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26 Jun 2006 : Column 32W—continued

This is the most accurate information that the Highways Agency is able to provide.

A389 Kingskerswell Bypass

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has approved the construction of the A380 Kingskerswell bypass; and what funding has been allocated for the construction of the road. [80165]

Gillian Merron: The Department has not received a proposal for this scheme from Devon county council. We are currently considering the advice from the South West region on the priority it attaches to major transport schemes in the South West, including the Kingskerswell Bypass, within the indicative Regional Funding Allocation (RFA) for the region. We hope to announce our response to the region’s advice before the parliamentary summer recess. Any schemes identified for funding from the RFAs will be subject to the Department’s approval processes.

Aeroplanes (Air Quality)

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on contaminated air in airliners; [80119]

(2) what recent assessment he has made of the effect on safety of contaminated air in airliners. [80147]

Gillian Merron: The House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology did an investigation, which reported in November 2000 and said:

There is also a scientific inquiry under way into the global evidence and we have commissioned the independent Committee on Toxicity (COT) based at Imperial College (and funded by Government to advise the Food Standards Agency and other Government Departments) to review evidence from BALPA (the British Air Line Pilots Association).

The COT secretariat put up on its website on 21 June a draft discussion paper. It will discuss this with BALPA further on 26 June, and then there will be a full hearing, in public, which will take place on 11 July.

The next step is to wait for the COT review process to be completed. The Government will be guided by the COT conclusions and recommendations on the way forward.

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Bus Journeys

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to help local councils and bus companies devise innovative ways of increasing the number of bus journeys, including by providing further Government funding; and if he will make a statement. [79183]

Gillian Merron: There are already a number of programmes in place that help councils and bus companies devise innovative ways of increasing bus patronage.

Councils have been able to apply for Kickstart and Rural and Urban Bus Challenge funding to pump-prime bus services that have the potential to increase patronage. DfT awarded £20 million for Kickstart schemes in 2005-06 to fund 43 bus services that could become self-sustaining. Between 1998 and 2003 the Rural and Urban Bus Challenge supported over 400 projects at a cost of £163 million.

In addition, the Government have provided £350 million for 2006-07 and a further £367.5 million for 2007-08 to fund free off-peak local bus travel for people aged 60 and over and disabled people. This will be extended further to national bus travel from April 2008, for which the Treasury has earmarked up to an additional £250 million per year.

Also, all bus operators receive Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) which provides a rebate of about 80 per cent. of the duty paid by them on the fuel they use, with 100 per cent. rebate for environmentally friendly fuels. The budget for BSOG in England for 2005-06 was £380 million.

The Transport Innovation Fund is a new approach to transport investment which is not geared to particular modes, but will support measures which help to tackle congestion and promote national productivity. Up to £200 million of the fund has been made available specifically to support packages of measures that will address congestion in towns and cities through demand management and public transport improvements, including better bus services.

Cloned Number Plates

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many car number plate cloning incidents were recorded in (a) Bedfordshire and (b) Luton in the last five years. [80372]

Dr. Ladyman: The number of vehicles that are, or may have been, subject to vehicle cloning in Bedfordshire or Luton is not known. Nor are national figures available.

Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the letter from the Minister of State of 8 February 2006, reference SL/001336/06, in relation to the Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority, when he expects the undertakings made in the letter to be met; and if he will make a statement. [79774]

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Dr. Ladyman: We are still considering the issues raised by the hon. Member and his constituent and will be in a position to provide him with a substantive reply very shortly.

Departmental Staff

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many of his staff are (a) under and (b) over 55 years of age. [77419]

Gillian Merron: In the Department for Transport and its agencies, there are 16,530 staff under the age of 55 and 3,190 over the age of 55.

Disability Access

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether any building in his Department falls short of disability access regulations. [73116]

Gillian Merron: Audits have been conducted at our buildings to ensure that we are complying with our responsibilities under the employment and service provider provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA). Reasonable adjustments have been made at a number of locations (including our main HQ building) and further improvement work is in hand at some sites.

Information on the extent to which each building is complying with the employment and service provider provisions of the DDA is not collected centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Driver Licensing and Information

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the operation of the Road Traffic (Driver Licensing and Information Systems) Act 1989; what recent representations he has received about the operation of this Act; and whether he plans to amend this Act. [80205]

Dr. Ladyman: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 10 May 2006, Official Report, column 274W. We have no plans to amend this Act.

