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Access to "Other" Open Countryside: Report

Lord Moran asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: We will aim to consult publicly before legislation is introduced on any government proposals arising from any recommendations in the forthcoming report of the Countryside Agency, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Forestry Commission on securing access to other types of open countryside. However, any consultation would need to take place within the limitations imposed by the Parliamentary timetable for legislation on access to the countryside generally.

UK-Faroese Waters: Wildlife Safeguards

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Up to the limit of UK territorial waters, all wildlife, including whales and dolphins, is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and the Conservation (Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994.

The area of sea beyond territorial waters is not subject to national statutes. However, the area is subject to a moratorium on commercial whaling imposed by the International Whaling Commission. The moratorium

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does not apply to all species of whale, nor to Norway in respect of minke whales.

Furthermore, before licensing activities such as exploration for oil and gas in the area, the UK requires environmental impact assessments to be carried out. Other nations in the area will have their own measures to safeguard wildlife.

Multi-modal Transport Studies

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 8 July (WA 115) in respect of multi-modal corridor studies, whether they intend to include on steering groups of each study representatives from public transport, rail freight and environmental organisations as well as user groups.[HL3787]

Lord Whitty: Representatives of environmental, business and transport interests, including rail freight, public transport and users, will be invited to participate in all multi-modal studies. The steering groups for the studies will also be drawn from representatives of these interests, though membership of the steering groups may vary to reflect the different nature and scope of specific studies. An announcement about the steering group membership for all Tranche One multi-modal studies will be made later in the summer.

Thameslink 2000 Project

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following concern expressed in the House of Commons PAC Report on the flotation of Railtrack about the Government's "decision to reduce Railtrack's debt by £225 million to ensure that the Thameslink rail project went ahead", whether there is yet a firm start and completion date for this project; and what steps the Government are taking to recover some or all of this debt on account of the already extended delay in its implementation.[HL3817]

Lord Whitty: The Thameslink 2000 project requires construction powers to be granted under the Transport and Works Act 1992. The current estimate for the start of services is May 2006. The Government will be responding in due course to the report of the Committee of Public Accounts.

M.4 Bus Lane: Consultation

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Whitty on 14 July (WA 52) concerning the M.4 bus lane, whether their failure to answer point (c), "which motoring organisations, if any, were consulted and what were their responses", indicates that no motoring organisations were consulted; and, if so, why not.[HL3778]

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Lord Whitty: We can confirm that the Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Club were both consulted on the proposals. No representations or objections were received from either organisation. This omission from the original reply was a regrettable oversight.

M.4 Elevated Section: Speed Limit

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Whitty on 12 July (WA 12) concerning the accident rate on the elevated section of the M.4 motorway, why they reduced the speed limit to 40 miles per hour on the basis of an extra 1.6 personal injury accident per year above the rate for dual two-lane motorways with a 50 miles per hour speed limit; and on what other stretches of motorways or "A" roads has the speed limit been similarly reduced on the basis of such a small variation in the accident statistics.[HL3833]

Lord Whitty: The elevated section of the M.4 is unlike most other sections of dual two-lane motorways. It has no hard shoulder and the horizontal alignment is in places below normal full standards. Therefore a direct comparison with average accident rates for other motorways is not appropriate. The key factor here is the high proportion of accidents in which the police have identified excessive speed as a contributory factor and which the lower speed limit will affect. The police fully support the reduced speed limit.

Improving road safety remains one of our key objectives and the forecast reduction is one of many individual schemes and measures that together will make a substantial contribution to our target of reducing the number of casualties by one third by the year 2000.

London Transport Buses: Fare Evasion

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will define the terms "fare evader" and "misuse" as they occur within the following text from London Transport Buses' current advertising campaign. "Last year, 7,800 fare evaders were caught and successfully prosecuted. If you misuse your Bus Pass, Travelcard or ticket on London Transport Buses you risk possible prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000."[HL3727]

Lord Whitty: These are operational matters for London Regional Transport. We understand that, in the context of the advertising campaign, the 7,800 fare evaders referred to (figures for the year April 1997 to March 1998) were successful prosecutions of individuals where there was evidence that the irregularity detected was an intentional act. Misuse of a Bus Pass, Travelcard or ticket is the intentional act of using the Bus Pass, Travelcard or ticket in a manner for which it was not intended.

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The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people were successfully prosecuted by London Transport Buses for fare evasion in 1998; and on what grounds and under what legislation were these prosecutions brought.[HL3728]

Lord Whitty: These are operational matters for London Regional Transport. We understand that during the year 1 April 1998 to 31 March 1999, 10,061 people were successfully prosecuted for offences relating to fare evasion. The majority of these cases were summary prosecutions for contravention of the Public Service Vehicles (Conduct of Drivers, Inspectors, Conductors and Passenger) Regulations 1990. A small number of the prosecutions were brought under other legislation such as the Theft Act of 1978.

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is a significant difference between the criteria used by London Transport Buses to impose penalty fares on London bus passengers and the criteria used to bring criminal proceedings against passengers for fare evasion.[HL3726]

Lord Whitty: These are operational matters for London Regional Transport. We understand that the most recent research by London Transport Buses estimates that it loses approximately £20 million a year (3 per cent. of revenue), due to fare evasion and other ticket irregularities. Surveys show that currently around one bus passenger in 25 travels with some form of ticket irregularity during his/her journey.

London Transport Buses is expected to take all reasonable and practical steps to ensure that it receives all revenues due for the service it provides and it has a range of measures to assist it in this area.

A passenger is liable to pay a penalty fare if he or she travels without a ticket or pass that is valid for the whole of his or her journey. Prosecutions are brought where there is evidence that the irregularity detected was an intentional act of fare evasion.

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many failed prosecutions by London Transport Buses for fare evasion (including all cases where compensation and/or cash were not awarded to the plaintiff) were brought in 1998; and why these prosecutions failed.[HL3729]

Lord Whitty: These are operational matters for London Regional Transport. We understand that during the year 1 April to 31 March 1999, 79 prosecutions were dismissed or no evidence was offered in court.

London Transport Buses defines a prosecution as successful when the defendant is found guilty, regardless of whether or not costs and/or compensation are awarded to the prosecutor.

The number of successful prosecution cases where compensation and/or costs were not awarded to the prosecutor is small, but details of these cases are not

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held in an easily accessible format. The information cannot be compiled without accessing all 10,061 successful prosecution cases, which would result in a disproportionate cost for London Transport Buses.


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