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Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what limits on minimum commercial return his Department has placed on local bus routes qualifying for subsidies; and if he will make a statement. 
Gillian Merron [holding answer 18 April 2007]: Under the Transport Act 1985 local authorities have power to secure by means of subsidy contracts the provision of bus services which are necessary to meet the transport needs of their area and which would not be provided other than by subsidy. It is for individual local authorities to decide which bus services should be provided in their area under this power. It is also for them to decide the terms of contracts, and to which operators they should be awarded, after undertaking any necessary competitive tendering exercise. There are no specific limits relating to minimum commercial returns.
In best practice guidance for local authorities published in 2005 we have emphasised the importance of authorities having clearly defined criteria when procuring subsidised services, to ensure they achieve best value for money. This would include the need to take account of the overall market for bus services in their area, including services being provided commercially. A copy of this guidance is on the Departments website.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what meetings took place between Ministers in his Department and outside interest groups between 1 January and 31 March; and what the date was of each such meeting. 
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Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the number of fraudulent applications for driving licences in each of the last four years; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: I am not able to estimate the number of fraudulent applications for driving licences. DVLA report suspect documents to the police and the following are the statistics available since July 2005 for such reports. We have no accurate data for reports prior to that date:
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the increased passenger numbers using Northern Rail; and what actions his Department is taking to ensure the extra capacity needed to accommodate these passengers is available. 
Mr. Tom Harris: Passenger journeys on the Northern Rail network were estimated at nearly 61 million in 2004-05 and passenger numbers have grown at approximately 10 per cent. per annum in each of the past two years.
The Department continues to work closely with Northern Rail and other local stakeholders to identify and secure value for money opportunities to provide additional capacity. In recent months, Northern Rail has introduced an additional six trains to provide additional capacity in West Yorkshire, has announced an additional six trains to strengthen services into Liverpool and, in conjunction with the Department and other partners has secured the retention of eight vehicles in trains serving Leeds that otherwise would have been removed this month.
The High Level Output Specification (HLOS), to be published in summer, will set out the additional rail capacity the Government propose to buy to meet the recent and forecast growth in demand for rail travel.
It is too early to say precisely where the additional rolling stock will be used: the rail industrys October 2007 response to the HLOS will identify this. However, the most congested routes are likely to be early priorities.
Mark Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the likely effect of terminating and beginning services at Birmingham on (a) passenger numbers and (b) average travel times for passengers travelling from Warrington or Glasgow to the South and South West. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The specification for the New Cross Country franchise does not significantly change the number of trains terminating and beginning at Birmingham. The specification will lead to new through journey opportunities and, overall, the Department for Transport expects that the changes proposed will result in broadly the same passenger numbers. Journey times from Warrington or Glasgow to Birmingham will reduce and hence average travel times to the South and South West will be broadly similar to today.
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations his Department received, and from whom, in support of the prospective composite package of public funding which has subsequently been granted to East Port Great Yarmouth. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Department for Trade and Industry, Department for Transport and Government Office for the East of England received in total 151 letters in support of the Eastport project: 17 from stakeholders, seven from local authorities (one of the letters also listed the names of 36 companies who supported the project), four from MPs and 123 from local businesses.
Mr. Tom Harris: A grant was awarded from the Community Infrastructure Fund for both the enlargement of Milton Keynes station and provision of a new building at Wolverton station. There has been no reduction to the total amount.
As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what the average hourly pay of the lowest duo-decile of working age people in employment was in each quarter since 1997. (132411)
Quarterly estimates are not available. Average levels of earnings are estimated from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), and are provided for all employees on adult rates of pay whose pay for the survey period was not affected by absence. This is the standard definition used for ASHE. The ASHE does not collect information on the self employed and people who do unpaid work.
I attach tables showing the 5th percentile of Gross Hourly Pay, for all employees, for the years 1997-2006.
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