|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if the Commission will initiate steps to enable hon. Members (a) to table and (b) to sign early-day motions electronically. 
Nick Harvey: The Commission would need the authority of a decision by the House in order to make funds available for an extension of electronic tabling of this sort. The present system of tabling questions electronically was introduced following recommendations of the Procedure Committee (Parliamentary Questions, Third Report of Session 200102, HC 622, paragraphs 83 to 96). These recommendations were approved by the House on 29 October 2002.
I have drawn this exchange to the attention of the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton) as Chairman of the Procedure Committee; my hon. Friend may also wish to approach that Committee directly.
In September 2005 the number of individual staff, including part-time staff, on the House of Commons staff payroll was 1,698, of whom 921 were
13 Oct 2005 : Column 559W
male and 777 were female. Information on ethnicity of staff who have declared their ethnicity during survey work over the past two years is:
|Ethnicity||Number of staff|
Dr. Cable: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many appeals were made against business rate valuations in 2004; how many were upheld; and what the (a) average and (b) maximum waiting time was for a valuation appeal. 
Mr. Woolas: The Valuation Office Agency received 135,387 appeals, against assessments in the 2000 Rating List, between 1 January 2004 and 31 December 2004. 97,412 appeals received in this period have now been settled and 29,067 of these were upheld, according to the figures available as at 31 August 2005.
The average time taken to settle these appeals by agreement or well founding is 278 days. The average time taken to settle appeals, which went to the Valuation Tribunal Service for a decision, is 373 days.
The maximum time taken to settle these appeals by agreement or well founding is 601 days. The maximum time taken to settle appeals, which went to the Valuation Tribunal Service for a decision, is 575 days.
John McDonnell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the (a) Firelink Project and (b) FireControl Project will enable the transfer of Fire and Rescue Service command and control functions to regional level in England. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Firelink project will provide a communications conduit from the control room to Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) vehicles which will be integrated with the common control system for all English FRSs provided by the FiReControl project. The FiReControl technology would allow regional command arrangements, but operational command arrangements will remain the responsibility of the chief fire officers of individual fire and rescue services.
John McDonnell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the (a) FireControl Project and (b) Firelink Project will provide inter-operable voice communications at gold command level between the Fire and Rescue Service and (i) the Police Service and (ii) the Ambulance Service. 
John McDonnell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how far out to sea radio coverage will be provided under the Firelink Project; what effect this will have on the proposals for firefighting at sea set out in the document Sea of Change; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The extent to which Firelink provides coverage at sea will depend on the supplier selected. An announcement about that is envisaged shortly. The Firelink project is not however intended for use with Sea of Change operations. Sea of Change communications will be carried out primarily using VHF marine band frequencies for operations within 30 miles of the shore or by satellite communications for distant operations or on those occasions when VHF proves inadequate. All Sea of Change operations are co-ordinated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency sponsored by the Department for Transport.
Mr. Woolas: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minster consulted on changes to the local government finance formula grant distribution system during the summer. The use of 2001 census data in the funding formula is included in the proposals that we have consulted on.
Dr. Ladyman: The Highways Agency is currently analysing the responses received following the public consultation into the A1 Dishforth to Barton upgrade scheme with a view to publishing draft orders early next year.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many emergency telephones are in place on (a) trunk roads and (b) motorways in England and Wales; what the distance in miles between each one is; and if he will make a statement. 
There are about 300 emergency telephones on the all-purpose trunk road network and 6,100 on motorways in England for which the Secretary of State for Transport is responsible. Telephones on two and three lane-motorways are spaced at approximately one mile intervals and at intervals of 0.6 mile on motorways with more than three lanes. Telephones on trunk roads are located where there is an identified need.
13 Oct 2005 : Column 561W
On the M42 in the West Midlands, Active Traffic Management will be piloted from December. This includes the use of the hard shoulder as a running lane at busy times and emergency telephones will be installed in refuge areas at 500 metre intervals.
Roads in Wales are the responsibility of the Welsh Assembly or the relevant local highway authority. Other roads in England that are not part of the trunk road network are the responsibility of the local highway authorities.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether the (a) Department and (b) Vehicle and Operator Services Agency's predecessor made representations relating to the English text of EU regulations (i) 3821/85 and (ii) 2135/98 before they were published in the Official Journal; 
Dr. Ladyman: Council Regulation (EEC) No. 3821/85, requiring various drivers to use a tachograph to record their daily activities, was adopted nearly twenty years ago. Information regarding representations made prior to publication of the regulation, or discussions with industry regarding its implementation, is not readily available.
Council Regulation (EC) No. 2135/98 amended the earlier regulation. Again, records relating to negotiation of this regulation are not readily available. However, apparent discrepancies (relating to the retention of records by the driver) between the English and other texts have come to light subsequently. Officials have raised these discrepancies with the European Commission.
|200506 (½ year only)||770|
The Department for Transport and its agencies receive a large number of queries each year about the application of this 1985 European regulation (which requires many heavy vehicles to be fitted with a
13 Oct 2005 : Column 562W
device to record driving hours and specifies how records should be used). These queries are largely of a technical nature.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps have been taken to advise heavy vehicle drivers and operators that the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency uses the French text of EU Regulation 3821/85 (as amended), in preference to the English text, when enforcing the requirement for coach and lorry drivers to produce tachograph discs at roadside checks. 
Dr. Ladyman: Discrepancies between the English and French texts of Council Regulation (EEC) No. 3821/85 (as amended) occurred during translation. The resulting English text suggested, incorrectly, that requirements for drivers to be able to produce records were less stringent than had previously been the case. However, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and DfT have consistently taken the line that, in fact, there has been no change in this requirement. This interpretation is reflected in DfT/VOSA guidance.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|