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24 May 2006 : Column 1893Wcontinued
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has seen a draft of the EU Commission White Paper entitled préparer la mobilité de demain; and what his policy is towards an expansion of powers to the European Maritime Safety Agency proposed therein. 
Dr. Ladyman: The European Commission has yet to present this White Paper to the EU member states. The Government supported the establishment of EMSA and is content to see it develop its role where it can enhance the activities of member states to improve maritime safety without usurping the competence and responsibilities of the member states.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many illegal taxi drivers he estimates are operating in (a) England, (b) the North East and (c) the Tees Valley; 
(2) how many people have been (a) prosecuted for and (b) convicted of driving a taxi illegally in (i) England, (ii) the North East and (iii) the Tees Valley in each year since 1997. 
Gillian Merron: The Department has made no estimate of the extent of unlicensed taxi operation either in England as a whole or in particular local areas. The degree of unlicensed operation is best assessed at the local level by local taxi licensing authorities, making use of their local knowledge, as part of their responsibilities for enforcement of the law within their area.
However, relevant data on prosecutions and convictions is held by the Court Proceedings Database of the Office for Criminal Justice Reform. The following tables show the numbers of offenders prosecuted for, and found guilty of, offences under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 (this is wider than just illegal plying for hire) and section 167 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994(1).
(1) Taxis in England (outside London) must be licensed by the relevant local authority under the Town Police Clauses Act 1847. Individuals who attempt to provide a taxi service without being properly licensed normally do so by contravening section 45 of the 1847 Act by illegally plying for hire or section 167 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 by touting for business.
|Number of persons proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for offences related to illegal taxi services North East region and England, 1997-2004( 1)|
|Proceeded against||Found guilty||Proceeded against||Found guilty|
|Proceeded against||Found guilty||Proceeded against||Found guilty|
|(1) These data are provided on the principal offence basis.|
Offence only applies outside London
RDSOffice for Criminal Justice Reform
It has not been possible to break the data down in such a way as to identify the prosecutions and convictions just in the Tees Valley.
Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many incidents on level crossings there were in each of the last three years; and how many incidents in each year resulted in a fatality. 
Derek Twigg: This information can be found in the annual reports on railway safety published by HMRI which are available from the House Library. The Office of Rail Regulation plans to publish HMRI's annual report on rail safety for 2005 on 12 July 2006.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how long the trial of detector equipment at Canary Wharf underground station will last; and what further trials of detector equipment on the transport infrastructure are planned. 
Derek Twigg: As the Secretary of State said inhis written statement to the House of Commons on16 May 2006, the passenger screening trial at Canary Wharf will last for about four weeks starting on17 May 2006. We plan to have the trial operational on 20 days throughout that period. A further passenger screening trial at Greenford station and work with detection dogs were also announced on 16 May 2006. These trials will start as soon as practicable after the end of the Canary Wharf trial, with the exact date yet to be fixed. The trial at Greenford, like that at Canary Wharf, is planned to last for 20 days spread over a four week period.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to re-surface the slip roads on the M25 motorway between junctions 28 and 31; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: Resurfacing of the M25 junction 28 anticlockwise exit and entry slips roads is planned for mid-June 2006. The M25 junction 28 clockwise exit slip road will also be resurfaced later this financial year.
There is no resurfacing of the other slip roads planned between junctions 29 and 31 as they are still in a safe and serviceable condition.
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consideration (a) his Department and (b) Network Rail have given to improving the frequency of services and the infrastructure of the rail network from the Milton Keynes South Midlands growth area to and from the West Midlands region following the projected population increase in the growth area. 
Derek Twigg: Part of the West Coast Main Line Modernisation Project, led by the Department of Transport, will include significant enhancements to the whole route, and in particular, will provide capacity increases at Milton Keynes and Rugby stations. Network Rail aims to finish the work by the end of 2008.
Much work has already been carried out, including, for example, platform extensions, allowing 12 car trains to operate between Northampton, Milton Keynes and London.
The Department for Transport is currently considering the future pattern of train services to be provided over the route, including the new West Midlands franchise, taking account of the impact of the growth area, and expects to consult publicly on its proposals during the course of this summer. The Department has published a progress report on the West Coast Main Line Strategy which sets out the latest position regarding the pattern of inter-city services on the route.
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to establish Birmingham International Airport as the main long haul aviation hub for Milton Keynes; and what assessment he has made of the policy outcomes of such a development. 
Gillian Merron: The Governments The Future of Air Transport White Paper supported growth at Birmingham International Airport, identifying the need for a second runway around 2016. Birmingham Airports recently published draft master plan also proposes an extension to the existing runway, by 2012, which will enable the airport to offer a full network of direct long-haul services.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on how many occasions (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in his Department have stayed overnight in (i) five-star, (ii) four-star and (iii) three-star hotels in each of the last three years. 
Gillian Merron: The Department for Transport and its agencies do not record the star ratings of hotels used by staff or by special advisers. Minimum accommodation standards are set out in staff handbooks, and equate approximately to a three star rating. Any more detailed information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many days have elapsed on average between the receipt of a letter to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency requesting compensation and the payment of compensation to garage owners to compensate them for problems they have experienced with the new MOT computer system. 
Dr. Ladyman: The average time between the receipt of a letter to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency requesting compensation and the receipt of compensation by the claimant is 75 days. On average, 45 of these 75 days are spent clarifying and validating the claim.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much money has been paid in compensation to garage owners to compensate them for problems they have experienced with the new MOT computer system. 
Dr. Ladyman: In total, £7,095 has been paid to Vehicle Testing Stations as compensation for disruptions to service of the MOT computerisation system since rollout (18 April 2005) to date.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many garage (a) owners and (b) managers have written to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency requesting compensation for problems they have experienced with the new MOT computer system. 
Dr. Ladyman: At the time of writing, The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) has received requests for compensation from 253 of 18,300 Vehicle Testing Stations for disruptions to service of the MOT computerisation system. 158 of these claims relate to the incident of 25 April when emergency testing was invoked.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the expected expenditure of the MOT computerisation programme was (a) from the inception of the project to the commencement of rollout and (b) for annual maintenance costs. 
Dr. Ladyman: For part (a) of the question I refer the hon. Member to the answer of 16 June 2005, Official Report, columns 532-33W.
(b) The annual maintenance costs of the MOT computerisation programme are £645,000 at 2006-07 levels.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress is being made towards the introduction of the Oyster Card system to overland trains for commuters to London; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg: Agreement has been reached with the Mayor of London to deliver compatibility between the Oyster Card system and the Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation (ITSO) standard, in London. An element
of this agreement will ensure that rail stations in London zones 1-6 currently without access to some Oyster products will be part of the completed system. Oyster will not be extended beyond the London boundary, but bidders for the new South Western rail franchise are being required to set out how an ITSO smart ticketing system could be introduced across its franchise area from London to the South Coast.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list those Private Members' Bills in respect of which his Department has adopted a policy of neutrality in each session since 2001-02; and if he will make a statement. 
Gillian Merron: Since the Department for Transport was formed in May 2002 it has not adopted a neutral stance on any Private Member's Bill which received its second reading.
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