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17 Nov 2003 : Column 645W—continued

Heathrow Airport

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect on regional economies of a third runway at Heathrow Airport. [138621]

Mr. McNulty: The assessment of additional capacity options is based on direct benefits to passengers from allowing more people to fly and giving passengers a greater choice of timings and routes. No assessment has been made of the wider economic benefits including

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those to regional economies of additional airport capacity, though some of these will be captured in the direct benefits, particularly to business passengers.

M6 Toll Road

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the M6 toll road will become operational. [137357]

Mr. McNulty: The M6 Toll road is being developed by Midland Expressway Ltd. The Department is expecting them to make an announcement on the road opening date shortly.

MOT Computerisation

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost was at today's prices of the contract with Siemens Business Services to run the MOT computerisation programme; when this contract was awarded; how much has been spent to date; and how much will have been spent by the time the system is operational. [138144]

Mr. McNulty: The cost of the contract with Siemens Business Services (SBS) to run the computerised MOT service is £1.07 per test at today's prices. SBS have been paid nothing so far and will not receive any transaction payments until the first MOT stations are computerised.

The MOT Computerisation Contract was awarded in 2000. Expenditure to end of 2002–03 on managing and delivering VOSA's contracted products is £8.4 million and the forecast spend from April 2003 until roll-out in May 2004 is £9.6 million.

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of the MOT computerisation programme; and what assessment (a) has been conducted and (b) is planned of the (i) success and (ii) value for money of its implementation. [138145]

Mr. McNulty: Siemens Business Services (SBS) activity since the MOT Computerisation Contract was awarded has included design, development and testing of hardware and software needed to supply the service, and they are close to concluding their testing of the system functionality. VOSA is due to begin its trials of the new service in December 2003.

Treasury Task Force commissioned a full review of the project in January 2000 before the contract was awarded. The review concluded that the project had a high probability of success. A further review of progress by an Office of Government Commerce independent expert was conducted in July 2002. This review concluded that an amended contract, then being negotiated, should ensure the first MOT stations would be computerised by mid-February 2004.

A third independent review of progress now under way will report by 20 November 2003.

A readiness-for-service review, to be conducted at the end of VOSA trials, will confirm the viability of the business case and that the services and users are ready for go-live. This review will also cover value-for-money set out in the business case and approved by HM Treasury.

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John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the timetable was for the introduction of the MOT computerisation programme when the contract with Siemens Business Services to run the system was awarded; and what it is now. [138146]

Mr. McNulty: The original contracted date for the first MOT stations to be computerised was May 2002. The earliest likely date for implementation is now mid-May 2004.

Railway Maintenance

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent on clearing railway lines of litter in each of the last five years. [138361]

Mr. McNulty: This is an operational matter for Network Rail. Responsibility for clearing railway lines of litter usually forms part of Network Rail infrastructure maintenance contracts and as such there is no specific budget, rather spending on litter clearance is subsumed into the general maintenance budgets.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many trees have been (a) planted and (b) felled on rail embankments in each year since 1997. [138362]

Mr. McNulty: This is an operational matter for Network Rail who are responsible for the maintenance of over 20,000 miles of track in the UK much of which requires the management of vegetation. Detailed figures of the number of trees planted or felled are not available.

Rail Services

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the performance against target was for (a) reliability, (b) punctuality and (c) safety of rail services between Shrewsbury and (i) Wolverhampton, (ii) Hereford, (iii) Chester and (iv) Aberystwyth in the last year for which figures are available. [138348]

Mr. McNulty: The Strategic Rail Authority publishes performance information in its six monthly "On Track" publication, copies of which are placed in the Library of the House. Information is provided for the services of each operator in aggregate, not by specific routes. There is no single performance measurement or target for 'safety'.

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the line from Weaver Junction to Liverpool Lime Street will be modernised to enable trains to run at 125 mph. [138922]

Mr. McNulty: The Strategic Rail Authority's "West Coast Main Line Strategy", published in June 2003, envisages that the modernisation of the line from London to Crewe will be completed in autumn 2004 and the Crewe-Weaver Junction-Liverpool section in summer 2005, including sections with a maximum line speed of 125mph. With the introduction of 125-mph trains, journey times between London and Liverpool will be substantially reduced from autumn 2004.

Roadworks

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of how many

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roadwork cones are (a) accidentally destroyed and (b) stolen in each of the last three years for which figures are available. [138359]

Mr. McNulty: Figures for the number of cones accidentally destroyed or stolen are not recorded.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many pedestrians were injured in accidental falls into holes dug as a result of roadworks in each of the last five years. [138360]

Mr. McNulty: The Highways Agency has no record of any pedestrian being injured in accidental falls into holes dug as a result of roadworks on its roads, in any of the last five years.

My Department does not hold figures centrally for local authority roads.

Road Schemes

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has undertaken into the environmental effects of proposals by Norfolk County Council to build a road through the Ringland Valley. [138209]

Mr. Jamieson: None. Options for a Northern Distributor Road form part of a review of the Norwich Area Transport Strategy currently being undertaken by Norfolk County Council. It has not taken a decision in principle on the need for the road and so there have been no proposals put forward for assessment by the Secretary of State.

Vehicles (Tinted Windows)

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what response he has made to the concerns represented by the Glass and Glazing Federation about the impact on the owners of vehicles with lightly tinted windows of proposed amendments to Regulation 32 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations. [138735]

Mr. Jamieson: Officials have already met with representatives from the Glass and Glazing Federation and have fully answered their concerns.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will issue guidance on how the proposed amendments to Regulation 32 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations should be enforced in respect of existing vehicles already fitted with (a) lightly and (b) heavily tinted windows. [138737]

Mr. Jamieson: Guidelines have already been issued to the Department's own enforcement staff in the Vehicle Operator Services Agency. These guidelines have been copied for information to the police.

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FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Afghanistan

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further measures are planned to help combat opium production in Afghanistan. [138429]

Mr. Rammell: The UK is the lead nation on Counter Narcotics (CN) in Afghanistan and has a PSA target to contribute to a reduction in poppy cultivation in Afghanistan by 70 per cent. in five years with elimination in 10 years. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the UK are working closely with the Afghan Transitional Administration to help them implement their National Drug Control Strategy.

The UK has developed a plan of activities to support the Afghan authorities in implementing their Strategy, including law enforcement, institution building, drugs demand reduction and alternative livelihoods for poppy farmers.

As the lead nation, the UK has committed £70 million over three years and posted additional personnel to Afghanistan to lead this work. It is also planned to hold a counter-narcotics conference in February 2004 in Kabul, involving Afghan and international representation, to encourage further international support for the delivery of the Afghan strategy. I will co-host this with President Karzai.


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