8 Jun 2006 : Column 757W

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 8 June 2006

Communities and Local Government

Code of Conduct for Councillors

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the revisions to the code of conduct for councillors are expected to be introduced. [74466]

Mr. Woolas: We intend to consult on a draft revised code of conduct for local authority members later this year, with the view, subject to the outcome of this consultation, to implementing an amended code next year.

Council Tax

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what policies the Group Valuation Office has on photographing homes for council tax re-banding purposes; and how the Group Valuation Office selects homes that are to be photographed. [75951]

Mr. Woolas: The Valuation Office Agency has a public fact sheet, “Council Tax—Inspections and Photography”. This provides a summary of the Agency’s policy on photographing homes for council tax purposes as set out in their Council Tax Manual. Both the Manual and the fact sheet are available on their website www.voa.gov.uk. A copy of the fact sheet and the relevant extract from the Manual will be placed in the Library. Photographs are taken, where Valuation Office Agency staff consider them to be of use in undertaking the statutory tasks of compiling and maintaining council tax valuation lists.

Departmental Staff

David Simpson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) EU foreign nationals and (b) non-EU foreign nationals have been employed in his Department in each of the last 5 years; what vetting procedures are in place for each category of staff; and whether these include liaison with foreign law enforcement agencies. [68025]

Angela E. Smith: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested is not readily available and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

The Department’s procedures for security vetting comply with the policy set out to Parliament by the then Prime Minister on 15 December 1994, which came into force on 1 January 1995. All staff who require security clearance for their posts in the Department are subject to this policy, regardless of their nationality.

8 Jun 2006 : Column 758W

Local Authorities (Standards Committees)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what advice she has given to local authorities on (a) steps they should take to recruit independent members of Standards Committees and (b) support and training which should be made available to monitoring officers. [74467]

Mr. Woolas: The Relevant Authorities (Standards Committee) Regulations 2001 (SI 2001/2812) set out procedures for appointing independent members of standards committees. The Standards Board for England has also issued guidance, as it is empowered to do by The Standards Board for England (Functions) Order 2004 (SI 2004/2618), to local authority monitoring officers to assist them in undertaking their roles.

Electoral Commission Committee

Election Expenditure

Mr. Bone: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission what recent meetings the Commission has held to discuss limits on expenditure by candidates in general elections. [75054]

Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it has held no recent meetings to discuss candidates’ expenses limits at general elections. It is, however, planning a series of meetings with party representatives over the summer on the regulation of candidates’ election expenses. Reports of these meetings will form part of its contribution to Sir Hayden Phillips’ review of the funding of political parties.


Automatic Number Plate Recognition Cameras

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how data captured by Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras is stored; who has access to the data; and if he will make a statement. [74812]

Dr. Ladyman: Three of Department for Transport’s Agencies operate Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) systems, DVLA, VOSA, and Highways Agency.

Data from DVLA’s ANPR cameras are used solely by DVLA for VED enforcement. In addition, DVLA complies in all respects with the BSI code of practice on the storage of digital evidence, which covers the secure handling of data through the use of access controls and tight audit trails.

8 Jun 2006 : Column 759W

Data from VOSA’s eight mobile ANPR cameras is used solely by VOSA for intelligence gathering to enable targeted enforcement. VOSA hold 11 databases such as test certificate and O licence that are used to identify non-compliant operators. Intelligence gathered is encrypted and saved to disk then down loaded to the back office function. Access is via a decryption key held by the Intelligence officer. In addition, VOSA complies in all respects with the BSI code of practice on the storage of digital evidence, which covers the secure handling of data through the use of access controls and tight audit trails.

The ANPR data gathered by the ANPR cameras operated by the National Traffic Control Centre (NTCC) has two characters dropped from the number plate before being encrypted, creating a depersonalised record, which is transmitted back to the NTCC. Once this has been matched to a record from an adjacent camera or a defined period has lapsed the data is deleted. The only information being retained being the average journey time for that section at that time. No one has access to the full number plate data.

There are 108 ANPR cameras around the Birmingham box (M5, M6 and M42). 63 feed to roadside readers which are downloaded by consultants working for the HA. The information is used for traffic
8 Jun 2006 : Column 760W
flow monitoring, journey time reliability and performance monitoring of schemes such as the M42 Active Traffic Management Scheme. The HA is only given reports and depersonalised information.

45 further cameras feed back to the West Midlands Police Control Office (who are the data owner) and the HA is provided with depersonalised data for traffic management purposes.

