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5 Jun 2007 : Column 391Wcontinued
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department is aware of any material errors in the information about denied boarding compensation under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 issued to travellers at UK airports on behalf of the European Commission. 
The Department is aware that, in January 2007, the European ombudsman found that some aspects of the information and advice provided by the European Commission to passengers at EU airports, in the form of leaflets and posters, were inaccurate and misleading. The ombudsman considered
that the leaflets and posters implied that compensation was payable for all cases of flight cancellation, which is not the case.
The European ombudsman also found that a video produced by the European Commission and available on its website was inaccurate and misleading as it gave the impression that compensation was payable in the event of flight delay, which is not the case.
The ombudsman recommended that the European Commission correct the misleading statements. The Commission has prepared a revised poster and will distribute it to airports shortly.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Birmingham International airport on the construction of a new runway. 
Gillian Merron: Ministers and officials have regular meetings with Birmingham International airport to discuss a range of issues regarding the development and operation of the airport.
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to receive the results of his Bus Subsidy Review; and whether he plans to publish the review. 
Gillian Merron: A review of bus subsidy forms part of our current comprehensive spending review, which is due to be settled in the autumn of 2007. Discussions with stakeholders on the options for a reform of bus subsidy are ongoing, as set out in the Department's document, Putting Passengers First, published last December.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many times his Department was found to have been in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998 in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Gillian Merron: The definition of found to have been in breach can be broad. Depending on their nature, breaches by Government Departments of the Data Protection Act 1998 can be dealt with by the Information Commissioner, by the Courts or by Departments at an informal local level. The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people with epilepsy are employed by his Department; and if he will make a statement. 
Members of staff have the option to declare a disability as part of the Departments diversity monitoring process but there are no
requirements for them to provide details of the specific impairment. Therefore information about the numbers of people with epilepsy employed by the Department is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many of his Departments special advisers were on (a) paid and (b) unpaid leave in order to assist with party-political matters under section 22 (iii) of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers on Wednesday 16 May 2007; and how many days leave each adviser was granted. 
Gillian Merron: Special advisers involvement in party political matters is conducted in accordance with the requirements of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers, including section 22 (iii), and the guidance issued by the Cabinet Secretary in December 2006 and May 2007, copies of which are in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the agencies of his Department which advertise 0870 numbers as their contact numbers; and if he will make a statement. 
Gillian Merron: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 24 May 2007, Official Report, columns 1458-60W.
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the percentage of (a) driver and (b) vehicle information held on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency database that is inaccurate. 
Dr. Ladyman: The information requested is as follows:
(a) Regular accuracy figures for drivers data are not maintained, but this is estimated to be 81.5 per cent. (data from 2005 Accuracy Survey). The greatest area in which data is inaccurate is that of current address, as there is frequently a time lag in notification.
(b) Figures for vehicles data are estimated to be less than 2.5 per cent. inaccurate.
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people were prosecuted for failure to submit updated information to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in each of the last 10 years. 
Dr. Ladyman: Drivers and vehicle keepers are required to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) when changes occur in personal details and vehicle keepership. It is an offence to fail to notify such changes.
In the main, prosecution of such offences is for the police and comprehensive information on the number of prosecutions relating to these offences is not kept by this Department.
Since 1999, the DVLA has taken forward its own prosecutions under dual notification arrangements, which apply when a vehicle changes hands and require the disposing keeper to notify the DVLA of the details of the new keeper. The following table sets out the numbers of cases settled both out of court and via successful prosecution at the magistrates court.
|Settled out of court||Successful prosecutions|
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will take steps to increase the staff numbers at the Shrewsbury Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency local office; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: Responsibility for staffing of departmental offices is vested in DfT officials who are charged with maintaining adequate levels to meet customer demand. Fluctuations in workloads, especially at times of the peak demand for vehicle registration and licensing between March and May, can result in a need for additional staff. This seasonal demand is met by the appointment of short-term casual employees. There are vacancies at Shrewsbury, and recruitment of staff is under way to return the office to its appropriate full-time complement.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the reasons for the Shrewsbury Driver and Vehicle Licensing agency local office not achieving its 48 hour target for processing registration documents relating to EU imported vehicles; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: While every effort is made to adhere to published service times, fluctuations in workloads can occasionally result in a failure to meet targets. The period between March and May is a peak time for vehicle registration and licensing transactions and the agency is currently experiencing delays in some local office transactions.
