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Rail Services (Disabled Access)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what percentage of (a) rail stations and (b) rolling stock are accessible for those who are mobility impaired; and what plans there are to increase the percentage. [28819]

Ms Keeble: This information is not currently held centrally. The answers will also depend on the definition of "mobility impairment" which is used—some stations and rolling stock may not be wheelchair accessible but can be accessed by other mobility impaired people. The Strategic Rail Authority will announce shortly a requirement for train operators to prepare new disabled people's protection policies. When available, these will allow national information to be provided.

Rail Infrastructure Investment

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the level of investment in infrastructure has been in each year since 1997 on main railway lines in the UK. [28618]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 18 January 2002]: Information on rail infrastructure investment is available from Railtrack's annual report and accounts for each of the relevant years. These figures are not publicly available by individual route.

Driving Test Examiners (West Yorkshire)

Ann Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many

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driving test examiners were employed in each test centre in West Yorkshire in (a) January 2002, (b) July 2001 and (c) January 2001; and how many in each category were (i) full-time and (ii) part-time. [28354]

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Mr. Spellar: The following number of driving examiners were based at test centres in West Yorkshire:

January 2002 July 2001 January 2001
Bradford (Eccleshill)222222
Bradford (Heaton)323232
Leeds (Horsforth)424242
Leeds (Harehills)818181
Bradford (Eccleshill)000000
Leeds (Horsforth)111111

(3) Other = driving examiners not employed on a permanent, full-time basis: contract examiners (with work guaranteed for a minimum of 10 days per month) or fee-paid examiners (paid on a test-by-test basis to cover for short notice absence of permanent staff).

In addition, other driving examiners were on occasions detached to test centres to cover for annual leave, sickness, and other duties, and to reduce waiting times:

January 2002 July 2001 January 2001
Bradford (Eccleshill)144144153
Bradford (Heaton)104105113
Leeds (Horsforth)142142162
Leeds (Harehills)878796
Bradford (Eccleshill)202020
Leeds (Horsforth)000000


Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what measures his Department is taking to improve the quality of housing in areas of deprivation. [28769]

Ms Keeble: In July 2000 the Government set a target to bring all social housing up to set standards of decency by 2010, tackling one-third of the problem by March 2004 with most of the improvement taking place in deprived local authority areas.

"The Way Forward for Housing", the Government's housing policy statement, set out a range of measures many of which would contribute towards achieving this target, including:

A copy of the policy statement is in the Library.

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Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when targets for congestion will be agreed as part of the 10-year transport plan. [28906]

Ms Keeble: "Transport 2010: The 10-Year Plan", published in July 2000, contained a target

Fire Service SSA

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to reform the standard spending assessment allocation for fire services taking into account fire prevention work; and if he will make a statement. [28919]

Dr. Whitehead: In partnership with the Local Government Association and other local authority organisations we are reviewing the local government finance grant distribution formula. We have already made the commitment that, when the new formula is introduced for the 2003–04 Local Government Finance Settlement, the perverse incentive of the fire calls indicator (whereby fire authorities are effectively penalised for reducing the number of calls) will be removed. Other options that are being considered include increasing the share that is allocated for fire safety education.

Fishing (Light Dues)

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will calculate the amount paid in light dues by British registered fishing vessels in the last 12 months for which figures are available; and what proposals he has to exempt British registered fishing vessels from the payment of light dues. [29086]

Mr. Jamieson: The amount of light dues invoiced to UK registered fishing vessels for the financial year 2001–02 (April to March) is £672,326. We have no current plans to exempt fishing vessels from the payment of light dues, but we intend to consult all users of the general lighthouse authorities' aids to navigation on the charging structure.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list those European Union member nations which levy light dues on their domestically registered fishing vessels; and what assessment he has made of the effect of light dues on the competitiveness of British registered vessels in comparison with vessels from fishing fleets of other European Union member nations. [29087]

Mr. Jamieson: The lighthouse authorities in the UK and Ireland are funded through the general lighthouse fund, which is administered by DTLR. The Irish Government make a contribution to the fund towards the costs of provision of aids to navigation in the Irish Republic, and do not require fishing vessels in the Irish Republic to pay light dues. We do not have information on arrangements for covering the costs of provision of aids to navigation in other member states.

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Road Maintenance Survey

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions for what reasons the present form of the annual road maintenance survey is to be discontinued; how the replacement statistical series will differ; and if he will make a statement. [28907]

Mr. Jamieson: The National Road Maintenance Condition Survey (NRMCS) reports on the condition of roads, footways, kerbs and verges in England and Wales. It was introduced in 1977 as a visual survey of defects and subsequently extended to include surveys of structural condition and skidding resistance. Recent technical advances and organisational changes affecting the management of the national and local road networks have provided the opportunity to collect the information more efficiently.

In future, the data for statistics of road maintenance conditions will be those which each authority now collects in order to manage its own network and to produce best value performance indicators. This has a number of advantages. Firstly, there will be cost savings to authorities as they will no longer be asked to collect separate data for NRMCS. This should also give rise to increased response rates. Secondly, the new methods of data collection use latest technology to monitor the whole of the road network, as opposed to a sample of 100 m road lengths as in the old NRMCS. As a result, we will be able to publish meaningful comparisons at authority and regional level for the first time which will also serve to improve the accuracy of the national results.

The new survey will be more comprehensive than the old NRMCS. Coverage will include motorways (excluded from the old visual survey), and roads with a concrete running surface will come within the survey for the first time. In addition the condition of cycleways will be recorded.

The new information will also enable the monitoring of two objectives in the 10-Year Plan for Transport—halting local road deterioration by 2004 and eliminating the backlogs in their maintenance by 2010–11. The new survey will continue to provide information on the condition of roads but should also enable the calculation of more precise estimates of the amount of outstanding maintenance than those currently derived from the visual survey.

These new arrangements are being phased in over three years. Each part of the new survey will run in parallel with the corresponding part of the old survey for a period of one year to ensure consistency over time.

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