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28 Nov 2005 : Column 133W—continued

A417/419

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) why the ministerial commitment to resurface noisy concrete surfaces in relation to the A417/419 Swindon to Gloucester road has been dropped; whether this was a uniform decision for all the roads listed in the original decision; and whether the Government will consider (a) new claims for blight from noise and (b) further remedial measures in relation to the A417/419; [32507]

(2) whether the A417/419 Swindon to Gloucester road will be resurfaced in the normal maintenance schedule; and whether the design, build, finance, operate provider will be responsible for the costs. [32508]

Dr. Ladyman: Following detailed scrutiny of departmental and the Highways Agency's budgets, Ministers agreed that the resurfacing of roads ahead of a maintenance need, for noise alleviation reasons, would not be allocated funding. This was a uniform decision across the entire motorway and trunk road network in England and is now the position up to 2007–08.

The Government cannot consider new claims for blight from noise as the noise assessments on which original blight claims were based, assumed a worst case and any noise insulation or compensation has already been provided on that basis.

While the Highways Agency will continue to consider remedial measures, these will have to take their turn in the regional priorities for trunk road improvement schemes.
 
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The A417/A419 will be re-surfaced when maintenance need dictates and, if this is during the life of the DBFO contract, then the DBFO company will carry out the work and be responsible for the costs.

Air Navigation Order

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he plans to publish regulatory changes to the Air Navigation Order. [32536]

Ms Buck: The Air Navigation Order 2005 (S.I. 1970/2005) came into force on 20 August 2005. Copies may be obtained from the Stationery office (ISBN 0–11–073253–7).

Air Travel Levy

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the administrative cost to (a) the Government and (b) airlines of compliance with a £1 levy scheme collected through the same means as air passenger duty. [31454]

Ms Buck: In its advice to the Government, published on 22 September 2005, the Civil Aviation Authority said that a £1 levy could be implemented in such a way that it does not impose a large compliance cost either on airlines or tour operators, or the CAA. The Government has not made an estimate of these costs.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the time that it would take for a £1 levy air passenger protection scheme to become self-financing from inception. [31455]

Ms Buck: The Government has not made an estimate of the time it would take for a £1 levy scheme to become self-financing. However, in its advice to the Government, published on 22 September 2005, the Civil Aviation Authority said that a £1 levy would have to be applied for three to five years in order to build up a reserve fund of £250 million.

Aircraft Environmental Effects

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he will reply to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's report The Environmental Effects of Civil Aircraft". [31551]

Ms Buck: The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution's (RCEP) report The Environmental Effects of Civil Aircraft in Flight" was their response to the Government's 2002 consultation on the future development of air transport in the UK. The Secretary of State for Transport met the chairman of the RCEP, Sir Tom Blundell, in March 2003 to discuss the report. The report was one of over 500,000 responses to the consultation, which informed decisions on The Future of Air Transport" White Paper published in December 2003.

Airline Failures

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the
 
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numberof UK passengers stranded overseas as a result of failure of UK and European airlines in each year since 2000. [31491]

Ms Buck: When EUjet failed in July 2005 about 12,000 of its customers were overseas and had to make other arrangements to return to the UK. As stated to the House of Commons Transport Committee on 2 November 2005, the Government was not called upon to repatriate any of these individuals. The Department does not hold data on previous incidents.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research he has undertaken on the extent to which pop-up messages on websites of UK airlines warn customers they are not financially protected in the event of the airline's insolvency. [31492]

Ms Buck: The Department of Transport is currently in the process of discussing with airlines the provision of website information on financial protection. A number of them have said they will include relevant advice so that customers will see it during the on-line booking process.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 11 July 2005, Official Report, column 759W, on automatic number plate recognition, what the reasons were for the inaccuracies in the Driver Vehicle Licensing Authority database; what the nature of each type of inaccuracy was; and what percentage of the total number of inaccuracies each type of inaccuracy represented. [31517]

Dr. Ladyman: The answer of 11 July 2005, Official Report, column 759W, on automatic number plate recognition, quoted figures from the assessment of Project Laser 2, a 13 month pilot project which commenced in June 2003. The inaccuracies in the data supplied by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) related primarily to the timeliness of information about vehicles that were evading Vehicle Excise Duty. At this time, DVLA often experienced delays of up to six weeks in the receipt of vehicle licensing information from post offices, resulting in vehicles being stopped unnecessarily. This timeliness issue has now been addressed through the introduction of an electronic link between DVLA and post offices and electronic vehicle licensing. Moreover, the data was conveyed to individual police forces via CD Rom and so was necessarily out of date. The police now have access to live data, and this facility is being rolled out to all forces. Those forces that still receive data on CD Rom currently do so every two weeks, soon to be weekly.

An assessment of accuracy of the DVLA databases conducted between May and September 2005 indicates that 97.4 per cent. of vehicle keepers can now be traced from information supplied by DVLA.

A database of vehicles with a valid MOT certificate is currently being created and is expected to be completed in 2007, as MOT computerisation is rolled out to all MOT garages and a full year cycle of MOT testing is complete.
 
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The Motor Insurance Database is maintained by the insurance industry. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 has given police access to the database, enabling them to identify uninsured vehicles. The insurance industry is investing significant resource in improving accuracy and timeliness of their database.

Blue Badge Scheme

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 29 June 2005, Official Report, columns 1552–53W, to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow), on the Blue Badge Scheme, when he expects to bring forward draft regulations. [31567]

Ms Buck: Draft regulations incorporating a number of changes to the Blue Badge Scheme are currently being finalised. We intend to consult on the draft regulations early next year and to implement them as soon as we can once that process is complete.

Buses

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what obligations his Department places on bus companies to consult local residents about (a) changes in bus routes and (b) the establishment of new bus routes. [31614]

Ms Buck: Regulations require the operator of a local bus service to provide the Traffic Commissioner and all relevant local authorities with at least 56 days notice when they intend to introduce or vary the timetable or route of a registered local bus service.

In addition to the statutory requirements the Bus Partnership Forum has agreed a voluntary Service Stability Code which provides for more notice to be given to the local authority when changes are planned.

The notice period provides local authorities with time to consider the impacts of the changes in service levels and the need for any necessary promotional or publicity activities. We do encourage all parties to work together to ensure the interests of passengers and the community are taken into account.


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