4 Jun 2003 : Column 399W

Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 4 June 2003



Dr. Kumar: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what role Government Offices will play in the new campaign to increase internet usage; and if he will make a statement. [115542]

Mr. Alexander: Between 1999 and April 2003, Regional Government Offices were responsible for negotiating contracts between the Department for Education and Skills and over 2,800 UK online centres funded by Capital Modernisation funding. All regional Offices were informed about the Get Started campaign and invited to get involved. During the campaign, people will be encouraged to visit UK online centres offering free internet starter sessions.


Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many civil servants were seconded to private sector industry in (a) 2000–01, (b) 2001–02 and (c) 2002–03. [115604]

Mr. Alexander: 350 civil servants were seconded to the private sector (industry and commerce) in the financial year 2000–01 and 607 in the financial year 2001–02. The Cabinet Office Interchange Unit will shortly be seeking statistical information from Departments for the 2002–03 financial year.

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many people were seconded to the Civil Service from private industry in the last year for which figures are available. [115605]

Mr. Alexander: 409 people were seconded into the Civil Service from the private sector (industry and commerce) in the financial year 2001–02. This is the most recent period for which the Cabinet Office has data.

Mr. Willis: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many employees have been seconded from Capita to the Cabinet Office since 1997; for how long they worked in the Office; and what positions they held. [115625]

Mr. Alexander: No records are held for secondments prior to 1999. From 1999 to 2003, there were no secondments from Capita to my Department.

Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how many staff in the Department have been on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years. [115855]

4 Jun 2003 : Column 400W

Mr. Alexander: I refer to the answer I gave to the hon. Member on 7 May 2003, Official Report, column 697W.


Concessionary Travel (Pensioners)

Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make extra funds available for local authorities to pay for free, full-fare travel opportunities for pensioners in England. [116951]

Mr. Jamieson: I refer to my reply of 23 January 2003 to the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Rosindell), Official Report, columns 508–09W. We have no plans to make extra funds available for local authorities in England beyond the present provision.


Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the WS Atkins report for the Strategic Rail Authority on a North-South rail line. [115715]

Mr. Jamieson: Since the report contains commercially sensitive information, supplied by third parties on a confidential basis, it would not be appropriate to do so.

Road Traffic Accidents

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to prevent sleep-related driving accidents. [116024]

Mr. Jamieson: We are concerned about sleep-related road accidents and have an extensive programme of publicity and research aimed at reducing these.

Campaigns to warn drivers of the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel have run since August 2000 and have included leaflets, posters, TV and radio advertising. Most recently, radio adverts were run over Easter and the May bank holidays advising drivers to take a break. These were reinforced by some 190 truck backs, delivering to Moto, Sainsburys, Asda and others, carrying the 'Don't Drive Tired' message over the April to June period this year. We have also recently produced a new public information film, for use by TV stations, to remind drivers to take proper breaks during long journeys.

Advice on how to avoid and combat driver tiredness is in The Highway Code and on the DfT's road safety website at: www.think.dft.gov.uk

The Department has also undertaken considerable research to study driver sleepiness. The University of Loughborough Sleep Research Laboratory has carried out a series of road audits into sleep-related vehicle accidents on sections of selected trunk roads and motorways in the UK. The results were published in February 2001 in Road Safety Research Reports No. 21 and 22, available on-line at: www.roads.dft.gov.uk/roadsafety/index.htm A report on six more audits is due to be published in the summer. A project to study the effectiveness of motorway service areas in reducing fatigue-related accidents is also under way.

4 Jun 2003 : Column 401W

Vehicle Licences

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce a payment scheme to reward local authorities who enable the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to recover unpaid licence fees from vehicle owners; and if he will make a statement. [116315]

Mr. Jamieson: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is working closely with local authorities to tackle the problem of vehicle excise duty (VED) evasion. Enforcing VED helps to improve the accuracy of DVLA's database of vehicle keepers, which in turn, enables local authorities and the police to identify those who offend on parking charges, speeding, and other offences.

