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Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on how many occasions in the last full year for which figures are available the DVLA initiated court proceedings against people who were believed not have paid vehicle excise duty; on how many occasions the DVLA (a) withdrew proceedings and (b) lost a case in court because the vehicle keeper showed that he or she had paid VED; how much the DVLA estimates such
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proceedings cost the taxpayer; what steps the DVLA will take to improve its administration procedures to avoid the commencement of this type of unnecessary proceedings; and if he will make a statement. 
Proceedings were withdrawn on 18,255 occasions and 1,303 cases were unsuccessful at court. Cases are withdrawn for a variety of reasons, but less than 1 per cent. are as a result of a licence being in force at the time.
DVLA already takes every opportunity to avoid unnecessary court action. In most cases of alleged unlicensed use of a vehicle, a letter is sent to the registered keeper offering to settle the matter out of court. This also provides the opportunity to produce evidence that vehicle excise duty has already been paid. In addition, procedures have recently been introduced to barcode the licensing transaction at Post Offices. This allows DVLA's records to be updated within three days of the application, thus reducing the risk of inappropriate enforcement action.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to include all test centres run by the Driving Standards Agency among the places at which driving assessments recommended by the Medical Adviser to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency can be carried out. 
Mr. Jamieson: DVLA's Medical Advisers do on occasions ask drivers to undergo driving assessments in order to help determine their fitness to drive. Referrals are only made to driving assessment centres which are members of the Forum of Disabled Drivers Assessment and Mobility Centres. Such Centres are experienced at assessing drivers with medical conditions and specifically assess the impact of medical conditions upon driving behaviour and whether performance can be enhanced by either tuition or vehicle modification. For these reasons, DVLA prefers to use disability assessment centres rather than ask individuals to take a standard 'pass or fail' driving test. However, if an individual has particular problems in attending at an assessment centre, the Agency is able to refer the individual for a formal driving test with the Driving Standards Agency.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the places where driving assessments recommended by the Medical Adviser to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency can be carried out. 
Mr. Jamieson: A list of the driving assessment centres can be found at pages 37 and 38 of the Agency's booklet "At a Glance Guide to the current Medical Standards of Fitness to Drive". I am arranging for copies of the
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether it is the policy of his Department to use fair trade products, as a matter of course, in (a) sales on Departmental premises and (b) receptions and meetings involving staff and visitors. 
Mr. McNulty: The Department's catering contracts have required provision of Fair-Trade beverages since 1999. Fair-Trade tea and coffee is available for staff to purchase from the staff restaurant or to choose when providing hospitality catering for receptions and meetings.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he had with (a) the Scottish Executive, (b) Network Rail and (c) others regarding lift facilities at Haymarket railway station in Edinburgh. 
Mr. McNulty: Subject to the availability of funding, the SRA is considering how best to prioritise a programme of works to meet the accessibility requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act and will be consulting on draft criteria next year. Stations that have high usage, such as Haymarket, are likely to be given priority.
John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish the results of the Light Dues Review: Meeting the Costs of Marine Aids to Navigation consultation published in May 2002; and if he will publish the responses received. 
Mr. Jamieson: In March, in my annual statement on the level of light dues rates, I announced a programme of work to investigate issues raised within the review. We do not intend to publish a separate Government statement to the consultation paper 'Light dues Review: Meeting the Costs of Marine Aids to Navigation'.
Mr. Jamieson: The report on the Study of the Economic Effect of Light Dues will be published as soon as possible following completion of the study, expected in the new year. It will be made available in hard copy and on the Department's website.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will undertake a study of (a) the provision of taxi plates by local authorities outside London, (b) the availability of taxi services and (c) the
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speed of services to the public provided by extended granting of licences; and if he will make a statement on the report by the Office of Fair Trading on the licensed taxi industry. 
Mr. Darling: We are currently considering the taxi and private hire vehicle market study report published on 11 November by the Office of Fair Trading, which was based on a range of research. We are now consulting principal stakeholders and are committed to responding to the recommendations within 120 days of the report's publication.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the companies used to supply equipment to homes under the Warm Front initiative; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: Following a competitive procurement process in 2000 two companies were appointed to supply heating materials for the Warm Front scheme. Those companies are Plumb Centre and Newey and Eyre.
Mr. Bradshaw: Comprehensive information on concentrations of air pollutants in England between 1985 and 1995 is available from the Air Quality Archive at www.airquality.co.uk. The following table shows, for urban and rural air monitoring site sin England, the average number of days for the years between 1985 and 1995 on which levels of any one of a basket of five pollutants (carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, fine particles and sulphur dioxide) were 'moderate or higher' according to the Air Pollution Information Service bandings. These data are the headline air quality indicator, one of 15 headline indicators of sustainable development.
Data are missing for some years because there were, at that time, not enough air monitoring sites operating to provide data on all pollutants. Data for 2002 for England are available at www.sustainable-development. gov.uk/indicators/regional/2002/h10.htm and for 1987 2003 for the UK at http://www.defra.gov.uk./news/2003/030508a.htm.
When the indicator was established in 1998, the back time series was constructed from results from an increasing set of monitoring sites as the network (particularly the urban network) was developed. Research demonstrated that the increasing number of sites used in the indicator in fact had little effect on the overall trend produced. However, caution should be taken when comparing data for the early years of the urban network, as the number of sites was much lower than present that could have resulted in a lower number
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of exceedences being detected. The number of urban sites increased from three in 1992 to 3540 from 1998 onwards, while the number of rural sites has remained fairly constant since it started.
The table also shows average concentrations of black smoke and sulphur dioxide (SO2) in the UK between 1985 and 1995. These two combustion-generated pollutants are also a good indicator of average air quality for the years in question.
There is no clear trend in the average number of days of 'moderate' or 'higher' air pollution between 1985 and 1995. There is annual variability due mainly to differences in weather conditions from year to year. Data since 1995 show a long-term improvement in the number of days of 'moderate' or 'higher' air pollution as a result mainly of reduced emissions from road vehicles, electricity production and industry. There is an improving trend in average UK concentrations of black smoke and sulphur dioxide between 1985 and 1995, which have almost halved.
|England air qualityheadline indicator(number of days)||(Micrograms per metrecubed)|
|Rural average||Urban average||UK average black smoke||UK average sulphur dioxide-SO2|
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the total amount of recognised carcinogens released to the air was (a) in England and (b) broken down by Government region in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The National Atmospheric Emission Inventory (available on-line http://www.naei.org.uk/) compiles annual air pollutant emissions for the United Kingdom. The most recent year for which emissions have been calculated is 2001. Emissions of four known or probable human carcinogens are calculated: benzene, 1,3-butadiene, benzo[a]pyrene and dioxins. Table 1 shows the national annual emissions since 1997 taken from the National Atmospheric Emission Inventory.
Emissions are generally calculated using statistics that are available on a national scale (e.g. fuel use). Inventory experts are gathering the regional information in order to undertake the complex process of calculating regional totals. So far, emissions for England have been calculated for 2001, but emissions for each Government region are not yet available.
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1. BaP = benzo[a]pyrene (a carcinogen in its own right and a marker for carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air;
2. The term dioxin refers to a range of polychlorinated dibenzo- p-dioxin and polychlorinated dibenzofuran compounds. The emissions of dioxins are presented in terms of the sum of the weighted emissions expressed as gTEQs. TEQs weight the toxicity of the less toxic congeners as fractions of the toxicity of 2,3,7,8-TCDD, the most toxic congener.
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