HL Deb 06 March 2002 vol 632 cc15-7WA
Lord Bowness

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made a £30 million contribution to the £60 million loan facility granted to National Air Traffic Services; and [HL2949]

For how long the £60 million loan facility will enable National Air Traffic Services to continue its operations; and [HL2950]

Whether the sufficiency of the £60 million loan facility to National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is dependent upon the lifting of the price cap imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority, as NATS' regulator; and [HL2951]

When they agreed to make a £30 million contribution to the loan facility to National Air Traffic Services; when the negotiations commenced; and whether in the light of various newspaper reports of 20 February they will reconsider the reply by the Lord Filkin on 14 February (HL Deb, col. 1179) that "the noble Lord…should not believe everything that is written in the papers on this matter". [HL2952]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

The terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September led to a downturn in air traffic, which has had a serious impact on NATS' revenues. Since that time, NATS' financial position has been regularly discussed by NATS, the Airline Group, the Government as the other main shareholder, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as regulator and the banks. All these parties are making a contribution to ensuring that NATS has a robust financial structure for the foreseeable future.

The banks and government are being asked to make a contribution through the provision of short-term financial support, likely to be in the form of commercial loans. The terms of Airline Group's contribution are being discussed. Final decisions have not yet been taken.

The loan would be intended to provide bridging finance until NATS' longer-term financial position becomes clearer. The longer-term position depends in part on the outcome of the CAA review of the price cap.

Lord Janner of Braunstone

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will take immediate steps to improve the 23 British roads which the 2002 European Road Assessment Programme zero rated. [HL2968]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

The Government put a high priority on road safety and reducing casualties on our roads. The demanding targets they have set for casualty reduction by 2010 endorse this and are backed by the Road Safety Strategy published in March 2000. The strategy explained the Government's commitment to improve safety on all roads in Great Britain for all road users, and work has already started to deliver improvements in order to meet the 2010 casualty reduction targets.

While the Government provide funds, local highway authorities and the Highways Agency in England, and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for carrying out road improvements. Authorities target individual locations or sections of routes that have been identified through an assessment procedure that includes analysis of accident data. Priority is usually given to treating those sites and routes that have higher than average accident trends.

The AA EuroRap programme is a welcome contribution to the road safety debate; it highlights the need for highway authorities continually to strive for improvement. It should also encourage drivers and other road users to take greater care and to play their part in improving road safety.