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Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effect of seat belt wearing rates if persons guilty of an offence under section 14(3) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, in lieu of a fine, attend a driving safety course paid for by the offender that includes instruction on the benefits of wearing seat belts; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) if his Department will undertake a review drawing on international research and experience into the effects of requiring persons guilty of an offence under section 14(3) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, in lieu of a fine, to attend a driving safety course paid for by the offender that includes instruction on the benefits of wearing seat belts; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: This offence relates to the failure of adults to use seat belts in motor vehicles. The Department has not undertaken such research and has no current plans to undertake such a review. Seat belt wearing rates in Great Britain are already generally high as demonstrated by the wearing rates given in my answer of 14 December 2005, Official Report, column2026W, to the hon. Member.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when his Department last undertook a review of the evidence relating to the effectiveness of seat belts in reducing deaths and injury that drew on (a) UK and (b) international research; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: A report to Parliament, 'Compulsory Seat Belt Wearing: Report by the Department for Transport' dated 14 October 1985 (ISBN 0115507094, available from The Stationery Office) is the last such review. That report provided the evidence to support the decision, debated in January 1986, to make permanent the regulations on seat belt wearing that had first come into force in January 1983. The factors that make seat belts effective in reducing deaths and injury have not changed since then.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research projects commissioned by his Department are being undertaken on the effects of seat belt wearing; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: Two research projects are currently being undertaken. One is the regular observational survey of seat belt wearing by TRL Ltd. for the Departmentthe most recent report, 'Lf2096', is available at www.trl.co.uk/store/report_list.asp?pid=211&pno=6&searchtext= (see the page for reports 51 to 57).
The second, an 'In-depth Study of Trends in Fatal Accidents', will report in spring 2007. That part of the study being undertaken by TRL Ltd. will include, among other things, an estimation of the reduction in risk achieved by seat belt wearing.
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advice is given to speed camera partnerships regarding the prosecution of drivers of emergency vehicles for breaking the speed limit. 
Section 87 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 allows police, fire, and ambulance vehicles to be exempt from speed limits if observing the speed limit would hinder the execution of emergency activity for which the vehicle is being used on that occasion. Prosecutions are considered outside of this exemption.
Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much money has been spent on improvements in transport infrastructure in west Sussex since 1997; and what proportion of this expenditure was spent in mid-Sussex. 
Ms Buck: Since the introduction of local transport plans in 2000, west Sussex has received around £73 million for local transport improvements and maintenance schemes. In addition the county council has received approximately £14.5 million county council has received approximately £7.7 million for local transport capital investment. We do not have the data to identify a figure separately for local transport investment in mid-Sussex.
Funding for trunk roads is neither allocated nor recorded on a county by county basis. West Sussex has benefited from the new trains and associated power supply and depot upgrades delivered as part of the Mark 1 slam door" stock replacement programme, the total value of the investment (benefiting west Sussex and other parts of London and the south east) being in the region of £2 billion.
Ms Buck: The New Approach To Appraisal (NATA) was announced in the Government's 1998 White Paper A new deal for transport: better for everyone". The NATA provides a comprehensive assessment of the main impacts of a scheme on the environment, safety, the economic performance, accessibility and integration so that all the key criteria are considered in decisions.
NATA was first used to inform decisions taken during the 1998 Roads Review and results for 67 schemes which were candidates for the targeted programme of improvements were published in A new deal for trunk roads in England: Understanding the New Approach To Appraisal". The Highways Agency has continued to use the NATA for all major (that is, those costing more than £5 million) highway schemes since then. It also introduced a simplified version of NATA for use on small schemes.
Subsequently, the NATA was revised to be applicable to other transport modes, including rail, light rail and bus schemes. NATA has been used for appraisal of Community Infrastructure Funding. The Department has required the use of the NATA for the appraisal of all Local Transport Plan major schemes (road and public transport) since 2000. The NATA was the basis for OPRAF's 1999 Planning Criteriaa guide to the appraisal of support for passenger rail services", revised in 2003 by the Strategic Rail Authority and published as Appraisal Criteriaa guide to the appraisal of support for passenger and freight rail services".
The NATA has been applied to a wide range of transport projects proposed by a number of different agencies. The Department does not hold a comprehensive record of all of these projects and to compile one would be prohibitively
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expensive. However, the projects have been subject to the NATA before submission to Ministers in the period February 2004 to June 2005.
NATA is used to appraise and inform the prioritisation of schemes. A range of appraisal requirements including assessments using the NATA system apply to all schemes submitted to the Department for funding, with the level of detail required in the appraisal being proportional to the scale and complexity of the scheme. For each scheme, the Appraisal Summary Table provides an indication of the impact of the scheme on each of five criteria.
Mr. Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many (a) post offices, (b) bank branches, (c) independent retail shops and (d) police stations have closed in each calendar year since 1997 in (i) Harborough constituency and (ii) the East Midlands Government office area. 
This is a matter for each individual bank, but my officials have checked with the British Bankers' Association, the Financial Services Authority and the Office for National Statistics. None of them are able to provide the number of bank closures.
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Government office area
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