Ben Chapman: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission (1) what representations he has received on provision of travel and accommodation expenses for schools and other educational institutions visiting Parliament; 
(2) what proportion of schools and other educational institutions which visited Parliament were from London and the South East in the last year for which figures are available; 
(3) if he will bring forward proposals to meet some or all of the travel and accommodation expenses incurred by schools and other educational institutions in visiting Parliament. 
Nick Harvey: An analysis of educational visits arranged through the Parliamentary Education Service in 2005-06 showed that 64 per cent. of schools were from London and the south east regions. New recording systems are currently being investigated that will allow the Education Service to provide regional breakdowns of visitors from the start of the next academic year in September 2007.
Several Members have made representations that funding should be found to provide subsidies to encourage schools to visit Westminster as part of the Administration Committee's recent inquiry into visitor facilities at Parliament. As part of its evidence to the inquiry, the Education Service commissioned research with teachers to find out what obstacles might prevent schools from visiting Parliament. 46 per cent. of those teachers who indicated that they were unlikely to visit gave as their reason that the journey would be too expensive. The Committee recommended in its report, Improving Facilities for Educational Visitors to Parliament(1), that the House of Commons Commission, working closely with the appropriate bodies in the House of Lords, should consider the case for subsidising school visits to Westminster from more remote constituencies. The Group on Information for the Public will be presenting proposals for consideration by the Commission later in the year.
(1) HC 434 2006-07.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission if he will place in the Library the response to the consultations held with trade unions in respect of the proposals detailed in the Parliament (Joint Departments) Bill to set up joint departments of the Houses of Parliament and the subsequent transfer of staff; and if he will make a statement. 
Nick Harvey: The trade unions gave evidence to the Cummins review of 2003-04 which led to the proposal for a Joint Parliamentary ICT Department and have been involved in both formal and informal consultation at each subsequent stage. Consultation has taken place through the House of Commons Whitley Committee structure and also through an informal working group in which officials of both Houses and trade union representatives have taken part. Normally such exchanges would be treated as part of discussions carried out in confidence between the management and the unions. Since, however, these consultations relate to the subject of a Bill currently before the House, it was been agreed with the trade union side that copies of the formal letters exchanged to date should be placed in the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speakers Committee on the Electoral Commission if he will make a statement on progress by the Electoral Commission with its investigation into donations by Fifth Avenue Partners. 
Peter Viggers: I refer my hon. Friend to my answer to him of 15 January 2007, Official Report, column 791W. The Electoral Commission informs me that it does not intend to make any decision in relation to donations made to the Liberal Democrats by Fifth Avenue Partners Ltd. until it has received confirmation from both the police and the Crown Prosecution Service that legal proceedings would not be prejudiced by it doing so.
Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speakers Committee on the Electoral Commission pursuant to the answer of 23 February 2007, Official Report, column 982W, on elections: fraud, on what date the Electoral Commission started working with the Crown Prosecution Service to collate data. 
Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it began discussions with the Crown Prosecution Service on electoral malpractice in 2002, in the context of the Commissions review of the absent voting system in Great Britain. The Commission has continued to discuss the collation of data relating to allegations of electoral malpractice since then.
Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speakers Committee on the Electoral Commission if he will place in the Library a copy of the Electoral Commission's analysis of the Crown Prosecution Service files on alleged offences under electoral legislation, redacting any sensitive information where appropriate. 
Peter Viggers: I refer my hon. Friend to my answer to him on this subject of 27 March 2007, Official Report, column 1481W. The Electoral Commission informs me that the material was placed in the Library of the House on 28 March.
Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speakers Committee on the Electoral Commission if he will place in the Library a copy of the research and findings commissioned by the Electoral Commission from the British Market Research Bureau on perceptions of local elections. 
Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it has placed in the Library a copy of the 2006 local elections and electoral pilot schemes report produced by the British Market Research Bureau. This material is also available on the Commissions website at:
Mr. Heald: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speakers Committee on the Electoral Commission what guidance the Commission has given local authority returning officers on the definition of a second residence for the purposes of being able to vote in elections at an address other than a primary home. 
Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission advises me that it is for the Electoral Registration Officer to decide, in the light of relevant circumstances, whether an applicant is eligible for inclusion on the electoral register through residence at an address in the electoral area concerned. The Commission informs me that its guidance to Electoral Registration Officers reflects the relevant statutory provisions, but does not include any specific advice on the definition of an eligible second residence for the purpose of electoral registration.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what average length of time she expects it to take to prepare a home information pack. 
