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Dr. Ladyman: The Port of London Authority (PLA) has been substantially involved at the national level, in the development and forthcoming introduction of the new Inland Waterways Freight Standardsboth competency (Boatmasters Licence) and vessel technical standards. These standards will apply in UK categorised waters, which includes the Port of London.
In addition, the Department has been working with the PLA on the development of transponder technology, which would allow passenger and large commercial vessels to track other such vessels. With the
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PLA, we are currently considering the practical implications of introducing this technology on the Thames.
Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many Thames bridges have been struck by barges in the last (a) five and (b) 10 years; how many bridges have been closed as a consequence in each case; how many such strikes have been caused (i) in whole and (ii) in part by navigational errors; and how many involved barge drivers who were (A) undergoing training and (B) not fully qualified. 
Bridges have been closed to road/rail traffic on three occasions as a result of the above incidentsBattersea Rail Bridge was closed overnight, then re-opened with a speed restriction until repairs were completed; Westminster Bridge had a footway on one side closed until repairs were completed and Battersea Bridge is currently open to buses, cyclists and pedestrians only.
Dr. Ladyman: The PLA is currently investigating the incident under the Port of London Act 1968. It is also investigating the incident from a safety of navigation perspective. Both investigations are ongoing.
A motorway scheme known as the Western Orbital Route was dropped from the Roads Programme in 1996. This remains the current position and there are no plans to re-instate the scheme.
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Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the cost was of producing and distributing English Heritage's Streets for All", streetscape manual for the West Midlands. 
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) what assessment the Government have made of the impact of extending licences for the sale of alcohol in residential areas; 
James Purnell: The Government believes that current fixed opening hours encourage binge drinking before last orders and create flashpoints for conflict through late night queuing for transport and fast food. In addition, the current system only allows pubs, bars and clubs to have extended house if they provide music and dancing. This means that the late night economy is dominated by activities that carry greater risk of nuisance and are aimed primarily at the younger market. We anticipate that the Licensing Act 2003, which takes effect from 24 November, will enable a greater variety of premises to adopt flexible hours and also encourage a safer, more orderly and gradual dispersal of customers. The Act also provides the police with a raft of new powers for tackling disorderly and criminal behaviour and grants responsible authorities and interested parties, such as local residents, the right to challenge a licence application or to ask for a review of an existing licence. Recent feedback from local authorities confirms that local residents are already taking full advantage of their new rights. My Department will closely monitor and evaluate the impact of the Act on crime and disorder to ensure that the Act delivers on our promise to provide a more civilised late night society.
Mr. Michael Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will define specific areas where the BBC should offer assistance to local commercial media in their migration from a traditional to a digital media platform. 
James Purnell: The Green Paper on BBC Charter Review outlines a new plan for BBC governance with a view to ensuring openness and transparency. Policy in this area will be laid out in more detail in the forthcoming White Paper on BBC Charter Review.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many applications for (a) premises licences, (b) late night refreshment licences and (c) club premises certificates have been made in each local authority area; and how many and what percentage of such applications were rejected in each category. 
James Purnell [holding answer 13 October 2005]: Comprehensive data on applications of the kind requested are not currently available, but my Department estimates that around 186,000 applications for premises licences and club premises certificates were submitted by 7 October 2005about 93 percent. of the total applications expected.
James Purnell: Our aim has been to create a fair and effective licensing system that does not impose unnecessary costs and burdens. We believe that community halls will benefit from being able to provide a wide range of activities (such as live music, theatre or cinema) under a single licence, rather than having to apply for several licences and permissions as is the case under the current regime.
Unless alcohol is to be sold at events, there will be no requirement for community halls to pay for the licence for regulated entertainment, such as live music, theatre, and cinema. Once this licence has been obtained, there will be no need for further applications, unless the terms of the licence need to be changed. In addition, halls should no longer be subject to high compliance costs of disproportionate standard conditions that often apply under the current public entertainment licensing regime.
However, we are aware that some community and village halls have concerns about their ability to work within the new regime. We therefore asked action with communities in rural England (ACRE) to join our high level hroup of key stakeholders to represent these concerns. ACRE are conducting an evaluation project to review the impact of the act on village halls. The licensing fees review panel is also considering the impact of fees on a wide range of stakeholders, including community and village halls. We will consider carefully the evidence from these reviews and any recommendations to help community and village halls operate within the new regime.
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