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13 Feb 2003 : Column 889W—continued


Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if his Department will take steps to (a) raise awareness among all road users of the purpose of advanced stop lines (ASLs) for cyclists, (b) educate all road users on their correct use and (c) publicise the legally enforceable nature of those facilities; and what steps he will take to ensure that ASLs are enforced. [97941]

Mr. Jamieson: Advanced stop lines are dealt with in rules 55 and 154 of the Highway Code. The Traffic Signs Regulations 2002 and DfT Circular 02/2003 clarify that all vehicles are required to stop at the first stop line unless they have already proceeded beyond it or are a pedal cycle proceeding in the cycle lane. This information is already available on the Department's Traffic Signs website and will be included in a leaflet we are publishing about new signs and changes in the meaning of existing signs. Enforcement is the responsibility of the police.

Delivery Unit

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) which announcements made by his Department since June 2001 were cleared in advance with the Delivery Unit; [94350]

Mr. Jamieson: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State is responsible for meeting the Department's Public Service Agreement targets set out Cm 5571, copies of which are in the Libraries of the House.

The Delivery Unit was established to strengthen the capacity of Whitehall to deliver the Government's key objectives. It works closely with us to help us deliver our PSA targets, and we are in regular contact with members of the Unit.

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Information about internal meetings is not disclosed under Exemption 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Disabled Parking

Paul Holmes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to review the criteria for awarding Blue Parking Badges to disabled people; what assessment he has made of the exclusion of Thalidomide sufferers from the awarding of Blue Parking Badges; and if he will make a statement. [97922]

Mr. Jamieson: A review of the Blue Badge Scheme has recently been concluded. The review considered all aspects of the scheme, including the eligibility criteria. Following initial discussions with the main stakeholders, a discussion paper was drawn up and comments were invited through a major public consultation exercise. Formal representations were made by the Thalidomide Trust and their views were given due consideration during the review process.

The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC, the Department's statutory advisers on the transport needs of disabled people) were asked to look at the responses received and to submit their recommendations to Ministers. I announced in the House on 18 December 2002 that the Government would be taking forward the majority of these recommendations as soon as possible.

Eligibility for the Blue Badge will remain unchanged. This means that it will continue to be available to those disabled people who are unable or virtually unable to walk and to those with severe upper limb disabilities. Many people whose disability is the result of Thalidomide already qualify under one or other of these criteria.

Industrial Action/Illness

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many working days have been lost in his Department and its predecessors due to (a) industrial action and (b) illness in (i) 1997–98, (ii) 1998–99, (iii) 1999–2000, (iv) 2000–01, (v) 2001–02 and (vi) 2002–03. [97845]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department for Transport was established following machinery of Government changes in May 2002.

No working days have been lost due to industrial action during the specified periods.

In respect of sickness absence, the most recent 'Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil service' was published by the Cabinet office and announced by Ministerial Statement on 19 December 2002. Copies were placed in the Libraries of the House. This covered the calendar year 2001 for the predecessor Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions and its executive agencies. Previous reports go back to 1996. Figures for 2002 will be announced in due course.

Level Crossings

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the trunk roads in England that are crossed by a rail level crossing. [97785]

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Mr. Jamieson: There are 10 trunk roads in England that are crossed by a rail level crossing:


Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answers of 17 December 2002, Official Report, column 684W, and 20 January 2003, Official Report, column 41W, on the M25, what his policy is on the provision for inspection by hon. Members of the full data and analysis produced by those Government-funded reports, the summary of which the Government publish; and for what reason hon. Members were unable to inspect the full data and analysis of the initial assessment by the Transport Research Laboratory of the Controlled Motorway Project on the M25 between 1997 and January 2003. [97777]

Mr. Jamieson: My Department's policy covering this issue, which was introduced on 30 November 2002, is that final project reports arising from commissioned projects are made available, except in those cases where the Department has not secured the rights to publish. Any information that addresses issues of national security, commercial or personal confidentiality will be excluded. Notices, strategies and the Executive Summaries of final research project reports will be published on the DfT website at: Full research reports may also be published on the website or will be available through contacts identified on the website.

The full report on the assessment of the controlled motorway project on the M25 is expected to be placed in the Libraries of the House in late autumn 2003, as stated in my answer of 17 December 2002 to the hon. Member. As such it is not possible to make this available until that date.

A previous report was made available on request following my answer of 20 January 2003 to the hon. Member. Other reports and data which have not been published can be made available and I have asked the Highways Agency to contact the hon. Member as there is a considerable volume of data involved.

Motorway Signs

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his Department's policy and practice is on the use of electronic information signs on motorways. [95551]

Mr. Spellar: Variable Message Signs, on England's motorway and other trunk road network, are used to assist the police with local incident management and to

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advise drivers of strategic long distance diversions. Long distance diversions are selected from recommended strategies agreed with all involved parties.

Variable Message Signs are currently operated under a policy and procedures document jointly agreed by the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Highways Agency.

Copies of the report have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will display alternative route information on electronic information signs on motorways, whenever a motorway closure occurs. [95552]

Mr. Spellar: The new National Traffic Control Centre (a 10-year private finance initiative contract awarded by the Highways Agency in 2001 to Traffic Information Services) will, from early 2004, offer real time advice to motorists using variable message signs sited at strategic positions around the motorways and other trunk road network.

Alternative route advice will be given when both (a) a suitable route with sufficient capacity to take extra traffic is available, and (b) when signs are available to convey the information.

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