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16 Apr 2007 : Column 54Wcontinued
The Department and the Ministry of Defence have started the procurement process under the private finance initiative for the harmonised provision of search and rescue helicopter services from 2012. This
decision provides an opportunity to bring together the current search and rescue helicopter providers into one service under a single contract providing the taxpayer with value for money. The service will continue to be managed jointly by the Ministry of Defence and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to require users of electric wheelchairs and scooters to (a) undertake training before using the equipment and (b) take out insurance cover. 
Gillian Merron: The Department has published research, a copy of which has been placed in the house Library, into the training and insurance aspects of electric wheelchair and scooter use. The research examines whether existing arrangements balance the needs of mobility vehicle users with the safety of other road and pavement users. The research findings are currently under consideration and will be acted upon shortly.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to reply to the letter of 21 February 2007 from the hon. Member for Billericay, on the concessionary fare scheme. 
Gillian Merron: A reply was sent to the hon. Member on 29 March 2007.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department has undertaken into the enforcement of civil traffic penalties against foreign registered vehicles in the UK. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Department has not commissioned research into this subject. The Department is a member of the Shared Parking and Registered Keeper Information Service in which traffic authorities in the UK and other EU member states co-operate to enforce cross-border traffic violations. That service has conducted research into levels of civil traffic violations with particular reference to foreign-registered vehicles.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his estimate is of the cost of implementing the final provisions of the second European driving licence directive for motorcycles; and how much of the estimated cost is to be spent on super test sites. 
Dr. Ladyman: The total estimated cost of implementing the second European driving licence directive for motorcycles is £60,537,000.
Of this amount, £60,000,000 is for the acquisition, design construction and development of multi-purpose
test centres (MPTCs). The remainder of £537,000 has been allocated for equipment, training and site set-up costs.
These MPTCs will satisfy the requirements of the second European driving licence directive for motorcycles, but will also cater for other types of test, including practical motor-car tests.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the expected spending in future years is on the non-motorised user crossings programme. 
Dr. Ladyman: It is not possible to predict future spending on the non-motorised user crossing programme as most of the schemes are delivered as part of larger improvements. Investigations are scheduled over a number of years and not all will result in schemes being taken forward. In addition, all new highways schemes receive a non-motorised user audit and this may result in further schemes that are not currently identified in the programme. Highways Agency expenditure for the three years from 2008-09 will be determined in the spending review to be concluded later in the year.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 27 March 2007, Official Report, column 1382W, on public transport: Greater London, whether any legislative change is required for the development of London Works. 
Gillian Merron: There are no legislative changes required for the development of London Works. It will support the management of both the existing regulatory regime for works carried out by undertakers under the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 (NRSWA), and the new regulations that reflect changes to NRSWA by the Traffic Management Act 2004.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the timetable is for decisions on rail franchises under consideration; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The Secretary of State will announce the award of the Intercity East Coast Franchise, the East Midlands Franchise, the West Midlands Franchise and the Cross Country Franchise in summer 2007.
Mr. Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to improve the collection of rubbish off the trackside of the rail network. 
Mr. Tom Harris:
Responsibility for the clearance of rubbish from the trackside is an operational matter for
Network Rail, as the owner and operator of the national rail network. Network Rail has its own operational arrangements and policies relating to clearance, consistent with current legislation.
The hon. Member should contact Network Rail's Chief Executive at the following address for a response to his question:
40 Melton Street
London NW1 2EE.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 27 March 2007, Official Report, column 1384W, on Railways: Portsmouth, what estimate he has made of the end date for the continued engineering overrun in the Portsmouth area; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Tom Harris: Stagecoach South Western Trains (SSWT) has advised the Department that they continue to have detailed discussions with Network Rail regarding the engineering overrun in the Portsmouth area and to date Network Rail have been unable to confirm a revised completion date with SSWT.
SSWT has made appropriate changes to its timetable to ensure that it is able to maintain the best service given the restrictions to access.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of local authorities' rights of way improvement plans. 
Barry Gardiner: I have been asked to reply.
In its role as a statutory consultee, Natural England has been reviewing, and offering guidance on, individual rights of way improvement plans as they are being prepared. The quality of those adopted so far is reported to be generally very good. By the middle of last month, 14 per cent. of local highway authorities in England had adopted planswell in advance of the 21 November 2007 deadline. A further 66 per cent. were expected to meet the deadline. I wrote to the chief executives of the remaining 20 per cent. on 27 February 2007 to remind them of their statutory obligations.
I cannot comment on the progress of rights of way improvement plans in Wales as the National Assembly Government have delegated authority in this area.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many fixed speed cameras are located in (a) Eastbourne and (b) East Sussex, broken down by site and district council area. 
