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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 22 April 2008


Olympic Games 2012

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what assessment she has made of the likely effects of the 2012 Olympics on public health. [199363]

Tessa Jowell: The 2012 games are our best chance in a generation to encourage people to be more active. We will set out clear targets and initiatives for increasing participation in sport and physical activity in the forthcoming Legacy Action Plan.

Several regional physical activity networks working on behalf of the Department of Health have commissioned a review of the health and physical activity benefits from hosting previous Olympic games and other major sporting events and the potential benefits to the UK from hosting the 2012 games. This work is being carried out by the Centre for Sport, Education and Activity Research at Canterbury Christ Church university. Findings from the research will provide recommendations on how best we can use the 2012 games to inspire, engage and encourage people to lead healthier and more active lifestyles.


Bus Services: Concessions

Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to facilitate the cross-border application of concessionary bus passes; and if he will make a statement. [198748]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The implementation of any cross- border concessionary travel arrangements is a matter for the Welsh Assembly Government, local authorities, and the Department for Transport. I have asked officials to keep me informed of developments in this area.

The Concessionary Bus Travel Act (2007) came into force at the start of this month and implements a concessionary scheme in England. The Welsh scheme has been in place since 2002.

A fully reciprocal UK-wide scheme would require secondary legislation to be put in place and at present the focus of the Act is to ensure a successful introduction of the new England-wide concession.

English and Welsh local authorities are currently able to come to individual agreements with bus companies for their residents to use their passes for cross-border travel as they see fit.

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Departmental Public Participation

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many public consultations were held by his Department in the last three years; and how many respondents took part in the process for each consultation. [198588]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The Wales Office has held two public consultations in the last three years. The first consultation on the “Better Governance of Wales” White Paper received 82 respondents. The other relating to the Government's 2007 Draft Legislative programme (as part of the wider consultation by the Cabinet Office) received 18 respondents.


Foreign-registered Lorries

9. Christopher Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will bring forward a proposal for a scheme under which foreign-registered lorries pay to use the network. [199763]

13. Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will bring forward a proposal for a scheme under which foreign-registered lorries pay to use the highway network. [199767]

Jim Fitzpatrick: As announced in Budget 2008, the Government will not be progressing a vignette scheme of the type raised by the hon. Gentlemen, at this stage.

However, in the last two years alone, we have more than doubled enforcement targeted on heavy goods vehicles on international journeys, and we have just announced a £24 million package to allow the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) to increase their safety checks by a further 50 per cent. This means 97 more enforcement staff, 24/7 checking at key sites, and new enforcement sites which should lead to a near doubling of prohibitions through 75,000 more checks being carried out.

Rail Services: Chelmsford to Liverpool Street Line

10. Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the quality of service on the Chelmsford to Liverpool Street railway line. [199764]

Mr. Tom Harris: Passenger surveys are undertaken by Passenger Focus rather than the Department. The results of the latest National Passenger Survey were published on 24 January 2008. They show an overall satisfaction of 75 per cent. for National Express East Anglia passengers. This compares with a national overall satisfaction of 81 per cent.

Railways: Capacity Enhancement

11. Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment she has made of the merits of capacity enhancement on the rail network. [199765]

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Mr. Tom Harris: Rail passenger numbers continue to grow. The Rail White Paper, which we published in July 2007, described how the Government intend to work with the industry to ensure that the network can cater for that growth. At the heart of our plans is the £10 billion that we have committed to spend on enhancing rail capacity between 2009 and 2014.

Rail Fares: Effects on Carbon Dioxide Emissions

12. Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the effects of levels of rail fares on levels of carbon dioxide emissions from transport. [199766]

Mr. Tom Harris: Last autumn we published the discussion document “Towards a Sustainable Transport System”. In it we announced our intention to look at the full range of options—including pricing—for putting transport on to a less carbon-intensive path. We expect to publish our analysis by spring next year.

Integrated Transport: Northern England

14. Tony Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department has taken to improve the integrated transport infrastructure in the North West and other Northern regions. [199768]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Total public sector transport spend across the three northern regions was over £3.5 billion in 2006-07, 66 per cent. higher than in 2001-02.

The total spend in the North West increased by 76 per cent. over the same period. Over the next three years, local authorities across the north are benefiting from £1.35 billion of Local Transport Plan funding.

European Mobility Week

15. Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans her Department has to mark European Mobility Week 2008. [199769]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has no plans directly to mark European Mobility Week 2008. We fund the London European Partnership for Transport (LEPT) to represent us on sustainable transport issues in Europe.

Road Congestion: West Yorkshire

16. Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department is taking to reduce road congestion in West Yorkshire. [199770]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In 2006, the Department for Transport agreed an urban congestion target with the West Yorkshire Transport Authority.

We have also provided West Yorkshire with £210 million of funding to support local transport improvements over the next three years.

Terminal 5

18. Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent reports she has received on the operation of Heathrow Terminal 5. [199772]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department for Transport has been in regular contact with both British Airways (BA) and British Airports Authority (BAA) since T5 opened to monitor the situation and offer assistance and I visited the terminal on its first weekend of operation to see the situation at first hand.

