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(4) what arrangements have been made to ensure continuity of payment to pensioners who do not respond to the request to nominate a new method of payment when the pension book is discontinued. 
Mr. Pond [holding answer 2 December 2004]: The cheque payment was designed in consultation with a range of customer representative groups and detailed information was circulated to them and to all hon. Members in May of this year.
Existing customers, including pensioners, who are not paid direct into an account, are being contacted to provide details of the account they would like to use to receive their payment. The current order book contract ends early in 2005. Customers who are still being paid by order book will be notified when their last book is issued.
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question concerning plans to improve response times to the Department's free telephone number. This is something which falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
It may be helpful if I first explain that Jobcentre Plus Direct uses an advanced call centre telephony system to support the customer services delivered by Jobcentre Plus direct contact centres. These services, which include first customer contact in making claims for working age benefits, do not include the administration of the Social Fund. The administration of the Social Fund is currently delivered from within the district field network, using standard telephony, which is available in almost all Jobcentre Plus local offices. The telephony used to deliver the Social Fund is not part of the Customer Management System IT project.
By way of background, Crisis Loan applications by telephone was introduced in Bathgate Jobcentre Plus office on 18 November 2002 and subsequently rolled out to the remainder of the old Lothian and Borders district by August 2004. In what is now the new restructured district, crisis loan applications by telephone have been in operation for approximately one year.
There are currently 9 telephone lines available within Bathgate Jobcentre Plus office to deal with Crisis Loan applications. The average time taken for the end to end process from the point of call receipt is between 30 to 45 minutes.
A review of this system is currently in progress which is expected to report by mid January 2005; however as an interim measure the hours of the telephone service have been extended from 9.30am to 4pm to 8.30am to 4.30pm (Monday to Friday).
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the detailed technical work which assessed the options of improving the A303 or the A358 to the west of Ilminster. 
Mr. Jamieson: The detailed technical work is summarised in the report prepared for the South West Regional Assembly by the Highways Agency and published on the Regional Assembly website. A copy of the Report has been placed in the House Library.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans there are for the detrunking of the A5 through Dunstable once the A5-M1 link/Dunstable and Hongleton Regis northern bypass is built. 
Mr. Jamieson: The development of the proposed A5-M1 Link (Dunstable Northern Bypass) is at an early stage and responsibility for the A5 through Dunstable on completion of the bypass has not yet been agreed.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the environmental consequences of production by aircraft of nitrogen oxides; and what steps he is taking to limit such emissions. 
Charlotte Atkins: Evidence of climate effects from increased ozone concentrations in the atmosphere is well established and emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from aircraft are an ozone precursor. The Government have supported several research projects aimed at improving the level of scientific understanding of aircraft NOx effects and the sensitivity to where aircraft fly, most recently the collaborative EC TRADE-OFF project. Around airports, aircraft are one of many contributors to NOx concentrations. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)formed by NOxis a target pollutant in the UK Air Quality Strategy and health-based limit values become mandatory in 2010. The Government presses for technology advances and tighter standards that will reduce aircraft source emissions. A 12 per cent. tightening of the international standard for aircraft emissions of NOx for new aircraft types from 2008 was agreed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation recently. This will be incorporated into UK regulations.
Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much income was received by his Department from the toll revenue from the Dartford to Thurrock river crossings in each year since the new Dartford to Thurrock crossing charging scheme came into force; 
(2) how much funding local transport schemes have received via his Department from the toll revenue from the Dartford to Thurrock river crossings in each year since the new Dartford to Thurrock crossing charging scheme came into force, broken down by scheme; 
Mr. Jamieson: The Dartford-Thurrock Crossing charging scheme came into force on 1 April 2003. Subject to verification by the Comptroller and Auditor General, the outturn for the year ended 31 March 2004 was £69.1 million.
Mr. Godsiff: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many drivers with a provisional licence took a driving test in the last three years for which data is available; and how many failed at the first attempt. 
|Financial year||Car tests conducted||Car tests pass rate|
|April 2004 to October 2004||(40)947,076||(40)42|
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has not previously collated information on pass rates by attempt. The Agency started collecting this information at the beginning of the current financial year, but the data is not yet sufficiently reliable to be meaningful.
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