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20 Jun 2006 : Column 1728Wcontinued
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the estimated cost of the Crossrail project is in each year to completion. 
Derek Twigg: The Parliamentary Estimate of Expense, submitted with the Crossrail hybrid Bill, estimates the total cost of Crossrail at £10.292 billion in Q1 2002 prices. It is not possible at this stage to make reliable estimates of the likely annual cost.
Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether (a) his Department and (b) its (i) executive agencies and (ii) non-departmental public bodies use the services of private debt collectors. 
Gillian Merron: The services of private debt collectors are not used by the Department, its executive agencies nor its non-departmental bodies. However, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency is to launch a nine-month trial from 26 June 2006 for the use of private debt collectors to recover unpaid continuous registration penalties.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the Chief Accounting Officer of his Department. 
Gillian Merron: The Principal Accounting Officer for the Department for Transport is its Permanent Secretary, Sir David Rowlands KCB, who has a BA (Hons) Philosophy Politics and Economics (Oxon).
Principal Accounting Officer is a role that the permanent secretary combines with his personal responsibility for the overall organisation, management and staffing of the department and for Department-wide procedures in financial and other matters. The Principal Accounting Officer is assisted in the discharge of these duties by suitably qualified staff and experienced senior managers such as the finance director.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will keep a separate record of the amount spent annually by his Department on alcohol for hospitality purposes. 
The Department for Transport does not keep a separate record of the amount spent annually on alcohol for hospitality purposes. Expenditure in the Department is conducted in accordance with the principles of Government accounting. The Departments policy on hospitality is set out in its staff handbook, which advises that, on each occasion, careful consideration should be given to
the need, form and extent of hospitality and whether if it can be justified. Staff are prohibited from claiming alcohol under the Departments travel and subsistence arrangements.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations his Department has received from First Capital Connect regarding fares on its services. 
Derek Twigg: The Department has received no recent representations from First Capital Connect on fares.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will ensure the Union Flag is flown from his Departments buildings on every day the offices are open. 
Gillian Merron: The Department for Transport follows the rules and guidance on flag flying issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. These rules are approved by the Queen on advice from the Department. There are no plans at present to change the number of days flags can be flown from Government buildings.
Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Government (a) have agreed and (b) plan to introduce a procurement policy aimed at ensuring that from 2008 the average level of carbon emissions from motor cars it purchases or leases will not exceed 140g per kilometre. 
Dr. Ladyman: On 12 June 2006 Government launched new targets for sustainable operations on the Government estate, alongside the Sustainable Procurement Task Force Action Plan. The target for reducing carbon emissions from road vehicles used for Government administrative operations is 15 per cent. by 2010-11, relative to 2005-06 levels.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will investigate the reasons for (a) recent delays on the Great Western route and (b) track performance problems in hot weather. 
Derek Twigg [holding answer 19 June 2006]: I have held meetings with First Great Western and Network Rail to assess performance. Joint action plans are in place between Network Rail and FGW to address performance issues. These are monitored monthly.
Whether to impose temporary speed restrictions during spells of hot weather is a matter for Network Rail to judge in line with its normal operating procedures.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many working days on the rail network were lost to industrial action in the last 12 months, broken down by region. 
Derek Twigg: The Department does not keep a record of days lost to industrial action as industrial relations are a matter between individual employers and employees.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many recommendations of the Final Report for the Review of Class Two and Class Three Powered Wheelchairs and Powered Scooters (invalid carriages) published in July 2005 have been implemented; and if he will make a statement. 
Gillian Merron: We are considering the recommendations made in the report from Transport and Travel Research Ltd. fully before taking any action on the recommendations.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) which Government Bills sponsored by his Department remain to be introduced during the 2005-06 Session; 
(2) which Government Bills sponsored by his Department he has bid for in the next Session of Parliament; and if he will make a statement. 
