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Motor Vehicles: Registration

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the Government intends to amend the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001 to permit the display of national flags and symbols on vehicle registration plates. [177146]

Jim Fitzpatrick: No date has been set to lay amending regulations.

Railway Stations: Birmingham

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when contracts will be let for work on the upgrade of Birmingham New Street station, as set out in Delivering a Sustainable Railway; [170745]

(2) what the funding package is for the upgrade of Birmingham New Street station, as set out in Delivering a Sustainable Railway, broken down by subheading; [170747]

(3) when she expects work to (a) start and (b) finish on the upgrade of Birmingham New Street station, as set out in Delivering a Sustainable Railway. [170754]

Mr. Tom Harris: £128 million of funding has already been committed to New Street in the recent White Paper ‘Delivering a Sustainable Railway’. The city council has bid for up to a further £160 million from the Department, through the regional funding allocation.

A separate bid for £100 million has been made by Advantage West Midlands to the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

There is also a package of funding from the City Council and from the private sector. The council's proposals for private sector funding are commercially confidential.

There is a clear case for improvements to New Street. The council and its partners have made great progress. They know that there are a few final important issues that they must resolve to ensure that plans for the funding and delivery stage are robust, given the significant amount of public funding requested.

The precise timing of contracts for construction is a matter for the council and for Network Rail once funding is in place. Their plans are for design to begin in early 2008, for construction to begin in early 2009 and be fully completed by 2014.

Everyone is working very hard, both within the region and within Government to ensure that decisions can be made as soon as possible.

Rapid Transit Systems

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which light rail schemes she has visited since her appointment as Secretary of State for Transport. [164626]

Mr. Tom Harris: Although the Secretary of State has yet to pay a formal visit to a light rail system, as a Greater Manchester MP she has visited Manchester
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Metrolink. She has witnessed the success of the scheme in tackling transport problems in the region and is aware of the benefits that light rail systems can bring. I have kept her appraised of the schemes I have viewed and we meet regularly to discuss issues facing the industry system.

Road User Charging (Charges and Penalty Charges) (London) Regulations 2001

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if she will bring forward the amendments to the Road User Charging (Charges and Penalty Charges) (London) Regulations 2001, identified by her Department in 2003, which would make identical the position for rental and leasing companies on the rights to transfer liability where the hiring agreement is longer than six months in duration; what estimate she has made of the resources required to implement the amendments; and if she will make a statement; [176267]

(2) if she will take steps to ensure that the London Low Emission Zone enforcement procedure is not brought in before the rectifying amendments to the Road User Charging (Charges and Penalty Charges) (London) Regulations 2001 are made to allow rental and leasing vehicle companies to transfer liability to the hirer. [176268]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 7 January 2008]: The Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) have now agreed which amendments to road user charging regulations will be taken forward. These include the rectifying amendments to the Road User Charging (Charges and Penalty Charges) (London) Regulations 2001. DfT and TfL have also agreed that further consultation is necessary due to the length of time which has elapsed since the initial consultation. We expect to be able to make available the resources necessary to progress the amendments in the next financial year.

The London low emission zone (LLEZ) is the responsibility of the Mayor of London and is being taken forward by TfL on his behalf, any decision to delay the introduction of or suspend the LLEZ is a matter for the Mayor. The Government remain committed to improving air quality and support the aims of the LLEZ.

Roads: Safety

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons funding for the Specific Road Safety Grant (Capital) for Gloucestershire County Council will be reduced between 2009-10 and 2010-11. [177232]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Specific Road Safety Grant has been allocated to local authorities using a consistent formula based on road safety needs (the number of casualties over the 1994-98 period in the local authority area), and a qualitative assessment of their road safety delivery and future plans.

To ensure a smooth transition, from the previous safety camera netting-off arrangements, to the needs-based formula, the amount of funding awarded to those authorities with a strong road safety need gradually increases over the next few years, while funding for
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those with a lesser need is gradually reduced. In this way, sudden large increases or reductions in funding are avoided. Gloucestershire county council’s allocation reduces as they are deemed to have a lesser road safety need under the needs-based formula. A note explaining the allocation process, including how allocations have been increased or reduced as part of the smooth transition to the needs-based formula, is available on the Road Safety Grants section of the Department for Transport website at

Salcombe Harbour

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will categorise Salcombe Harbour as category C waters. [176998]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Salcombe Harbour is already categorised as Category C waters.

Shipping: Qualifications

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will revise Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 1808 (M) to allow a suitable Royal Yachting Association qualification to be an alternative to the qualifying service time; and if she will apply that provision to smaller vessels carrying up to 100 passengers on inland and tidal category C waters. [176997]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Although possession of a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) qualification will not in itself reduce the required seatime, it is already the case that, in some specific circumstances, RYA qualifications are considered an acceptable alternative to a Boatmasters' Licence (BML) and the experience gained operating in the relevant area may be considered towards the service time required. This extends to all categories of BML including those necessary for Category C waters.

