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1 Dec 2004 : Column 121W—continued

Highways Agency

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the annual budget of the Highways Agency is for 2004–05. [200640]

Mr. Jamieson: The indicative capital and resource budgets of the Highways Agency are identified, in total and by main categories of expenditure, in the agency's published business plan for the year 2004–05, copies of which are in the Libraries of the House.


Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the remaining part of junctions 5 to 6 on the M2 will be resurfaced using a quieter tarmac. [200237]

Mr. Jamieson: [holding answer 29 November 2004]: The remaining section of the M2 between Junction 5 and Junction 6 (Milstead to Faversham) will be resurfaced using a quieter surfacing material in the summer of 2005, subject to funding being available.
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The Highways Agency's scheme to resurface the M2 between Junction 5 and Bredgar, using quieter resurfacing materials, has started works and is due for completion before the end of March 2005.

Motor Cycle Safety

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on the wearing of tinted visors as a safety measure by motor cyclists; and if he will make a statement. [200190]

Mr. Jamieson: Following a public consultation in 2002, and after careful consideration, I decided to retain the level of tint for motorcyclists' visors at a minimum 50 per cent. transmittance. However, riders may choose the option of a helmet with a dark internal sun shield provided it is retractable.

Navigational Aids (Republic of Ireland)

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much the Irish Government have agreed to contribute for the Dun Laoghaire project being undertaken by the Commissioners of Irish Lights; and if he will place in the Library a schedule of costs; [200451]

(2) if he will make a statement on the plans for the Dun Laoghaire project being undertaken by the Commissioners of Irish Lights; [200452]

(3) when the Irish Government first agreed to provide funding for the Dun Laoghaire project being undertaken by the Commissioners of Irish Lights. [200457]

Mr. Jamieson: The Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) propose to redevelop their existing site at Dun Laoghaire to become their combined headquarters building and operational base. The project, with an estimated total cost of £14 million, would bring substantial efficiency gains from co-location, and realise some £7 million from the sale of the CIL's current HQ building in central Dublin. CIL has submitted an application for planning permission to the relevant authorities. Detailed design work is not yet complete and so no schedule of costs is available.

The Irish Government confirmed on 26 November that they are ready to contribute 35 per cent. of the cost of the project, starting in 2005. We are now considering the case for sanctioning expenditure from the General Lighthouse Fund for the balance of the costs.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will list the dates of meetings since January between his Department and the Irish Government on navigational aids in the Republic of Ireland; and who the attendees were at each meeting; [200453]

(2) what his latest estimate is of the 2005–06 value of the subsidy to Light Dues in the Republic of Ireland from the General Lighthouse Fund; and what the projected cost is in 2006–07; [200454]

(3) what the date is for the cessation of payment of subsidies for navigational aids in the Republic of Ireland; [200458]
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(4) whether he plans to seek a rebate from the Irish Government for the sums contributed for the Irish Lights from the General Lighthouse Fund in the last financial year. [200459]

Mr. Jamieson: The provision of aids to navigation around the British Isles as a whole is funded by light dues levied on shipping using ports in Britain and Ireland. Because light dues revenue at ports in Ireland is much less than at ports in the UK, there is effectively a subsidy from the UK to Ireland. This can only be calculated retrospectively; and it cannot be estimated until the annual expenditure plans of the Commissioners of Irish Lights (CIL) are agreed. We expect the subsidy will amount to £6.1 million in respect of 2003–04.

This figure is after allowing for the contribution the Irish Government already make to bring receipts from Ireland up to 35 per cent. of the operating costs of CIL, in accordance with a 1985 agreement between the British and Irish Governments. We are working with the Irish Government to renegotiate the 1985 agreement, but cannot set a date when the subsidy might cease. There have been two meetings in 2004, on 26 April and 14 October, between officials of the Department for Transport and of the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (DCMNR). The issue was also raised at a meeting in June between HM ambassador to Ireland and the secretary-general of the DCMNR. We are pressing for more substantive negotiations, involving additionally officials from the Foreign Office and the Northern Ireland Office, to begin in the new year.

Regional Transport Boards

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many regional transport boards there will be; when they will be established; what their budget will be for (a) 2005–06, (b) 2006–07 and (c) 2007–08; and what their (i) composition and (ii) remit will be. [200039]

Charlotte Atkins [holding answer 29 November 2004]: We have no plans to establish regional transport boards.

Road Developments

Tom Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the major road developments that (a) have been agreed and (b) are under consideration by his Department within the Greater London area. [200308]

Mr. Jamieson: Under the GLA Act 1999 the strategic road network in London was transferred to Transport for London (TfL) along with responsibility for funding major projects on London borough roads. As a result there are no major road developments within the Greater London area that have been agreed or are under consideration by the Department for Transport.

One road project that has been and will continue to be considered by the Department for Transport is the Thames Gateway Bridge. This is a TfL project where the Government have made a provisional offer of up to £200 million of PFI credits. This offer is subject to the finalisation of an acceptable business and environmental case, a satisfactory financial structure and the granting of all construction and tolling powers.
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Road Safety

Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made towards fulfilling the European Commission Recommendation on Enforcement in the Field of Road Safety (2004/245/EC). [200632]

Mr. Jamieson: The Recommendation was adopted by the European Commission on 21 October 2003. Since then the UK has participated in an expert group on enforcement in June this year and a meeting of a sub-group on seat belts. Further sub-group meetings on spending and drink-driving are planned. The aim of these groups is to identify common ground, encourage collaboration between Member States and to establish good practice in road traffic enforcement.

Road traffic enforcement was discussed recently at an informal meeting of EU Road Safety Ministers in Verona (October 2004), which I attended. The meeting underlined the importance of enforcement for road safety and the conclusions are due to be considered at a forthcoming meeting of the Transport Council

Vehicle Registration

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many vehicles have been registered with a statutory off road notification in each year since 1992. [201203]

Mr. Jamieson: The Statutory Off Road Notification system was introduced in February 1998. The information requested, from that date, is as follows:
SORN Declarations

(1) To 31 October

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