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Ordnance Survey

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): As announced in the Budget, the Government will look closely at public sector information held by trading funds, including Ordnance Survey, to distinguish more clearly what is required by government for public tasks and ensure that this information is made available as widely as possible for use in downstream markets. In the lead-up to the next spending review, the Government will ensure that information collected for public purposes is priced so that the need for access is balanced with ensuring that customers pay a fair contribution to the cost of collecting this information in the long term. In the mean time Ordnance Survey will continue to generate the revenue it requires to cover its costs, to fund investments and to provide a return to government, from sales of paper mapping and from licensing use of the Crown copyright and Crown database rights in its data, including OS MasterMap.

Prisoners: Northern Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The following table provides a breakdown of those prisoners on temporary release who absconded during 2007 and 2008.

Prior to 1 January 2007 the specific periods for those absconders who returned to custody are not available on a central record. To answer this Question for those years would incur disproportionate costs.

Calendar YearTotal AbscondsLess than a weekMore than a week

2007

26 (of whom 3 are still unlawfully at large)

15 (of whom 6 returned to custody on the same day)

8

2008

11 (of whom none is unlawfully at large)

7 (of whom 4 returned to custody on the same day)

4

Totals

37

22

12



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Public Appointments: Northern Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The appointments to the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum, the Strategic Review of Parading and the Consultative Group on the Past followed discussions between officials and Ministers and were subject to the Secretary of State's final approval. Following the Secretary of State's decision on each, appointments were given immediate effect from 15 March 2007, 18 April 2007, and 22 June 2007 respectively.

Railways: Accidents

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Detailed train-delay data for the rail network are not held by the Department for Transport, but are collected and processed by Network Rail. The noble Lord may wish to contact Network Rail for this information at the following address: Chief Executive, Network Rail, 40 Melton Street, London, NW1 2EE.

Railways: Carriages

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Three hundred and seventeen of the vehicles have been ordered.

Railways: East Coast Main Line

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Bassam of Brighton: The service pattern proposed in the successful franchise bid is subject to the emerging recommendations of the east coast main line route utilisation strategy (RUS). Once the RUS is established by the Office of Rail Regulation, the franchisee will work towards securing the necessary train paths to operate a timetable that reflects the bid proposition.

Route utilisation strategies are prepared by Network Rail in accordance with guidance issued by the Office of Rail Regulation. They make use of HM Government's economic forecasting data, which take account of the cost of oil, and, although the ORR's guidance does not include explicit climate change objectives, the east coast main line strategy proposes to accommodate significant levels of growth in passenger and freight traffic by rail rather than by less environmentally friendly modes.

Roads: Trenches

Lord Sheldon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Powers in the Traffic Management Act 2004 will enable highway authorities in England to issue a “resurfacing notice” to a utility company when the utility is planning or executing street works. This would result in the utility company being required to execute resurfacing works as stipulated by the notice. The Government plan to consult in due course on how to give best effect to this part of the Traffic Management Act.

Somalia

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Jowhar was raided by a group of anti-government Somali insurgents, the Shabab, on 26 March 2008. The Shabab entered the town, released prisoners from the jail and then withdrew. The Shabab have been reported to have carried out similar raids in other towns. Unverified reports from the area indicate that seven people died in the fighting.

We strongly condemn the use of such force and call on all Somalis to renounce violence and commit to a peaceful political process of dialogue, reconciliation and nation-building.

Sudan: Darfur

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We are in regular discussion with the African Union (AU) Commission, including with the current chairperson, Alpha Omar Konare, on the situation in Darfur and the transition from the AU Mission in Sudan to the joint AU-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID). I discussed Darfur with a number of AU and other African leaders in the margins of the AU summit in Addis Ababa on 31 January and 1 February 2008. We look forward to an early opportunity to discuss Darfur and UNAMID with the incoming chairperson of the AU Commission, Jean Ping, who is due to take over from Alpha Omar Konare on 28 April and whom we have invited to London.

Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Six-axle 44-tonne lorries have been authorised on UK roads since 1 February 2001. However, since 1 January 1999, the United Kingdom has been required to implement EU directive 89/460/EC, which allows the use of road vehicles with 11.5-tonne axle loads and plated vehicle weights of 40 tonnes. These vehicles are more demanding in loading terms than a 44-tonne vehicle on six axles.

Both the Highways Agency and local highway authorities undertake considerable investment in their networks, but it is not possible to identify how much of this was specifically to accommodate 44-tonne vehicles. When the EU directive came into force, all bridges on the motorway and trunk road network were able to accommodate 40-tonne vehicles. Maintenance of other roads is a matter for the relevant local highway authority.

Transport: Insurance

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: There are as yet no reliable statistics of the number of vehicles which have had to be returned following seizure under Section 165A. Police seized in excess of 150,000 vehicles in 2007, virtually all of which were uninsured. The Motor Insurers’ Bureau's current best estimate is that of the order of one or two per 1,000 may have been returned because they proved on further investigation

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to be covered by valid motor insurance. All insurers consider such cases in accordance with the Financial Services Authority complaints procedure guidelines with, if merited, reimbursement of costs incurred. It is within the operational discretion of the police to release a vehicle without charge.

There are no statistics of prosecutions failed for the reason requested.

The Motor Insurers’ Bureau has developed an internet inquiry facility, www.askmid.com, to enable any motorist to verify that their vehicle is recorded on the motor insurers database. Current usage is running at over 2 million inquiries on an annualised basis.

Vehicles: Speed Limits

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: There are no plans to require 70 mph speed limiters for new motorcycles, passenger cars or light goods vehicles.

However, under current EU legislation, all new goods vehicles with a maximum mass of more than 3,500 kilograms are already limited to 90 kmh (56 mph) and all new passenger-carrying vehicles with more than eight passenger seats are already limited to 100 kmh (62.5 mph).

Water Resources Act

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government are working to address this recommendation by means of a legislative reform order. The Department for Transport is developing the consultation package, which will include both the draft order and a consultation document, and expects to go out to consultation in the summer.

Winter Fuel Payment

Lord Bradley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The following table shows the number of winter fuel payments made in winter 2006-07. Figures for winter 2007-08 are not yet available but we expect the numbers to be similar.



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ConstituencyPayments made

Manchester Blackley

13,880

Manchester Central

11,560

Manchester Gorton

10,070

Manchester Withington

11,690

Wythenshawe and Sale East

17,800


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