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Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects of traffic congestion over the Jubilee Bridge across the Mersey on investment and economic growth in the North West. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he received the inspector's report of the
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inquiry into proposals for port and commercial development at London Gateway, Shell Haven; and when he expects to announce a decision. 
Mr. Jamieson: The inspector's report of the inquiry into proposals for port and commercial development at London Gateway, Shell Haven was received by Government at the end of February. The report is receiving careful attention in my Department in respect of the port and in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in respect of the commercial development. Decisions will be announced when consideration has been completed in accordance with statutory procedures.
John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the level of compliance by drivers with the legislation forbidding the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Department has been undertaking regular surveys of the use of mobile phones while driving. The last survey carried out in September 2004 showed that 1.1 per cent. of car drivers surveyed on weekdays were using a hand-held phone. This compares with 1.5 per cent. in September 2003. Further details are set out in a leaflet "Mobile phone use by drivers, 200204", available on-line at www.trl.co.uk/abstracts/lf2094.pdf.
Mr. Jamieson: Motorways in England were closed to traffic for more than three hours 39 times in November 2003 and 85 times in November 2004. Of the 2004 closures, at least 30 closures were due to major maintenance works and communications system upgrades. All of these closures were implemented in off-peak hours to minimise disruption to road users.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons he rejected the advice of the South West Regional Assembly on the options for improving the A303 and A30 to the west of Ilminster; and if he will make a statement. 
The decision in favour of the A358 from near Ilminster to the M5 at Taunton follows completion of detailed technical work by the Highways Agency comparing the options of improving the A303 through the Blackdown Hills or improving the A358. The decision followed very careful consideration given to the full range of issues raised by the choice between these two alternative routes, including the scheme costs, economic benefits and environmental impacts. This also took into account the views of the Regional Assembly and other stakeholders.
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Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his estimate is of the total cost to public funds of seeking the advice of the South West Regional Assembly on alternative options for improving the A303 or A358 to the west of Ilminster. 
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the basis was for his conclusion that improving the A358 provides better value for money than improving the A303 west of Ilminster. 
Charlotte Atkins: All candidate schemes for the Targeted Programme of Improvements are assessed in accordance with the New Approach to Appraisal. This looks at the scheme's overall performance against our five appraisal criteria, namely Environment, Safety, Economy, Accessibility and Integration. The Highways Agency assessed both the A303 west of Ilminster and the A358 schemes on this basis. This showed that the A358 would cost around £90 million less than the A303 option, had a higher benefit to cost ratio and performed significantly better in terms of impacts on landscape, townscape, heritage of historic resources, biodiversity and the water environment. The A303 option performed better in relation to greenhouse gas emissions.
The performance of the schemes against other appraisal criteria was broadly similar. The overall assessment was that the A358 option performed significantly better against our appraisal criteria and therefore gave the higher value for money.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many grants for the promotion of road safety have been made by his Department under section 40 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 in each of the last seven years; and what the total cost has been. 
|Financial year||Number of grants||Cost of grants (£)|
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road fatalities arising from the loss of road wheels from heavy commercial vehicles occurred in each of the last five years; how many wheel loss incidents there were in that period; what research his Department has (a) commissioned and
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(b) evaluated on this issue; and what assessment he has made of the effects of safety wheel nuts in reducing accidents. 
Mr. Jamieson: Figures are not currently recorded in the form requested, but I attach a table showing the statistics available. It should be noted that there may sometimes be delays in listing figures while the findings of coroners' courts are awaited.
|Wheel detachment cases||Fatalities|
|HGV rigids and tractor units||175||3|
|HGV drawbar trailers||10||0|
Some research was undertaken in 1997, following which a guidance leaflet was issued. More investigation is currently in hand with findings expected shortly, and further research to look at wheel fixings and methods of tightening is under consideration for next year. The Department has not commissioned research into locking wheel nuts, but work on behalf of the British Standards Institution indicated that a loss of clamp forcedue to settlement between the interfaces of the wheel-fixing assemblycan take place without rotation of the nut. Thus, although use of locking devices can prevent loss of wheel nuts the devices cannot counteract a loss of clamp force, and excessive wear as a consequence of this could result in the loss of a wheel while nuts were still attached. Nonetheless there might be benefit in some cases, with such equipment preventing or delaying total loss of a wheel.
John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the number of fatalities caused by the loss of wheels from heavy commercial vehicles; what estimate he has made of the number of (a) fatalities and (b) incidents caused by such losses; what research he is undertaking into this problem; what assessment he has made of the availability of safety wheel nuts; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: On (a) and (b) , figures relating to heavy goods vehicle wheel detachment cases and fatalities have already been given in an associated response given today "(UIN 201197)". Some research was undertaken in the late 1990s and further research is currently under way with more under consideration. While research has concentrated on the extent, rather than the causes, of wheel loss the results have shown that a major factor is lack of regular and effective maintenance. In the Department's view, while locking wheel nuts can prevent loss of wheel nuts and might in some cases prevent total loss of a wheel, they cannot prevent the loss of clamp force as a result of which it would be possible for wheel loss to occur, through excessive wear, while wheel nuts were still attached.
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