The Department does not hold this information, but does have the information for the area
covered by the Sussex Safety Camera Partnership, analysed by local authority. The details are shown in the following table.
The National Safety Camera Programme ceased on 29 March 2007 and the response represents data held as at that date. Future operation and deployment of safety cameras will be under the control of local partnerships, who will be better able to supply up to date information.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many fixed speed cameras there are in East Yorkshire, broken down by site; when each camera was installed; what assessment he has made of the impact of each camera on road safety; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Department does not hold this information, but does have the information for the area covered by the Humberside Safety Camera Partnership, analysed by local authority. The details are shown in the following table.
|Local authority||Established||Site name|
Spring Bank West, Hull/Princes Avenue to Chanterlands Avenue
The most recent assessment is the independent four-year evaluation of the National Safety Camera Programme, published on 15 December 2005. This confirms that safety cameras continue to be a valuable and cost-effective method of enforcing speed limits, and cameras in Humberside showed casualty reductions greater than the national average.
The National Safety Camera Programme ceased on 29 March 2007 and the response represents data held as at that date. Future operation and deployment of safety cameras will be under the control of local partnerships, who will be better able to supply up-to-date information.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been spent on improving safety for taxi drivers in (a) Gravesham and (b) Kent in the latest period for which figures are available. 
The Department does not hold any figures on how much is spent on improving safety for taxi drivers by local authorities and other local bodies. However, we are aware that a number of initiatives have
been funded through local transport plans, crime and disorder reduction partnerships and similar sources.
Recognising the importance of safety, we are, at the national level, funding a research project into the personal security of taxi and PHV drivers and relevant measures that can be taken to improve the position. The project began in January and is expected to take 12 months to complete.
Also included in the best practice guidance to taxi and PHV licensing authorities is the advice that authorities should look sympathetically on, or actively encourage, installation in vehicles of measures to improve drivers' safety. Attention has also been drawn to Home Office information on crime reduction measures including the provision of CCTV.
Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the reasons are for the retention of the Agricultural Wages Board; and what assessment he has made of the implications of the introduction of the national minimum wage for the board's role and functions. 
Barry Gardiner: The Agricultural Wages Board provides a pay structure for the agricultural workers linking minimum pay rates, qualifications and experience. This goes beyond the protection given by the national minimum wage arrangements. Given the fragmented and isolated nature of the agricultural workforce, the strong links between home and job, and the need to protect migrant and seasonal workers from exploitation, the Government decided to retain the agricultural minimum wage when the national minimum wage was introduced in 1999. These concerns remain valid today and the Government consider that it is appropriate to maintain the current protections given to agricultural workers.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the risk of making public applications for compliance with the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Regulations. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000 require advertisement in the local press and in the London Gazette, that a permit application has been made. A copy of the permit application itself, and any permit issued as a result, are required by the Regulations to be held on the Public Register maintained by the Environment Agency at its relevant local office.
If the Secretary of State is of the opinion that making information available in this way would be contrary to the interests of national security, he may direct that the information should not be made available. Similarly, if an applicant considers that information which would be made available is commercially confidential, he may apply to the regulator for it not to be made available
and may appeal to the Secretary of State if he is dissatisfied with the regulators decision. In these ways, the risks of publication can be assessed.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will take steps to cap payments to farmers and farm businesses. 
Barry Gardiner: Under the rules of the Common Agricultural Policy the UK has no authority to cap payments to farmers and farm businesses. Nor do we think it is an effective or rational way of distributing farm support.
The European Commission proposed a cap of 300,000 euros as part of Agenda 2000. We opposed this on the basis it would: distort the industry by discouraging the adoption of sensible, market-based, business models; prove administratively burdensome; and imbalance the CAP budget by further penalising net contributors like the UK and Germany.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department is considering to reduce the amount of carbon emissions that Government buildings produce. 
Ian Pearson: Working with the Carbon Trust, DEFRA has developed a systematic approach to carbon management and is actively engaged in identifying carbon reduction opportunities through operational improvements, reduced energy costs, staff awareness and monitoring initiatives.
A system for benchmarking, monitoring and analysing utility usage across the estate has been created which highlights buildings where substantial energy savings can be made. Focusing on these sites has helped identify key projects which will return major savings on energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Among other smaller projects, three major voltage optimisation projects which could save the Department a potential 900 tonnes of carbon per year (8 per cent. of DEFRAs total annual carbon emissions) are currently being assessed with a view to implementation before the end of the financial year. The success of these pilot projects will influence the roll out of further initiatives in the new financial year.
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