DVLA does not charge local authorities for information on the name and address of vehicle keepers, and there are no plans to introduce a payment scheme for local authorities who provide information on unlicensed vehicles to DVLA. However, those local authorities that have taken on devolved powers to wheel clamp and impound unlicensed vehicles are able to retain the penalties charged to offenders to release their vehicles. Furthermore, the Government are in discussion with these authorities to see what else can be done to help with the costs associated with this initiative.


Animal Species

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list for each animal species to which they apply the nature of the legal requirements upon the driver of a vehicle which kills one of the species; and if she will make a statement. [115712]

Mr. Morley: The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects all wild birds. It is an offence to kill, injure or take any wild bird (Section 1). Under Section 5(1 )(e) it is an offence to use any mechanically propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of a wild bird for the propose of killing or taking that bird.

Certain species of animals, listed on Schedule 5, are also protected by the 1981 Act. It is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take any wild animal included on Schedule 5, unless it can shown that it had not been killed or taken in contravention of the provision of the 1981 Act.

Sections 4(2)(c) for birds and 10(3)(c) for animals provides a possible defence for the driver who may kill or injure a bird or Schedule 5 animal; because a person "shall not be guilty of an offence by reason of any act made unlawful if he shows that the act was the incidental result of a lawful operation and could not reasonably have been avoided".

Certain other animals listed on Schedule 6 of the 1981 Act may only be killed or taken by certain methods. It is an offence under Section 9(2)(e) of the 1981 Act to use any mechanically propelled vehicle in immediate pursuit of a Schedule 6 animal.

4 Jun 2003 : Column 402W

Under Section 1(2) of the 1981 Act it is an offence to possess any wild bird unless it can be shown that it was killed or taken not in contravention of the Act. A similar defence exists for Schedule 5 animals.

Penalties for offences committed under Part I of the 1981 Act are a maximum fine of £5,000 and/or six months custodial sentence.

In addition the Deer Act 1991 makes it an offence in Section 4(4) for any person to (a) discharge any firearm, or project any missile, from any mechanically propelled vehicle at any deer, or (b) use any mechanically propelled vehicle for the purpose of driving deer.

It is also an offence under section 170(4) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 not to report an accident which occurs owing to the presence of a motor vehicle on the road by which damage is caused to an animal other than an animal in or on that motor vehicle or a trailer drawn by that motor vehicle.

("Animal" means horse, cattle, ass, mule, sheep, pig, goat or dog).

The maximum penalty is £5,000 and/or six months custodial sentence, with between 5–10 penalty points on a licence or a disqualification.

Alternative Fuels

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what targets she has set for the use of industrial crops for alternative fuel use. [115306]

Mr. Meacher: The Energy White Paper, published earlier this year, sets out the Government's aspiration to achieve the production of 20 per cent. of the UKfs electricity through renewable sources by 2020. Specific targets have not been set for different renewable technologies and the market will decide which are developed. Biomass, including purpose-grown industrial crops, could become one of the largest contributors to the renewables mix by 2020. Funding under the Energy Crops Scheme is aimed at establishing around 20,000 ha of purpose-grown energy crops by 2006. The Bio-energy Capital Grants Scheme is aimed at developing projects fuelled by purpose-grown energy crops and other biomass to produce around 100MW of electricity and the production of heat and combined heat and power.

The recently agreed Directive on the Promotion of Biofuels and other Renewable Fuels for Road Transport requires the UK and other Member States to set their own indicative targets for the use of biofuels and other renewable fuels in their areas. The Government will consult key stakeholders in due course on targets. The Government is promoting the production of biofuels through the existing 20 pence per litre duty incentive for biodiesel and the intention announced in Budget 2003 to introduce a similar duty incentive for bioethanol with effect from January 2005.

Next Section Index Home Page