The Secretary of State has made clear that she expects BA and BAA to continue to work together to resolve any remaining problems and also to agree a realistic timetable for the move of BA’s long haul operations so that as little disruption as possible is caused to their own passengers and to those from other airlines.


19. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions she has had with the Highways Agency on improvements to the A417 in the Nettleton Bottom and Crickley Hill areas of Gloucestershire; and if she will make a statement. [199773]

Mr. Tom Harris: On 12 March 2008 the Highways Agency informed me of the results of the review into the possibility of a lower cost solution to address the problems between Cowley and Brockworth on the A417 in Gloucestershire.

The hon. Gentleman will also know that this matter was fully debated last night at the A417 Improvement Scheme Adjournment Debate, secured by the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown).

The HA concluded that the original major scheme ‘the brown route’ remains the optimal solution.

Aircraft Engine Lubricants: Risks to Passengers and Crew

20. Mr. Bacon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment she has made of potential health risks to airline passengers and crew from vapour emanating from engine lubricants. [199774]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Studies such as the European CabinAir project have shown that normally the levels of chemical and biological contaminants in aircraft are less than in many ground based work environments. The independent Committee on Toxicity completed a substantial review of evidence in September 2007 and concluded that it did not establish (or rule out) a link between cabin air and pilot ill health. The Committee recommended research to sample cabin air during ‘fume events’, which it estimated occur on 0.05 per cent. of flights overall. Such sampling has not been done before. The Government accepted the recommendation and has begun work to develop the methodology. Details are on the Department for Transport website.

Airport Expansion

21. Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations she has received on the expansion of Heathrow airport and London City airport. [199775]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department has received many thousands of responses to the “Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport” consultation which examined a number of Heathrow expansion issues. This closed on 27 February and all the responses are currently being analysed. We expect to take policy decisions later this year.

London City airport has submitted a planning application to Newham council to increase the number of flights from its current level. In view of the Secretary of State's quasi-judicial role in the planning process, it would not be appropriate to comment on the merits or otherwise of this application.

Concessionary Bus Travel: North Yorkshire

22. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations she has received on the implementation of the national concessionary bus fare scheme in North Yorkshire. [199776]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Members and local councillors have made representations regarding concessionary travel in North Yorkshire. In addition, the Department received representations from local authorities in Harrogate, Ryedale and York in response to the consultation last autumn on the formula distribution for the special grant for the new England-wide concession, implemented on 1 April.

Left-hand Drive Heavy Goods Vehicles: Safety

23. Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps the Government are taking to improve the safety record of left-hand drive heavy goods vehicles. [199777]

Jim Fitzpatrick: We are continuing to increase the level of enforcement activity undertaken by the Department's Vehicle and Operator Services Agency targeted against heavy commercial vehicles on international journeys. We have made significant additional funding available to VOSA for this purpose over the last couple of years, and we will be adding a further £24 million over the next three years. This means 97 extra enforcement staff, 24/7 checking at key sites, as well as two additional check sites, all leading to around 75,000 additional checks.

We will also be adding a significant new deterrent against non-compliance with the introduction of ‘on-the-spot financial penalties’ early next year. This will mean that non-UK-resident offenders will—at last—be facing similar enforcement action to that taken against UK vehicle operators and to that which has been taken by other member states against UK drivers for many years.

Bus Services Operators’ Grant

24. Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has to consult interested parties as part of the review of the Bus Services Operators’ Grant. [199778]

Jim Fitzpatrick: We published on 13 March a consultation document, “Local Bus Service Support—Options for Reform”, on proposed changes to Bus
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Service Operators Grant to align it more closely with environmental objectives and improve bus services.

We look forward to receiving the views of interested parties; the closing date for responses is 5 June.

Facilities for Cyclists

Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps her Department has taken to encourage the provision of facilities for cyclists by local authorities and other employers. [199760]

Ruth Kelly: I recently announced record funding of £140 million to Cycling England to support local authorities and others to improve cycling provision.

The Department has also asked local authorities to develop cycling strategies through their local transport plans.

Pricing Mechanisms: Modes of Travel

Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her policy is on the use of pricing mechanisms to influence mode of travel. [199771]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government’s policy was set out by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in “Towards a Sustainable Transport System”.

This will be further developed in the Green and White Papers that will be brought before this house over the next 12 months. This process includes significant consultation with key stakeholders and the representatives of the consumers of transport services.

Cars: Research

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether her Department has (a) conducted and (b) evaluated research on the most economical average speed for cars. [199422]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department has not conducted or evaluated research specifically on this subject. However our programme of vehicle emissions testing to develop 'emissions factors' for the purposes of national emissions inventory modelling does include measuring carbon dioxide emissions (and hence fuel economy) under a range of different types of driving condition. These include testing under relatively constant speed driving conditions from around 58 miles per hour to 70 miles per hour. The results from these tests show carbon dioxide emissions increasing over this speed range. In deriving emissions factors, our contractors also consider the results of similar research conducted elsewhere in the EU.

The Department does not have carbon dioxide emissions data for constant speeds below 58 miles per hour; however emissions would be expected to decrease at lower constant speeds.

The emissions factors characterise emissions against average driving speed. Below 58 miles per hour the characteristics are based on driving patterns featuring accelerations and decelerations rather than constant speed driving.

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