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4 Jun 2008 : Column 940W—continued

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will make it her policy to ensure that newly-qualified drivers receive instruction from their driving test examiner on the dangers of (a) driving too fast and (b) driving after drinking alcohol. [208245]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The role of the examiner at the practical test is to assess whether a candidate has demonstrated the necessary skills and behaviour to be licensed to drive unsupervised. Our national driving test also includes an assessment of knowledge and understanding relating to safe driving and an assessment of hazard-perception skills undertaken as a computer-based test.

Effective assessment is a vital element in maintaining standards, but must be supported by learning and motivation. Research shows that driving too fast and driving after drinking alcohol are two of the most dangerous behaviours which are proven to contribute to fatal and serious road accidents. Our policy is to make youngsters aware of these dangers before they reach the age at which they can apply for a provisional driving licence and for those messages to be continuously repeated throughout the learning to drive process and subsequently.

The dangers of speeding and drink driving are two of the key messages promoted through the Department’s Think! Campaign and by local authority Road Safety Officers and other road safety delivery partners involved in road safety education. Also, as part of our Learning to Drive proposals aimed at reducing the number of newly qualified drivers killed or seriously injured on our roads, it is proposed to introduce a pre-driver qualification in safe road use. This foundation certificate, which would be optional from age 14, would provide a further opportunity to raise awareness of these and other dangerous behaviours before learner drivers get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Driving: Licensing

Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many persons aged (a) under 20, (b) 21 to 30, (c) 31 to 40, (d) 41 to 50, (e) 51 to 60, (f) 61 to 70, (g) 71 to 80 years and (h) over 80 years hold driving licences. [207419]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The following table gives the estimated number of full driving licence holders in Great Britain in 2006 for the age groups specified, based on data from the National Travel Survey.

Number of licence holders (millions)

17-20 years


21-30 years


31-40 years


41-50 years


51-60 years


61-70 years


71-80 years


81 years and over


All aged 17+


Unweighted sample size (individuals 17+)


Numbers may not add exactly due to rounding.

Humber Bridge: Tolls

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions she has had with the Humber Bridge Board on tolls on the Humber Bridge; and if she will make a statement. [207225]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Department for Transport officials met regularly with the Humber bridge board to discuss the revision of the Humber bridge debt interest rate which came into force on 19 June 2007. A copy of the new loan agreement was placed in the House Libraries at that time.

The revised debt interest rate covers the five year period from 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2011 at which time the debt interest rate will be reviewed.

There have been no further discussions about the Humber bridge debt since 19 June 2007.

M1: Midlands

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the M1 motorway was closed in the Midlands on 15 May 2008; upon whose authority the road was closed; and for what reason a closure was deemed necessary. [207883]

Mr. Tom Harris: The northbound carriageway of the M1 motorway was closed at junction 18 because a load had been shed from a goods vehicle. The carriageway was closed at 07.22 hours at the request, and on the authority, of the Highways Agency’s traffic officer on the scene.

Mersey Tunnel: Tolls

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will consider the merits of introducing legislation to transfer responsibility for Mersey Tunnel toll charges to her Department. [207353]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has no plans to take over responsibility for Mersey Tunnel tolls.

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Midland Main Railway Line: Rolling Stock

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will provide further carriages for trains on the Midland Main Line services run by East Midlands Trains through Kettering. [208185]

Mr. Tom Harris: There are no current plans to provide additional carriages for trains on the midland mainline services run by East Midlands Trains through Kettering.

Motorways: Road Traffic Control

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultation her Department held with the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead on the implementation of the ramp metering scheme at Junction 8/9 of the M4 at Maidenhead. [208087]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Highways Agency has been in communication with stakeholders at a local level for all ramp metering sites implemented during 2007-08, including the scheme at junction 8/9 on the M4.

Meetings were arranged with key individuals from key local agencies that would have an interest or may be concerned around any impact as a result of the new schemes. These meetings included presentations, Q and A feedback as well as access to information leaflets for wider cascading internally to all staff. A self explanatory publicity video was also shown.

Liaison took place between Highways Agency representatives and the following stakeholders who have jurisdiction in the Royal borough of Windsor and Maidenhead locality:

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many complaints her Department has received on the operation of ramp metering schemes. [208184]

Mr. Tom Harris: There have been 36 inquiries. 10 of which were categorised as complaints and 26 as requests for information.