Bicycle Accidents

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents involving bicycles were reported on (a) roads and (b) pavements in (i) Kingston and Surbiton constituency, (ii) South West London and (iii) London in each year since 1997. [74780]

Dr. Ladyman: The number of personal injury accidents reported to the police involving one or more bicycles, by whether the bicycles were on the road or the pavement at the time of the accident, in (i) the constituency of Kingston and Surbiton (ii) the strategic health authority of South-West London (iii) and London for 1997 to 2004 (the latest year for which figures are available) are shown in the table.

Personal injury accidents involving one or more bicycles: by location of the bicycle: 1997-2004
Kingston and Surbiton Constituency( 1) Strategic Health Authority of South West London( 4) London
Road( 2) Pavement( 2) All( 3) Road( 2) Pavement( 2) All( 3) Road( 2) Pavement( 2) All

















































































(1 )The accidents in these columns are those that occurred in the 2004 boundary for Kingston and Surbiton constituency. (2) There is the possibility of double counting between these rows if an accident involved two or more bicycles and at least one was on the pavement and at least one was on the road. (3) Includes accidents where it is not known whether the bicycle(s) involved were on the pavement or the road. (4 )The Strategic Health Authority of South West London, comprises of the London Boroughs of Croydon, Kingston-upon-Thames, Richmond-upon-Thames, Sutton, Merton and Wandsworth.

Illegal Drivers

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many drivers he estimates are driving in the UK without having taken a driving test. [75342]

Dr. Ladyman: It is not known how many full driving licence holders have never taken a driving test.

The Road Traffic Act 1934 introduced tests of competence to drive. This Act, however, provided an exemption from the need to take a driving test for those drivers who had held a provisional licence prior to 1 April 1934. Also between 18 February 1947 and 17 February 1948 provisional licences obtained during the Second World War were converted to full licences without the requirement to sit a driving test.

Records kept at this time did not distinguish between full licence holders who obtained full entitlement as a consequence of passing a test and those who relied on the exemptions contained in the appropriate Acts.

Red Traffic Signals

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the likely impact on road casualties of adopting a policy of allowing vehicles to make a left turn at red traffic signals. [75928]

Dr. Ladyman: The proposal for ‘turn left on red’ is not considered suitable for traffic management purposes in this country.

8 Jun 2006 : Column 761W

Although there are similarities between the road traffic signalling systems in the UK and abroad, there are also differences. Many other countries use fixed time signals, where the green period is based on average flows. These periods will not necessarily be proportional to the actual flow. ‘Turn right (left) on red’ is often used to overcome resultant delays. The majority in the UK are either vehicle actuated or connected to an Urban Traffic Control system using ‘live’ information. Timings are proportional to the flow and ‘turn left on red’ would not afford the same advantage.

There are also differences in junction type. Where ‘turn right (left) on red’ is used, for example in the United States, most junctions have good visibility between side and main road traffic. Many junctions in the UK have poor intervisibility because of existing buildings and the junction geometry. Any uncontrolled movements from the side road would involve increased risks and an increased accident potential at the junction.

Also, in the UK many pedestrian phases display a green figure on the ‘side road’ while a red is shown to the ‘main road’. Allowing vehicles to turn left on red would pose increased risks to all pedestrians, especially vulnerable road users such as blind and partially sighted pedestrians, who are often given audible and/or tactile signals as an indication that all conflicting vehicular movements have stopped.

Studies in the mid-1970s, in six states of the USA where ‘turn right on red’ was introduced, showed that pedestrian and cyclist accidents increased, ranging from 48 per cent. to 123 per cent. Vulnerable groups showed the greatest increase.

Number Plates

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport under what legislation the Register of Number Plate Suppliers was introduced and is maintained; and if he will make a statement. [75519]

Dr. Ladyman: The Register of Number Plate Suppliers was introduced in the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001 (VGA) and is maintained by the same legislation. The Road Safety Bill currently going through Parliament will amend the VGA by extending the scheme to Scotland and Northern Ireland, giving the Secretary of State enforcement powers to prosecute errant suppliers and outlawing so called “show plates”.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the operation of the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001; what recent representations he has received about the operation of these regulations; and whether he plans to amend the Regulations. [75520]

Dr. Ladyman: The Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 are operating well. I have not had any recent representations about the operation of these regulations and presently have no plans to amend them.

Next Section Index Home Page