Dr. Ladyman: We are currently considering the south-east region's advice on its priorities for major transport schemes including the A23 Handcross to Warninglid road improvements. An announcement is expected later this year.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential impact on the number of accidents on the A23 of a delay to the Handcross to Warninglid improvement scheme. 
Dr. Ladyman: We are currently considering the south-east regions advice on their priorities for major transport projects, which includes the A23 Handcross to Warninglid improvement. An announcement is expected later this year. The Highways Agency and its appointed contractor are continuing to develop the scheme to enable the necessary draft orders and Environmental Statement to be published.
An assessment of the impact of a delay has not been made. However, the three-year average personal injury accident record to the end of 2004 is 15 and the scheme improvement is forecast to reduce this figure to 10.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to extend the M6 toll road beyond Birmingham; what representations he has received in support of such a proposition; what the timescale involved is; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Government have no plans to extend the M6 toll, i.e. the road operated by Midlands Expressway Ltd. under concession. However, we have been considering options to provide extra capacity between junctions 11A and 19 of the M6, with a tolled off-line route as one of the options under consideration. The response to our initial consultation was summarised in my written statement of 19 July 2005, Official Report, columns 74-5WS.
Since July, the Highways Agency has been engaging with a wide range of representative stakeholder bodies during the development work in order to clarify views on the alternative options for extra capacity in this corridor. A more detailed evaluation will be presented to Ministers shortly.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road accidents have been reported involving stationary vehicles on motorway hard shoulders in each year since 1980, broken down by motorway; and how many people were (a) injured and (b) killed in each case 
Dr. Ladyman: The number of personal injury road accidents reported to the police involving parked vehicles on motorway hard shoulders and the resulting number of people (a) injured or (b) killed, in each year from 1980 to 2004 (the latest year for which figures are available) is given in the table.
|Number of personal injury road accidents, fatalities and injuries involving a vehicle parked on a motorway hard shoulder: 1980-2004|
|Accidents||Fatalities||Injuries (serious and slight)|
Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what contribution he expects his agreement with the Mayor for London on the compatibility of smartcard technology and the Oyster card to make towards the roll out of a national concessionary travel card; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg: The agreement with the Mayor of London to deliver compatibility between the Oyster card system currently in use in London and the Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation (ITSO) standard represents an important step towards a national travel card system. There remains much work to be done and the Government are working closely with Transport for London and stakeholders in the transport industry to take forward this agenda. No decision has yet been taken on the implementation of the national bus concessionary fares scheme, announced in the 2006 Budget, although the recent agreement on compatible smartcard technology will be useful if a smartcard option is pursued.
Derek Twigg: We believe that the process of upgrading most of the gated mainline stations to accept Oyster pay as you go will be straightforward. The identification of the precise numbers and timing is not yet available. The technical scoping to enable integrated smartcard schemes, as well as the necessary commercial arrangements, is part of the work that we are currently undertaking with Transport for London and the train operators.
Derek Twigg: The Department for Transport specifies the minimum pattern of train services and frequencies in new franchise contracts. It does not specify how these are delivered, which is a matter for the Train Operating Companies.
Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the merits of tougher penalties for drivers who cause (a) serious injuries and (b) fatalities whilst driving under the influence of alcohol. 
Dr. Ladyman: The penalties for those who commit alcohol-related driving offences are already very tough, whether or not they result in serious injury or death. For exceeding the legal alcohol limit for drivers, they include up to six months' prison, mandatory disqualification from driving for at least 12 months, and at least three years' disqualification for a second offence in 10 years. For causing death by careless driving when under the influence of alcohol the maximum prison sentence is 14 years, having been raised from 10 years under the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The Government believe that these penalties provide an effective deterrent for the large majority of the motoring public.
The Road Safety Bill, currently before Parliament, contains several provisions that will tighten up drink
driving laws, including an enabling power to extend provisions concerning a mandatory re-take of the driving test to apply to drink drivers.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the (a) efficiency, (b) effectiveness and (c) future scope of and proposals for the procurement arrangements of the Transport Direct project. 
Dr. Ladyman: As a central Government service the Transport Direct service (http://www.transportdirect.info) is subject to standard Government procurement rules, which aim to ensure efficient and effective procurement.
Transport Direct is operated on behalf of DfT by Atos Origin, under a Design, Build and Operate contract. This contract was awarded following an open and competitive procurement in 2002. The contract was advertised publicly in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), and over 60 initial expressions of interest were received.
The initial award was for three years from January 2003, with an option to extend up to 10 years in total. The contract has been formally extended until 31 March 2007, and further extensions will be considered. Any such extensions will be dependent upon re-evaluation of the commercial merits and value for money provided by the contract. Such exercises would be carried out at the appropriate time.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) pursuant to the answer of 3 May 2006, Official Report, column 1574W, on drug testing, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the increase in drug use among junior non-commissioned officers and privates between 2002 and 2005; and what steps he plans to take to reduce this; 
Mr. Watson [holding answer 11 May 2006]: The Directorate of Army Personnel Strategy was commissioned to examine factors which lead to drug use among soldiers who have tested positive for drugs. Work commenced in April this year and is expected to complete within 12 months. The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force have no current plans to carry out assessments.
Information on the number of people who have been dismissed from the services, either as a result of a positive result following a Compulsory Drugs Test, or following a court martial/summary hearing for drug related offences, is as follows.
|Service personnel dismissed for drug offences or positive CDT results|
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