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Written Answers

Volume 687: debated on Friday 15 December 2006

Written Answers

Friday 15 December 2006

Aviation: Gibraltar Flight Safety

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What findings they have made in relation to the incident between flight BA6906 at 4.45 pm from Gatwick to Gibraltar on 22 November and a stationary military helicopter on the runway. [HL596]

At 19:13 GMT on 29 November a British Airways flight was directed by Gibraltar Air Traffic Control to abort its approach to Gibraltar Airport due to a vehicle on the runway. The vehicle in question was a Defence Fire Services vehicle carrying out a routine check for debris following the closure of the road which crosses the runway. The vehicle responded late to the request to check the runway and thus was still conducting its inspection as the aircraft arrived. An occurrence report has been submitted to the civil authorities regarding this event and the fire crew have been re-briefed on their response time. However, no further action is necessary as air traffic control procedures worked correctly and ensured the safety of the aircraft.

EU: Transport Council

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Statement by Lord Davies of Oldham on 6 December (WS 126–28), what was reported to the second Transport Council about the Ministerial Conference On Road Safety held in Verona on 3 and 4 November. [HL675]

The Finnish and Italian Transport Ministers, who were co-chairs of the fourth Verona Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in November, reported to the Transport Council on the outcome of the conference. The conference was divided into four sessions: children's mobility and road safety awareness; safety of two-wheel vehicle users; road safety planning and policies; and innovations in road safety, including technology. The discussions have been summarised in conclusions, which can be found on the website The conclusions include the following points: a need for a new programme, going beyond the European Road Safety Action Programme: Halving the number of road safety accident victims in the European Union by 2010—A shared responsibility; the European road safety charter as a tool to involve stakeholders in sharing responsibility for reaching the target; and the necessity for new innovations, including new technology.

Gulf War Illnesses

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether at any time the Medical Research Council (MRC) directly consulted the Gulf War Veterans and Families Association about its work in regard to Gulf War illnesses; and whether at any stage the association was kept directly informed of the MRC's findings. [HL755]

The information requested falls within the responsibilities of the Medical Research Council. The MRC's response is as follows.

The MRC did not directly consult National Gulf Veterans and Families Association about the review of research into UK Gulf veterans' illnesses conducted by the Military Health Research Advisory Group (MHRAG) in 2003 on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). However, all relevant information, including the MHRAG report on the review, has been made available on the MRC website. We understand that the MoD, which is the lead government department on Gulf veterans' illnesses issues, wrote to veterans' organisations to report on the outcome of the review.

House of Lords: Internet

asked the Chairman of Committees:

Further to his Written Answer on 16 October (WA 175), when the solution to the technical error affecting House of Lords Official Report entries on the internet will be rolled out. [HL878]

Further to my Answer to QWA HL7624, I am pleased to report that progress has been made in solving problems with searching Hansard on the internet by name. Investigations revealed that the problem was not caused by any defect in the search engine. The actual source of the difficulty was an incompatibility between the mark-up of the electronic feed of Hansard, as output by the new system introduced this year for generating Hansard for both Houses in-house, and the mark-up of the feed previously used by the search engine. Those involved have been co-operating energetically to ensure that full functionality is restored. I am pleased to say that all new data and all data relating to the current session are now fully compatible with the search engine. A small amount of data relating to Lords Hansard from July 2006 to the end of the last Session in November, and to Commons Hansard from May 2006 to the end of the last Session, will be upgraded when the Bound Volumes of Hansard appear online, beginning during the Christmas Recess.

In addition, from Monday 18 December Hansard from this Session will also include a new “Hansard by Member” feature which can be accessed via a link on the Hansard home page: http://www.publications.

Houses of Parliament: Carbon Offsetting

asked the Chairman of Committees:

Further to his Written Answer on 31 October (WA 20), whether there are any plans to offset carbon emissions from the Parliamentary Estate other than those caused by aviation. [HL392]

There are no such plans. The Parliamentary Estates Directorate, which serves both Houses, has a partnership arrangement with the Carbon Trust to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions, to help reduce energy consumption and to develop a corporate strategy for the management of carbon dioxide. Priority is being given to reducing energy consumption on the Parliamentary Estate and to acquiring energy from renewable sources.

Railways: Double-Decker Trains

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which routes on the United Kingdom's national railways are of a sufficient gauge to permit the running of double-deck passenger trains. [HL717]

The only route in the UK cleared for the operation of conventional European gauge double deck trains is the Channel Tunnel Rail Link.

Television: Digital Switchover

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the implications for energy consumption of the switchover from analogue to digital signals for television and radio receivers. [HL250]

Digital switchover is expected to have an impact on both transmitter power usage and consumer power usage.

Digital transmission is more efficient than analogue in terms of power usage. Replacing the analogue terrestrial transmission network with a nationwide digital terrestrial television network will lead to a significant net reduction in energy usage by the transmission networks, estimated to be 186 GWh per year.

Consumer power usage is expected to rise as a result of switchover, primarily because of the rapid increase in the take-up of set-top boxes, particularly for second sets, which would not be otherwise converted until replaced. The predicted level of the increase is dependent on a number of assumptions about usage and design of equipment in the market at the time of switchover. DCMS, DTI and Defra economists have estimated that the increase in consumer energy use of completing digital switchover in 2012 is likely to be between 966GWh and 2,816GWh per annum above that predicted for market take-up in the absence of a set switchover timetable. The increase is equivalent to a 0.37 per cent increase in domestic electricity consumption.

The central estimate for the total impact of switchover is a net increase of 1,705GWh per year, but this would be reduced if industry can be encouraged to make more energy-efficient products. Work on this is being taken forward as part of the DTI usability action plan.

Further details are contained in the Regulatory and Environmental Impact Assessment: The timing of digital switchover, published on 16 September 2005. This was placed in the Library of the House of Commons at the time of publication, and is also available at There are currently no plans to switch from analogue to digital radio.