These delays have been exacerbated by industrial action called by the Public and Commercial Services Union which resulted in the loss of a days processing and a two-week ban on overtime. DVLA apologises to its customers and assures them that every effort is being made to return to normal service times. During this peak period, service times for the processing of
registration documents relating to EU imported vehicles in Shrewsbury DVLA local office fluctuated between two and five working days.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will assess the levels of stress-related illness at the Shrewsbury Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency local office; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: all Agencies and business areas within the Department for Transport take the well-being of their staff extremely seriously. The DVLA carefully monitors the reasons for absence from work and provides a range of support mechanisms to care for its employees.
Statistics for the Shrewsbury office show an annual sickness absence level of nine days per employee for the period April 2006 to March 2007, of which absences directly attributed to stress account for one day per employee. This is broadly in line with the average for DVLA local offices, and is below the national average for many customer-facing Government services.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will contact staff at the Shrewsbury Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency local office to hear their views on staff conditions; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Ladyman: In common with all Government Departments, the Secretary of State vests responsibility for the well-being of staff employed by the Department in his officials. The DVLA has assured me that both the regional operations manager and his area manager have visited Shrewsbury local office on several occasions recently and have held open forums with the staff giving them an opportunity to discuss any areas of concern.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what recent discussions his Department has had with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on measurement of (a) nitrogen oxide and (b) carbon dioxide in the area surrounding Heathrow airport; 
(2) what records his Department keeps of carbon dioxide levels in the area surrounding Heathrow airport; and what estimate he has made of projected levels should the capacity of the airport increase to 720,000 movements per year; 
(3) what records his Department keeps of nitrogen oxide levels in the area around Heathrow airport; and what estimate he has made of projected levels should the capacity of the airport increase to 720,000 movements per year. 
Gillian Merron: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 14 May 2007, Official Report, column 470W. Data on carbon dioxide is not disaggregated by geographical area. The carbon dioxide impacts of additional aircraft movements at Heathrow are being assessed. These will be reported as part of the public consultation later this year, along with figures on local pollutants, including oxides of nitrogen.
Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had on the extension of the Midlands Metro; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Tom Harris: My right hon. Friend has not had any recent discussions about extensions to the Midland Metro system. We understand that the West Midland metropolitan authorities intend to include proposals for extensions to the Midland Metro system within a wider package of measures as part of a bid for funding from the Transport Innovation Fund.
Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether agencies responsible to his Department will be involved in the enforcement of the London low emission zone. 
Gillian Merron: The London Low Emission Zone is the responsibility of the Mayor of London. Enforcement activities in relation to the Zone will be delivered by Transport for London, with support from the DVLA in the form of vehicle and keeper details, and from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency in the form of vehicle registration marks.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what plans he has to extend administrative incentive pricing of the radio spectrum to maritime and aeronautical radar; 
(2) what assessment he has made of the safety implications of extending administrative incentive pricing of the radio spectrum to maritime and aeronautical radar. 
Dr. Ladyman: The Government made clear in their response to the Independent Audit that safety would remain paramount. Experts in the Department's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the independent aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), are working closely with Ofcom on the safety factors to be taken into account when considering the application of administered incentive pricing to maritime and aeronautical radar. The precise details of future pricing arrangements for this service will be proposed by Ofcom and will be subject to consultation.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of extra capacity available on UK railways for rail freight; and what assessment he has made of how available capacity could be utilised to ease road congestion. 
Mr. Tom Harris:
Network Rail is currently undertaking Route Utilisation Strategies (RUSs). All RUSs assess and seek to balance capacity, passenger and freight demand, operational performance and cost. The RUSs will form a key input to the basis for the
development and delivery of timetables, infrastructure and renewals of the network. The Freight RUS was published in March 2007, using forecasts by the rail freight industry. It established that there was extra capacity for freight growth in some areas and made recommendations for using available capacity as efficiently as possible.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he is having with the Rail Regulator on the possible introduction of a direct rail service between Shrewsbury and London. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The Office of Rail Regulation is due to announce, within the next few weeks, its decision on an application for track access rights to operate direct rail services between Shrewsbury and London Marylebone. It is not appropriate for the Department to interfere with the decision-making process of an independent regulatory body, although it may offer comments. The Departments comments on this particular application are publicly available on the ORR website at
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