutory and non-government organisations. By contrast, an index composed of the populations trends of 20 farmland bird species has declined by 40 per cent. since the mid-1970s. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has recently adopted a target to reverse the decline in farmland birds within its Public Service Agreement.

(c) Amphibians and (d) reptiles

Evidence indicates varying levels of decline among all the UK's amphibians and reptiles, although precise figures for declines for widespread species are not available. The main causes have been the loss of, damage to and fragmentation of habitats. For scarce species with restricted ranges, more detailed data are available where positive conservation measures have been put in place and these data indicate that these measures are being effective in halting decline. English Nature is currently engaged in projects with partner organisations to address the need for monitoring schemes so that a more quantitative assessment of status can be undertaken.

(e) Fish

Freshwater fish populations are under threat from a wide range of sources, although few species have good national records of population status. As an example, the white- clawed crayfish has suffered heavily from the particular problem of crayfish plague, a disease introduced by non-native crayfish species used in aquaculture.

Incinerator Emissions

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what nano- particle analysis has been carried out on incinerator emissions; and if he will make a statement. [142125]

Mr. Hill: None. Nano-particles have only recently been identified as a possible problem and are in their early stages of research.

Traffic Accidents

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many (a) fatal and (b) other road traffic accidents were caused in the last year for which figures are available by vehicles travelling in excess of 100 mph; and how many individuals died as a result. [142106]

Mr. Hill: At the scene of a road accident it is very difficult to determine the speeds at which each of the vehicles involved were travelling. In addition to this, drivers or riders of vehicles involved in accidents are

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unlikely to be honest about how fast they were actually travelling, especially if they were travelling at speeds in excess of 100 mph.

For this reason, the data requested are unavailable.


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many (a) derailments, (b) signals passed at danger and (c) tunnel collapses were reported in each month from September to December for (i) 1998, (ii) 1999 and (iii) 2000. [141499]

Mr. Hill: The figures requested are shown in the tables based on information supplied to the Health and Safety Executive's HM Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) by railway operators. The figures relate to the national railway network whose infrastructure is controlled by Railtrack. The figures relating to tunnel collapses are based on HMRI classification of failures of tunnels:

(a) Derailments


(b) Signals passed at danger


(3) Figures currently under compilation

(c) Tunnel failures


Flood Prevention

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans his Department has for assisting local authorities with flood prevention; and if he will make a statement. [142065]

Mr. Morley: I have been asked to reply.

The Land Drainage Act 1991 gives local authorities permissive powers to undertake flood defence works on ordinary watercourses that are not within the district of an internal drainage board. Under these powers local authorities may build and maintain flood defences and their expenditure on such works is recognised in Standard Spending Assessments. The Ministry offer grant aid to capital flood defence works which satisfy engineering,

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environmental and economic criteria, and achieve the appropriate priority score. Local authorities will also be able to apply for grant aid for accelerated river flood defence works.

Local authorities have separate responsibilities for dealing with flooding emergencies. For this work they may be eligible for re-imbursement under the Bellwin rules that are administered by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.



Mr. Ivan Henderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on personnel management in the naval service. [142859]

Mr. Spellar: We are considering improved approaches to the current arrangements for the management of people in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. The aim of these changes, which have been instigated by the Navy Board, is to alleviate overstretch by lessening the impact on the individual of a high operational tempo and to reduce the turbulence which existing arrangements may produce. The benefits should include greater stability for members of the Naval Service and their families, both in geographical terms and in the predictability of their employment, and hence enable them to plan their lives with greater certainty.

The Project is known as TOPMAST (Tomorrow's Personnel Management System). A basic concept has been outlined and will now be further developed. The concept is designed to provide the individual with quality sea time and properly managed time ashore, determined by reference to the individual rather than to the ship or unit, as under present arrangements.

TOPMAST will apply to all members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines and is designed to enhance their quality of life while bringing greater flexibility to their employment. It is planned that these improvements will be implemented in phases, beginning to take effect from as early as late 2001, subject to the outcome of the next phase of development.

Ex-service Personnel

Ms Kelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance his Department offers to current service personnel to assist their reintegration into civilian life; what assessment has been undertaken on the impact of this assistance; and what is the annual cost of providing this assistance. [142034]

Mr. Spellar: Resettlement and career transition services for those leaving the regular armed forces are core elements of the Armed Forces Overarching Personnel Strategy.

The range of services which currently exist to assist service personnel with the process of re-entering civilian life includes housing and finance briefings, workshops, seminars, relevant training and job finding. The range of activities and the amount of time available to individuals to undertake them depends on length of time served in the regular armed forces. The most comprehensive assistance

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is available to those with at least five years reckonable service, although those who are medically discharged at any time after the completion of basic training are also eligible for the full service. This assistance is provided in the form of a partnership between my Department and Coutts Consulting Group, and is known as the Career Transition Partnership (CTP). The CTP also offers a job-finding service for those who have at least three years of reckonable service. A lesser level of support is available to those who have served less than three years in the armed forces. The CTP, which commenced operations on 12 October 1998, has its own dedicated website,

A Veterans Advice Unit also exists and provides a single point of contact for ex-service personnel seeking advice on where to obtain expert help on individual issues.

The main assessment of the impact of resettlement assistance has been carried out against the CTP contract. Over the period from contract inception to March 2000, the CTP achieved a success rate of 54 per cent. of service leavers achieving employment immediately on discharge, with 93 per cent. achieving employment within six months of discharge. From the 15,000 or so discharged service leavers over the same period, complaints about the quality of service were running at a rate of less than 1 per cent.

The total cost of MOD's resettlement support includes staff costs of personnel involved in resettlement matters; the cost of allowing service personnel to attend resettlement related events, including their Individual Resettlement Training Grants and associated travel and subsistence costs; the cost of the CTP contract with Coutts Consulting Group; the costs of running the MOD establishments where CTP services are offered; and the costs of providing the contractor, under Government Owned, Contractor Operated arrangements, with equipment to enable him to run certain types of training course.

Much of this cost is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The largest element of the cost, that of the CTP contract with Coutts Consulting Group, has cost in the region of £13 million (VAT inclusive), over the period from October 1998 to November 2000, but this does not represent the true cost to the Department of its resettlement activities.

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements exist to monitor the Career Transition Partnership; and if he will make a statement on its performance in securing civilian employment. [142151]

Mr. Spellar: The Career Transition Partnership (CTP) is a partnership between the Ministry of Defence and Coutts Consulting Group, a commercial company with considerable expertise in Resettlement and Outplacement matters. The purpose of the CTP is to assist those leaving the armed forces to make a successful transition to civilian employment when their careers have come to an end. Resettlement and career transition services for those leaving the regular armed forces are core elements of the Armed Forces Overarching Personnel Strategy.

To monitor the performance of the partnership, MOD established a dedicated team at the outset of the contract in October 1998. The team has the express purpose of

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monitoring the activities of the contractor, to ensure that he meets the performance criteria laid down in the contract.

Over the period from contract inception to March 2000, the CTP has achieved a success rate of 54 per cent. of service leavers achieving employment immediately on discharge, with 93 per cent. achieving employment within six months of discharge.

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