Mr. Spellar: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to the answer of 10 January 2007, Official Report, column 584W, to the hon. Member for Romford (Andrew Rosindell) on the St. George flag, for what health and safety reasons access to the flagpole on Portcullis House is denied; and for how long it has been non-operational. 
Access to the flag pole is by ladder but there is no safe means of passing the flag up the ladder; the flag raiser needs to climb over a ventilation duct; lighting is poor and there is no emergency lighting. In addition there are heavy hatch doors with no means of preventing closure and no harness anchorage points.
The flagpole has been used only once since Portcullis House was opened when it was found to be dangerous and it has been non operational since September 2000. Means of rectifying the health and safety risks are being looked into and when the costs are known a decision will be taken on whether to fly flags from this location. If it is decided to do so, the aim will be to complete the necessary modifications by summer 2007.
|Advocacy services from private sector barristers
|(1) The Serious Fraud Office does not employ in-house barristers.
The Treasury Solicitors Department (TSol), spent some £14 million on civil advocacy services, most of which is recovered from other Departments, which instructed TSol. It is not possible separately to identify the cost of the small amount of advocacy done by in-house TSol barristers.
Grant Shapps: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speakers Committee on the Electoral Commission how much the Electoral Commission paid recruitment agencies for the hire of temporary staff in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission came into existence on 30 November 2000. It informs me that the total amount paid to recruitment agencies for the hire of temporary staff in each financial year from 2002-03 is as shown in the table. These amounts include the remuneration paid to the temporary staff and the agency fees.
The equivalent figures for 2000-01 and 2001-02 are not readily available. In 2000-01, the commissions total expenditure on recruitment, agency staff, and training was £84,270. In 2001-02, payments to recruitment agencies were not recorded separatelyfrom payments to other organisations in respect of secondees, and total expenditure under this combined heading was £190,000.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department has paid to recruitment agencies for the hire of temporary staff in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: The most recent estimate (at 2005 prices) for replacement of the concrete surface on this length of A50 was in excess of £9.9 million. There is no scheme programmed for resurfacing the A50 between Blythe Bridge and Uttoxeter in the foreseeable future, so no current estimate is available.
Gillian Merron: The average age of the fleet in England at 31 March 2006 was 8.2 years. This information was published on page 6 in DfTs Public Transport Statistics Bulletin GB: 2006 Edition Supplement, a copy of which is in the House Library.
Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what level of Government funding was provided to Bedfordshire county council to support the provision of rural bus services in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement; 
Gillian Merron: The Department has supported the provision of bus services in rural areas by the introduction in 1998 of the rural bus subsidy grant (RBSG), a grant paid to local transport authorities according to numbers living in rural areas. A total of £393 million has been allocated to authorities over the period 1998-99 to 2006-07.
In addition, a total of £110 million has been awarded to authorities successful in Rural Bus Challenge (RBC) competitions held from 1998 to 2003. This scheme has encouraged the development of innovative solutions to meeting rural transport needs. Many of the 300 projects initially supported by RBC funding are now continuing with mainstream funding from local authorities and other sources.
A further step of particular relevance to rural areas has been the introduction of amended rules for the route registration of local bus services which has enabled the introduction of flexibly routed, demand responsive bus services. These services are also now eligible for bus service operators grant (BSOG) from the Department.
|RBSG/RBC spend (£ million)
It should be noted that the majority of support for local bus services is provided by local authorities using the Governments revenue support grant (RSG) and authorities own resources. It is for each authority to decide how much of their RSG allocation to devote to bus support. I understand Bedfordshire county council is currently considering to what extent it can fund substitute services following an announcement of planned service changes by Stagecoach.
Many of the projects supported under the RBC have been community-based services. In addition, in 2002 we extended eligibility to receive BSOG to a wide range of community transport services. A total of over £4 million annually is now paid to such services of which approximately £0.15 million is to community transport operators in Bedfordshire. Our bus policy document Putting Passengers First, published in December, proposes a number of further measures to assist community transport provision.
From April this year, older and disabled people have been guaranteed free off-peak local bus travel within their local authority area. From April 2008, this will be extended further allowing free off-peak local bus travel anywhere in England.
Gillian Merron: The information is not available without incurring disproportionate costs. Essex county council have advised that they hold back copies of their quarterly (previously monthly) publication Passenger Transport News which contain details for all bus service changes in the county of Essex.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of (a) the number of lorries with overseas licence plates which used UK roads in each of the last two years and (b) the miles travelled on UK roads by those lorries. 
Dr. Ladyman: In 2004, 1.4 million foreign registered heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) travelled to mainland Europe from Great Britain, while in 2005 the figure was 1.5 million vehicles. It is not possible to provide a UK estimate since information on foreign vehicles leaving Northern Ireland via the Irish Land Boundary is not available.
Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the A595 Parton-Lillyhall bypass will cost; when the scheme will be completed; and what assessment he has made of the effects of the bypass on Copeland. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many requests for access to data from the UK vehicle register have been made by private companies since 1 November 2006; and how many of these requests have been turned down. 
Dr. Ladyman: Between 1 November 2006 and 31 December 2006 we received 184,483 requests for data from private companies and from private individuals. We cannot distinguish between these groups without manual examination of the papers and therefore without incurring disproportionate costs.
Dr. Ladyman: No organisation has yet been given approved conditional access since the new measures were introduced on 1 November 2006. Any organisation wanting access to data electronically will need to become a member of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) and to comply with that associations code of practice that will have clear and enforceable rules governing the business, procedures of their members. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is currently discussing ATA status with several companies.