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Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what his Department's definition is of overcrowding for each train operating company (a) at present and (b) at the time the franchise was awarded; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: Specific definitions or thresholds for capacity apply to peak commuter services in London and Edinburgh only. Each train in use has a nominal capacity and operators must plan their services so that the aggregate number of passengers in excess of capacity does not exceed 3 per cent. over both the morning and evening peak, or 4.5 per cent. for either peak in isolation.
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For journeys of over 20 minutes the nominal capacity of the train is equal to the number of seats. For journeys of under 20 minutes the nominal capacity is equal to the number of seats plus the number of passengers who can stand at a density of 0.55m 2 per passenger. These calculations apply today as they did at the time of franchising. Reducing overcrowding is a key target of our 10-Year Plan, particularly for commuter services.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the number of signals passed at danger on Britain's railways in (a) each year since 199596 and (b) each month since April 1995. 
Mr. Jamieson: Information on the number of signals passed at danger (SPAD) incidents are published in the Health and Safety Executive's monthly SPAD reports, copies of which are placed in both Libraries of the House.
Mr. Byers: The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has not prosecuted any drivers in the period since 1990. The British Transport Police occasionally carry out legal proceedings against drivers, as they did for example following the accident at Watford Junction on 8 August 1996, although the driver was acquitted. Train operating companies operate their own internal disciplinary procedures.
Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many certificates of equivalent competency have been issued to foreign seafarers by the United Kingdom maritime administration in each year since the scheme began. 
|Year||Number of CECs|
Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps the Maritime and Coastguard Agency takes to ensure that the certificates held by foreign seafarers serving on British ships are genuine. 
Mr. Jamieson: When foreign seafarers serving on UK ships present their certificates for recognition, the MCA scrutinises the documents and any suspicious certificates are checked with the issuing administration. Spot checks are also carried out on foreign certificates by checking authenticity with the issuing administration.
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Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when the Government intend to extend United Kingdom work permit requirements to foreign seafarers serving on ships in United Kingdom coastal cargo and ferry trades. 
Mr. Jamieson: Since 1996 work permit arrangements have applied to seafarers engaged in domestic shipping services in the UK where these services are provided by ships requiring a passenger certificate. This includes passenger ferries. It also covers roll-on/roll-off freight services where 12 or more lorry drivers are on board.
The arrangements apply to seafarers who are not European Economic Area (EEA) nationals. Such seafarers need work permits if they are serving on ships registered in the UK or in a foreign state other than an EEA state.
Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the countries whose officer certificates are automatically recognised by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. 
Mr. Jamieson: The officer certificates of other countries are only recognised when the training and certification system of that country has been assessed and is considered to afford an equivalent level of technical competence to the UK system. All officers whose mother tongue is not English or whose examinations were not conducted in English, must satisfy the MCA of their competence in the English Language. All senior officers, except the holders of Irish certificates of competency, must satisfy the MCA that they have knowledge of UK maritime legislation appropriate to their functions aboard ship. Recognition under STCW 95 is subject to final European Commission approval. At present, under STCW 78 we recognise officer certificates of competency from the following administrations:
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Mr. Jamieson: The United Kingdom has granted certificates of competency for around 150 years and until recently there has been no record kept of the nationality of the seafarers concerned. Since the introduction of the MCA's electronic database in 1998, records of nationality have been kept and are as follows.
|Trinidad and Tobago||2||0||0||6||8|
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Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of compliance of the International Maritime Organisation's whitelist of countries with the provisions of the 1995 International Standards of Training. 
Mr. Jamieson: The MCA has made assessment visits to Australia, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Myanmar New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore and USA. All are deemed to be in compliance with STCW 95. All are deemed to be in compliance with STCW 95. The assessments reviewed education, training, certification and administration.
In relation to the continued recognition of certificates competency issued by other administrations, assessments will be undertaken either by the MCA or in co-operation with our EU partners. MCA visits are planned for India, Pakistan and Canada.
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