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Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment her Department has made of the reasons for variations in pass rates between driving test centres; and if she will make a statement. 
The age/gender of the test candidatein general, younger candidates have a higher pass rate, and males have a higher pass rate than females.
The socio economic background of the test candidatelikely to be linked to more money available to invest in driving lessons and greater opportunities for private driving practice, such as access to a family vehicle etc.
Jim Fitzpatrick: No work is being undertaken in the Department for Transport to assess an appropriate minimum blood alcohol concentration level for drivers. Controls over drinking and driving are based on the prescribed limit for drivers which represents the maximum permissible alcohol concentration for motorists.
We explained in the report of the second three-yearly review of our Road Safety Strategy (February 2007) that we will keep the alcohol limit under review. But our first priority is to ensure effective enforcement of the current limit so as to tackle those who are the most seriously impaired.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations her Department has received from Durham Green Developments Ltd., in relation to planning and transport, in the last 36 months. 
Mr. Tom Harris: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to his question on 22 January 2008, Official Report, column 819W, in respect of Durham Green Business Park. There have been no other representations.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will ensure that platforms 21 to 25 at Waterloo International continue to be available for trains after they are handed back by Eurostar. 
Mr. Tom Harris: It is primarily the railway infrastructure outside Waterloo that limits the number of trains that can use the station rather than the number of platforms. Therefore the need is to run longer trains rather than more trains. So we are planning a large scheme to make all the platforms long enough to accommodate 10 and 12 car trains and to modify the junction layout on the approaches to the station. Such a scheme would allow the use of up to 50 per cent. longer trains than currently use the short platforms and would result in a large increase in capacity. The scheme is likely to require the use of all five platforms at Waterloo International. The scheme also presents opportunities at Waterloo International to reconfigure the passenger circulation space and the interchange with other transport modes, and to better integrate the station into the surrounding area. Such an ambitious scheme requires very detailed planning to make the most of this unique opportunity.
In order to make the best use of the facility in the meantime, the Department is working closely with Network Rail and Stagecoach South Western Trains to finalise the design and costs of the partial conversion of Waterloo International to accommodate some domestic services. Therefore some services could use platform 20 of Waterloo International from the timetable change date in December 2008.
Mr. Tom Harris: In the last 12 months Ministers and officials at the Department for Transport have received several hundred e-mails, letters and phone calls regarding various aspects of First Greater Western operations.
|Number of licensed vehicles (thousand)|
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what the terms are of the binding commitment between her and Network Rail referred to in paragraph 1.4.10 of the White Paper The Future of Rail, Cm 6233, dated 15 July 2004; 
(2) what steps she has taken to use her powers of determination or enforcement under the binding commitment between her and Network Rail referred to in paragraph 1.4.10 of the White Paper The Future of Rail, Cm 6233, dated 15 July 2004. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The July 2004 White Paper proposed a binding arrangement between the Secretary of State and Network Rail. This would combine existing regulatory requirements, imposed, monitored and enforced by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), together with a new Department for Transport (DFT)Network Rail Reporting Requirement setting out their working relationship.
Under the binding arrangement, at the outset of a periodic or interim review, the Secretary of State has the sole responsibility for specifying the high level outputs that she wants the railway to deliver in England and Wales, and the Government funds available for their delivery. The independent ORR assesses whether the two are consistent and determines the outputs required of Network Rail, and the funding necessary to deliver them in the most efficient way. The ORR then monitors Network Rail to ensure it is delivering the Secretary of States requirements.
The DFTNetwork Rail Reporting Requirement was drawn up in conjunction with the ORR and published in November 2005. It sets out the arrangements for
effective communication between Network Rail and the Secretary of State; and aims to ensure that the Department is kept properly informed of Network Rails progress in delivering the agreed high level outputs. It falls to Network Rail to deliver within this strategic framework; and for the ORR to continue to have sole responsibility for enforcement in the event of non-compliance.
Mr. Tom Harris: The West Coast Project Board is an advisory panel that has no powers of binding determination and enforcement. Constituted of cross-industry senior level representation, its purpose is to address industry barriers that threaten the delivery of planned timetable improvements on the West Coast from December 2008.
Mr. Tom Harris: Adoption of the stations code, an industry initiative to improve the complex contractual arrangements at stations, is a matter for Network Rail and the individual train operating companies involved. An industry working group is working towards facilitating implementation of the stations code including agreeing a timetable for implementation on a phased geographical basis.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents have occurred involving a motor vehicle striking (a) rail infrastructure and (b) railway bridges; and if she will consider reclaiming the costs of repair from drivers in those instances where the cause of the accident was negligence. 
|Trains colliding with road vehicles not at level crossings||Trains colliding with road vehicles at level crossings||Trains running into fallen debris (bridge parapet etc.) following a road traffic accident|
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions she has had with Network Rail on the major engineering works scheduled for the Birmingham area between 29 February and 2 March 2008, with particular regard to the avoidance of disruption for travellers; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The Government have no power to intervene in Network Rails operations. However, the Secretary of State met with Iain Coucher, chief executive of Network Rail, on 3 January to inform him that the disruption to rail services from the engineering over-runs over the Christmas/new year period, particularly on the West Coast Main Line at Rugby, was unacceptable; and to seek his assurance that such delays would not be repeated and that lessons will be learned.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what subsidy has been provided from the public purse per passenger for rail travel in each of the regions in England in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The Department does not hold the information in the form requested. However, details of subsidy paid, and premiums received split between each passenger franchise to a subsidy or premium per passenger kilometre level are available in National Rail Trends which is published by the Office of Rail Regulation. Copies of this document are available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people have been successfully prosecuted in the latest 12 month period for which figures are available for stealing copper and other metal from the railway network; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Tom Harris: This information is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport police who can be contacted at: British Transport police, 25 Camden road, London NW1 9LN, e-mail: mail to:
Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment her Department has made of the impact of the statutory Network Management Duty introduced in the Traffic Management Act 2004 on the co-ordination and management of road works in each local traffic authority area. 
The Department has recently commissioned a three year evaluation contract which aims to determine the effectiveness in mitigating congestion and disruption of different parts of the Traffic Management Act including Network Management and works in the highway. The conclusions will become available towards the end of the contract period.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Department for Transport officials have begun preliminary discussions with key road safety interests about the new road safety strategy, with a view to wider public consultation later this year.
Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is taking to improve maritime safety standards following the sinking of the Flying Phantom. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The incident involving the sinking of the Flying Phantom is being investigated by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will consider any recommendations published in the MAIBs final report.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what reason her Department prohibits the granting of licences to test the safety of cosmetics and their ingredients using animals. 
Meg Hillier: The Government secured a voluntary ban on testing cosmetic finished products and ingredients on animals in the United Kingdom in November 1997 and this position has been maintained. The ban was pursued because we believe that there is inadequate justification for the use of animals given the benefits of these products and the alternative tests available.
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