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26 Oct 2005 : Column 381W—continued

Warrior Armoured Vehicle

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are to upgrade the weaponry on the Warrior armoured personnel carrier. [19440]

Mr. Ingram: A programme has been established to investigate potential options for improving the lethality of the Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle.


Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the BAE Systems built vessel Mounts Bay will be given lead ship status in the Landing Ships Dock (Auxiliary) project. [20390]

Mr. Ingram: As a result of delays to the Swan Hunter programme, Mounts Bay, built by BAE Systems, was the first of the four LSD(A)s to undergo sea trials and is expected to be the first of the four ships to be delivered. In this context she can be defined as the lead ship; however, Largs Bay, built by Swan Hunter, remains the
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First of Class vessel and as such is the benchmark against which the performance of the other three vessels will be judged.


Ministerial Meetings

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the meetings with non-governmental organisations and individuals which (a) he and (b) each minister in his Department has attended in his official capacity over the last three months. [17842]

Alan Johnson: Ministers meet many individuals and organisations and attend many functions relating to Government business, and as part of the process of policy development. To provide the detailed information requested would incur disproportionate cost. The daily on the record briefing by the Prime Minister's official spokesman regularly provides details of Ministers' public engagements.

Regional Development Agencies (Arts Expenditure)

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has issued advice to regional development agencies about the use of public money for concept statues or sculptures. [20972]

Alun Michael [holding answer 25 October 2005]: No. It is for England's Regional Development Agencies to address the economic development and regeneration needs of their regions, in the way that does most for the regions. The Regional Development Agency can make a grant, provided it is consistent with its statutory purposes and the strategic priorities set out in the regional economic strategies of the regions.



Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 19 October 2005, Official Report, column 1077W, on transport, after advice has been taken from Eastern region on its priorities for transport investment, when he expects a final decision to be made on the dualling of the A11 in Suffolk. [22169]

Dr. Ladyman: We expect to receive the eastern region's advice on its priorities for investment in transport, housing and economic development at the end of January 2006, and to respond during the spring. It is not possible to say how far our response will include final decisions on specific schemes until we have seen and assessed the advice.

Barges (Bridge Strikes)

Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action has been taken by public authorities against barge drivers or owners as a result of bridge strikes on the Thames in the last 20 years. [22031]

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Dr. Ladyman: Since 1995 there have been 10 recorded instance of motorised barges, or dumb barges under tow, striking a bridge in the Port of London Authority area of jurisdiction. Of these one master was successfully prosecuted under S108 of the Port of London Act; two masters were issued formal written reprimands by the Harbour Master; three investigations resulted in amendments to regulations and/or company operating instructions; in two cases enforcement action was not considered appropriate. One incident remains under investigation. In seven cases, the masters were qualified Watermen or Lightermen. In the three other incidents, the master held either a national Boat Masters Licence or a STCW certificate. Of the 10 incidents all bar one were classified as minor/slight". The Battersea Road Bridge incident, currently under investigation, is classified as Serious".

Only 10 years of data are currently available.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the resources available to older drivers to assess their competence to continue to drive. [22490]

Dr. Ladyman: There are 16 mobility centres in the UK which provide advice, through assessment, on the driving competence of older people and disabled people, including the Department for Transport's own Mobility Advice and Vehicle Information Service (MAVIS). The Department for Transport provides funding support for the 11 mobility centres based in England. These centres provide advice where a medical condition has been identified that may affect driving competence, or where concern has been expressed about competence to drive. They also provide advice, information and assessment to any older or disabled drivers who contact them. In addition, many local authorities, through their Road Safety Officers, have developed initiatives to provide advice on competence to drive. Some of these schemes give advice through leaflets, while several provide an on-road driving assessment and report.


Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason warning signs advising motorists of lane closures on 17 August on the M1 in the vicinity of junction 29 were only posted on the northbound carriageway itself and not on the southbound carriageway. [21539]

Dr. Ladyman: The opposite carriageway is not signed when working on the other side.

On the night in question lanes 1, 2 and 3 were closed on the northbound carriageway between junctions 29 and 30 to enable lane 2 to be resurfaced as part of the Junction 29 to 30 major resurfacing scheme. The northbound traffic was using the hard shoulder throughout the works.

Variable Message Signs (VMS) on the northbound carriageway south of Junction 28 were activated to advise motorists to expect delays on approaching the overnight works since there was only one traffic lane running through the works.
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On the southbound carriageway, the hard shoulder and lane 1 were closed over a length of approximately 200 metres for minor works. These works were complete before 00.15 hours and the traffic management was not on for a significant length of time. There were therefore no traffic queues on the southbound carriageway and no reason to activate the VMS to advise motorists to expect congestion on approaching these minor works.

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) undertaken on the safety implications of using the hard shoulder as a running lane. [20344]

Dr. Ladyman: The Highways Agency undertook research into the safety implications of using the hard shoulder as a running lane before including proposals for a pilot in Strategic Roads 2010", its response to the 10-year Transport Plan. The research included reviews of international experience and the Agency's own experience of using the hard shoulder as a running lane during motorway maintenance. It concluded that with appropriate monitoring, control systems and operating procedures safety levels can be maintained.

As part of the Active Traffic Management (ATM) project, being implemented between junctions 3A and 7 of the M42, extensive safety evaluation and research has been carried out prior to the consideration and use of the hard shoulder as a running lane. This pilot is scheduled to introduce controlled use of the hard shoulder as a running lane by March 2007, with the primary objective of ensuring that safety is not compromised. There is also extensive monitoring to establish the before and after effects of the pilot.

Documents have previously been made available which outline some of the research that has been carried out to support the safety aspects of hard shoulder running.

Multi-modal Study (Tyneside)

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he has taken to implement the conclusions of the Tyneside area multi-modal study. [21017]

Dr. Ladyman: The Secretary of State's response to the conclusions of the Tyneside area multi-modal study is set out in the letter to the north east assembly of 9 July 2003 has been placed in the Libraries. Since this announcement, the Highways Agency has continued to develop proposals to improve the junctions on the A19 as recommended by the study. However, further progress on these specific schemes will be dependent on the advice the region provides to the Secretary of State on its transport priorities as part of the regional funding allocation process. The Highways Agency has also continued to develop proposals to reduce congestion on the A1 through Tyneside, but further progress will be subject to complementary work by local authorities in developing a strategy to reduce travel demand in future years. The Tyne and Wear local authorities have included a congestion strategy in their local transport plan for 2006–11 and the Tyne and Wear authorities have bid for Government financial support through the transport innovation fund to help with further
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development of their demand management options. We expect to announce the successful bids under this initiative by the end of this year.

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