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15 Jan 2003 : Column 621W—continued

Airport (Rugby and Coventry)

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will produce a summary of letters regarding the proposal for a new airport between Rugby and Coventry. [90493]

Mr. Jamieson: We will publish a summary of all the responses we receive to the consultation, after the consultation period has ended. As our first priority will be to produce the Air Transport White Paper as quickly as practicable, it is likely that this summary will follow the White Paper's publication.

Cross Rail/Thameslink

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the (a) Cross Rail project and (b) Thameslink project to be completed. [90614]

Mr. Jamieson: This will depend on securing the planning and other powers necessary to take the projects forward.

Departmental Expenditure (Newsprint)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the total expenditure of his Department was on newspapers, magazines and periodicals in 2002. [90517]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department for Transport was established as a separate Department on 29 May 2002. Prior to that date, DfT was part of the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, and separate expenditure figures for DfT are not available. From its formation until 31 December 2002, DfT expenditure on newspapers, magazines and periodicals was #50,000. This figure is rounded to the nearest #1,000, and excludes expenditure by DfT Agencies and other non-DfT(c) bodies.

Drivers (Eye Tests)

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for (a) compulsory eye tests and (b) random eye tests for drivers; and if he will make a statement. [90679]

Mr. Jamieson: There are currently no plans to introduce compulsory eye tests. However, given the importance of eyesight in safe driving it is an issue which is kept under constant review. The number plate eyesight test for checking that drivers' vision is adequate for driving has served its purpose well since its introduction. It is equivalent to minimum standard laid down in the EC second Directive on Driving Licences (91/439/EEC).

The police already have the power to conduct random checks of motorists' eyesight at the roadside. They notify DVLA of any drivers who do not meet the required standard. Such reports are always investigated.

Driving Licences

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the fee for obtaining a replacement driving licence has been in each of the past five years. [90023]

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Mr. Jamieson: There is currently no charge, nor has there been in the last five years, for the issue of a replacement driving licence when a person notifies a change of name and/or address. In addition, there is an optional over the counter service available at selected post offices at a charge of #4.00.

DVLA Clamping Teams

Siobhain McDonagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to his answer of 12 December 2002, Official Report, columns 407–08W, how many of the DVLA clamping teams operating in London are mobile. [90027]

Mr. Jamieson: There are four clamping teams dedicated to the London area. They are all mobile in the sense they can operate in any of the 33 London boroughs. However, the DVLA also has two mobile clamping teams that operate throughout the UK in areas where there are no permanent clamping facilities.

Ethical Banking

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what contracts have been concluded as a result of the Government's commitment to support ethical banking. [89943]

Mr. Jamieson: The Government believe it is important for consumers to have choice in financial products, including the availability of 'ethical' products. However, it would not be appropriate for the Government to exclusively support the development of one specific group of financial service providers. It is for individual consumers to decide the attributes they most value from their financial services, and for financial services firms to be transparent about their use of funds and investments.

Fair Trade

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what fair trade criteria he sets when deciding upon what suppliers to use. [89909]

Mr. Jamieson: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right. hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 9 December 2002, Official Report, column 92W.

My Department is fully committed to supporting fair trade principles, and our headquarters catering contracts require contractors to supply a choice of Fairtrade beverages.

Road Congestion (Freight)

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps have been taken to relieve points on Britain's roads where freight transport is frequently held up. [90319]

Mr. Jamieson: My responsibilities extend only to the trunk road and motorway network in England. Issues on the rest of Britain's roads are for the National Assemblies of Scotland and Wales, or for the local highway authorities in the case of local roads.

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XTransport 2010: The Ten Year Plan" sets out the Government's vision for a fairer and more effective transport system.

Pilot studies into the active management of road traffic and making better use of the existing road space are being undertaken by the Highways Agency. To help deliver the reduction in congestion, the Highways Agency is also developing its role as a traffic manager to help road users deal with congestion on motorways and other strategic routes. Actions to date include the delivery of more electronic Variable Message Signs, automatic hold up warning systems, website and public information improvements and the first stages of a new national Traffic Control Centre due to begin operating in 2004. The Traffic Control Centre will provide advice to road users about travel conditions on the trunk road network allowing them to plan their journeys more effectively to avoid congestion. In conjunction with the Police and other emergency services, the Agency is improving the way it deals with accidents and incidents on the network so that they are dealt with more effectively, reducing the time roads are disrupted to minimise congestion.

Where necessary, programmes of works such as the Targeted Programme of Improvements, currently comprising 71 schemes, and the recently announced 92 priority junction schemes will be delivered. Both will provide increased capacity and improve conditions on the network. In 2002–03 we will deliver 10 major schemes from our Targeted Programme of Improvements and in 2003–04 we expect to deliver a further nine schemes.

Gatwick Airport (Birdstrikes)

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the risk of birdstrike to planes landing at and taking off from Gatwick Airport. [90432]

Mr. Jamieson: All licensed aerodromes in the UK are required, as a condition of their operating licence, to take reasonable steps to secure that the aerodrome and its immediately surrounding airspace is safe at all times for use by aircraft. Aerodrome operating manuals are also required to contain information and instructions about the procedures for the control of bird hazards.

Light Railways

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to fund experimental (a) single route and twin route light railways and (b) tram systems in towns with populations of over 100,000. [90359]

Mr. Jamieson: We use the terms tram and light rail synonymously. It is for the local authority to consider in the first instance whether light rail might offer the most appropriate and cost-effective response to particular transport needs in its area and, if so, what form it might best take. Thereafter, any light rail scheme—experimental or otherwise—would need to undergo rigorous appraisal, and examination under any relevant statutory procedures, before funding approval could be considered.

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Birmingham Northern Relief Road

(Low-noise Tarmac)

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether low-noise tarmac is being used in the construction of the Birmingham Northern Relief Road. [89449]

Mr. Jamieson: Yes. Responsibility for deciding on the surfacing treatment for the M6 Toll rests with Midlands Expressway Ltd. (MEL) the commissioning contractor. Their intention is to use low noise surfacing along the entire length of the route.

Marine Pollution

Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to increase the liability of tankers that cause marine pollution incidents; and if he will make a statement. [89902]

Mr. Jamieson: Liability for pollution from cargo oil from tankers is governed by the 1992 Protocols to the 1969 Civil Liability Convention and the 1971 Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, to which the UK is a contracting party. The current limit under this regime is equivalent to #117 million.

As a result of action initiated by the UK, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed in 2000 to increase the limits of liability and compensation under the 1992 CLC/Fund regime by 50.37 per cent. The revised overall limits will enter into force on 1 November this year, and will increase the maximum available amount of compensation to approximately #176 million.

In addition, a Diplomatic Conference has been convened at the IMO in May this year to negotiate a proposed Supplementary Fund to the present regime. It is expected that, once it comes into force, this Supplementary Fund will further increase the amount of liability and compensation significantly so as to cover all likely costs directly arising from the most serious of tanker oil spills.

The UK is also playing a prominent role in promoting the implementation of other maritime liability conventions which will increase liability for third party damages arising from shipping.

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