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Poverty

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proportion of fuel-poor households in the social rented sector occupy dwellings which comply with the proposed thermal comfort criteria as set out in his Department's consultation paper on the Decency Standard. [39891]

Ms Keeble: Social landlords are working towards the target to ensure that all social housing is brought up to a decent standard by 2010, which includes a requirement for the dwelling to provide a reasonable degree of thermal comfort. But investment will not be focused solely on bringing non decent homes up to the minimum decent home standard. Where landlords carry out work to heating and insulation, the published guidance will encourage them to maximise the energy efficiency of the dwelling.

The 2001 baseline for the decent home target will come from the 2001 English House Condition Survey, which will be available later this year. This will also provide data on the level of fuel poverty in the social rented sector.

Press Office

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will place in the Library the standard contract for full-time employees within his Department's press office. [40099]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 4 March 2002]: All DTLR contracts are in line with the framework set out in the Civil Service Management Code, a copy of which is in the Libraries of the House.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the standard notice period is in the employment contracts of press officers within his Department. [40092]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 4 March 2002]: The central framework for the terms and conditions of resignation is set out in the Civil Service Management Code. Departments and Agencies are responsible for ensuring their own arrangements comply with the central framework.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will (a) list the advertisements that his Department has placed publicising vacancies in the press office since June 2001 and (b) estimate the total cost of such advertising. [40108]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 4 March 2002]: DTLR has placed the following external advertisements for press officers in The Guardian.

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Press officers
24 September 2001Grade 7, Senior Press Officer,
Press Officer, Assistant Press Officer
1 October 2001Head of News
8 October 2001Senior Information Officer

Note:

The dates given are those when the advert first appeared

The cost is £32.3 thousand.


Disciplinary Code

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will place in the Library the disciplinary code of conduct that operates within his Department; [40100]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 4 March 2002]: The central framework for the rules and codes of practice relating to discipline are set out in the Civil Service Management Code. Departments and Agencies are responsible for ensuring their own disciplinary arrangements comply with the central framework.

Special Advisers

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will publish a list of the special advisers in his Department, indicating which Minister they are assigned to and their responsibilities. [40085]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 4 March 2002]: DTLR's special advisers are Dan Corry and Michael Dugher, who cover the range of departmental responsibilities.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the standard notice period is in the employment contracts of special advisers. [40091]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 4 March 2002]: Copies of the special advisers model contract are available in the Libraries of the House and it is also available on the Cabinet Office website.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether he intends to replace Jo Moore with a new special adviser; and whether the post will be advertised and selected through open competition. [40086]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 4 March 2002]: I will give consideration to the appointment of a new special adviser in due course.

Trade Union Representation

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proportion of the employees in his Department are represented by a trade union. [40098]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 4 March 2002]: The Department does not hold records on the proportion of its staff represented by trade unions. However, the Department

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considers effective consultation and involvement of staff important. It is a personal decision whether or not to join a trade union; but the Department encourages staff to join an appropriate trade union and to play an active part within it, making sure their views are represented.

Dismissal Complaints

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many complaints of (a) constructive and (b) unfair dismissal were brought against (i) his Department and (ii) the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions since May 1997. [40109]

Mr. Byers: [Holding answer: Monday 4 March 2002]: The following numbers of complaints of (a) constructive and (b) unfair dismissal were brought against the Department since May 1997.







Accommodation Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the cost was of hotel accommodation for departmental staff working away from home in each of the last four years. [41065]

Dr. Whitehead: The costs of hotel accommodation for departmental staff working away from home are not held centrally and so cannot be determined without disproportionate cost.

Relocation Expenses

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what his policy is on the payment of relocation expenses to staff in his Department. [41021]

Dr. Whitehead: My Department's policy on the payment of relocation expenses is set out in Chapter 9 of the DTLR(C) Staff Handbook which has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Passenger Rights

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the (a) voluntary agreements and (b) legislation in place regarding passenger rights relating to (i) delays, (ii) cancellations and (iii) overbooking for (A) air passengers, (B) rail passengers, (C) ferry passengers and (D) coach passengers; what changes have taken place since 1997; and what further changes are planned. [40956]

Mr. Jamieson: In respect of air passengers, European Voluntary Commitments on air passenger rights came into effect on 14 February 2002. The commitments include notifying passengers of known delays, cancellations and diversions, assisting passengers facing delays and reducing the number of passengers involuntarily denied boarding.

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All major full service UK airlines and most airports have signed up to the Commitments. European Council Regulation 295–91 provides a certain level of protection for passengers denied boarding due to overbooking, establishing common rules for a compensation system in scheduled air transport.

The European Commission has recently published a proposal to update the Regulation and to extend it to cover cancellation and delay. In addition, the 1929 Warsaw Convention on air carrier liability, which has been ratified by the UK, provides rights to passengers suffering damage caused by delay. Air passengers travelling as part of an inclusive tour are also covered by a European Council Directive on Package Travel (Directive 90–314) which was implemented in the UK by SI 1992–3288. This Directive provides certain rights relating to delays and cancellation.

The rights of rail passengers to compensation for delays and cancellations are covered through the National Rail Conditions of Carriage (NRCoC), which set the minimum standards, and through individual train operator charters which often provide more generous entitlements. Since 1997 the standard of compensation provided by many train operators has improved through franchise agreements. For the future, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) is working with the Rail Passenger Council (RPC) and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) to review Passenger Charter compensation arrangements. They are looking to develop recommendations for an improved comprehensive system of compensation for poor punctuality and reliability that can be applied across the network. The first step in this process is to carry out research among passengers. This is currently being commissioned and should commence shortly.

All ferry passengers have rights under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. This requires a trader to carry out a service with reasonable care and skill and, where it is not specified, within a reasonable time. If the trader fails to comply with these requirements the law treats the matter as a breach of contract and a consumer could, if necessary, pursue a claim for redress through the civil courts. No changes in the statutory rights legislation have been taken since 1997 nor are any planned.

In respect of coach passengers, scheduled operators do not operate a policy of overbooking. Passengers' rights in the event of delays and cancellations are covered by the conditions of carriage of the operator concerned. These conditions are governed by fair trading legislation, and have generally not changed significantly since 1997.


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