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8 Jan 2007 : Column 211Wcontinued
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many driving examiners are off duty due to (a) injury and (b) other reasons resulting from incidents during driving examinations. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) estimates that 43 driving examiners are off duty due to injuries on test. DSA cannot be certain about this figure as injuries are sometimes not reported as having an industrial cause until late in the absence.
It is currently not possible to define those off duty due to other reasons. This is because DSA uses separate computer systems that cannot link these events. DSA plans to introduce a system that will allow for this information to be retrieved in April 2007.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what protection from (a) verbal or (b) physical assault is provided for driving examiners. 
Dr. Ladyman: As part of their initial training course new entrant driving examiners receive a presentation on how to handle aggressive and violent members of the public. They are shown how to read body language and to defuse tension in order to prevent problems escalating.
Some test centres have panic buttons linked to alarms, and personal attack alarms have been issued in appropriate instances. Posters are displayed prominently in the practical test centres stating that DSA will seek to prosecute anyone who threatens examiners.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidelines his Department issues on action to be taken against people who verbally or physically assault driving examiners. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has published a health and safety advice note which sets out the procedure to follow in the event of an assault. DSA has also formulated an assaults policy. Both documents have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Incidents are recorded on the booking system to ensure that if there is a further application for a test, the examiner is made aware of the risk. In the cases of prior physical assault by the candidate, arrangements will be made for a second examiner to be present for the duration of the test.
Examiners are encouraged to report all instances of threats or physical assault to the police for further action. Non-physical incidents are followed up by letter to the candidate concerned requiring an assurance that it will not be repeated.
The agency has no statutory authority to refuse to accept a test booking or conduct a practical test due to a risk of physical or verbal abuse to examiners.
DSA will support any legal action initiated by driving examiners in respect of assaults suffered.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidelines his Department issues on action to be taken against people who make unfounded complaints and allegations against driving examiners. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Driving Standards Agency investigates all complaints made against driving examiners. There are no formal guidelines on action to be taken against people who make unfounded complaints or allegations.
However, DSA would support appropriate action initiated by examiners against persons considered to be victimising, harassing or behaving in a malicious fashion towards them.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what support is available to driving examiners who have experienced psychological trauma as a result of unfounded allegations being made against them. 
Dr. Ladyman: Driving examiners who have experienced trauma have the full support of their line management, human resources and the counselling and support service.
All potential physiological and psychological trauma is treated sympathetically.
In respect of potential psychological trauma, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has published a Stress guide for use by staff. Externally, DSA contracts Westfield Health Services to provide psychological counselling for all staff, and conditions are assessed and recommendations made by the occupational health adviser.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking (a) to open up smaller ports around the UK for freight and (b) to promote the transportation of freight around the UK using sea routes to smaller regional ports. 
Dr. Ladyman: The information requested is as follows.
(a) The Department actively encourages small ports to make the most of the opportunities for increasing freight traffic. Through Modernising Trust Ports and Opportunities for Ports in Local Authority Ownership, and through continuing partnership with the British Ports Association, we promote good practice in governance, management and operations.
(b) We are encouraged to see that some ports and shipping operators are giving consideration to new coastal feeder services that could transfer more freight from our roads. These, together with other investments that secure modal shift, could be eligible for grant support from the Departments freight grants programme, the purpose of which is to secure the environmental benefits of moving goods by water or rail instead of by road. As well as the grants scheme we also look to the Sea and Water organisation, which is partly funded by the Government, to take a lead in promoting coastal shipping services.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much freight was transported on inland waterways in Great Britain in 2006. 
Dr. Ladyman: The most recent information on inland waters traffic was published in Waterborne Freight in the United Kingdom 2005. Tables 2.9 and 2.10 provide information on the major inland waterway routes. A copy of the report is available from the House of Commons Library and also at:
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to promote the transportation of freight on inland waterways. 
Dr. Ladyman: Since 1997, the Government have awarded grants of £54 million for water freight schemes, including inland waterway projects. These will have saved over one billion road miles worth of lorry journeys on our roads. Last year we introduced a new Waterborne Freight Grant scheme to assist both inland waterway and coastal shipping companies with their operating costs.
Since 2002, we have implemented the recommendations of the Freight Study Group to increase freight traffic on the inland waterways of England and Wales, including those in urban areas. Measures included:
Establishing Sea and Water, an industry body, partly funded by Government, with a remit to promote the movement of freight by inland and short sea shipping;
funding a water freight business directory (run by Sea and Water) to provide potential customers with all the information they need to make an informed choice about the services available for moving freight by water; and
publishing Planning for Freight on Inland Waterways, practical guidance for planning authorities.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how the costs referred to in the answer of 25 October 2006, Official Report, column 1866W, on the FV Gaul were determined. 
Dr. Ladyman: The costs incurred for the investigations into the loss of the Gaul break down as follows:
No adjustment has been made for 2006 prices.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will re-open the formal investigation into the FV Gaul on the basis of evidence of design flaws in the duff and offal chutes. 
Dr. Ladyman: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 1 November 2006, Official Report, column 533W. There is no reason to doubt the outcome of the expert analysis that led to the conclusions of the reopened informal investigation and, consequently, there is no reason to reopen the investigation.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what evidence of design inadequacies in the construction and arrangements of the duff and offal chutes on the Gaul was made available to the wreck commissioner prior to the publication of his final report on the investigation into the loss on the FV Gaul on 17 December 2004. 
Dr. Ladyman: There is nothing to add to my previous answer about the nature of the evidence submitted to the wreck commissioner.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effect of the creation of the M6 toll road on the number of vehicles using alternative motorways and roads in the area. 
Dr. Ladyman: Following the opening of the M6 toll a number of reports have been produced. These include the M6 Traffic Monitoring Study: Traffic Impact Study Report which covered the first three months after opening and the M6 Toll After Study: Traffic and Safety Summary which covered the first year of opening. Both reports are available on the Highways Agency website at:
Copies have also been placed in the Libraries of the House. The Highways Agency continues to monitor traffic flows on the motorway and trunk roads in the area.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) cars, (b) lorries and (c) motorbikes used the M6 toll road in each year since its creation. 
Dr. Ladyman: The operators of the M6 toll, Midland Expressway Limited, have provided the following figures showing the annual number of vehicles using the toll road since it opened in December 2003. In addition to the categories requested, the company separately records details of vans and light commercial vehicles and these have also been included.
|(1) To end of September.|
Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of garages offering MOT tests. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency records show that on 21 December 2006 there were 18,619 garages offering MOT tests.
Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many spot checks inspectors employed by his Department have undertaken at garages that perform MOTs in the last three years for which figures are available. 
Dr. Ladyman: The number of spot checks carried out by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) are published in the VOSA Effectiveness report which is available at:
or the House of Commons Library, Business and Transport Section.
Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many inspectors his Department has assigned to perform spot checks on garages that perform MOTs. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) currently has 348 vehicle examiner posts. This role includes enforcement activity such as spot checks on MOT garages.
John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of the staff in each pay bargaining unit in his Department are (a) male and (b) female at (i) AO and (ii) EO grades. 
Gillian Merron [holding answer 19 December 2006]: The percentage of the staff currently working in each pay bargaining unit within the Department for Transport at AO and EO grades is shown in the following table:
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