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Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will place the procurement documents relating to the Birmingham Northern Relief Road in the Library; and if he will make a statement in respect of health and safety of the project. 
Mr. Jamieson: A copy of an edited version of the concession agreement prepared in accordance with the judgment of the High Court was placed in the Library in June 2000. I am also arranging for a copy of the OJEC notice that advertised the procurement of the BNRR construction contract to be placed in the Library of the House.
Midland Expressway Ltd. and CAMBBA have health and safety obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Construction Design and Management Regulations 1994 for the safe design, construction and management of the BNRR. They will continue to meet these obligations.
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Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans the Government have to encourage and promote road safety for motorcyclists; and if he will make a statement. 
to publish advice for people returning to motorcycling after a break and people riding as part of their work;
to ensure the quality of instruction;
to help drivers become more aware of how vulnerable motorcyclists are;
to promote improvements in engineering and technical standards which could protect motorcyclists better; and
to work with representatives of interested organisations, in an advisory group, to look at issues of concern.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what application he has received from the Port of London Authority under section 14 of the Harbours Act 1964 concerning changes to their Act and proposals for a statutory instrument; what correspondence he has received from objectors or potential objectors to the proposed statutory instrument; what steps he has taken to ensure that those most likely to be affected have been consulted; and if he will make a statement on his intentions. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Port of London Authority's application for a Harbour Revision Order was advertised in the London Gazette and various local newspapers. The Secretary of State received objections or representations from the following:
Thames Boating Trades Association
Residential Boat Owners Association
TGWU South East and East Anglia
Thames Passenger Services Federation
London Tideway Harbour Company Ltd.
The Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames
Toughs Boatyard Ltd.
Royal Yachting Association
Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Inland Waterways Association
River Association for Freight and Transport
British Marine Industries Federation
Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs
National Association of Boat Owners
Commercial Boat Owners Association.
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David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent work has been undertaken to assess the effects of bull bars on pedestrians in vehicle accidents. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Transport Research Laboratory has undertaken some test work for us comparing the likely effect on pedestrians of a range of typical bull bars and base vehicles. Its report, "Assessment and Test Procedures for Bull Bars", was published on 26 July last year, and copies were placed in the Libraries of the House.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what amendments to GoVia's proposals for the new South Central franchise have been put forward since Railtrack went into administration with particular reference to (a) start date and (b) levels of investment. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority and GoVia have not agreed any changes to the Heads of Terms for a new South Central franchise, which was signed on 23 October 2000. However, items relating to Mark 1 rolling stock replacement contained in the Heads of Terms have been brought forward into the current Franchise Agreement. Progress in negotiations on the exact terms of the new franchise is commercially confidential.
Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will undertake a review of the regulations on the permitted number of standing passengers on local buses. 
Ms Keeble: The recent agreement in the EU for common standards for the construction of buses will lead to a change in the regulations. However, in practice, the provisions of the EU Directive are broadly similar to our current requirements.
Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will take steps to amend the Public Service Vehicle (Carrying Capacity) (Amendment) Regulations 1994 in order to end the practice of three seated children under the age of 14 years counting as two passengers. 
Currently, there is no plan to amend the Carrying Capacity Regulations to abolish this concession. The responsibility for choosing an appropriate vehicle must rest with those who are making the arrangements for the transport of children.
Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the legislative basis is of the three for two rule in the carrying of pupils under 14 years on scheduled bus services; and what plans he has to abolish this rule. 
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Ms Keeble: The regulations that permit the three for two rule are the Public Service Vehicles (Carrying Capacity) Regulations 1984. I have no plans to abolish this rule as it a concession and not a requirement.
Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment the Health and Safety Executive has made of passenger overcrowding on buses transporting pupils to school. 
Ms Keeble: No assessment of overcrowding of buses has been made by the Health and Safety Executive. The responsibility for ensuring that a bus does not carry more passengers than it is certified for lies with the driver and, if applicable, conductor. Enforcement of regulations relating to carrying capacity and safety of buses rests with the Police and the Vehicle Inspectorate. I am not aware of any prosecutions for overcrowding on services involving school transport.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the impact on congestion of the variable speed limit system in operation on the M25 motorway; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: Independent monitoring and assessment of the scheme by the Transport Research Laboratory during the first year of operation confirmed its success. The monitoring indicated that traffic flow had improved, with drivers reporting more "comfortable", less aggressive driving conditions, with fewer very short, dangerous spaces between vehicles and fewer long (inefficient) spaces and more even use of the carriageway. There were also indications of improved safety, and shorter and more reliable journey times.
Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what was the total budget for each regional chamber in England by region for (a) the last financial year and (b) this financial year; and what the projected figure is for next year. 
Dr. Whitehead: The regional chambers have been established voluntarily by bodies representing the interests of each region. Their budgets are a matter for the chambers and their members. The Government have however allocated £500,000 this year to each regional chamber, with an additional £1 million for chambers to use collectively, to help them establish a stronger strategic and scrutiny role within the regions.
Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proportion of funding for regional chambers in England came from central Government for (a) last year and (b) this financial year; and what the projected apportionment is for the next financial year. 
Dr. Whitehead: The Government provided no funding to the regional chambers in 200001. For 200102 we have allocated £500,000 to each regional chamber, with an additional £1 million for chambers to use collectively, to help them establish a stronger strategic and scrutiny role within the regions. As the total budgets of the
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chambers are a matter for the chambers themselves, information on the proportion represented by Government funding is not available centrally.
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