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22 May 2008 : Column 427W—continued

Bus Services

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what dates since 1 January 2007 (a) Ministers and (b) officials from her Department met representatives from (i) Stagecoach, (ii) First Group, (iii) Go-Ahead and (iv) Arriva on departmental premises to discuss bus-related matters. [203338]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 1 May 2008]: Ministers and officials have met representatives from these companies on many occasions on departmental premises since 1 January 2007 to discuss bus-related matters. In addition, the Bus Partnership Forum, which includes Ministers and representatives of these companies, has met on 19 March 2007, 10 July 2007, 15 November 2007 and 16 May 2008. On 19 March 2008, the Secretary of State and the Minister of State held a meeting which included representatives of these companies.

Bus Services: Concessions

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many full-time equivalent officials are working on matters related to the determination of operator appeals connected with the national concessionary bus fare scheme; and what the average length of time has been between submission of appeal and determination; [206556]

(2) what recent assessment she has made of the consistency of appeal decisions in respect of operator appeals under the national concessionary bus fare scheme; [206558]

(3) what percentage of appeals have been decided (a) fully and (b) partly in favour of bus operators in respect of the 2007 national concessionary bus fare scheme; and how much has been awarded to bus operators to date; [206559]

(4) how many appeals have been registered by operators against the 2008 national concessionary bus fare scheme; and if she will place a list of those operators in the Library. [206560]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 19 May 2008]: There are the equivalent of around four full-time officials working on matters relating to the determination of bus operator appeals, including legal and economic specialists. There were also two independent decision makers appointed
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on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport for the 2007-08 appeals although neither works full time. The average length of time between appeal submission and issue of a determination was 10 months. The issues are complex and it is imperative that each appeal is considered fairly, and this takes time.

The Secretary of State has not made any assessment of the consistency of the appeal decisions. Determinations of appeals are made by independent decision makers appointed on her behalf. They consider each case on the basis of the evidence submitted by each applicant and the relevant travel concession authority (TCA), with professional economic and legal advice from officials in the Department.

Appeals determinations in the year 2007-08 were either upheld, in which case the decision makers directed the TCA to modify their schemes to award additional reimbursement to the operator, or they were dismissed. To date, for 2007-08 appeals, 33 were upheld and 34 were dismissed. The decision makers are appointed to determine whether or not the arrangements in a TCA’s concessionary travel scheme are appropriate with respect to reimbursement for the services provided by the applicant operator. Based on estimates of outturn data, around £6.5 million additional reimbursement was directed to be paid, in total, to operators whose appeals were successful in 2007-08.

There were 102 appeals by bus operators regarding reimbursement arrangements in 2007-08, of which, 25 were withdrawn and three were not valid. Of the remaining 74, to date, 67 have been determined. The following is a list of operators who lodged appeals. Some operators had lodged appeals in more than one TCA. Two appeals have so far been lodged against 2008-09 schemes.

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Departmental Public Participation

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultants have been contracted by her Department to conduct public participation activities in the last three years; and how much expenditure her Department has incurred on each such contract to date. [206206]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The information requested could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.

Driving Tests

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the criteria are for determining driving test centre (a) location, (b) relocation and (c) closure; what (i) primary and (ii) secondary legislation governs such considerations; what changes have been made to each enactment; what recent representations she has received on the location of driving test centres; and if she will make a statement. [207131]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: When considering the location, relocation or closure of a driving test centre, the Driving Standards Agency follows the “Code of Practice on Written Consultations—Driving Test Centres”. This is a ministerially agreed document which is available from the DSA website. The current service levels for travelling distance to a practical car driving test centre are:

Population density Distance criteria


No more than 7 miles


No more than 20 miles

0-100 km2

No more than 30 miles

The target for practical motorcycle test candidates is that most should be able to reach a multi-purpose driving test centre within 30 to 45 minutes travelling no more than 20 miles.

There is no legislation that governs the location, relocation or closure of driving test centres. These are administrative matters for DSA. The Agency takes account of the views of Ministers when formulating policy on driving test centre location and closures. Since May 2007 DSA has received the following representations on the location of driving test centres:

Driving Under the Influence

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what comparative assessment her Department has made of the effects on driving ability of consumption of (a) cannabis and (b) alcohol; and if she will make a statement; [206624]

(2) whether her Department has a means by which to measure the extent to which driving ability may be compromised by the consumption of cannabis; and if she will make a statement. [206625]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department has investigated the combined effects of cannabis and low amounts of alcohol. The report ‘The influence of cannabis and alcohol on driving’ was published in 2002 by TRL Ltd (formerly the Transport Research Laboratory) and is available free on-line as report TRL 547 at:

The Department has not commissioned research specifically comparing the effects of cannabis with differing levels of alcohol.

The Department has also investigated the effect of cannabis on driving. The report ‘The influence of cannabis on driving’ was published in 2000 as TRL477 which is similarly available on-line at

In addition the Department's Road Safety Research Report No 12 ‘Cannabis and driving: a literature review and commentary’ was published in 2000 and is available on-line at:

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Highways Agency: Noise

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been allocated to the Highways Agency for noise reduction measures in each of the three financial years from 2008-09; and what proportion of the Highways Agency's budget this represents in each year. [207222]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Highways Agency's budget includes an annual £5 million ring-fenced allocation for noise mitigation measures in the most serious and pressing cases, where practical and cost-effective measures can be provided. These measures are applied to the entire strategic road network. This annual allocation for noise mitigation is scheduled to continue until the end of the current spending review period i.e. 2010-11.

Noise mitigation measures are also included in the agency's improvement schemes, where warranted, as it is more cost-effective to do this work concurrently with other scheme works. The cost of these works is subsumed within the overall cost of the individual schemes making it difficult to extract the exact figure allocated to noise mitigation without a disproportionate commitment of resources.

Additionally low noise surfacing materials are used as a matter of course when major maintenance is required on the strategic road network. As the noise reduction results are a secondary benefit it would be inappropriate to assign costs from resurfacing to noise reduction alone.

Luton Airport

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions she has held with the Civil Aviation Authority on publication of the Western Airspace Extension review for Luton Airport. [206969]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Following the introduction of revised airspace arrangements at London Luton Airport in May 2006, the CAA conducted a post-implementation (operational) review in accordance with the requirements of the Airspace Charter and Airspace Change Process (Stage 7). The post-implementation review was published on 31 January 2008. There is no requirement within the Airspace Charter or Airspace Change Process for the CAA to engage with the Secretary of State for Transport in respect of operational reviews and no such discussions took place.

Road Signs and Markings: Repairs and Maintenance

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the Highways Agency spent on replacing missing and vandalised traffic signs in each year since 1997. [207311]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Highways Agency does not hold the requested data.

Roads: Construction

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether any Highways Agency road
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building contracts are the subject of investigation by the Office of Fair Trading. [205105]

Mr. Tom Harris: No.

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