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Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on (a) road transport infrastructure needs and (b) rail infrastructure needs in (i) Castle Point and (ii) Essex. 
Ms Buck: Road transport infrastructure needs of Essex are currently subject to appraisal by the three Essex transport authorities through their local transport plans. Provisional plans for the period 2006 to 2011 are due to be submitted by the end of July. The SRA have completed their regional planning assessment for rail covering the eastern region. They are due to report their findings shortly.
Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with (a) ministerial colleagues and (b) others about transport provision in the county of Bedfordshire. 
Ms Buck: The Government office for the east of England has met with chief officers at Bedfordshire county council to discuss the importance of transport provision in the county in relation to other services.
The Government office for the east of England has met a number of times with Bedfordshire county council officers in the last six months to discuss their delivery of local transport schemes and about their forthcoming second local transport plan.
11 Jul 2005 : Column 678W
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many drivers in (a) Southend, (b) Essex and (c) England and Wales have been convicted of driving without a road-tax licence in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
|Essex||England and Wales,|
|Successful prosecutions||Out of court settlements||Successful prosecutions||Out of court settlements|
The introduction of continuous registration at the beginning of 2004 gave DVLA the ability to enforce directly from the licensing computer record. As a result an additional 323,554 late licensing penalties were paid in 2004.
The Agency has acknowledged that there are problems with the IT system and there are some serious defects. Work to stabilise the system is ongoing and this has already brought about improvements. The Agency is continuing to work with the computer supplier (EDS) to remedy the problems and IT releases were successfully implemented in December 2004 and May 2005 to resolve various system performance issues and build upon the improvements already made.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the recommendations of the Child Support Agency's internal audit; and who carries out the agency's internal audit functions. 
The internal audit of CSA is undertaken by DWP Internal Assurance Services, a corporate team independent of the Agency and who operate in accordance with the Government internal audit standards.
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The internal audit work in respect of CSA is overseen by the CSA Audit Committee which is chaired by an independent non-executive Director who is also a member of the CSA Management Board. The NAO also attend the CSA Audit Committee.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will give permission to pension scheme trustees eligible for the financial assistance scheme to start paying some pension to scheme members or widowed spouses of scheme members who (a) are beyond their scheme's pension age, (b) are terminally ill and (c) would qualify for ill health early retirement. 
Mr. Timms: Decisions on when and in what circumstances payments should be made from pension schemes to pension scheme members are a matter for the trustees of the scheme, although we would encourage them to start paying pensions as quickly as possible
The draft financial assistance scheme (FAS) regulations that were laid before Parliament on 22 June and await parliamentary approval, provide for FAS initial payments to be made to eligible scheme members who have reached age 65 but the pension scheme has not completed wind up, and also to those aged under 65 with a terminal illness. These payments which would top up any payments made by the scheme trustees to 60 per cent. of core pension rights would be made as soon as possible after the affected scheme had been assessed as eligible for the FAS.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average processing times for housing benefit claims are in each (a) London borough, (b) local housing authority in the North East and (c) Pathfinder area, broken down by tenure sector. 
|31 March 2005||All housing benefit||Rent rebate||Rent allowance|
|Argyll and Bute||35.51||30.87||39.31|
|Brighton and Hove||31.84||28.24||33.41|
|City of London||25.51||23.7||28.64|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||29.46||22.1||33.78|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Kensington and Chelsea||30.01||30.01||30.01|
|North East Lincoln||36||35.35||36.24|
|Redcar and Cleveland||39.05||32.58||39.28|
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