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17 Jan 2005 : Column 671W—continued

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency

Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the DVLA was last audited by the National Audit Office. [208670]

Mr. Jamieson: The last audit was in respect of DVLA's 2003–04 Business Accounts and Trust Statement. The Certificate and Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General to the House of Commons were signed by Sir John Bourn on 20 July 2004.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many fines were issued to drivers for failing to update their details with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in each of the last five years. [208282]

Mr. Jamieson: The number of penalty letters issued for failure to notify disposal of a vehicle were as follows:
January to DecemberNumber

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the latest figures are for the take-up of online (a) first-time vehicle registration and (b) driving licence application and renewal; and what steps he has taken to evaluate consumer satisfaction with the processes. [208644]

Mr. Jamieson: The latest full year figures available for vehicle first registrations, for 2003–04, show that 2,539,861 new vehicles (or 78.21 per cent.) were processed though the Automated First Registration and Licensing (AFRL) system out of a total of 3,247,359.

At present, the only driver licensing transaction conducted electronically is the Automatic Driving Licence Issue (ADLI) of an exchange licence following a test pass. This system was introduced in August 2004 and, up to 31 December 2004, 41,057 (or 10.24 per cent.) licence exchanges have been processed via this route out of a total Of 400,825.

DVLA regularly conduct customer satisfaction surveys to ensure that the services provided are in line with customer expectations. The last such survey was undertaken in November 2004.
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Regional Transport Boards

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether road improvement plans already accepted by his Department will be implemented by new regional transport boards; and if he will make a statement. [208045]

Mr. Jamieson: Implementation of road improvement plans agreed by the Department will continue to be the responsibility of the Highways Agency in the case of the trunk road network and of local transport authorities in the case of local roads.

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what estimate he has made of the cost of a Regional Transport Board for the East of England; [208048]

(2) what advice his Department has given to (a) regional assemblies and (b) regional development agencies on the composition of a Regional Transport Board. [208050]

Charlotte Atkins: In the consultation document "Devolving decision making: a consultation on regional funding allocations" the Government indicated that they do not intend to prescribe institutional arrangements for how regions should coordinate and prepare advice on regional priorities. It will be for regions themselves to decide if they wish to establish Regional Transport Boards or other arrangements, and the consultation seeks regional views on the mechanisms and processes which need to be put in place. In reaching their views, regions will be able to draw on the experience of the experimental Transport Boards which were established in the South East and Yorkshire and Humberside last year. Copies of the consultation document are available in the House Libraries.

Local/Regional Transport Plans

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what role (a) regional chambers and (b) regional transport boards will play in supervising the development of local authorities' local transport plans; and if he will make a statement. [207959]

Charlotte Atkins: We have no plans to give regional transport boards or regional chambers a supervisory role in relation to the development of local transport plans by local transport authorities.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport to what extent local authorities are required to follow regional transport plans; and if he will make a statement. [207964]

Charlotte Atkins: We have, as part of the guidance on Local Transport Plans published in December 2004, advised local transport authorities outside London to outline how their plans and proposals for major schemes are consistent with the policies and priorities in regional transport strategies. We have also advised the authorities to consider in detail in their local transport plans how to achieve the outcomes set out in the regional transport strategies, where these require action at local level. Ultimately decisions about which proposals to include in local transport plans are solely
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for the local authorities concerned. Copies of the 'Full Guidance on Local Transport Plans' are available in the House Libraries.


Mr. Dhanda: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what figures his Department has compiled for the number of road accidents between junctions 12 and 12a of the M5 in the past 12 months. [208821]

Mr. Jamieson: There is no junction 12a on the M5 and the accident figures provided are between junctions 12 and 11A. The last period of 12 months for which figures are available is between August 2003 and July 2004. During this time there were 15 accidents, 13 slight and two fatal.

Merchant Shipping

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what steps the Government are taking to widen the existing link between tonnage tax and seafarer employment to include a requirement to employ junior officers; [207996]

(2) if he will make a statement on the work being undertaken by the Shipping Task Force on employment in the UK fleet. [207997]

Mr. Jamieson: I have recently approved new terms of reference for the Shipping Task Force so that work to develop proposals for improving the employment environment can be taken forward by a specially constituted sub-group of this body. This will include consideration of representations made to the post-implementation review of tonnage tax. I have asked the sub-group to submit initial proposals on ways to improve the employment environment, agreed by all parties, by June 2005.

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if the UK will support the International Labour Organisation's proposed bill of rights for seafarers; and if he will make a statement. [207998]

Mr. Jamieson: The UK welcomes the development of the consolidated international convention on maritime labour standards. The UK is playing an active role in negotiating the text of the new convention.

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the Government intend to enforce the European Commission ruling that non-resident EU seafarers should be employed on the wage rates prevailing under the flag of their ship. [207999]

Mr. Jamieson: EC law provides that if a seafarer from a member state is employed solely in the territory of another member state, or his employment is closely connected with that other state, he should not be discriminated against on the grounds of nationality, when compared with seafarers from the host state.

Having considered this issue, we believe it may be necessary to revise sections 8 and 9 of the Race Relations Act 1976 so that if a close enough link (to be defined) existed between an EEA seafarer and the flag state of the ship on which they were working, they could not be paid at a differential rate from other workers with a similarly close link to the flag state (i.e. resident seafarers).
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Our next steps will be to work closely with all those with an interest in this issue to develop and agree proposed revisions to the RRA 1976, by way of secondary legislation which will then be subject to full consultation.

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the threat to the shipping industry of a terrorist attack; what steps the Government are taking to minimise this risk; and if he will make a statement. [208000]

Mr. Jamieson: Threats to the shipping industry are assessed by the intelligence agencies. Transport Security Directorate (TRANSEC) of the Department for Transport considers the assessment and implements one of the three security levels prescribed by the International Port Facility and Security Code (ISPS). The security measures required at each security level are proportionate to the threat as assessed and thereby serve to minimise potential risks to the industry. TRANSEC continues to work with industry to ensure that those requirements are proportional, pragmatic and sustainable.

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