Gillian Merron: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend, the Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Straw) on 16 June 2006, Official Report, column 1431W.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what criteria he used in deciding not to include Leominster train station on the Access for All station list. 
Derek Twigg: The criteria used for prioritising stations to receive accessibility improvements as part of the Access for All programme were published in the Railways for All Strategy; a copy of which is available in the House Library.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the merits of charging for use of the M25. 
Dr. Ladyman: No specific assessment has been made of the merits of charging for use of the M25. The Road Pricing Feasibility Study, published in 2004, considered the merits of a possible future national road pricing system for all roads including the motorway network.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to restructure Passenger Focus. 
Derek Twigg: We have no plans to restructure Passenger Focus.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is towards train operators who intend to limit the use of (a) cheap day and (b) other reduced fare tickets between 1630 and 1900 to and from London; and if he will make a statement. 
Derek Twigg: Off-peak fares are unregulated, which means operators are free to create fares, withdraw fares, set prices and any time restrictions on a commercial basis, to fill spare off-peak capacity.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what work is scheduled to improve the condition of the (a) A12 and (b) A127. 
Dr. Ladyman: The information requested has been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the carbon dioxide impact of each road scheme which he has approved since 2000 through the local transport plans. 
Gillian Merron: The Department considers carbon dioxide impacts of road schemes as part of the normal major scheme approval processes. However, information on the carbon dioxide impact of each road scheme approved since 2000 through local transport plans could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.
Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has held with ministerial colleagues on the removal of roadside distractions. 
Dr. Ladyman: No recent discussions at ministerial level have been held on this subject.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to claw back funding from the operators of the Rochdale/Oldham Loop Line following reductions in services over the last four years. 
Derek Twigg: Northern Rail operates services between Manchester and Oldham/Rochdale. The level of service which Northern Rail operates between these locations is in line with that required by its franchise agreement.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many rural bus services have (a) stopped and (b) been suspended indefinitely in each year since 1997. 
Gillian Merron: The total numbers of local bus service cancellations is given in the following table. It is not possible to identify which of the services cancelled were rural bus services.
|Total number of bus service cancellations||Total number of new services introduced|
| Note: GB figures, taken from Traffic Commissioner annual reports|
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many bus passenger miles in rural areas were undertaken in (a) 1997 and (b) 2005; and how many of these were supported by public funds. 
Gillian Merron: The Department does not hold information on passenger miles for all rural areas in the form requested, and it is not possible to identify total local authority support for rural services. However, in 1998, in recognition of the particular needs of rural areas, we introduced specific funding for the support of rural bus services through the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant (RBSG). The grant is distributed to local authorities on the basis of their rural population. Total grant for England has risen from £32.5 million in 1998 to £54.3 million in 2006. The grant has provided for over 2,000 new and enhanced services.
Willie Rennie: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether provisions exist to prevent people on the Sex Offenders Register from being allowed on to the Register of Approved Driving Instructors. 
Dr. Ladyman: We currently do not check the Sex Offenders Register for Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) applications. Later this year, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) will introduce enhanced Criminal Records Bureau checks for all applicants and those already on the register.
In the meantime, one of the conditions for registration is that the applicant is a fit and proper person to have his name entered in the ADI register. As part of that assessment each applicant is required to declare any unspent convictions. The ADI registrar, in considering whether the applicant is fit and proper takes account of character references and any declared convictions. Extracts of relevant court proceedings are considered where appropriate.
Should the registrar become aware of anything, including convictions, that would call into doubt a registered ADIs fitness then he can initiate proceedings to remove them from the register.
David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 25 May 2006, Official Report, column 1957W, on special advisers, how much was spent on travel and subsistence for special advisers between (a) July and December and (b) December 2005 and the end of the financial year. 
Gillian Merron: The total amount spent on travel and subsistence for special advisers between (a) July to end December 2005 and (b) January 2006 to the end of the financial year are as follows:
|Period||Travel and subsistence costs (£)|
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