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East London Line

Lord Sheppard of Didgemere asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: It is intended that the initial work on construction of the northern extension from Whitechapel to Dalston will start at the end of this year. London Underground will manage this work. The Strategic Rail Authority is currently making the arrangements for the main construction phase to follow in 2002.

The East London Line extension will be constructed to National Rail Standards as the service pattern proposed for the finished project involves substantial running over Railtrack tracks, but no decisions have yet been made regarding the maintenance of the line or the operation of the service.

The commencement of works on the southern extensions is dependent on the outcome of LUL's application for powers under the Transport and Works Act 1992.

London Underground: PPP Contracts

Lord Sheppard of Didgemere asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: Mr Kiley replied to my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister's letter with a further series of requirements which were wholly incompatible with the key risk transfer and performance management characteristics of the PPP. In his letter of 30 March to the Chairman of London Transport, a copy of which is in the Library of the House, the Deputy Prime Minister explained his view that what was really needed was to avoid any further delay in securing the massive long-term investment that the Underground requires and that the best way to do this was through the PPP. The LT Board are now making every effort to bring matters to as speedy a conclusion as possible, consistent with the permanent requirement to maintain and improve safety on the Underground and to achieve the best deal for London.

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Lord Sheppard of Didgemere asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the Public Private Partnership contracts for London Underground to be signed; what capital investment London Underground has been authorised to carry out in the meantime; and how it will be funded. [HL2019]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: I understand that the Board of London Transport decided on 2 May to appoint preferred bidders in the competitions for each of the two deep tube contracts, and that they expect to appoint a preferred bidder in the competition for the sub-surface lines contract in the summer. They aim to have completed all three competitions by the autumn. London Underground's capital investment in the meantime will continue to be funded by a combination of Government grant and London Transport's own revenues. London Transport has an interim grant settlement for 2001-02 of £104 million. The Government are currently considering what additional resources to make available in respect of London Underground.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Military Exercise Restrictions

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What field training and army exercises have been delayed or cancelled in Canada, British Forces Germany and the United Kingdom due to foot and mouth disease. [HL1791]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): All routine training on military training areas and on private land in Great Britain was suspended on 23 February 2001, until further notice, owing to the current outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease. The only activity which has continued on military training areas has been pre-operational tour training to ensure that no soldier has been sent on operations without the appropriate training.

Since the end of March, we have been able to lift restrictions on some 40 low risk training facilities in Great Britain to allow other high priority training to proceed. In addition, limited dismounted infantry training and artillery firing is about to resume on Salisbury Plain Training Area. Each of the sites that have been opened again has been agreed specifically with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF). The overall suspension of training is under constant review by the MoD in concert with MAFF and the ban will be relaxed further as the situation across the country allows.

In Germany, similar restrictions on training were placed on the Bundeswehr, the British Army and all other Armed Forces by the German authorities on 16 March 2001.

It would not be practical to list all the exercises cancelled since the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease as all routine training has been suspended.

3 May 2001 : Column WA135

However, the first of this year's exercises at the British Army Training Unit Suffield in Canada, Exercise Medicine Man 1, is among those that have been cancelled.

Unidentified Flying Objects

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 25 January (WA 22), why the unidentified flying objects documents referred to were classified secret; whether these documents had any caveats attached to them; and what was the reason for any such caveats.[HL1808]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: One document was classified "Secret" with a "UK Eyes Only" caveat because it contained information about the UK air defence ground environment that could be of significant value to hostile or potentially hostile states. Associated correspondence was given the same classification. Generally, however notifications of and correspondence on the subject of "UFO" sightings are unclassified.

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in line with previous ministerial commitments, they will give an undertaking not to destroy any files containing information on unidentified flying objects.[HL1811]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Public Records Acts of 1958 and 1967 place a responsibility on all government departments to review the records which are generated within the department, to select those which are worthy of permanent preservation and transfer them to the Public Record Office.

It was generally the case that before 1967 all "UFO" files were destroyed after five years, as there was unsufficient public interest in the subject to merit their permanent retention. However, since 1967, given the general levels of public and occasional academic interest, it has been Ministry of Defence policy to preserve "UFO" report files. There are no plans to change this policy.

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many unidentified flying object sightings were reported to the Ministry of Defence in 1998, 1999 and 2000.[HL1813]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The numbers of "unidentified flying object" sightings reported to the Ministry of Defence in 1998, 1999 and 2000 were as follows:

    1998: 193

    1999: 229

    2000: 210

3 May 2001 : Column WA136

Special Educational Needs Code of Practice

Baroness Darcy de Knayth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the final version of the code of practice on special educational needs will be laid before Parliament for approval.[HL1959]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The final version of the revised special educational needs code of practice will be laid before Parliament for approval as soon as practicable after the Special Educational Needs and Disability Bill receives Royal Assent.

Universities: EU Funding

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many posts are funded by the European Union in British universities: under which European Union schemes and at what annual cost; and whether the university or the European Union has the final say in who is appointed to those posts.[HL1876]

Baroness Blackstone: 102 Chairs are funded in the UK under the European Commision's Jean Monnet Project: 87 Chairs and 15 Chairs Ad Personam. In 2000-01, the subsidy is a maximum of 10,000 euros per Chair and 4,000 euros per Chair Ad Personam for up to three years. The European Commission has asked for nominations for 2001-02 Ad personam Chairs, but no funding will be available within EU member states. Universities applying for a Chair propose a preferred candidate with details of his or her academic record to the European selection panel. Ad Personam Chairs are awarded to individuals. For details of where these Chairs are located, I refer the noble Lord to the reply I gave on 29 January, Official Report, WA 27-28.

Foot and Mouth Disease: Course

Lord Elder asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made towards eradicating foot and mouth disease.[HL2032]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House today of the latest graphs produced for the Chief Scientific Adviser's group on the course of the disease. These demonstrate that in the seven-day period ending Wednesday 2 May there was an average of approximately eight new confirmed cases each day compared with 16 in the seven-day period ending 22 April and with a weekly average of 43 at the peak in late March. We can therefore be optimistic about the future course of the disease, although the Chief Scientific Adviser has warned that cases will continue to occur for some time yet.

3 May 2001 : Column WA137

It is clear that our policy to bear down on the outbreak swiftly and prevent spread of the disease through slaughtering of animals on infected premises within 24 hours of the case being reported, tracing dangerous contacts and tackling the disease on contiguous premises within 48 hours, has been effective. This has been crucial to the control of the epidemic.

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