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12 Dec 2002 : Column 406W—continued


Air Travel

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the consequences for the demand for flying of a 1 per cent.

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increase in the cost of flying per annum; and what assessment he has made of the consequences for (a) air pollution, (b) greenhouse gases, (c) noise and (d) wildlife if the demand for flying is halved. [87061]

Mr. Jamieson: No assessment assuming an annual increase in the cost of flying of 1 per cent. has been made. The forecasts in XAir Traffic Forecasts for the United Kingdom 2000" assume a 1 per cent. per annum decrease in air fares. A sensitivity test, assuming constant fares over the forecast period, indicates a demand reduction of 25 per cent. by 2020. No assessments have been made on the assumption that the demand for flying were halved.

Car Pounds

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many publicly operated car pounds there are in (a) London and (b) the UK; what their locations are; and how many car pounds are operated by the DVLA in (i) London and (ii) the UK. [86910]

Mr. Jamieson: DVLA operates one permanent car pound in London and 13 permanent pounds in the rest of the UK. Temporary pounds are set up to service DVLA's two mobile wheelclamping teams as required.

In addition, six local authorities have taken on devolved powers to clamp and impound unlicensed vehicles in partnership with DVLA. These are the London boroughs of Croydon, Lewisham, Newham and Wandsworth, together with Hastings and Southend-on-Sea. Each authority has a separate car pound for this purpose. DVLA is in discussion with a further 11 local authorities on devolved powers.

The information requested on publicly operated car pounds is not immediately available. I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as it has been obtained and will place a copy of my letter in the Libraries if the House.

Cycling Helmets

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he plans to legislate to make the wearing of helmets by children when cycling compulsory. [86858]

Mr. Spellar: A study published by the Department in November found that overall, the evidence suggests that cycle helmets are effective at reducing the severity of brain and upper facial injuries for all ages, and especially children. This reinforces our view that helmets should be worn by children. Our latest knowledge of wearing is that the rate for all cyclists on built-up major roads is now 22 per cent. The wearing rate is continuing to increase, but at this level, making helmets compulsory would cause enforcement difficulties, and without greater public acceptance, could have an effect on levels of cycling. We will continue to monitor wearing rates and review the option of compulsory wearing from time to time.

DLVA Clamping Teams

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many DVLA clamping teams operate in (a) the UK and (b) London; what plans he has to increase the number of DVLA clamping teams in (i) the UK and (ii) London; how much time was spent by

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DVLA clamping teams in each London borough in each of the last five years; what criteria are used to measure the effectiveness of DVLA clamping teams; what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of DVLA clamping teams, in the last five years, broken down by region. [86911]

Mr. Jamieson: DVLA has an overall total of 18 clamping teams operating from 14 pounds throughout the UK. Four of these teams operate in the London area.

The extension of the wheel clamping scheme is being addressed as part of our proposals to modernise the vehicle registration and licensing system.

Over the last five years DVLA clamping teams have spent two weeks twice a year in each London borough. In addition, DVLA is developing partnerships with local authorities to clamp and remove unlicensed vehicles. Such partnerships already operate in the London boroughs of Newham, Lewisham, Croydon and Wandsworth. Other boroughs have expressed an interest in joining the scheme.

DVLA's clamping contractor has to meet closely monitored targets for the number of vehicles clamped. The current target in the UK is over 1,000 vehicles per week. The overall impact of the wheel clamping scheme on the level of relicensing is regularly monitored by the Department's statisticians. The scheme consistently achieves a return of 3:1 when factors such as induced relicensing are taken into account.

Motorcycling Task Groups

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment has been made of the (a) benefits and (b) value for money of each of the motorcycling task groups; what the outcome of each task group was; and when the task groups met. [86090]

Mr. Jamieson: The Advisory Group on Motorcycling established five Task Forces to consider integration and traffic management, vehicle safety and security, environmental and fiscal issues, research and statistics. They have been meeting as necessary since 1999 and will continue to do so until they have completed their work in 2004. Their initial work was detailed in the Interim Report of the Advisory Group on Motorcycling, published in April 2001, and is available in the Libraries in the House.

Some of the key work streams will not reach fruition until 2004. Even then it would be difficult to assess the value for money of the Task Forces. The nature of their work does not involve specific costs and benefits which can be quantified. However, the work of the Advisory Group is highly valued by Government and provides the motorcycling community with the opportunity to input to the development of motorcycling policy.

Network Rail

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if the head of the accountancy profession at his Department engaged in (a) correspondence, (b) discussions and (c) meetings with (i) his Department's Ministers or officials and (ii) Treasury

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Ministers or officials in relation to the establishment of Network Rail from October 2001 to September 2002; and if he will make a statement; [86846]

Mr. Jamieson: The participation of DfT's head of accountancy profession in discussions about Network Rail was as follows:

A meeting with Department officials on 15 April 2002 to discuss the likely accounting treatment of the CLG proposals based on UK GAAP and Treasury advice on Government accounting.

A meeting with Department and Treasury officials, Strategic Rail Authority and accountancy advisers on 7 May 2002 to discuss likely accounting treatment from UK GAAP perspective.

A meeting with National Audit Office, SRA and Department officials on 9 May 2002 to discuss the Network Rail proposals and the likely UK GAAP accounting treatment.

A letter dated 4 July 2002 to the Office for National Statistics confirming the contingent liabilities.

Rail Franchise Holders (Hospitality)

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what hospitality was received by (a) Ministers and (b) his special advisers from each rail franchise holder over the past 12 months. [85333]

Mr. Jamieson: None.

South West Trains

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the franchise for South West Trains has been extended for one year with the possibility of an extension to 2007. [85534]

Mr. Jamieson: The South West Trains franchise has been extended for one year, with the possibility of a further extension, to provide a period of stability while the Mark 1 trains are replaced, and to allow the Strategic Rail Authority time to negotiate a competitive re-letting.

Unlicensed Vehicles

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of the estimated total number of unlicensed vehicles in the UK is represented by (a) London and (b) the south-east. [86912]

Mr. Jamieson: The percentage of the estimated total number of unlicensed vehicles in the UK represented by (a) London is 11 per cent. and (b) the south-east is 14 per cent. assuming that Essex, Surrey, Sussex, Kent and Hampshire make up the south-east region.

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of unlicensed vehicles in the London area. [86913]

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Mr. Jamieson: It is estimated that there are around 171,000 unlicensed vehicles in the London area in 2001–02.


Aircraft Carriers

Rachel Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where each of the competitors in the UK's aircraft carrier competition is proposing to locate the final assembly of the two ships; and where each of the competitors is proposing to conduct the commissioning and acceptance of the vessels. [86682]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 10 December 2002]: Proposals for the construction of the new carriers have been submitted by the potential prime contractors and are currently being assessed within the Ministry of Defence. We expect to announce the preferred contractor early next year. The choice of final assembly location proposed by each bidder is a matter for them, but will be taken into account—along with a range of other factors—within that assessment period.

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