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29 Mar 2004 : Column 1161W—continued

East London Line

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to ensure that the tender specification for the East London Line extension project will reach the commercial market by the end of this financial year. [156994]

Mr. McNulty: The Strategic Rail Authority has now put its procurement proposals to the Department. The proposals raise a range of important issues that we will need to consider carefully, in the context of the forthcoming spending review.

Employment Agencies

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the employment agencies which his Department and its predecessors have used to supply temporary staff in each financial year since 1996–97 to the most recent date for which figures are available. [163819]

Mr. McNulty: The Department for Transport was formed on 29 May 2002 following Machinery of Government changes. Its predecessors were DoT, DETR and DTLR. To produce information on these Departments would involve disproportionate cost. Hence the information provided here covers financial years 2002–03 and 2003–04 only.

The Department for Transport currently has a framework agreement with three employment agencies for supply of temporary administrative and secretarial staff below senior civil service. These are:

In addition, the Department for Transport Finance Directorate has occasionally used temporary staff with specialist finance skills from the following agencies:

EU Freight Facilities Grants

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much has been given to UK companies in EU freight facilities grants in each of the last three years; and how many UK companies benefited in each year; [162994]

Mr. Jamieson: The freight facilities grant programme is a UK scheme rather than an EU one. But there are some EU programmes that have similar effect.

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Until 2001 there was an EU programme called Pilot Actions for Combined Transport (PACT) which sought to encourage modal shift. Under this some UK companies received small amounts of funding for projects such as intermodal tracking systems and feasibility studies for projects. The Department does not have a detailed breakdown by amount received, company and year.

In 2003 the EU agreed a replacement measure called Marco Polo. This is designed to support "modal shift actions", i.e. measures to encourage the transfer of freight from road to more environmentally friendly modes of transport. In order to be eligible for funding projects should be submitted to the European Commission by a consortium of two or more undertakings established in at least two different member states. The Commission has recently completed its first call for expressions of interest but no money has yet been allocated.

Hazardous Substances (Carriage at Sea)

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in implementing the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea. [162970]

Mr. Jamieson: The UK signed the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (the HNS Convention), subject to ratification, in October 1996 as a sign of intent to proceed to ratification. The necessary enabling legislation was incorporated into the Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act 1997. Certain areas of the Convention are inconsistent with equivalent provisions that exist under EU Council Regulation 44/2001. Until this conflict was resolved by means of EU Council Decision (2002/971/EC) of 18 November 2002, the UK was not authorised to ratify the Convention.

My Department has recently conducted the first phase of public consultation on the implementation and ratification of the HNS Convention. The responses to the consultation are currently being analysed and work has commenced on the preparation of the draft legislation required to implement the Convention. The next stage will be a public consultation on the draft legislation, this should take place early this summer with a view to obtaining parliamentary approval in the autumn and ratification of the Convention before the end of the year.

The HNS Convention will not enter into force until 18 months after the date on which at least 12 States are party to the Convention and certain thresholds relating to quantities of hazardous and noxious substances imported by those States have been reached. There are currently four States party to the HNS Convention: Angola, Morocco, the Russian Federation and Tonga.

Heavy Goods/Public Service Vehicles

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many initial annual test failures of (a) heavy goods vehicles and (b) public service vehicles

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there were in each of the last 10 years; and what the most common grounds were on which the tests were failed. [163840]

Mr. Jamieson: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency is responsible for the annual testing of lorries, buses and coaches at its 92 test stations across the country and at specially approved operators' premises. The number of initial annual test failures for heavy goods vehicles and public service vehicles in each of the past 10 years is given in the table.

Initial annual test failures: 1993–94 to 2002–03

Vehicle category
HGV motor vehiclesHGV trailerPSV

The most common defects found that resulted in an initial annual test failure for HGV motor vehicles are headlamp aim and service brake performance. For HGV trailers, the most common defects found are service brake and parking brake performance. For PSVs the most common defects are headlamp aim and body (interior). Examples of the latter include seat condition, passenger grab rails, fire extinguishers and provision of first aid kit.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many PG9s were issued to (a) heavy goods vehicles and (b) public service vehicles in each of the past 10 years; and what the most common grounds were on which they were issued. [163841]

Mr. Jamieson: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency issues prohibitions (PG9s) to vehicles which have significant defects. Prohibitions may be issued to vehicles examined during the course of VOSA's roadside enforcement activities (including vehicles seen on operators' premises) or at the time of presentation for annual test. Depending on the severity of the defect, the prohibition notice may come into force immediately or be delayed from coming into force for up to 10 days from the date of inspection.

The number of prohibitions issued (immediate and delayed) to heavy goods vehicles and public service vehicles from 1995–96 to 2002–03 is shown in the table.

Figures are not available before 1995–96.

Prohibitions issued: 1995–96 to 2002–03

Vehicle category
HGV motor vehicleHGV trailerPSV

The most common prohibition defects at both spot and fleet checks for HGV motor vehicles and trailers are lamps and brake systems and components. For PSVs, the most common prohibition defects are in relation to the body interior and oil and waste leaks.

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Level Crossings (Pollution)

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to encourage drivers to switch off their engines while being held at full-length level crossing gates. [163967]

Mr. Jamieson: The impacts of switching off and restarting engines after a short period of time are complex and not consistent for different pollutants, such action could actually increase the overall emission level of certain types of pollutant. The effect on vehicle emissions will be dependent on factors such as the type of engine, its state of maintenance and the length of time for which the engine is switched off. It is therefore not considered appropriate to recommend engine switch-off at level crossings.

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