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30 Nov 2005 : Column 559W—continued

Driver Licences Directive

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what estimate he has made of the cost to the consumer of gaining an unlimited access motorcycle licence under the proposed Third European Directive on Driver Licences; and if he will make a statement; [32504]

(2) what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the Third European Directive on Driver Licences on motorcycle manufacturers in the UK; and if he will make a statement; [32509]

(3) what assessment he has made of the likely impact on casualty numbers of the second motorcycle riding test proposed in the Third European Directive on Driving Licences. [32510]

Dr. Ladyman: The proposed Third European Community Directive on driving licences remains under negotiation in the Council of Ministers.
 
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The Government's assessment of the potential impact of the original Commission proposals was provided to the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committees. We concluded that the proposals for motorcycles bore no clear relationship to the road safety problems of which we have evidence in the UK. An update to the impact assessment was provided to the Committees on 23 December 2004, and a further substantive letter on 13 June 2005.

In its present form, the draft Directive may impose additional testing or training costs on motorcyclists under the age of 24 who wish to ride larger machines, but such costs cannot be quantified at this stage. The amount would depend on the final form of any Directive adopted, and on subsequent decisions by the Government about how to implement the Directive in the United Kingdom. For the same reasons, the Government cannot at this stage quantify any potential effects of the Directive on UK motorcycle manufacturers or on casualty numbers.

If the proposed Directive is adopted, the Government will consult widely about how to implement it in a way that minimises potential adverse effects.

DVLA

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) targets the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has for responding to complaints; and (b) how many complaints received by (i) telephone, (ii) letter and (iii) electronic mail the DVLA responded to within those target times in each year since 1997, broken down by type of complaint. [33367]

Dr. Ladyman: DVLA has two internal targets for responding to complaints. These are:

Information on how the complaints were received is not available.

The following table shows how many complaints were received and how the Agency performed against each target in the years requested.
Complaints received

Category1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–022002–032003–042004–05
Drivers (including drivers medical)2503849085975536841,028812
Vehicles9131,1731,1019832,1151,7472,3572,560
Telephone service198134157137142122119111
Processing procedures5618322212236331614
Other102119195398570600741680
Total1,4681,8162,3792,4373,5923,3894,5764,777

Numbers and percentage responded within target (totals only available)

Target 1
Target 2
NumberPercentageNumberPercentage
1,45899.31,44998.7
1,8161001,76597.2
2,3791002,30396.8
2,4371002,24091.9
3,5921003,46796.5
3,3891003,29597.2
4,5761004,45897.4
4,7771004,66397.6

 
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Festivals

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department took to celebrate and promote the events of (a) Ramadan, (b) Diwali and (c) Chinese New Year in 2005. [31168]

Ms Buck: The Department for Transport and the Executive agencies promote religious dates and cultural events through the publication of an informative annual religious calendar which is accessible to all employees. In addition to advertising and promoting specific dates, it also provides information about particular religions and festivals.

In addition to this, policy and guidance has been published regarding religious and cultural leave and the availability of prayer and reflection rooms.

Many activities have also been organised across the Department. For example; DfT(C) held a Celebration of Culture Event on Friday 11 November for staff to celebrate Diwali and Eid; DVLA's Diversity Team supported the Swansea Chinese Association this year by attending their event to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The Highways Agency took part in the 2004 Diwali event at the NEC in Birmingham and in October 2005 attended the Asian Mela also held at the NEC.

Freedom of Information

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many Freedom of Information applications his Department has received; how many have taken more than 20 days to process; and how many of these gave rise to complaints about the time taken. [31221]

Ms Buck: The FOI Act 2000 came fully into effect on 1 January 2005. Prior to 2005, the Department (as with all Government Departments) was operating under the non-statutory code of practice on access to government information and there is no centrally held record of those cases.

Between 1 January and 30 June 2005, DfT (including its Executive agencies) received 893 FOI requests.

738 (83 per cent.) of these were answered within the 20 day deadline. A further 49 (5 per cent.) were answered within a permitted extension to the 20 day deadline to consider complex public interest tests. Where such an extension is made, officials are instructed to keep applicants informed as to the likely time within which a reply can be expected.

In summary, the total number of cases answered after the 20 day deadline was therefore 155, of which 106 had not been subject to a formal extension of the deadline to consider a public interest test.

A total of three complaints have been received in respect of requests during the period about the time taken to respond.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs is committed to publishing quarterly updates in relation to departmental performance under FOI, including information on both the volume and outcomes of requests. The bulletin for the second quarter (ie April to June 2005) was published on 30 September 2005 and can be found on the DCA website at http://www.foi.gov.uk/
 
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statsapr-jun05.htm and in the Libraries of both Houses. The next bulletin will be published before Christmas, while an annual report will be published in early 2006.

Heavy Goods Vehicles (Restrictions)

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has made an assessment of the effectiveness of the restriction on heavy goods vehicles using the outside lane on parts of the M42/A42; and if he will make a statement. [32668]

Dr. Ladyman: At present it is too early to assess the effectiveness of the trial over a three mile section of the northbound carriageway of the M42 between junctions 10 and 11. The restriction was introduced on 10 October for an experimental period of up to 18 months. The Highways Agency is monitoring the performance of the restriction to assess what benefits have resulted. Additionally the Agency is inviting comments from all road users to gauge their reaction.

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce a restriction on heavy goods vehicles using the outside lane on the two-lane stretches of the M18 motorway. [32669]

Dr. Ladyman: The Highways Agency is currently trialling the restriction of heavy goods vehicles using the outside lane on the M42. The trial is at an early stage and no decisions have been taken on whether or not to introduce such a restriction elsewhere on the motorway network.

IT Projects

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many IT projects which cost over £1 million and were introduced since 1997 are in use in his Department. [26594]

Ms Buck: 64 IT projects which cost over £1 million have been introduced since 29 May 2002 and are in use in the Department for Transport and its agencies.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many of the IT projects costing over £1 million in use in his Department and introduced since 1997 have been scrutinised by the Public Accounts Committee; and if he will list them. [26606]

Ms Buck: No IT projects costing over £1 million in use in this Department have been scrutinised by the Public Accounts Committee since the formation of the Department on 29 May 2002.


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