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8 Oct 2007 : Column 99W—continued

Shipping: Scotland

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many meetings have taken place between her Department and the Scottish Executive's (a) Marine Directorate and (b) Transport Directorate since May regarding the devolution of further powers for the Scottish Parliament under UK marine legislation. [155754]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: No such meetings have been held and none have been requested by the Scottish Executive.


Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions her Department has had with the Transport Occupational Command Unit regarding (a) the number of crimes committed by illegal minicab drivers and (b) proposed measures to reduce the number of illegal minicabs operating in London. [153876]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has not had any discussions with the Transport Operational Command Unit on these matters. However, we keep in touch with TfL officials about a range of taxi-related issues. We are aware, through discussions with TfL, that the unit undertakes dedicated enforcement activities in respect of illegal minicab drivers in London using a variety of methods including multi-agency road checks and visits to operators. We are also aware of TfL’s initiative to enhance safety for passengers through its “Safer Travel at Night” campaign.

Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has to reduce the number of illegal minicab drivers operating in (a) London and (b) England. [153873]

Ms Rosie Winterton: If individuals provide a minicab service without holding the requisite licences they are committing an offence. Responsibility for enforcing the law rests with Transport for London within London and the relevant local licensing authority elsewhere in England. The police also, of course, have a role to play in enforcing the law.

Last year we brought forward a change in the law which will establish a more comprehensive system for licensing minicabs (private hire vehicles—PHVs). Section 53 of the Road Safety Act 2006 repeals the exemption from PHV licensing outside London for vehicles which work on contracts lasting not less than seven days. When the repeal takes effect—in January 2008—it will be much harder for operators and drivers to evade licensing. A similar provision (section 54 of the Act) will bring operators and drivers dedicated to contract work in London within the PHV licensing regime—in March 2008.

Taxis: Bus Lanes

Mr. Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions her Department has had with (a) the Mayor of London’s office and (b) Transport for London on the access of private hire vehicles to bus lanes. [153874]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department keeps in touch with TfL officials about a range of issues related to TfL’s responsibilities for taxis and private hire vehicles, including the question of PHV access to bus lanes. We are aware that TfL are giving consideration to this
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question. As part of this, they have sought the Department’s advice on the road signs that would be required.

I am not aware of any discussions with the Mayor of London’s office on this issue.

Taxis: Licensing

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 17 September 2007, Official Report, columns 2195-6W, on taxis: licensing, what assumptions were made about the (a) total number of currently unlicensed drivers, (b) number of vehicles, (c) number of operators and (d) average licence fees when making the estimate referred to; and how the estimate of total costs of £1 million was reached. [155916]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The estimate of £1 million was included in the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) for the proposal to repeal the private hire vehicle (PHV) contract exemption; a copy of this is in the Library of the House. The RIA was based on the following assumptions: (a) 2000 drivers (b) 2000 vehicles and (c) 300 operators would have to be licensed as a direct result of the repeal of the contract exemption. Average fees for each of the licences were assumed to be £250, £200 and £400 respectively.

These estimates and assumptions were based on the fact that the terms of the contract exemption are narrow and apply in a relatively limited number of cases. They made no allowance for cases now coming to light where transport providers might have believed, or claimed, that they were covered by the exemption but were not in reality so covered. A number of these cases are, and will remain, outside the definition of a PHV in the legislation and therefore will still not need to be licensed. Others should have been licensed as PHVs in the past and repeal of itself will not therefore create a new requirement to meet licensing costs. The Department has sought the views of stakeholders on draft guidance for local licensing authorities on the impact of the repeal and we expect to publish the final version of this shortly.

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what checks her Department makes on non-British drivers who work with a valid licence as taxi drivers in the UK. [156558]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Local authorities in England and Wales (outside London) and Transport for London (in London) are responsible for licensing taxi drivers.

The relevant legislation states that taxi drivers outside London must have held a full GB or EU driver licence for 12 months. In addition, local licensing authorities must satisfy themselves that an applicant for a taxi driver licence is a “fit and proper” person to hold such a licence. The way in which they carry out this assessment is a matter for individual authorities.

However, the Department has produced Best Practice Guidance to assist local licensing authorities; the guidance includes advice about carrying out
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background checks on applicants from elsewhere in the EU and other overseas countries and relevant sources of information.

Thameslink Railway Line

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when work will commence to install the two extra rail lines north of London Bridge to accommodate Thameslink services; and when such work will be completed. [154705]

Mr. Tom Harris: Preliminary work is scheduled to begin in January 2009. The work will be completed by 2015.

Tolls: Manchester

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations she has received about the proposed congestion charge in Greater Manchester. [154063]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) have submitted a business case for Transport Innovation Fund funding for a package to tackle congestion by combining transport investment and road pricing. We are currently assessing the case.

