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27 Mar 2006 : Column 630W—continued

Pensioners (Free Travel)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the timescale is for implementing the appropriate technology on buses to allow pensioners to travel free on buses in Lancashire; and if he will make a statement; [61267]

(2) when he expects pensioners to be able to travel free within their boroughs in Lancashire. [61268]

Dr. Ladyman: From 1 April this year, older and disabled people will be entitled to free off-peak travel within their local authority area. We are introducing a national scheme in April 2008 which will allow older and disabled people free off-peak bus travel anywhere in England. In the interim, we are keen for local authorities to work together to provide cross-boundary or countywide schemes. However, ultimately it is for local authorities to decide whether and how to make these arrangements.

Railway Franchises

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why his Department's tender document for the West of England franchise specifies a reduction in the number of trains calling at Totnes; and if he will make a statement. [55974]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 3 March 2006]: The Great Western Franchise specification was designed to improve the overall operational and financial performance of the train service and to ensure resources were used to best meet market needs. The timetable on each route, including Totnes, is derived from these requirements.

Most passengers in the Great Western Franchise areawill see the same or improved service. First's consultation on their draft timetable has now closed and First are in discussion with the Department to address stakeholder concerns. The proposed service at Totnes forms part of these discussions.

Road Improvements

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department has allocated in road improvements in (a) each English region, (b) the Tees Valley and (c) Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland constituency in each year since 1997. [59926]

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Dr. Ladyman: A table has been placed in the Libraries of the House, showing funding by region, where funding was provided through the Local Transport Plan process, excluding London. We do not hold information centrally on a constituency by constituency basis.

The following table shows the Highways Agency's total expenditure since 1998–99. Information is not readily available for 1997–98 and is not routinely recorded by region or constituency.
£ million


This information includes expenditure on roads in London until the creation of Transport for London in 2000. The later numbers do not include this expenditure, which is now a matter for the Mayor of London and the Greater London Assembly. The apparent decrease in spending between 2002–03 and 2003–04 is due to a change in accounting treatment of lands provisions.

Road Traffic Accidents (Wild Animals)

Mr. Newmark: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department takes to monitor roads which have a high incidence of collisions between motor vehicles and wild animals. [60462]

Dr. Ladyman: The Highways Agency (HA) is responsible for management and improvement of the trunk road and motorway network and is responsible for clearance of the highway following animal/vehicle collisions (AVCs).

The HA has undertaken research to prioritise implementation of mitigation measures to avoid such incidents. These include studies to review and prioritise implementation of otter protection measures and more recently a study to collate records of deer casualties in order to prioritise measures to prevent accidents. The latter was done in a partnership involving local highway authorities.

The HA is in the process of developing an environmental information system in which data on all AVC incidents will be held. This will inform improved targeting of preventative measures on the network in the future.

On local roads it would be for the respective local highway authorities to decide on what monitoring arrangements to have in place.

Seat Belts

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will bring forward legislation to require the installation of a seat belt reminder system in all new motor vehicles sold in the UK; and if he will make a statement; [60861]
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(2) what research his Department has (a) undertaken and (b) funded into the merits of installing a seat belt reminder system in all new motor vehicles sold in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [60862]

Dr. Ladyman: It would be inappropriate to introduce unilateral constructional requirements for all new motor vehicles sold in the UK, as any vehicle that conforms to European Type Approval requirements must be permitted to be placed on the market and used in the UK.

The UK already has a high proportion of seat belt wearing. Research has taken place in Sweden which suggests that seat belt reminders can significantly increase seat belt wearing rates. I have no plans to undertake or fund more research.

A number of passenger cars are already fitted with some form of seat belt reminder. Since 2002, this has been encouraged by the European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP), who award additional points to a vehicle fitted with a seat belt reminder that conforms to their protocol. About 75 per cent. of new models now being tested have them fitted.

Discussions are taking place within Europe to incorporate into the requirements for seat belts a specification for seat belt reminder systems based on the Euro NCAP protocol. In addition CARS 21 (Competitive Automotive Regulatory System for the 21st century) a high level group established by theEuropean Commission, has recommended that the Commission bring forward a proposal to mandate seat belt reminders.

Speed Limits (Schools)

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his Department's policy is on the use of low speed limits near schools only at times of day and on days when school children are crossing local roads. [61673]

Dr. Ladyman: The Department encourages local traffic authorities to consider introducing lower speed limits outside schools. They are best placed to decide whether variable speed limits or permanent speed limits are appropriate based on local needs and considerations and have the powers to introduce lower limits if they believe it appropriate to do so.

Transport Infrastructure (Norfolk)

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funding he has allocated for transport infrastructure in Norfolk in each of the last five years. [59618]

Dr. Ladyman: Spending on transport infrastructure within Norfolk over the last five years has taken place via the funding Norfolk receive as part of their Local Transport Plan settlement and the Highways Agency investment to support the strategic highway network within Norfolk. The following figures are the yearly allocations for local transport funding, comprising capital funding for integrated transport and the funding allocations for local transport major schemes within Norfolk.
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These figures exclude the £95,953,000 capital funding that has been awarded to Norfolk over the last five years for highway maintenance.

The Highways Agency does not routinely report information on a regional basis and we, therefore, are unable to provide expenditure figures on either small schemes or maintenance. However, the following table provides the expenditure that has been spent on Highways Agency major schemes, costing over £5 million, in Norfolk in the last five years.
£ million

A11 Roudham Heath—Attleborough improvement4.2812.7010.
A11 Attleborough Bypass0.260.150.511.361.105.74
A11 Fiveways—Thetford improvement0.200.101.55-0.410.570.27
A47 Blofield to North Burlingham Dualling0.61-0.101.420.32
Total spend4.7412.9512.960.853.096.33

(6)Indicates the position as at 31 December 2005.
1.Values reflect the total value of additions in year. This includes all project costs including lands, capitalised salaries, accruals and provisions and adjustments for surplus properties.
2.The negative values in 2003–04 reflect a change made to the calculation of lands provisions in the year.

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