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many replacement (a) full and (b) provisional driving licences were issued in each year since 1996. [80184]

Dr. Ladyman: The number of replacements issued in each year were:

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Calendar year Number of replacements





















The breakdown of these figures into full and provisional licences is not available.

Flag Flying

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) on how many days since May 1997 the St. George’s flag has been flown from his Department’s buildings; [77736]

(2) what his Department’s policy is on flying the (a) St. George’s flag and (b) EU flag from departmental buildings. [77737]

Gillian Merron: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport issues the guidance for flying flags on Government buildings. This includes flying the St. George’s flag on St. George’s day (23 April) and the European flag on Europe day (9 May) on buildings with two or
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more flag poles provided they are flown alongside the Union flag with the Union flag in the superior position.

The Department’s main HQ building has only one usable and accessible flag pole and therefore does not fly the St. George’s flag or the European flag.

Local Transport (West Sussex)

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been made available to West Sussex county council in local transport plan funding for each year since 1997. [80505]

Gillian Merron: The table shows the funding allocated to West Sussex county council in the local transport capital settlements between 1997-98 and 2005-06. Not included in the table is an additional amount of approximately £14.5 million which we have provided to West Sussex county council between 2001 and 2005 for major local public transport schemes.

The integrated transport block allocations are available for local authorities to use on road and public transport improvements, according to their local priorities.

West Sussex county council nature of funding
1997-98 1998-99 1999-2000 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06








Integrated Transport block







Total allocation(1)










(1) For 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000, no figures are given for the integrated transport block and highways capital maintenance as there were different funding streams operating then. Total figures are shown.

London Underground (Victoria Line)

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Health and Safety Executive investigated the safety implications of the incident on the Victoria Line on the evenings of 29 and 30 May 2006 between Highbury and Finsbury Park; and if he will make a statement. [79821]

Gillian Merron: Her Majesty’s Railway Inspectorate (HMRI) is the independent health and safety regulator for the railways, covering the safety of the travelling public and employees. HMRI was transferred from the Health and Safety Executive to the Office of Rail Regulation on 1 April 2006.

The incident occurred when a northbound Victoria Line train was held in the tunnel between Highbury and Islington and Finsbury Park stations at around 00.30 am on Tuesday 30 May. This was the penultimate passenger service of the day. The problem required the traction current to be switched off and when repairs were completed normal passenger services had ceased and engineering hours started on the line. Delays then occurred as due to safety procedures the current could not be switched back on to move the train until it was confirmed that no workers were on the line. Eventually passengers were taken off the train and walked back to Highbury and Islington station before 03.00 am.

HMRI and London Underground Ltd. (LUL) have both investigated this incident. LUL have now modified their procedures and decision-making processes, particularly for incidents within one hour of engineering hours. This should ensure that protracted delays in detraining passengers do not occur in the future. HMRI will continue to monitor the effectiveness of these and other procedures which relate to the evacuation of passengers from trains.

Modal Shift (North Northamptonshire)

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to achieve modal shift in North Northamptonshire. [79561]

Gillian Merron: A key element of the Milton Keynes Sub Regional Strategy is to encourage a shift towards more sustainable modes of travel.

Specific funding has already been made available from the Department for Communities and Local Government (formerly ODPM) to support public transport schemes serving the North Northamptonshire area, including Growth Area Funding (GAF) of £4.4 million to improve services and infrastructure on the X4 bus route connecting Corby, Kettering, Oundle and Wellingborough, with wider links to Northampton, Milton Keynes and Peterborough.

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GAF funding has also been provided to examine key issues in North Northamptonshire and this has helped identify current movement trends in the area. Northamptonshire county council has commissioned a series of transportation studies to inform the development of a specific Transport Strategy for Growth, which will address issues of modal shift across the wider area.

Northamptonshire's second Local Transport Plan also seeks to encourage modal shift through the implementation of specific strategies and programmes related to bus patronage, walking and cycling, travel planning and accessibility. Developer contributions on public transport infrastructure and service provision are also highlighted as a potential major contributor in this area.

The potential for extra rail services to the area is also being considered under the new East Midlands rail franchise specification consultation, which was launched on 8 June.

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