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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 2 July 2002



Richard Burden: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the responsibilities of Ministers and Government Departments for electoral systems and electoral arrangements relating to elections for (a) councils, (b) the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, (c) the European Parliament, (d) the London Assembly and future English regional assemblies and (e) the House of Commons, with particular reference to consideration of proposals for review and reform. [62958]

The Prime Minister: Ministerial responsibility for policy, including for reform and modernisation, on election matters is for:

All these responsibilities are exercised in consultation with the Electoral Commission, which is accountable through the Speaker's Committee to the House of Commons.

Intelligence Services

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister for what reason the Ministerial Committee on the Intelligence Services has not been asked to endorse the UK's Requirements and Priorities for Secret Intelligence. [65152]

The Prime Minister: The UK's requirements for secret intelligence are submitted to the Ministerial Committee on the Intelligence Services each year for endorsement.

Interception of Communications Commissioner

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on paragraph 30 of the Intelligence and Security Committee annual report 2001–02 with specific reference to the resources available to the Interception of Communications Commissioner. [65151]

The Prime Minister: As stated in the Government Response to the Intelligence and Security Committee's annual report for 2001–02, officials are discussing with the Commissioner what extra resources would be required to deal with the anticipated increase in work. The Government will make available to the Commissioner an appropriate level of resources to enable him to carry out his responsibilities.

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National Energy Research Centre

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what proposals he has for a national energy research centre. [65093]

The Prime Minister: The Department for Trade and Industry has lead responsibility on this issue.

The establishment of a national energy research centre was a key recommendation of the review of Government support for energy research led by the Chief Scientific Adviser last autumn. Like all the other recommendations of that review, it was incorporated into the report of the Performance and Innovation Unit's wider review of energy policy published on 14 February. The Government intend to set out their response to that report in a White Paper around the turn of the year.

In the meantime, the Research Councils are developing detailed proposals for an energy research centre in consultation with the Chief Scientific Adviser and other interested parties. These would form part of a broader proposal for sustainable energy research.


Rail Services (West Cornwall)

10. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the reliability of rail services to west Cornwall. [63721]

Mr. Spellar: The Strategic Rail Authority produces performance figures for each of the train operating companies in its publication 'On Track'. The latest version was published on 6 June and has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Rail and LRT Services

11. Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to provide (a) rail and (b) LRT services to towns that have neither. [63723]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority's Strategic Plan sets out priorities for development of the national rail network. In addition to national strategic priorities it includes increased funding for the Rail Passenger Partnership scheme, which is available to support local schemes. It is for local authorities to promote, through the Local Transport Plan process, the public transport modes best suited to their area.

Bus Travel (Worcester)

12. Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to encourage the greater use of bus travel within Worcester. [63724]

Mr. Spellar: The Secretary of State provides funding to Worcestershire County Council to implement its Local Transport Plan. The first annual progress report on the Local Transport Plan includes a draft bus strategy which provides more detail on how the Council will be developing their bus services. Recent initiatives which have been implemented in Worcester include:

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In addition the Council has received bursaries which have allowed them to appoint school and workplace travel co-ordinators. These co-ordinators are dedicated to encouraging sustainable transport, including the use of buses, across the county.

Fuel Duty Rebate

13. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress he has made in his review of fuel duty rebate for providers of bus passenger services. [63725]

Mr. Spellar: Work is under way on the review of bus subsidies, including fuel duty rebate, announced in the April Budget. We will take this forward over the coming months. It will build on ongoing work by the Commission for Integrated Transport, due to conclude in the autumn, and other related studies. It will also invite views from other interested bodies.

30. Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the fuel duty rebate introduced in May for community transport services. [63744]

Mr. Jamieson: Over 320 community transport organisations have already applied for eligibility to receive fuel duty rebate. Eligible organisations will be making their first claims for payment this autumn. This funding will enable the improvement and expansion of services which have an important role in improving accessibility and combating social exclusion.

Speed Controls

14. John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what alternatives to speed cushions his Department is investigating. [63726]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department has an extensive programme of road safety research covering a wide range of topics including development and evaluation of a variety of road humps and traffic calming works designed to reduce road accidents and encourage improved driving styles. Full details of current research and summaries of results of completed research are provided in a Road Safety Research Compendium, which is available on the Department's website and in the Library of the House.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to change the policy in relation to the use of speed limit repeater signs; and if he will make a statement. [65781]

Mr. Jamieson: Local authorities are required to sign all speed limits where the speed limit has been created by way of a speed limit order. The exemptions are where the road is a restricted road (30mph indicated by a system of street lighting) where repeater signs are strictly prohibited, or on roads where the national speed limit applies.

However, we are looking at signing as part of the overall package on developing improved speed management. The issue of speed limit repeater signs will form part of our considerations.

Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance he gives on the visibility of speed cameras. [65780]

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Mr. Jamieson: Visibility rules for those areas participating in the safety camera netting off scheme were announced on 3 December 2001. These state that fixed site camera housings should be clearly signed and made visible by being painted or marked in yellow. Mobile enforcement units should also be clearly marked and visible to drivers. Areas currently outside the netting off scheme would need to comply with all the visibility requirements as a condition of joining.

Railways (Trespass and Vandalism)

15. Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on incidences of trespass and vandalism on the railways. [63729]

Mr. Jamieson: Trespass and vandalism is a serious problem for the railways.

It is very disappointing that over half of all train incidents are due to vandalism. The Government are pleased that all sections of the rail industry recently came together in the National Route Crime Group to examine and promote ways of tackling trespass and vandalism on the railways.

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