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Whether they will immediately place in the Library of the House the final version of any letters of comfort, whether or not in respect of third party debt, which have been issued in connection with the share purchase agreements signed on 8 May between London Underground and Tube Lines Ltd and the Metronet consortium.[HL4240]
The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): No comfort letters have yet been issued in respect of the Tube modernisation contracts. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State's Minute to Parliament on 20 March explained, they will be issued shortly before the Tube modernisation transactions are completed.
How much higher a rate of interest would, in their estimation, be necessary had the letters of comfort underwriting 95 per cent of the third party debt for London Underground not been issued.[HL4239]
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The proposed comfort letters clarify the Secretary of State's role in relation to the Greater London Authority and Transport for London. They do not create binding obligations and do not underwrite 95 per cent of the third party debt for London Underground. The amount of finance each of the bidders is expected to raise was stated in the draft comfort letters that were reported to Parliament on 20 March. Shareholders themselves are expected to provide some £500 million of this total.
The proposed comfort letters were discussed and agreed with bidders as part of the wider negotiations on the Tube modernisation plans. It is not possible to estimate the effect one single element of these negotiations, such as the comfort letters, might have on the rate of interest paid on third party debt; nor is it possible at this stage to state the detailed terms of the third party finance being raised for the Tube modernisation plans. These will be finalised as part of the process to financial close on the transactions.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: A copy of the updated Ernst & Young value for money review of the London Underground PPP was delivered to the Library of the House on 8 May. At the request of the Library, a further copy of the document was sent to the Library by facsimile on 9 May. I understand that the noble Lord now has a copy of it. jenny
However, London Underground has agreed to compensate bidders if the competition should be terminated for reasons other than bidders failing to maintain value for money bids. On the two deep Tube competitions, the preferred bidder would receive up to £12 million in respect of the period up to 7 February 2002, with up to £7 million available for the reserve bidder. On the sub-surface line competition, where three bidders were short-listed, they will receive up to £7 million each for costs incurred during this period. In such circumstances, London Underground has also agreed to compensate bidders for 90 per cent of eligible costs incurred after 7 February 2002.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): There are no specific annual returns made by the Medical Toxicology Unit under the Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital Trust's conflict of interest policy. However the Medical Toxicology Unit has completed a register of interests in accordance with trust policy. The trust has recently updated the register and the only disclosures relate to educational commitments.
The trust does not have any specific partnership arrangement guidelines. All financial transactions are carried out in accordance with standing financial instructions. The relevant officer within delegated authority limits would sign commercial contracts on behalf of the trust, not an individual. Specific queries regarding these arrangements should be addressed to Guy's & St Thomas' Hospital NHS Trust.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The information requested is not available centrally. The Department of Health is working in partnership with the Royal National Institute for Deaf People to modernise hearing aid services. The modernisation project includes the provision of leading-edge digital hearing aids as part of a service designed around the needs of people with hearing impairment. Over £30 million has been made available to support the modernisation project. In addition to the existing 20 sites, at least another 30 sites will join the modernisation project this year.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: International research and more recent statistics contradict the claims made in this paper. A comprehensive review of international research shows that the provision of specialist youth contraceptive services increases the use of contraception without increasing sexual activity.
Research also shows that the most effective strategy for decreasing teenage conception rates is a multifaceted approach of which access to youth specific contraceptive services is a key factor. Our Teenage Pregnancy Strategy encompasses this approach, including helping young people to resist peer pressure to have early sex, improving sex and relationship education and acces to effective services, and involving parents and the wider community.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The average time taken to answer Written Questions tabled by noble Lords in the past two years is 11.5 days. It is not possible to provide accurate data on those questions not answered within six weeks.
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