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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): We are pleased to announce the outcome of two recent ammunition competitions. First, we intend to contract with Royal Ordnance to meet most of the British Army's requirement for large calibre ammunition for the next five years. The contract will cover ammunition for use with the AS90 155mm self-propelled gun, Challenger 2 tank, and a range of reconnaissance and infantry fighting vehicles.
Second, we intend to contract with Marconi Marine Land and Naval Systems, formerly Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd., to develop and produce enhancements to extend the range and increase the effectiveness of the AS90 self-propelled gun. Within this contract, Royal Ordnance will be sub-contracted to manufacture new barrels, and a South African company, Somchem, will manufacture a new Modular Charge System.
These contracts, which are subject to the completion of final negotiations, are together worth around £200 million and will bring valuable work to both Marconi and Royal Ordnance, securing over 500 jobs for British industry.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: A steering group is being established to co-ordinate and oversee the implementation of the Master Plan for Stonehenge. A Working Group on the A.303 improvement scheme will report progress to this steering group. Public consultation in the lead-up to the announcement of the Preferred Route, particularly for the Winterbourne Stoke Bypass, is nearing completion. Further consultation will take place as the detailed design is developed. The World Heritage Site Management Group, chaired by Lady Gass, which has been set up to develop the Stonehenge Management Plan, will keep the Steering
Whether they have been informed by English Heritage why they no longer feel bound by the public pledge they gave, jointly with the National Trust, in 1994: "Only . . . the long bored tunnel . . . meets the essential requirements of this World Heritage Site . . . There is no historic site in England where we shall uphold our duty with greater resolve and determination".[HL99]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Although the 1995 conference supported in principle the proposal for a long tunnel at Stonehenge, it recognised that its cost would be far in excess of the funds available from the then government's transport budget. There was no mention of a twin bored tunnel being the most cost-effective way of dealing with the A.303. The cost of a 4-kilometre tunnel was estimated independently in late 1995 by two leading consultants to be in the region of £300 million. English Heritage agreed with the Government's view that a long tunnel at that price was unaffordable, and that the project's objectives could be achieved by a shorter cut-and-cover tunnel.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Arrangements for the celebration of the Millennium at these sites are currently subject to discussion with the South Wiltshire Police and local interest groups. No special events are planned.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The decision to lend works from its collection to the Marriott Hotel in County Hall was taken by the Arts Council independently of Ministers and only after careful consideration by its own Visual Arts Advisory Panel. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State understands that the Arts Council decided to do this
My right honourable friend does not consider the Arts Council's decision in this instance as setting a precedent for our public collections. The stewardship of works of art or artefacts held by the national museums and galleries remains a matter for the trustees of each institution, and Ministers will not seek to intervene.
The Minister for Roads and Road Safety has asked Lawrie Haynes, the Chief Executive, to reply to your recent parliamentary Question about the roadworks on the A.12 trunk road near Little Glemham in Suffolk. I am replying in Lawrie's absence from the office.
The Highways Agency has a remit to monitor the condition and safety of the trunk road network. In this case, we identified problems with "rutting" on the road surface and a reduction in its skid resistance, which has safety implications.
The winning tender cost for the resurfacing work is £192,000. The work began on 7 December and is expected to be completed by 15 December. It is part of a major resurfacing contract worth approximately £2 million covering 21 sites along the A.11, A.12 and A.14 in Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. The overall contract began on 14 November and is due to be completed this week to avoid the Christmas holiday period.
The resurfacing material can be successfully laid during the winter, but it is for the contractor to judge when it is appropriate to do so, within the terms of the contract. The contractor has guaranteed the work for a period of two years from completion.
(a) whether the BRB still retains responsibility for discharging the duties contained in this section; and, if not, to whom it was assigned and when;
(b) when the plan was last reviewed or revised and when such reviews or revision were published;
(c) whether in the light of the continuing lack of Channel Tunnel passenger services, the BRB intends to review the plans in the near future; and whether they will publish the result of that review.[HL86]
Lord Whitty: In respect of Section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act 1987:
(a) the British Railways Board (BRB) retains responsibility for discharging the duties contained in that section;
(b) a plan was published in December 1989 and kept under review by the BRB and European Passenger Services Ltd, whilst responsibility for services remained with the board;
(c) it is proposed that the BRB will transfer to the Strategic Rail Authority at the earliest opportunity, subject to legislation. In the meantime, the Government will be commissioning a thorough and independent review of the report Review of Regional Eurostar Services which has been presented to it by the consortium, and of the alternative proposals put forward by the Virgin Group.
Further to the Answer by Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 16 November (H.L. Deb., col. 1116) regarding miners' respiratory diseases and the issue of medical assessments, what is: (a) their best estimate of the number of assessments required; (b) the estimated duration of each test; (c) the estimated number of specialists available to perform the tests; and (d) their best estimate of the date by which either the majority or 80 per cent. of all assessments will have been completed.
(a) All claimants will undertake a medical assessment but the type and length of that assessment will depend on the details of the claim and the condition of the individual. We do not expect that all claimants will need an examination under our proposals but, until the Medical Assessment Process is finally agreed and the number of claimants is more accurately known--to date we have received some 65,000 claims--it is difficult to estimate the number who will need to be assessed.
(b) The duration of each test will depend on the final agreed Medical Assessment Process (MAP)
15 Dec 1998 : Column WA141
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