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Young Drivers

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many of those who passed the driving test in each of the past five years were under 21 years of age. [17835]

Mr. Jamieson: In the last three years the following number of candidates under 21 years of age passed the practical car driving test:

Data on numbers of tests by age of candidates were not compiled before 1998.

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David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what percentage of (a) deaths and (b) serious injuries in road traffic accidents occurred to passengers where they and the car driver are under 21 years of age, broken down by police authority area, in each of the last three years. [17834]

Mr. Jamieson: The percentages of road accident casualties who were aged under 21 and a passenger in a car with a driver who was also under 21 are shown in the table. It should be noted that these percentages are based on small numbers of casualties, in particular, the numbers of this category of fatalities did not exceed 10 for any police force in any of the years for which figures are shown.

1998 1999 2000
KilledSeriously injuredKilledSeriously injuredKilledSeriously injured
Metropolitan police222132
Greater Manchester138343
North Yorkshire134413
West Yorkshire246332
South Yorkshire556302
West Midlands234243
West Mercia644354
Thames Valley343253
City of London000000
Devon and Cornwall236353
Avon and Somerset523324
North Wales552436
South Wales532605
Lothian and Borders840353
Dumfries and Galloway650707
Great Britain434343

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Heavy Goods Vehicles

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many heavy goods vehicles have been inspected while driving on roads in the UK in the last 12 months. [17882]

Mr. Jamieson: The tables show the total number of different types of inspections of heavy goods vehicles carried out at roadside spot checks by vehicle examiners and traffic examiners in the period from 1 November 2000 to 31 October 2001. The number of individual heavy goods vehicles checked is not readily available.

RoadworthinessNumber of checks
HGV motor vehicles55,693
Foreign vehicles4,149
Emission only checks9,309

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Traffic checksNumber of checks
Total number of checks112,111
of which:
Vehicles weighed48,404
Hazchem checks7,971
Foreign vehicle checks12,475

Housing Revenue Account

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement about rent restructuring and the housing revenue account subsidy allocation for 2002–03. [18433]

Ms Keeble: Following extensive consultations last year, we announced our plans to make the rents charged by councils and housing associations fairer and to improve tenants' choice in our housing policy statement "Quality and Choice: A Decent Home for All—The Way

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Forward for Housing" last December. Starting in April 2002, we will begin a series of gradual changes that will result in rents being linked to the value and size of a property and manual earnings in the area.

Moving to a fairer system will have real benefits

I can today announce a further safeguard. Concerns have been expressed about the effect of the rent restructuring formula on a small proportion of properties in high value areas—around 0.5 per cent. of the total social housing stock. To meet these concerns we have decided that the reforms should not lead to rents exceeding a maximum £100 a week in 2002–03 for any council or housing association home. Lower figures will apply for smaller properties. The maximum will rise by RPI + 1 per cent. a year. Some social housing rents are already above these levels and they will be frozen or reduced over time. Average council rents will remain around half the maximum figure.

Housing associations are free to decide how quickly they move their rents to the levels required by rent restructuring although they should aim to complete the process as far as possible in the next 10 years. We have advised the Chairman of the Housing Corporation that, where housing associations do not need to put their rents up in order to remain financially sound, they should not be pressed to do so.

I understand that the computer systems used by some local authorities limit their ability to apply different rent changes to different properties next April. I am advising those authorities that for 2002–03 they should apply the average percentage rent change suggested in our restructuring proposals for their stock to all of their rents except where this might involve breaches of the RPI + 0.5 per cent. + £2 limit, or the maximum rents announced today. The subsidy system will not penalise authorities for not implementing the reforms at an individual property level.

We will consult further with local authorities and tenant groups about the movement from averaged rent increases to the rents which we expect to be charged for individual properties by the end of the 10-year transitional period.

Progress on rent restructuring will be kept under constant review. We will monitor the impact closely each year and will conduct further research on this.

The Government have already doubled the resources allocated to local authorities for investment in housing and are committed to increasing them further. In particular, we have committed ourselves to ensuring that all social housing meets the decent homes standard by 2010. This will involve eliminating the £19 billion council housing investment backlog we inherited.

Accordingly, my Department is today issuing consultation drafts of the Housing Revenue Account subsidy and Item 8 determinations for 2002–03 which

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set out proposed subsidy allocations for individual authorities. These are being issued following consultation with authorities and others in which there was general support for the objectives of the proposed changes but concerns were expressed about aspects of the proposals.

In response to these concerns I should like to make it clear that:

The proposal to abolish "mitigation"—the mechanism used to ensure that councils with a higher proportion of tenants in receipt of housing benefit are not heavily penalised by the rent rebate subsidy system—will not be implemented at this stage. We will consult further on this and a decision on the future of mitigation will be taken in due course. All the other changes proposed for 2002–2003 will be implemented from 1 April 2002.

Copies of the draft determinations and supporting material are being placed in the Library of the House, and will be available on my Department's website. These allocations are based on information available to us from authorities as at 29 October 2001, and may change as that information is refined. Authorities have until 17 December to comment on the draft determinations.

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