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Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost was of (a) in-house canteen and (b) other catering services provided by his Department in each of the last two years. [202417]

Charlotte Atkins: DfT incur no direct costs from in-house canteens as such facilities that do exist are contracted out and provided without subsidy. We may incur indirect contract management, accommodation and energy costs but these cannot be identified separately without disproportionate cost.

We are able to provide other catering information regarding the costs of hospitality. DfT Central comprising DfT HQ in London and Hastings, the Air Accidents and Marine Accidents Investigation Branches and the Mobility Advice and Vehicle Information Service incurred £216,000 on hospitality in 2002–03 and £214,000 in 2003–04. The six DfT Agencies spent £515,000 in 2002–03 and £557,000 in 2003–04.

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been spent by his Department on (a) indoor bought plants, (b) indoor hired plants, (c) outdoor bought plants and (d) outdoor hired plants in each year since 1997. [205592]

Charlotte Atkins: The Department for Transport was formed in May 2002 and as a result the information provided relates to the period from 2002–03 until 2003–04. The details of the costs incurred on plants in DfT are either not separately recorded in the accommodation expenditure records or there was nil expenditure. The only information we have is an estimated cost of £3,244 for the cost of re-planting the main reception areas of the DfT Headquarters Great Minster House in October 2003.

Departmental Files

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether it is the policy of the Department to retain for the benefit of future (a) historians and (b) applicants under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the same (i) complete categories of files, (ii) numbers of files and (iii) representative examples of files from categories of files destroyed, as had been preserved prior to the passage of that Act. [203316]

Charlotte Atkins: In accordance with the Public Records Act 1958 S.3, the selection of records of enduring historical value for permanent preservation at The National Archives (TNA) will continue to take place in the Department under the guidance and supervision of TNA staff. The Department will also comply with the Code of Practice on Records Management, issued by the Lord Chancellor under S.46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which underlines the importance of having clear selection policies and disposal schedules in place.
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Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many departmental files have been destroyed in each of the past five years. [203317]

Charlotte Atkins: The Department was formed in May 2002. The records management service for the Department is provided by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Actual numbers of files destroyed each year prior to 2004 could be provided only at disproportionate cost but an informed estimate for ODPM and DfT is as follows:

Figures for DfT's Executive Agencies, which are not included in the above, are as follows:

Records are destroyed, in accordance with the Department's selection and disposal policy, when they come to the end of their retention period and they are not required for permanent preservation. There has been an increase in the number of files destroyed in the last year to remove a backlog that had developed in the previous two years due to machinery of Government changes, the closure of the Hayes Records Repository.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what changes have been promulgated in each of the past five years to the guidelines or other criteria for the retention or destruction of departmental files. [203318]

Charlotte Atkins: Since May 2002, when the Department for Transport was formed, 85 schedules have been put in place for the disposal of records which are specific to its administrative activities. It also disposes of its records in accordance with over 20 guidance notes produced by The National Archives (TNA) over the last five years, covering disposal schedules, managing records in the electronic environment, as well as overarching records management guidance. Further details of this guidance can be found on TNA's website at:

Department Staff

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many of the staff employed by his Department have a declared disability; [205801]

(2) how many women there are in senior positions in his Department. [205802]

Charlotte Atkins: The Cabinet Office collects and publishes annually statistical information on the Civil Service by Department. These include data on the number of women in senior positions in Departments and on the number of staff who have a declare disability.

The latest available information at April 2004 is available in the Library and on the Civil Service website and the following addresses. http://www.civilservice. statistics/publications/xls/gender_apr04_4nov04.xls
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Driving Bans (Medical Conditions)

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to oblige (a) opticians and (b) medical practitioners to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency of patients whose medical conditions should prevent them from driving. [203906]

Mr. Jamieson: The current licensing system places a legal obligation on the applicant/licence holder to notify DVLA of any medical condition, including defective eyesight, which may affect their fitness to drive. While doctors and opticians have a duty of care first and foremost to their patients, they also have a duty to the general public. On this basis, they are already under an obligation under certain circumstances to report to DVLA instances where they consider a patient poses a risk to road safety. This is supported by the guidelines issued to doctors by the General Medical Council (GMC) and by the College of Optometry's "Guidelines on Professional Practice".


Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which stretches of trunk road between Portsmouth and (a) Heathrow, (b) Gatwick and (c) Manchester airports have not been dualled. [206141]

Mr. Jamieson: (a) Between Portsmouth and Heathrow airport (via A3 and A25) the only section of trunk road that has not been dualled is on the A3 through Hindhead.

(b) Between Portsmouth and Gatwick airport (via A27 and A23) the only sections of trunk road that have not been dualled are on the A27 at Arundel and Worthing.

(c) Between Portsmouth and Manchester airport the only section of trunk road that has not been dualled (in addition to the A3 through Hindhead) is on the A556 between the M6 Junction 19 and M56 junction 8.

First Group

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has had regarding the punctuality and reliability of First Group's buses. [206832]

Charlotte Atkins: In the current year the Department centrally has received at least 16 letters directly from members of the public, and one from an hon. Member on behalf of a constituent, about the punctuality or reliability of bus services operated by First subsidiary companies. The matter has also been raised in debates in this House, notably by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Stringer) Official Report, 17 May 2004, column 794 and my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Mr. Truswell) Official Report, 1 April 2004, column 1841 in relation to First subsidiaries in their constituencies. Complaints about bus services are also received by the traffic area offices of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency.

In this context a service is unreliable if it fails to appear at all, and unpunctual if it runs unacceptably early or late compared with the registered timetable.
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The Department is concerned about standards of bus punctuality in general. There are many causes, some within and some outside the operator's control. The Bus Partnership Forum, representing operators, central and local government, has recently approved new measures to encourage operators and local authorities to work together to improve punctuality standards, in particular through Bus Punctuality Improvement Partnerships.

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