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Working Time Directive

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the impact of the working time directive on the road haulage industry. [7462]

Mr. Jamieson: In March 1998, the Department of Trade and Industry published a regulatory assessment covering the costs and benefits of working time legislation. The assessment covered all sectors of employment in the UK, including excluded sectors such as the road haulage industry. A copy of the assessment was deposited in the Libraries of the House.

Since then, the Government have held regular meetings with both sides of industry to discuss the impact of the latest proposals on the haulage industry.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the impact of the working time directive on the bus and coach industry. [7460]

Mr. Jamieson: In March 1998, the Department of Trade and Industry published a regulatory assessment covering the costs and benefits of working time legislation. The assessment covered all sectors of employment in the UK, including excluded sectors such as the bus and coach industry. A copy of the assessment was deposited in the Libraries of the House.

Bus drivers on local routes will not be affected by the latest working time proposals for mobile workers in the road transport sector. However, the Government have held regular meetings with both sides of the bus and coach industry to discuss the impact of the proposals on those parts of the industry which they will affect.

Aviation and Airports

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he intends to publish a White Paper on aviation and airports. [7451]

Mr. Jamieson: We intend to publish an air transport White Paper in the second half of 2002.

Night Working

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the impact on peak hour congestion of an eight-hour limit on night working for mobile workers. [7458]

Mr. Jamieson: From our regular meetings with industry, we are fully aware of the problem that an eight-hour limit for night workers is likely to have on daytime congestion. That is why the Government support the 10-hour limit included in the Council's common position.

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Road Safety

Mr. Pollard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans the Government have to improve safety measures on (a) trunk roads and (b) roads extensively used by heavy goods vehicles. [7098]

Mr. Jamieson: In March of last year, the Government published their road safety strategy and casualty reduction targets for 2010 with the document "Tomorrow's roads: safer for everyone". At the same time, the Highways Agency published a Strategic Plan for improving safety on the trunk road network in England. The documents describe the measures to improve road safety that will be a mixture of education, engineering and enforcement measures.

The Government's current targeted programme of improvements to trunk roads contains proposals for some 25 bypasses that will remove through traffic, particularly heavy goods vehicles, from towns and villages. Additional schemes may well be added as a result of the programme of multi-modal studies currently being undertaken. The Government have also given the go-ahead for a further 23 bypass schemes on local authority roads in the last two years as part of the Local Transport Settlement. Bids for further schemes are currently being considered and decisions will be announced in December.

East-West Transport Links

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the relative (a) cost and (b) environmental impact of upgrading east-west (i) road links and (ii) rail links between (A) Huntingdon and Cambridge, (B) Cambridge and Bedford, (C) Bedford and Milton Keynes and (D) Milton Keynes and Oxford. [7177]

Mr. Jamieson: In the Cambridge to Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study, a full assessment of the relative costs and environmental impacts has been undertaken on a wide range of road and rail options for improving the links between Huntingdon and Cambridge. This study has now reported and the recommendations are being considered by the Regional Planning Body.

The London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study will be looking at long term, sustainable solutions to the difficulties of east-west travel across the study area. In assessing possible solutions, infrastructure costs and their environmental impacts will be taken fully into account. This study is expected to report at the end of 2002.

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to upgrade east-west road links from (a) Huntingdon to Cambridge, (b) Cambridge to Bedford, (c) Bedford to Milton Keynes and (d) Milton Keynes to Oxford. [7176]

Mr. Jamieson: The east-west road links between Huntingdon and Cambridge have been studied by the Cambridge to Huntingdon Multi-Modal Study. The consultants undertaking this study have made their recommendations and these have been considered by the Regional Planning Body for the East of England. The Regional Planning Body is expected to make its views known to the Secretary of State in due course.

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East-west road links between Cambridge and Bedford, and between Bedford and Milton Keynes are being studied by the London to South Midlands Multi-Modal Study. This study commenced in 2000 and is expected to report at the end of 2002.

The Strategic Roads Network between Milton Keynes and Oxford is under continuous review, however at this stage the Government have no plans to upgrade the road links.

Mobile Homes

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he plans to bring forward legislation to amend the law affecting mobile homes. [7146]

Ms Keeble: Changes to the legislation relating to mobile homes were included in the recommendations of the Park Homes Working Party, published last year. We have consulted on, and are considering, the Working Party's recommendations.

Gazumping and Gazundering

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proposals he has to prevent gazumping and gazundering by house buyers and sellers. [7207]

Ms Keeble: As set out in our manifesto, we will make it easier for people buying and selling homes through a seller's pack. This will provide at the very start of the process information needed to enable home buyers and sellers to make informed decisions, and assist transactions to proceed smoothly. The seller's pack will reduce significantly the period between offer acceptance and exchange of contracts, thereby narrowing the window during which gazumping, gazundering and other problems can occur.

Harbour Authorities

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what measures are in place to ensure that a harbour authority's powers and duties are not exercised to the detriment of other users or otherwise unfairly, where that harbour authority is also the dominant user of a harbour. [7192]

Mr. Jamieson: Harbour authorities derive their duties and powers from local and national legislation. Parliament has conferred those duties and powers in a way that strikes a balance between the two and it is incumbent upon harbour authorities to exercise them reasonably. There is no special provision for ports where the harbour authority is also a shipping operator. Parliament has not given my Department any general powers of oversight in respect of harbour authorities' functions.

One important duty, almost invariably incorporated in local legislation, is commonly called the "the open port duty". This provides that upon payment of ship, passenger and goods dues the harbour shall be open to all persons for the shipping and unshipping of goods, and the embarking and landing of passengers. Although these dues may be set as the authority sees fit, they are subject to a statutory right of objection under section 31 of the

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Harbours Act 1964 which gives the Secretary of State the power to direct an authority to review dues if, after proper consideration, he considers that they are unreasonable.

DL Registrations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many DL registrations remained unissued at 1 September 2001 in each of the following series (a) two letters, up to four digits, (b) three letters, up to three digits, (c) up to four digits, two letters, (d) up to three digits, three letters, (e) three letters, up to three digits, year suffix, and (f) year prefix, up to three digits, three letters. [7175]

Mr. Jamieson: Approximate numbers of vehicle registration marks in categories (a) to (d) are as follows:







Exact figures cannot be provided as some marks have been allocated over the years, for instance to imported vehicles or those sold through the sale of marks scheme.


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