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20 Oct 2005 : Column 1147W—continued

Road Traffic Act

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the operation of section 75 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. [20105]

Dr. Ladyman: Section 75 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is a road safety and consumer protection measure to deter the sale of unroadworthy vehicles to unsuspecting purchasers. It also makes it an offence for anyone to alter a vehicle so as to make it unroadworthy, for example, by carrying out poor quality repairs. Trading Standards officers are primarily responsible for enforcing the provisions of section 75 and offenders can be fined up to £5,000.

Second Severn Bridge

Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the construction costs of the second Severn bridge will be met; and what the outstanding debt on the crossing is. [19212]

Dr. Ladyman: The concession agreement and the legislation governing the Severn river crossing provides for the concessionaire to charge tolls for using the existing bridge and the new bridge (from its opening to the public in 1996) for a period of 30 years or until the
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concessionaire has realised costs associated with the construction of the new bridge—whichever occurs first. Current estimates are that costs will be realised in 2016.

As at 31 December 2004, the outstanding debt was £443,361,000. This figure is not just construction costs for the second Severn bridge but also original debt, maintenance, operational and finance costs associated with both Severn bridges.


Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will announce the arrangements for his review of the alternative options for the Stonehenge A303 Road Improvement scheme, including a timetable for the review. [19401]

Dr. Ladyman: We expect to be in a position to make an announcement by the end of October 2005 on the terms of reference and management arrangements, including the timetable, for taking forward the review of the A303 Stonehenge scheme.

Traffic Cones

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will arrange for different colour cones to be used to mark the approach of a junction and the end of the temporary lane on major highways where long lines of traffic cones are used to delineate temporary lanes. [19788]

Dr. Ladyman: The Government have no current plans to amend the Traffic Signs Regulations and general Directions 2002 to allow the use of different coloured cones (road works delineators) to mark the approach of junctions in major roadworks.

The Secretary of State has recently approved the use of sequentially flashing cone lamps to improve the visibility of cones at the taper positions. The Highways Agency continues to investigate innovative ways to improve cones, barriers, signing and marking at roadworks.

Transport (Gravesham)

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of transport infrastructure needs in Gravesham. [19828]

Ms Buck: Local transport infrastructure requirements are assessed by the relevant local transport authority. In the case of Gravesham, this responsibility lies with Kent county council. Kent county council submitted a draft five-year Local transport plan to the Department in July this year. DfT officials are currently examining the plan and Kent county council aim to provide a finalised plan by March2006.

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what account his Department takes of the protection of (a) historic homes and (b) forests in (i)Gravesham and (ii) England in approving the construction of (A) new railways and (B) other transport infrastructure. [19829]

Ms Buck: The department evaluates transport and infrastructure projects in Gravesham and across England using the NATA (new approach to appraisal)
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process. As part of this process, local authorities are asked to appraise their transport plans against an environment objective which in turn includes landscape, biodiversity and heritage/historic resources sub-objectives.


Age Barriers

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the number of NHS facilities which operate an explicit age bar to treatment. [16983]

Mr. Byrne: The 2002 cross-cutting review on health inequalities recognised age as one dimension of tackling health inequalities. Better Health in Old Age" published in November 2004, helped to ensure that people are treated on the basis of their needs, rather than their age. There has been a major increase in elective surgery for most old-age related needs and there is now a wider appreciation and awareness across health and social care of age discrimination as an issue. Action is being taken at a local level and national health service organisations have been advised to check their written policies to ensure they have no age bias.

Agenda for Change

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received regarding funding for healthcare in East Sussex for the period 2005 to 2010; and what proportion of this funding will be spent on the NHS Agenda for Change. [17287]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 13 October 2005]: I am not aware of any representations on healthcare funding in East Sussex. The Department does not collect information on the future spend in individual national health service organisations on Agenda for Change. These costs will vary depending on the size and composition of the work force.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received regarding the implementation of the NHS Agenda for Change at the East Sussex hospitals NHS trust. [17288]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 13 October 2005]: I am aware of correspondence to my right hon. Friend, the former Secretary of State for Health (Dr. Reid), in February 2005 about the funding and implementation of Agenda for Change" in the East Sussex hospitals national health service trust. I understand that, while recognising the challenges for organisations, the response pointed to the huge investment of around £1 billion by 2005–06 to meet the costs of implementing Agenda for Change" that has been provided for in NHS local budgets.

The NHS Employers organisation provides support directly, where necessary, to individual hospital and primary care trusts on implementation issues.

Alliance Medical

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 5 October 2005,
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Official Report, column 2811W, on Alliance Medical, whether the capacity planning exercise conducted with strategic health authorities in 2004 took into consideration underused existing capacity in the NHS; and what the cost was of the exercise. [18883]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 17 October 2005]: The capacity planning exercise was to establish what additional capacity was required to deliver the Department's public service agreement targets. Assessment of the utilisation of existing national health service capacity is a matter for strategic health authorities (SHAs), which are responsible for working with commissioners and providers in local health economies to ensure that existing NHS diagnostic capacity is used to its full potential.

The costs of the capacity planning exercise in 2004 were mainly the time of the staff concerned in the Department, SHAs, and primary care trusts (PCTs). This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 4 October 2005, Official Report, column 2810W, on Alliance Medical, what assessment she has made of the compatibility of the additionality rule with labour laws which will make it illegal to prevent someone working for whoever they choose; and how the rule is enforced. [18162]

Mr. Byrne [holding answer 14 October 2005]: The additionality policy was created after careful consideration of the need to balance the safe guarding of national health service staff resources, in view of the shortages of certain specialists, doctors and nurses, and the rights of individuals to pursue freely their trade and profession. The Department examined all employment and related legislation and the additionality policy is fully compliant with these laws and is enforceable.

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