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12 Jan 2004 : Column 552W—continued


Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of the total land area of the UK is taken up by roads. [146736]

Mr. Jamieson: It is estimated that about 1 per cent. of the land area of the UK is taken up by roads.

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of dual carriageway there are per unit area in each county. [146738]

Mr. Jamieson: The information requested is given in the Table:

Miles of dual carriageway per thousand square miles, 2002

CountyMiles of dual carriageway per thousand square miles
East Sussex30
Hereford and Worcester67
Isle of Wight10
North Yorkshire19
West Sussex78
Greater Manchester133
South Yorkshire77
Tyne and Wear321
West Midlands317
West Yorkshire97
Greater London273

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Stroud Station (Disability Discrimination)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals are being made to permit Stroud station to become compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. [146475]

Mr. McNulty: The SRA is considering how best to prioritise a programme of works to meet the accessibility requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act at stations and will be consulting on draft criteria later this year.

Train Services (Northampton)

Ms Keeble: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when the new timetables for Northampton train services will be ready; [146758]

Mr. McNulty: Last year the Strategic Rail Authority consulted the rail industry, local authorities, passenger representatives and other stakeholders on the future pattern of service on the West Coast Main Line, including through Northampton. In June their 'West Coast Main Line Strategy' was published, indicating the likely level of service from September 2004 and beyond. The timetable for September 2004 has not yet been finalised, but it should be agreed at least 12 weeks prior to implementation, and made available to the public at least four weeks prior to the timetable change date. A further consultation on the emerging timetable will take place with key stakeholders, including rail user groups and Rail Passengers Committees, before it is finalised.

West Coast Main Line

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been spent on (a) maintenance and (b) upgrade of the West Coast Main Line in each year since 1997; and what the purpose of the expenditure was in each case. [146570]

Mr. McNulty: Annual expenditure on the maintenance and upgrade of the West Coast Main Line is as follows:

£ million

MaintenanceUpgrade programmeTotal

The maintenance expenditure in the table is defined as that required to keep the existing railway infrastructure assets operational.

Upgrade programme expenditure relates to a range of activities intended to renew existing life-expired assets, and delivery of the associated enhancement works needed to increase line speeds and route capacity.

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School Funding

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office if he will make a statement on the work carried out by the strategy and delivery units on the method of funding schools. [147148]

Mr. Alexander: The Strategy and Delivery Units work across a range of areas in support of Ministers and Departments. In line with exemption 2 set out in Part II of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, internal discussion and advice remains confidential.

A list of the Strategy Unit's current public projects is available from its website:


War Disablement Pensioners

20. Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the earnings disregard for war disablement pensioners in receipt of income support was last updated. [146802]

Malcolm Wicks: There is no specific earnings disregard for people receiving a war pension, although they can benefit from the standard disregards available to anyone claiming income support.

However, in recognition of the special nature of war disablement pension, there is a £10 disregard of these payments when assessing entitlement to income-related benefits.

Pensions Protection

21. Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what action he is taking to ensure that workers who have lost their pensions through no fault of their own and are not covered by the pension protection fund are adequately compensated. [146803]

Malcolm Wicks: I have great sympathy for the difficulties faced by workers who have suffered pension losses.

I, and other Ministers; have been meeting those affected to discuss proposals, but do not wish to raise false hope on this matter.

Disability Benefits

22. Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what plans he has to undertake research into the take-up of disability benefits. [146804]

Maria Eagle: There are no current plans for research into the levels of take-up of disability benefits because entitlement to disability living allowance (DLA) and attendance allowance (AA) can be established reliably only after a claim has been made and the care and mobility needs of the customer assessed. There are no data available about who might be entitled to either DLA or AA if they were to make a claim, which means

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that there is no reliable means of calculating the number of people receiving the benefits as a proportion of the eligible population.


23. John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the value for money of Progress2Work. [146805]

Mr. Browne: Our Progress2Work programme has been successful in helping more than 1,200 recovering drug misusers into work. And we will have extended this support across the country by April.

Although no formal cost benefit analysis has been carried out, available information indicates that it costs around £750 per year to help each person through progress2work. This certainly represents good value for money compared to the £37,500 it would cost to keep the same person in prison.

Age Discrimination

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to promote the use of positive action within the public sector to combat age discrimination. [146427]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department for Work and Pensions is combating age discrimination in the workplace through our Age Positive campaign. Age Positive is vigorously promoting the business benefits of an age diverse workforce by encouraging employers in both the public and private sector to adopt the voluntary Code of Practice: Age Diversity at Work, A Practical Guide For Business.

The Age Positive campaign highlights the good practice of private and public sector employers—such as local authorities who promote age equality.

Age Positive targets the public sector through advertising, internet, specialist press—and exhibits at public sector events such as the annual conference of the Society of Personnel Officers in Government Services.

The Department for Work and Pensions was one of the first Departments to give people the choice of when they retire between the ages of 60 and 65. Many Departments have now given employees the choice and over 75 per cent. of civil service staff (outside the Senior Civil Service) now have the opportunity to stay on until they are 65. We have, in fact, responded to inquiries from staff seeking to work beyond 65 and introduced arrangements to allow them to do so.

Asylum Seekers

Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what initiatives his Department is taking to provide access to employment for asylum seekers who have been granted leave to remain. [146783]

Mr. Browne: We know that the level of unemployment among refugees is unacceptably high. We are taking positive action to reduce this such as: working more closely with the Home Office; engaging with community and voluntary groups; improving provision of English language and other training, and helping individuals to promote their skills to employers.

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In September we published an interim report 'Working to Rebuild Lives': a preliminary report towards a refugee employment strategy and we will be publishing our full strategy later this year.

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