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Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many applications for off-licences have been objected to by local residents in each of the last 10 years; what the main reasons given for such objections were; and what proportion of licences objected to were rejected. 
Mr. Andrew Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many appeals were made by civil servants to the Civil Service Commissioners regarding special advisers in her Department between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004; and when each appeal was lodged. 
Mr. Caborn: There were no appeals regarding special advisers made by civil servants to the Civil Service Commissioners in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004.
Mr. Caborn: Under the Licensing Act 2003 the maximum fine for selling alcohol to an individual aged under 18 will increase to a maximum of £5,000 (level 5 on the standard scale). This is an increase on the maximum penalty available under the Licensing Act 1964, which is a fine of £1,000 (level 3 on the standard scale). Furthermore, on convicting a personal licence holder for such an offence (or a range of offences set out in the 2003 Act), the court will have the power to order the forfeiture of the personal licence or its suspension for up to six months. Also, an application for a personal licence could be refused because the applicant has such a conviction. In addition, such a conviction could jeopardise an application for the renewal of a personal licence. By contrast, under current law, the holder of a justices' licence may have his licence declared forfeit by the court only on conviction for a second offence under certain provisions of the 1964 Act. The 2003 Act is being brought into force in stages and it is planned that the sentencing provisions referred to above would be in force from November 2005.
Mr. Jamieson: The Government support sales of low carbon vehicles in a number of ways, as summarised in our "Powering Future Vehicles Strategy". Our Vehicle Excise Duty and company car tax regimes in particular reward those who choose the cleanest, most fuel-efficient cars.
We reported progress on low carbon vehicle sales in the Second Annual Report on the delivery of the Powering Future Vehicles Strategy, published in October 2004 and available via the Department's website. Some good progress has been made in recent years. Average new car fuel efficiency has been improving each year since 1995 in the UK, by between 1 per cent. and 2 per cent. per year on average, and in
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2003 sales of cars with a fuel efficiency of 120 g/km carbon dioxide or better made up about 3 per cent. of total new car sales.
Information on annual new vehicle registrations is published each year in "Transport Statistics Great Britain", available via the Department's website. Total new vehicle registrations and new registrations of private and light goods vehicles are presented in the following table.
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Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what measures he will take to promote cycling in the English regions after the end of the contract for the English Regions Cycling Development Team in May 2005. 
Charlotte Atkins: We have announced a wide range of measures to promote cycling, many of which can be found in our Action Plan on Walking and Cycling published June this year. These measures include £10 million to provide links from the National Cycle Network to more schools, and over £500,000 for improved bike parking at 200 targeted stations to aid bike and rail journeys. A new National Standard for cycle training will be launched shortly. We will also be working with the bicycle industry, DfES, local authorities, teachers and parents to roll out the "Bike It" scheme to the more than 250 school travel advisors. "Bike It" aims to make comprehensive provision for cycling to school by putting in place cycle training, bike parking and safer routes.
Mr. McNulty: The Strategic Rail Authority monitors the performance of all train operators, including Virgin, and publishes the results in their quarterly "National Rail Trends" publication. Copies are held in the Library of the House.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many manned level crossings were (a) closed and (b) converted to automatic operation in each of the last five years for which figures are available; 
Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the use of cameras linked to heat and movement sensors triggering remote signalling to prevent train and road vehicle collisions at level crossings. 
Mr. McNulty: The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) is conducting a formal industry investigation into the tragic derailment at Ufton Nervet, Berkshire on 6 November. As part of this, a panel of level crossing experts from Network Rail and RSSB has been convened to consider practical suggestions which might prevent similar incidents in the future.
Charlotte Atkins: Halton borough council will shortly be submitting to my Department a revised appraisal of the proposed New Mersey Crossing including an assessment of the wider economic benefits of this scheme to the areas that it would serve. We will consider this assessment once it has been submitted.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who will be responsible for drawing up the new franchises created as a result of the termination of the Central Trains franchise; what the timetable is for the developments of these franchises; and to whom representations should be made about suggestions for new services. 
Mr. McNulty: The Secretary of State announced in the House on 19 October that he would reduce the number of rail franchises to 19. He also announced that when the Central Trains franchise expires in 2006, routes will be distributed into the Silverlink Trains, Virgin Cross Country, Midland Mainline, Chiltern and Northern franchises. Where appropriate, these will be put out to competitive tender as soon as possible. Responsibility for this process rests with the Strategic Rail Authority and any successor body. Representations about potential new services should be sent to the Strategic Rail Authority until such time as DfT, subject to the Railways Bill becoming law, takes over its functions.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport who will be responsible for drawing up the terms of the new Greater Western franchise; what the timetable is for its development; and to whom representations about the services it specifies should be made. 
Plans for a Greater Western franchise were first announced by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) on 6 November 2002 following extensive local consultation. The new franchise will combine the
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existing First Great Western, First Great Western Link (previously Thames Trains) and Wessex Trains franchises into one operation as part of the process of reducing the number of rail franchises to 19 as the Secretary of State announced in the House on 19 October. The SRA is currently developing an invitation to tender for these services which will be issued in summer 2005. The new franchise is scheduled to commence in April 2006. Any representations on the Greater Western franchise should be sent to the SRA, until such time as DfT, subject to the Railways Bill becoming law, takes over its functions.
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