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12 Feb 2004 : Column 1656W—continued

Overseas Students

Ann Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many overseas students applied for visas to study in the UK in the last year for which figures are available; and how many of those were renewals. [154119]

Mr. Mullin: During the financial year 1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003, the latest year for which statistics are available, 181,905 student applications were received at our diplomatic posts worldwide. Figures are not collated on the number of student visa applications submitted overseas by applicants who had previously obtained student visas.

Nicholas Baker

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken since 5 November 2003 to secure the release of Mr. Nicholas Baker from prison in Japan; and if he will make a statement. [153463]

Mr. Mullin: Mr. Baker's lawyer made an application to lodge an appeal on his behalf on 20 January. The appeal will be heard by the Japanese court on 23 March. We continue to monitor the case and to offer Mr. Baker and his family consular assistance.

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Pensioner Travel Concessions

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will fund off-peak travel for all pensioners in England. [154291]

Mr. McNulty: The Government provides funding for off peak concessionary travel for all pensioners (women over 60, men over 65) through the annual grant settlement to local authorities. This funding also includes concessions for off-peak travel for men aged 60–64 and for disabled people. Local authorities must provide at least half fare concessions on local bus services with no charge for the pass and are free to offer alternative and more generous schemes. Local authorities in England spent around £500 million on concessionary travel in 2002–03. This figure takes account of the extra £54 million we provided to local authorities in 2001–02 to cover the costs of implementing the statutory half fare minimum requirement. We provided a further £50 million in 2003–04 to cover the additional cost of extending concessionary travel to men aged 60–64.

From 1 May 2003, half-fares have been made available on many scheduled long-distance coach services for people aged 60 years and over and for disabled people. We are providing an extra £10 million per year to operators to fund the scheme.

Speed Cameras

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the new guidelines relating to the erection of speed cameras will cover existing cameras as well as new cameras. [148412]

Mr. Jamieson: The safety camera programme board produces a "Handbook of rules and guidelines for the operation of the national road safety camera programme for England and Wales" covering the assessment of proposed sites and the regular review of existing sites, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House. The handbook is kept under review.

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many speed cameras were in place on (a) 1 January and (b) 1 January in each of the previous eight years in each of the local authorities in greater London. [148437]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 19 January 2004]: We do not hold information centrally for camera operations other than those operated within the Safety Camera Partnerships. London established such a partnership in July 2002. From information provided by the partnership, the number of approved fixed speed camera locations established in each local authority area since then is as shown in the following table.

Fixed speed cameras ingreater London20022003 additional locations2004 proposed additional locations
Tower Hamlets152
Hammersmith and Fulham2
Kensington and Chelsea
Waltham Forest412

12 Feb 2004 : Column 1658W

In addition to these fixed site camera sites there are currently two approved mobile camera locations.

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 27 January, Official Report, columns 243–4W, on speed cameras, how much was raised in fines by the Essex Safety Camera Partnership in (a) 2002 and (b) 2003, broken down by (i) court proceedings and (ii) fixed penalties. [152695]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 3 February 2004]: The information on 2002 court proceedings and fixed penalties for motoring offences will be available from the Home Office in the Spring of 2004 with 2003 data becoming available late 2004.

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Written Answers of 3 February 2004, Official Report, column 826W, on speed cameras, what the reason is for the difference of £520,357 between the two amounts of money in the answers; and if he will make a statement as to what the £520,357 has been used for. [153591]

Mr. Jamieson: Written Question 151354 concerned the amount of fixed penalty fine receipts from Safety Camera offences in Essex in 2001–02 (£3,524,120). Written Question 151355 concerned the amount disbursed to the Essex Speed Camera Partnership for the operation of the safety cameras (£3,003,763). The other portion of the fine receipts (£520,357) accrued to the Consolidated Fund.

12 Feb 2004 : Column 1659W

Banned Airlines

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer of 26 January, Official Report, column 33W, on banned airlines, what restrictions have been placed on which aircraft operating in (a) Swiss, (b) Belgian and (c) Dutch airspace; why the restrictions have been imposed; and which airlines operate these aircraft. [154570]

Mr. McNulty: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 12 January to the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Official Report, column 546W, which explains why we are unable to provide information about restrictions imposed by other states.

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff in his Department have been (a) investigated, (b) suspended, (c) dismissed, (d) prosecuted and (e) convicted for involvement in benefit fraud in each of the last six years; and what amounts were involved in each case. [153867]

Mr. McNulty: The Department for Transport was formed on 29 May 2002. The department has no record of any staff being subject to any of the actions listed since that date.

Civil Servants

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many civil servants, broken down by grade, there are in the Department and the agencies for which the Department is responsible; and what the figures were in January 1997. [150270]

Mr. McNulty: I refer my hon. Friend to the pursuant answer given by my hon. Friend, the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 6 February 2004, Official Report, columns 1084–86WJ.

Collapsible Plates

Jim Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what powers there are to permit the installation of collapsible plates to enforce one-way traffic on public highways. [154172]

Mr. Jamieson: Where the passage, or the passage in any direction, of vehicles is restricted by a traffic regulation order Sections 92 (outside London) and 94(2) (London) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 permit the placing of such bollards or other obstructions, at the point of restriction, as a traffic authority consider appropriate for preventing their passage. Collapsible plates are normally used to protect entrances to facilities off the public highway such as car parks. Whether their use on a public highway to control the direction of traffic flow is practicable and safe would need very careful consideration.

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