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Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what representations he has received from Railtrack plc or its administrators with regards to the possible purchase of the whole of Global Crossing UK or part of it by (a) Railtrack plc on its own, (b) a bid involving Railtrack plc or (c) other companies or bodies; 
(3) what powers the SRA has to purchase or be involved in the purchase of Global Crossing UK or part of it; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what representations he has received from the Health and Safety Executive with regard to the possible purchase of Global Crossing UK, or any part of it, by (a) Railtrack plc (b) the SRA and (c) other company, either on their own or as part of a joint bid; 
(5) what assessment he has made as to the possibility of Railtrack plc, while in administration, purchasing or being involved in the purchase of Global Crossing UK or part of it; and if he will make a statement; 
(6) what representations he has received from SRA with regards to the possible purchase of the whole or part of Global Crossing UK by (a) the SRA on its own, (b) a bid involving the SRA or (c) other companies or bodies. 
Mr. Byers: No representations have been received from the Health and Safety Executive, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), or Railtrack or its administrators on this subject. I have not made any assessment of either the use of a special purpose vehicle for purchasing any part of Global Crossing UK or of Railtrack in administration doing so. Section 211 of the Transport Act 2000 sets out the SRA's powers in relation to the provision of railway services and assets.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions for what reason there is not a central database of Maritime and Coastguard Agency registered vessels in the UK. 
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Mr. Jamieson: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has a central database of vessels registered in the UK. It is managed by the agency's Registry of Shipping and Seamen (RSS) in Cardiff and is one of the oldest and most prestigious shipping registers in the world.
The agency is implementing an information integration programme that will allow staff to view, simultaneously, related information about UK registered vessels from other sources as well as the RSS, making more effective use of the information at the agency's disposal.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the cost was of implementing the most recent IT system into the Maritime and Coastguard Agency; and which outside organisations advised its implementation and helped introduce the system. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency's (MCA) current IT system was procured using Government competitive tendering procedures. A five- year contract was awarded to BT at a total cost of approximately £2.8 million. BT advised on installation and the introduction of the system.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many non-UK owned, UK registered vessels were inspected by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in each of the last five years; from which countries they came; and what categories of vessels were inspected. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) manages the UK Shipping Register at its Register of Shipping and Seamen (RSS) office in Cardiff. The Register is being computerised in a process that will continue into 2003. The number of merchant and fishing vessels recorded on the Register at the end of February 2002 was:
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Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what systems are in place for port authorities to provide the Maritime and Coastguard Agency with information concerning vessels entering each port in the UK. 
Mr. Jamieson: A variety of arrangements are place for each Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Marine Office to obtain information from port authorities on vessels entering each port in the UK. The Agency is working with port authorities to ensure that information received is timely and consistent.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to implement the proposals outlined in the 19 report from the Committee on Public Accounts on Ship Surveys and Inspections (HC608), that inspectors check of all areas of ships inspected; and what plans he has to install all the data concerning vessel inspections into a central database. 
Mr. Jamieson: My Department and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are actively considering the recommendations set out in the Committee's 19th Report and will prepare a formal response in accordance with the usual procedures and timetables.
Mrs. Fitzsimons: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he has considered the recommendations of the North West Regional Assembly following completion of the South East Manchester Multi Modal Study; and if he will make a statement. 
The South East Manchester Multi Modal Study was commissioned by the Government as part of their 10-year Plan for Transport. The study looked at ways to improve all forms of transport in the area to reduce congestion, make roads safer and modernise public transport services.
the provisional acceptance for a £35 million Quality Bus Corridor to improve bus services in South East Manchester
provide an extra £7.445 million for Greater Manchester and £1.5 million for Cheshire to spend in 200203 on improvements to include:
Improvements to bus and rail facilities
Improved signing, management and maintenance of the road network to improve journey reliability
More facilities for cyclists and pedestrians
Better management of freight
Investment to support urban regeneration
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invite the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive and local authorities to continue the detailed development of other schemes, which will include:
A555 MALRW (Manchester Airport Link Road West)
Possible Metrolink Extensions
ask the Strategic Rail Authority to continue to work with Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority and local authorities to develop detailed assessments of the benefits of expanding the rail system and explore funding through existing mechanisms.
invite local authorities to develop transport change proposals, including:
A campaign to encourage the use of public transport
A strict enforcement of Land Use Policy to promote development decisions which reduce car dependency
Urban regeneration that maximises the attractiveness and potential of existing centres as places of employment, retail and leisure opportunities to reduce car dependency and promote social inclusion.
The outputs of the study will be balanced across transport modes and across the South East Manchester area. The most deprived neighbourhoods and more affluent car owning neighbourhoods are all set to benefit from the additional transport investment involved. Improvements are designed to help reduce road congestion and accidents; increase rail use by up to 50 per cent. in peak periods and 100 per cent. off peak; increase bus use by 8 per cent. in peak periods and 30 per cent. in off peak periods and increase use of the Metrolink. I am also pleased to say that proposals for encouraging the use of public transport and improving air quality through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions have also been welcomed by environmental groups.
I welcome the solutions proposed by the study. It is an excellent example of how multi-modal transport solutions can be devised to address complex and deep seated transport problems. We have seen that a wholly roads based solution would have added to, rather than alleviated, the long-term traffic problems in the area. Instead the study has identified a balanced strategy which will deal with congestion problems for motorists, but which does so by investing across all modes of transport and in a sustainable way.
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