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East London River Crossing

Mr. Dunn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will lift the line orders for the east London river crossing. [27501]

Mr. Norris: The Government have decided that the east London river crossing line order should be revoked. Statutory procedures leading to revocation will be initiated as soon as practicable.

Bus Companies (Fuel Duty Rebate)

Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what sums were paid by his Department in fuel duty rebate in 1993-94, 1994-95 and 1995-96 to (a) British Bus plc, (b) First Bus plc and (c) Stagecoach Holdings plc and their subsidiaries. [27231]

Mr. Norris: It would not be appropriate for the Government to disclose this information, which is regarded as commercially confidential, about private sector bus operators.

Fishes Royal

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will list for each of the last five years (a) the number of staff employed and (b) the total cost to his Department in respect of responsibilities for Fishes Royal; and if he will make a statement; [26700]

Mr. Norris: I have asked the chief executive of the Coastguard agency to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from C. J. Harris to Mr. Martin Redmond, dated 29 April 1996:

Aircraft Leasing

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list, for each of the last five years, the number of occasions on which his Department has been asked to grant permission for (a) dry leasing of aircraft and (b) wet leasing of aircraft. [26821]

Mr. Norris: The following table shows the number of wet and dry lease applications which have been made to the Department of Transport over the last five years:

29 Apr 1996 : Column: 358


MV Derbyshire

Mr. Dixon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 23 April, Official Report, columns 76-77, which months of the year it is possible to visit the wreck of the MV Derbyshire; and what assessment he has made of whether the recommendation of the assessors and advisers will be ready in time for a visit in the current year. [27236]

Mr. Norris: An assessment of the weather impact on operations in the area of Derbyshire site has been made in conjunction with the meteorological departments of the UK and USA and additional information from commercial organisations that have carried out underwater operations in this region. We expect to receive the recommendations of the assessors and advisors in time for a visit this year if that proves practicable.

Rail Franchises

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish the franchise agreements for those passenger rail franchises that have recently been awarded by the franchising director. [27134]

Mr. Watts: The Gatwick Express, InterCity East Coast and Midland Main Line franchises commenced operation yesterday, 28 April. Copies of the franchise agreements and ancillary documents have today been placed in the Library. Certain provision of these documents have been deleted in line with section 73 of the Railways Act 1993.

The Network SouthCentral franchise will commence operation as soon as practicable and a copy of the franchise agreement will be placed in the Library thereafter.

Serco Ltd.

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what contracts his Department and his agencies have with Serco Ltd., what is the current cost; when each contract ends; what are the penalties involved should be he seek early termination of the contracts; and if he will make a statement. [26688]

Mr. Norris [pursuant to his answer, 25 April 1996, c. 246-47]: My Department also has the following contracts with Serco Ltd:

DescriptionTermination date
Supply and Installation of MIDAS instation and outstation equipmentMid June 1996
Supply, Installation and Commissioning of Back Projection Display31 July 1996
NMCS1 Maintenance7 October 1996
Supply and installation of MIDAS System Manchester Network M627 October 1996
NCD Stores Yate31 January 1997
Motorway Signals Mk2, Enhanced Message Signs, Cantilever Structures18 March 1997
Supply of NMCS2 Core SystemsMid June 1997
NMCS2 Software Upgrade and Supply of NMCS1Mid September 1997
CCTV Maintenance Contract28 January 1998
Refurbishment of Motorway Communication Equipment (call-off)1 October 1998
Regional Maintenance contract19 November 2000

29 Apr 1996 : Column: 359

The total cost of the contracts is £24,215,000. Individual contract costs are not provided as this information is commercially confidential.

The cost to the Department of early termination of these contracts would be negotiable and depend on the individual circumstances and loss suffered by the contractor. In any case, this amount, when taken together with any payments already made, should not exceed the total contract price.


Beef Exports (EU Ban)

Mr. John Morris: To ask the Prime Minister if he will take measures (a) at the Council of Ministers of the European Community and (b) the Court of Justice in Luxembourg to expedite the hearing of the British Government's proposed case against the European Commission's embargo on the export of British beef, particularly to third countries; and if he will instruct the Attorney-General to present the British case. [26372]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 23 April]: The European Union ban on the export of British beef is not justified on the basis of science as a measure necessary to protect public health, and it is totally disproportionate. We are pressing at every opportunity in the Council of Ministers for this ban on the export of British beef to be lifted. We are also challenging the legality of the ban before the European Court of Justice.


Trials (Media Reporting)

33. Mr. Soley: To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on the reporting of trials in the media.[25667]

The Attorney-General: The law provides a general right to make fair and accurate reports of legal proceedings held in public, published contemporaneously and in good faith, subject to limited statutory exceptions such as those to protect rape victims and children and certain powers to order postponement of reporting where necessary to avoid prejudice to the administration of justice.

Financial Fraud

34. Mr. Tony Banks: To ask the Attorney-General if he will make a statement on his Department's role in respect of fraud in financial institutions. [25669]

29 Apr 1996 : Column: 360

The Solicitor-General: The role of the Serious Fraud Office is to deter fraud through the investigation and prosecution of cases of serious and complex fraud which fall within the criteria set by the director following the recommendations of the Davie report.

Crown Prosecution Service

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Attorney-General what is the current annual cost of running the Crown Prosecution Service; what was the cost five years ago; and if he will make a statement. [26047]

The Attorney-General: The current running cost provision for the CPS in 1996-97 is £220 million. Running cost expenditure in 1992-93, five years ago, was £201 million in cash terms and £222 million in constant prices. After taking account of price changes, the CPS's running costs are lower in 1996-97 in real terms by approximately 1 per cent. than they were five years ago in 1992-93.

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Attorney-General what new proposals he has to improve the effectiveness of prosecution procedures. [25660]

The Attorney-General: Current initiatives between the Crown Prosecution Service and the police include steps to improve the quality and timeliness of case preparation by reducing the volume of paperwork in police files and piloting the use of CPS lawyers giving on-the-spot advice in busy police stations.

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