Surveying: Maritime and Coastguard Agency

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what account was taken of trends in (a) UK tonnage over the past five years, (b) world seaborne trade, (c) the need for security checks and (d) new flag state and ISM code requirements in deciding levels of resources and support for Maritime and Coastguard Agency surveyors; [177111]

(2) what account was taken of trends in UK registered ship tonnage when deciding the levels of frontline service staff, in particular the number of ship surveyors. [177112]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency uses a risk based approach to review regularly the marine surveyor and administrative support resources deployed on maintaining ship safety standards, taking account of the changing nature of ships and the shipping industry.

The Agency also takes account of the need to implement safety and security requirements for UK registered and other ships, when considering the Agency's priorities for ship inspection and other work.

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Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Government have spent on (a) construction, (b) planning applications and (c) other costs relating to the Thameslink project since 1998. [175518]

Mr. Tom Harris [holding answer 7 January 2008]: The majority of costs from 1998 to date relating to the Thameslink project have been incurred by Network Rail (formerly Railtrack) with most of these costs associated with the development phase. This includes planning, design, environmental assessment and the secural of the necessary planning powers which were obtained in 2006 following two public inquiries. From 1998 to date Network Rail has spent approximately £230 million on this project.

In July 2007 I announced the commencement of the construction phase of the project. Substantive construction work is scheduled to commence by Network Rail in early 2009 following the completion of detailed design and the placement of construction contracts during 2008. Some preliminary construction work commenced at Luton airport in October 2007 although spend to date has been small.

In addition, prior to July 2005 strategic direction for this project was discharged through the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) reporting to the Department for Transport. Since 1998 the SRA (and its predecessor OPRAF) spent approximately £5.9 million on external consultants to advise on the development phase of the Thameslink project. Following the abolition of the SRA in July 2005 the Department for Transport took over direct strategic direction of the project and since this date has spent a further £1.3 million on external consultants for the development phase.

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency

Kerry McCarthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the answer of 23 July 2007, Official Report, column 767W, on Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, what progress has been made on the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency’s study into the possible outsourcing of elements of its work. [177171]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Following presentation of a Preliminary Business Case to the DfT Board at the end of November 2007, the DfT Programme Team have been asked to complete further work by the end of February 2008 with the aim of recommending a preferred option. This would then be the subject of consultation if outsourcing is recommended.

Written Questions

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she will provide a substantive reply to the request by the hon. Member for Putney for an internal review in relation to the Freedom of Information request of 11 June 2007. [173111]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: I apologise that the internal review has taken longer than I would normally expect. This complaint is being treated with thoroughness and urgency and the hon. Member will receive a reply as soon as possible.

Duchy of Lancaster

Departmental Data Protection

Jo Swinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many confirmed security breaches of databases controlled by his Department occurred in each of the last five years; whether the breach resulted from internal or external action in each case; how many records were compromised on each occasion; and what estimate was made of the total number of records accessible to the individuals concerned. [173707]

Gillian Merron [holding answer 13 December 2007]: It has been the policy of successive administrations not to comment on security matters other than in exceptional circumstances when it is in the public interest to do so.

Departmental Public Consultations

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 20 November 2007, Official Report, column 682W, on departmental public consultations, if he will place copies in the Library of the (a) summary and (b) full findings of each such poll undertaken since 27 June 2007. [173145]

Gillian Merron: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to him on 20 November 2007, Official Report, column 682W.

Public Participation: Incentives

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 5 December 2007, Official Report, column 1344W, on public participation: incentives, if he will place in the Library a copy of the report summarising the forum and giving the conclusions on public opinion. [174874]

Gillian Merron: The Leader of the House published “The Government's Draft Legislative Programme—Taking a Wider View”, which included information about the Forum, on 14 November 2007 and a copy was placed in the Library.

International Development


Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department spent on (a) Christmas cards and (b) postage of Christmas cards in 2007. [176922]

Mr. Malik: DFID has spent £3,320.56 on 7,100 Christmas cards and envelopes in total.

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It is not possible to disaggregate the cost of posting Christmas cards from DFID's overall postage costs. Not all cards would be sent by post: some might be sent by Foreign Office bag to overseas contacts, or sent by the internal Government mail system.


Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much his Department has allocated in 2007-08 and 2008-09 for grant schemes for (a) schools links, (b) higher education links, (c) general community twinning and (d) health links. [176800]

Mr. Malik: Subject to resource allocation decisions for 2008-09 (due to be taken as part of this year's business planning round), indicative programme allocations for each of the areas aforementioned are:

2007-08 2008-09

(a) Schools links

DFID Global School Partnerships (DGSP)


To be confirmed(1)

(b) Higher education links

Development Partnerships in Higher Education (DELPHE)



(c) General Community Twinning

Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) Good Practice Scheme


(2)700,000 (provisional)

DFID linking scheme (new—DFID intends to commence a new scheme in 2008 to enable linking between community groups in order to create higher levels of development awareness. Funding levels yet to be finalised.)

Not applicable

Yet to be confirmed

(d) Health Links

Project support to Tropical Health and Education Trust (THET) under the Civil Society Challenge Fund



(1 )The contract for the DGSP programme is currently being re-tendered and the precise budget for 2008-09 will be confirmed at the conclusion of this competitive process.
(2 )This funding has been provisionally agreed for the continuation of the CLGF good practice scheme, subject to negotiations.

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