Yvette Cooper: The length of time it takes to complete a home information pack will vary from area to area as there are wide variations in the time it takes to get searches done in different local authorities. However, the search itself does have to be gathered before marketing can begin.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she plans to take to reduce the gap between the cost of housing and the level of incomes in North Yorkshire. 
Meg Munn: Government recognise the problem of housing affordability in North Yorkshire and other communities across the country. Central to addressing this is to ensure supply of housing responds far better to need than it has in the past. That is why the Government have set a challenging ambition to increase the supply of additional homes in England to at least 200,000 per annum by 2016.
The draft Regional Spatial Strategy for Yorkshire and the Humber foresees raising current planned levels of building in North Yorkshire from 2,500 to 3,000 homes per annum, with a target of at least 40 per cent. affordable housing. An examination in public, led by an independent panel has just concluded on this draft. The panel has presented the draft to the Secretary of State, who will publish any Proposed Changes for consultation in the summer.
Mr. Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 8 February 2007, Official Report, column 1159W, on the Supporting People programme, when she expects to publish the report on housing-related support through the Supporting People programme. 
Mr. Woolas: Work to finalise this report is ongoing, and the report will be published when this has been completed, in the near future.
Alan Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish the results of the attitudes to noise from aircraft sources in England study commissioned by his Department in November 2001 into attitudes to noise from civil aircraft sources in England. 
Gillian Merron: Provisional findings have been submitted to the Department and are now being subjected to peer review by independent experts. This review is not yet complete, but I anticipate that the results of this study will be available in the summer.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received on the requirement to reverse around a corner in the Driving Standards Authority driving test. 
Dr. Ladyman: The reversing manoeuvre has been a requirement of the driving test since its inception in 1935. The only representations on this topic recorded are questions about the fault analysis and how candidates have failed on test.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate his Department has made of the number of additional passengers using Heathrow airport resulting from the increase from 480,000 movements per year to 720,000 per year. 
Gillian Merron: The Future of Air Transport Progress Report December 2006 suggested that a third runway at Heathrow airport could support up to 720,000 movements a year, or 128 million passengers per year. This would imply an additional 61 million passengers per year compared to 2006 (471,000 movements, 67 million passengers).
Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what date the national concessionary fares scheme will commence. 
Gillian Merron: In the 2006 Budget the Chancellor announced that from April 2008 people aged 60 and over, and disabled people, would be able to travel free on all off-peak local bus services anywhere in England. The Concessionary Bus Travel Bill which provides for the national concession is now before Parliament.
Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department collects on railway (a) passenger and (b) freight journeys in other EU countries for benchmarking UK performance; and what EU-wide targets are relevant to railway usage. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The Department for Transport does not separately collect information from other EU countries but makes use of a wide range of external sources, including the International Railway Union (UIC).
In addition the UK is taking a leading role in the European Commission's Rail Market Monitoring working group, which is collating statistics relating to the EU's national railways.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the Chief Executive of Network Rail on litter on the track and railway land; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Tom Harris: None. Responsibility for the clearance of litter from the operational infrastructure is an operational matter for Network Rail. Network Rail has its own operational arrangements and policies relating to clearance, consistent with current legislation.
The hon. Member should contact Network Rails Chief Executive at the following address, should he require further information on this subject.
40 Melton Street
London NW1 2EE
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which train services in the last 12 months were the most heavily loaded on (a) the east coast main line, (b) the west coast main line and (c) the trans-Pennine line according to the most recent passenger census. 
Mr. Tom Harris: I understand from train operators concerned that, based on the most recent passenger counts undertaken by the train operators, the most heavily loaded services on each route requested are as follows:
East coast main linethe 7.14 am Royston to Kings Cross service, operated by First Capital Connect.
West coast main linethe 7.34 am Bletchley to Euston service, operated by Silverlink.
Trans-Pennine routesthe 6.49 am Manchester Victoria to Leeds via Rochdale service, operated by Northern Rail.
Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what change there has been in the number of rail passenger journeys since 1997. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The number of rail passenger journeys has grown by 35 per cent. since 1996-97. In 2003-04 for the first time since 1961, over one billion rail journeys were made, and the number of rail journeys increased further in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
Statistics on rail usage are published by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) in the National Rail Trends quarterly publication, which is available in the House Library or from their website:
Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his targets for railway punctuality and reliability have been met. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The March 2006 target of 85 per cent. punctuality and reliability was met with performance reaching 86 per cent. by that date. I am now building on this success and a new target for March 2008 of 89.4 per cent. punctuality and reliability has been set. Punctuality on the passenger railway over the past year has averaged 88 per cent.
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