Travel: Concessions

Mr. Simon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) which local authorities have implemented public transport discount schemes for those aged 18 years and under; [153759]

(2) what guidance she has issued to local authorities on the financing of public transport discount schemes for young people. [153840]

Ms Rosie Winterton: There is no statutory obligation on local authorities to implement concessionary fare schemes for young people. Therefore the Department does not issue guidance on the financing of such schemes nor hold information on which local authorities have introduced them.

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will bring forward amendments to the provisions of the transport legislation which prevent the disabled and medically disadvantaged from using public transport at discounted rates for their journeys to work at peak times. [156567]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007, which received Royal Assent on 19 July 2007, provides for free off-peak local bus travel throughout England for older and eligible disabled England residents from April 2008. The Act improves on the existing statutory minimum entitlement of free travel within an eligible person's local authority area.

Local authorities retain the flexibility to offer more than the statutory minimum concession to their residents, which can include free or discounted travel at peak times for older and disabled people, and travel on other modes like trams or trains. Many authorities do
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offer additional concessions, funded locally, taking into account local circumstances.

In addition, the Government requires train operating companies to participate in the Disabled Persons Railcard scheme, which provides a third off most tickets, including at peak times.

The Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 contains powers allowing the Government to further extend the statutory minimum concession in the future, both on buses and on other modes.

Travel: Paris

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what proportion of passenger journeys from (a) all English and (b) London airports in each of the last five years to (i) Paris and (ii) Brussels were undertaken by (A) air, (B) rail and (C) road. [154746]

Jim Fitzpatrick: It is not possible to provide the information exactly as requested. However, the International Passenger Survey can show the number of passenger trips to Paris and Brussels made by air (from London and other UK airports) and by train (Eurostar). The number of trips to Paris and Brussels by road is not available.

Number of trips to Paris and Brussels from the UK by air and rail, 2002-06
Paris Brussels


London airports



Other UK airports



Train routes




London airports



Other UK airports



Train routes




London airports



Other UK airports



Train routes




London airports



Other UK airports



Train routes




London airports



Other UK airports



Train routes



1. London airports cover Heathrow, Gatwick and London City.
2. ‘Train routes’ include Eurostar foot passengers from both Waterloo and Ashford.
International Passenger Survey (ONS)

Travel: Young People

Mr. Simon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she is taking to promote walking and cycling strategies for young people, with particular reference to schemes other than the school journey. [153757]

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Ms Rosie Winterton: While we make no excuse for focusing on walking and cycling strategies which can help children walk and cycle to school, young people can also benefit from many of our other initiatives to encourage people to walk and cycle more. Cycle training teaches young people a life skill which enables them to undertake a range of journeys, not just to school. Evidence shows our safe routes to school are also being used by the wider population to access other locations on foot or by bike.

Many of the improvements local authorities are making to local cycling infrastructure and cycle networks can also benefit young people. One of our 6 Cycle Demonstration owns, Derby, has a specific focus on targeting improvements to encourage those under 25 to cycle.

We are also continuing to monitor progress on our Walking and Cycling Action Plan which aims to increase levels of walking and cycling to reduce congestion, improve public health and provide for more pleasant public space. Progress reports on the action plan are placed on the Department for Transport website at:

The next update will be in October 2007.

Mr. Simon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she is taking to ensure that the views of those aged 18 years and under are taken into account in the consultation on the draft Transport Bill. [153762]

Ms Rosie Winterton: As part of the public consultation into the draft Local Transport Bill, the British Youth Council, the National Black Boys Can Association, the National Youth Agency and the Regional Work Unit (North East) were all sent the consultation documents and invited to submit their views.

I have also been consulting with a number of stakeholders about the draft Bill as part of a regional tour over the summer. One group that I met in Newcastle were the Bus Buddies, a group of young people with an interest in public transport, who were given the opportunity to ask questions about the Bill.

Waste and Resources Action Programme

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s promotional campaign encouraging local authorities to use recycled aggregate. [156420]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department for Transport has not made a formal assessment of the impact of the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) information service on the sustainable use of aggregates.

The Department will shortly complete some research on behalf of the UK Roads Board on sustainable choice of materials for highway works. This will be published as a guide for local authority highway engineers and will describe in detail the benefits of
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recycling aggregates where appropriate, as well as providing links to WRAP information.

The Department endorses “Well-maintained Highways” (TSO, 2005 or www.ukroadsliaison the UK Roads Board’s code of practice on highways maintenance. This provides best practice guidance on preparing a policy for sustainable development in highway maintenance and draws local authorities’ attention to WRAP’s activities.

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