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3 Jun 2003 : Column 185W—continued

Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff in the Department have been on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years. [115864]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department for Transport was established following machinery of Government changes on 29 May 2002. In the period to 30 April 2003, 79 staff had absences lasting 30 days or more in the centre of the Department for Transport.

There is no central definition of what constitutes 'long-term sick leave'. For the Department's six Agencies, using absences of 21 days or more as an indicator (apart from the Driving Standards Agency, which uses absences of 30 days or more as a measure), 1,366 staff had such absences in 2001 and 1,121 staff had absences in 2002.

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I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 23 January 2003, Official Report, column 518W, where it states the Department is committed to managing sick absence effectively.

Staff Numbers

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 22 May, Official Report, column 942W, if he will list the specialist posts for which external recruitment was required. [116793]

Mr. Jamieson: The specialist posts for which external recruitment is required is aviation, maritime and rail security staff and financial experts.

Sustainable Development

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the departmental strategy for sustainable development was published; and if he will make a statement on the steps being taken to take forward the actions outlined. [115729]

Mr. Jamieson: My Department is committed to the objectives set out in the Government's overall strategy for sustainable development "A Better Quality of Life" (Cm 4345) published in May 1999. Our strategy for delivery is set out in the Integrated Transport White Paper (Cm 3950) and associated policy statements such as the 10-Year-Plan for Transport. The Department's annual publication "Transport Trends", provides details of performance against key sustainable development indicators.

Ticket Barriers

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will publish his guidance on the installation of ticket barriers at railway stations that do not have gates; and who is responsible for (a) preparing the business case for ticket barriers and (b) their purchase and installation; [116101]

Mr. Jamieson: The installation of ticket barriers at railway stations is a matter for individual train operating companies. Ticket barriers can be used by train operating companies as part of their revenue protection measures to protect their fare-box income where they believe there is a business case. Train operators fund the purchase and installation of ticket barriers accordingly.

Transport (South-East)

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has entered into with the private sector to provide increased transport in the south-east. [116221]

Mr. Jamieson: The Secretary of State has regular discussions with a wide range of groups about a variety of matters related to transport, including transport in the south-east.

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Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to increase public transport in the south-east. [116264]

Mr. Jamieson : I refer my hon. Friend to the progress report on the 10 year plan for transport, "Delivering better transport", a copy of which was placed in the library of the House on 17 December 2002. Page 166 of the report sets out the public transport improvements that have been delivered and which are in the pipeline for the south-east.

We are also currently considering the final reports and recommendations from the Orbit, Thames Valley and South Coast Corridor Multi Modal Studies, in the light of the comments received from the respective Regional Planning Bodies and other interested parties. Each recommends significant infrastructure proposals. We hope to make an announcement in due course.

Transport Links

Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the modes of transport available to people living in socially and economically deprived areas and the effects on their work and leisure opportunities. [116042]

Mr. Jamieson: Local authorities write five-year Local Transport Plans (LTPs), and report annually on progress made against those plans. The Government's guidance on LTPs (DETR 2000) stated that authorities would need to promote social inclusion and tackle the transport needs of people on low incomes. Authorities' subsequent progress reports have identified a wide range of local solutions designed to address these concerns.

The publication in February this year of the Social Exclusion Unit's report on transport, "Making the connections", presented new policies to improve people's access to jobs and key services. Particularly, authorities preparing second LTPs (due in 2005) will be asked to conduct accessibility planning. Accessibility planning will aim to identify barriers that prevent those who rely on public transport from accessing jobs and key services. Transport planners will then have to work in partnership with colleagues in other sectors, to agree and then implement action plans that make appropriate improvements.

Trunk Roads

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 22 May 2003, Official Report, column 946W, when he expects equivalent data to become available for (a) 2001 and (b) 2002. [116794]

Mr. Jamieson: It is not intended to produce equivalent figures for 2001 or 2002, as the information required is not available every year. An estimate of trunk road congestion in 2003 should be available in spring 2004.

Vehicle Licences

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures are taken by the Driver and

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Vehicle Licensing Agency to recover unpaid licence fees from vehicle owners; and if he will make a statement. [116316]

Mr. Jamieson: The Agency relies heavily on police and traffic wardens to submit reports of unlicensed vehicles being used or kept on a public road. The Agency has a number of wheelclamping units and Automatic Number Plate Reader (ANPR) units which also identify unlicensed vehicles.

From 22 May, a telephone hotline has been established to allow members of the public to report unlicensed vehicles. This is currently operating in the London area and will be rolled out nationwide in a phased programme.

From June this year, 23 police forces will also trial the use of ANPR cameras to detect unlicensed vehicles on the road.

With effect from January 2004, a new scheme of Continuous Registration will be introduced which will require a vehicle to be licensed or have a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) declaration in force at all times. Where this is not the case, enforcement action will be taken directly from the DVLA vehicle record.

All offenders reported to DVLA are either offered the opportunity to settle the matter out of court (which contains a penalty based to the amount of duty evaded) or face prosecution in which case, the court will order the outstanding duty to be paid on conviction.

Virgin West Coast Railways

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 21 May, to question ref. 113775, on the Virgin West Coast Railways franchise, when he expects the level of subsidy to be determined. [116195]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority aim to conclude negotiations at the earliest opportunity: no specific date has been set.


Agency Workers

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many agency workers have been employed by the Department in each of the last two years; and at what cost to public funds. [115207]

John Healey: The total cost of agency services for the last two financial years is as follows:

Records of the numbers of workers are not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Mrs. Humble: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consultation there was with organisations

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representing blind and visually handicapped people about measures to differentiate paper currency notes of different values. [116452]

John Healey: The Bank of England consults with the Royal National Institute of the Blind when designing new banknotes, to ensure that the different denominations are readily distinguishable from each other.

Benefit Take-up

Mrs Claire Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what assessment he has made to determine the number of eligible individuals who have failed to apply for (a) working tax credit, (b) minimum income guarantee and (c) child tax credit within the Crosby constituency; [116280]

John Healey: It is estimated that 750,000 families in the North West and Merseyside are expected to receive the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and that 210,000 are expected to receive the Working Tax Credit (WTC), including some who are also expected to receive the CTC.

Estimates of the number of families expected to receive these tax credits, or the minimum income guarantee, are not available at constituency level.

Statistics on awards of the WTC and CTC will be published in August.

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