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Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 25 January 2008]: Experience in a number of road tolling schemes around the world shows how tag and beacon technology can be a cost-effective way of charging for road use. We are encouraging the further exploration of its potential, including in the local pricing schemes that are being considered by local authorities, as part of packages combining investment in transport and demand management that could be supported by the Transport Innovation Fund.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average cost was of travelling a mile by (a) road, (b) rail and (c) air, expressed in (i) constant and (ii) current price in each year since 1997. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The estimated average cost to passengers of travelling a mile by car (and van) and rail in both constant and current prices in pence are given in the following table. Information on passenger costs per mile for air travel is not available centrally.
|Rail( 1)||Car (and van)( 2)|
|Current||2006-07 prices||Current||2006-07 prices|
|(1) Not available|
(2) Not yet available
1. Estimates are for the average cost faced by the transport user, net of any subsidy to the rail operators.
2. Motoring costs include expenditure on car purchase, spares, maintenance, insurance, taxation, fuel and parking, but excludes costs paid by employers.
Estimates for rail average costs are based on revenue collected by operators and mileage estimates published in National Rail Trends by the Office of the Rail Regulator. The car (and van) motoring costs estimates are based on household expenditure on private motoring from the Expenditure and Food Survey and the Family Expenditure Survey published in Food Spending 2006 by the Office for National Statistics and household mileage figures from the National Travel Survey (NTS) carried out on behalf of my Department. As some business mileage is included in the NTS, this methodology under estimates motoring costs.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been raised in revenue by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency via fines for failing to notify change of vehicle ownership in the last two years; what the cost has been of taking such action; and if she will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) collected £1,103,000 from April 2005 to March 2006, £913,000 from April 2006 to March 2007 and £813,000 in the financial year to date (April 2007 to December 2007) in revenue from fines raised for failing to notify of a change of vehicle ownership.
The DVLA for the first time began keeping a record of the estimated annual costs of taking action against failure to notify changes of vehicle ownership from April 2007. The estimated level of costs is £617,000 for the financial year April 2007 to March 2008.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the safety of departmental staff working in Afghanistan following the bombing of the Serena Hotel. 
Dr. Howells: The safety of Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff abroad is of paramount importance. Security of FCO personnel in Afghanistan is reviewed regularly and has been revisited since the attack on the Serena Hotel. We do not, however, comment on specific security arrangements at any mission overseas.
Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department is taking in support of the United Nation Security Councils call for greater dialogue between the military government and pro-democracy leaders in Burma. 
Meg Munn: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I have made clear to UN, EU and regional partners the UKs support for the UN Secretary-Generals Good Offices mission to seek reconciliation in Burma. We support Aung San Suu Kyis call for meaningful and time-bound dialogue between the regime and opposition and ethnic groups.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans there are to increase the number of Burmese officials subject to the EU asset freeze and travel ban. 
Meg Munn: The UK, with its EU partners, is considering a range of measures that could be implemented through the EU Common Position, should the Burmese regime fail to engage constructively with the UN or make significant progress towards political reform and genuine national reconciliation. Among the measures under consideration is an extension of the list of those covered by the asset freeze and visa ban under the Common Position.
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the Treaty of Lisbon, if ratified, on the rights of children and young people. 
It (the EU) shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child.
In its relations with the wider world, the Union shall... contribute to... eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the child.....
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what consultancy contracts his Department issued in each year since 2005; what the (a) value, (b) purpose and (c) contractor was in each case; and whether the consultants report is publicly available in each case. 
Annual expenditure on external consultants is published in the Departments annual reports, copies of which are in the Library of the House. The two most recent annual reports also contain details of expenditure on the top five consultancy suppliers. The vast majority of work undertaken for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office by consultants is associated with its major Information Communication Technology and Estate construction programmes.
I also refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Jon Trickett) on 6 December 2007, Official Report, column 1427W, and to the reply my hon. Friend the Minister for Europe (Mr. Murphy) gave to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) on 9 October 2007, Official Report, columns 542-43W.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 14 January 2008, Official Report, column 852W, on the departmental internet, what the grade is of the locally engaged commercial officer who works on the blogging platform. 
Rob Marris: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many 0845 or similar cost telephone numbers are used by (a) his Department and (b) related departmental bodies for public access to services. 
Meg Munn: There are two 0845 or similar cost telephone numbers in use by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and related departmental bodies for public access to services. These are used for consular and visa enquiries.
Mr. Andy Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the human rights situation in Eritrea; and if he will make a statement. 
Our embassy in Asmara is aware of the detention without charge by the Eritrean Government of members of minority religious groups, journalists, leading political figures and members of civil society. This is unacceptable and contravenes international human rights agreements to which Eritrea is a party.
We also raise our concerns on human rights through the EU. For example the EU lobbied Eritrea on the sixth anniversary of the detention in September 2001 of the G11, 11 members of the Eritrean political party who protested at the governments direction in a letter to President Isaias, together with a number of journalists who were also detained at that time.
Following up on reports of human rights abuses is not easy in Eritrea. There are no independent local journalists. There are neither local nor international human rights non-governmental organisations operating in Eritrea. The police and security services are not willing to engage with embassies on these matters. Travel restrictions mean foreign diplomats may only leave Asmara with written permission.
Meg Munn: We continue to be concerned by reports of detentions of members of minority Christian Churches. While Orthodox Christians, Catholics and the major Protestant Churches, who make up an estimated 40-50 per cent. of the population of Eritrea, are usually able to worship openly, some church activities can be restricted and members of smaller churches are not free to pursue their faith.
Meg Munn: The Transitional Federal government of Somalia and the Government of Ethiopia maintain close relations. There is currently an Ethiopian military presence in Somalia at the request of the Transitional Federal government.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what liaison work is undertaken between his Department and the political intelligence section of the European Commission in London; what meetings have taken place as part of that work in the last 12 months; what matters have been discussed at these meetings; and who participated in them. 
Most recently I met the Head of the European Commissions London Delegation, Mr. Reijo Kemppinen, on 15 January. The meeting focussed on the issues of climate change and forthcoming visits by senior Commission figures to the UK.
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