§ Harry Cohen
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much was spent in each of the last five years by London Underground Ltd. on renewal and improvement of train signals and related equipment; what is the extent of signal renewal necessary over the next five years; what he expects will be undertaken and completed; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Jamieson
London Underground advise that the following has been spent on the renewal and improvement of train signals and related equipment in each of the last five years:
Year £ million 1996–97 16.7 1997–98 14.4 1998–99 27.9 1999–2000 30.1 2000–01 25.7
The Tube Modernisation plans are designed to achieve a comprehensive modernisation of the entire underground network. This is necessarily a long-term programme and there is a limit on the amount of work that can be done simultaneously without causing excessive disruption to 1097W the service to the public. The overall requirements have therefore been specified by London Underground to renew signalling equipment over time, prioritised to deliver the greatest benefits as quickly as possible. The detailed requirements will be published by London Underground shortly.
§ Geraint Davies
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the London Underground PPPs. 
§ Mr. Byers
The Board of London Regional Transport has today announced that it is minded to proceed with its plans for the modernisation of London Underground. It will now consult the Mayor of London and Transport for London as required under the terms of S298 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999. At the request of the Mayor and Transport for London, London Regional Transport has offered to extend the period of consultation until 8 March.
The Board of London Regional Transport has undertaken a thorough evaluation of the bids to assess whether they are likely to provide value for money. It is confident they would do so and that the proposed contracts would provide an appropriate basis for the future management of the London underground infrastructure.
The contracts envisage a long-term partnership between London Underground and three private sector infrastructure companies who will take over responsibility for maintaining and upgrading the network. The private sector will be committed, under contract, to deliver specific improvements and will be incentivised appropriately. If they fail to do so they will be penalised. Persistent inability on the part of infrastructure companies to meet their obligations could lead to their contracts being terminated.
I have taken separate independent advice from Ernst and Young. Ernst and Young have confirmed to me that the process followed by London Underground's evaluation team has been suitably robust and that London Underground's recommendation that the PPP proposals deliver value for money is a subjective one which is supported by its analysis. A copy of Ernst and Young's report has been placed in the Library of the House and is available on my Department's website.
I will of course take full account of Ernst and Young's findings. In particular, I agree with Ernst and Young that the Arbiter, whom I will appoint in accordance with the Greater London Authority Act 1999, should be resourced to be fully effective, and I will ensure that is the case. And I agree with Ernst and Young that the final decision to go ahead should be conditional upon, among other things, the final prices and risk transfer proposals submitted by the bidders not altering materially prior to financial close.
Depending on the outcome of the statutory consultation, the Board of London Regional Transport would be likely to take a final decision on whether or not to proceed with its modernisation plans for the London underground in the middle of March.1098W
The safety case still has to be accepted by the Health and Safety Executive. The proposals will not proceed unless this acceptance is obtained.