Motorways: Speed Limits

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the (a) volume and (b) value of vehicle fuel that would be saved in a 12-month period if the speed limit were always observed on motorways. [208364]

Jim Fitzpatrick: It is difficult to make accurate estimates of these fuel and cost savings without more robust data on both detected and undetected motorway speeding.

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Analysis for the Climate Change Programme Review (CCPR) estimated the potential impact of 100 per cent. compliance to the 70 mph speed limit on motorways and dual carriageways. The analysis estimated that 2.1 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent would be saved over a 12 month period, equating to around 0.8 billion litres of road fuel. Assuming pump prices of 116p per litre (petrol) and 129p per litre (diesel), from an oil price of around $120-$125 per barrel, the value of the fuel saving would be £1 billion. However, this fuel saving would only occur at significant costs in enforcing the speed limit.

Enforcement of motorway speed limits does save fuel, but enforcement is done primarily for road safety reasons.

Pollution: Merseyside

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her latest estimate is of levels of traffic pollution in (a) Merseyside and (b) the vicinity of the Dartford Crossing. [207365]

Ms Rosie Winterton: There is no single figure available for each of the two areas. Local air pollutants vary according to the pollutant in question, the time of day and the precise location. The Department for Transport does not hold centrally the measurements recorded at the various monitoring locations. Data from the UK automatic air quality monitoring network can be accessed via the National Air Quality Information Archive ( Further monitoring is also undertaken by local authorities and these can often be accessed via the websites of the relevant local authorities. For example, in the case of Liverpool graphs showing levels of the four main pollutants over the previous seven days at a number of sites are available from the city council website.

Railways: Cumbria

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions she has had with BRB (Residuary) Ltd on the consultation draft of the Route Utilisation Strategy for Lancashire and Cumbria, published by Network Rail. [207448]

Mr. Tom Harris: Ministers have regular discussions with BRB (Residuary) Ltd on a range of issues. Network Rail is responsible for developing Route Utilisation Strategies and BRB consult with Network Rail prior to making any decisions on the disposal of its property assets. These consultations are carried out in accordance with the guidance that the Government announced to Parliament in July 2007.

Railways: Finance

Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Designated Community Rail Fund is part of the £15 billion of funding for rail announced in her 2007 Rail White Paper. [207575]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Designated Community Rail Fund is initially for the year 2008-09 which falls outside of the period covered by the White Paper. It is not, therefore, part of the £15 billion.

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Railways: Trent Valley

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she expects the double rail tracking project on the Trent Valley section of the West Coast Main Line to be completed. [207596]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Department for Transport expects four tracking of the West Coast Main Line in the Trent Valley area to be ready for the December 2008 timetable to operate on schedule.

Roads: Accidents

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people of each sex were killed in car accidents in Hampshire where at least one of the drivers involved was aged 21 years or under in each year since 1997. [207828]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The numbers of (a) males and (b) females killed in reported personal injury road accidents in Hampshire which involved at least one car driver aged 21 years or under in 1997 to 2006 are shown in the following table:

Number of fatalities
Male Female































Roads: Construction

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether Highways Agency road building contracts have been awarded to a construction company under investigation by the Office of Fair Trading. [205104]

Mr. Tom Harris: The agency has 22 extant road construction or maintenance contracts that were awarded to five of the companies currently under investigation by the Office of Fair Trading in relation to potential bid-rigging in the construction sector. These companies are Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd., Carillion Construction Ltd., Interserve Project Services, Morgan Est and Galliford-Try (Morrison).

In most cases, the agency’s awards have been to subsidiaries or sister organisations of these companies or operating units that fall under the same parent organisation.

The procurement processes adopted by the agency have a range of steps built-in to minimise the risk of anti-competitive behaviour by contractors. These fully reflect guidance as published by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and indeed exceed it in most cases. The main method of mitigating the risk of
4 Jun 2008 : Column 944W
anti-competitive behaviour is to use a quality: price based assessment of all major tenders. The quality aspect is usually worth in excess of 70 per cent. of the total marks available. These contract specific quality statements cannot be rigged collusively as that would be obvious to those assessing such bids.

Royal Visits

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Answer of 7 March 2008, Official Report, column 2890W, on Caribbean: royal visits, what the cost was of the hire of the yacht Leander by HRH the Prince of Wales during his official visit to the Caribbean; and how much was incurred in (a) crew hire, (b) fuel, (c) provisions and (d) other related costs. [207683]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the Caribbean on an official FCO visit from 3 to 14 March. The visit involved travelling to a number of countries in the area. In considering travel options, the royal household is required under the grant in aid to have regard to a number of criteria including value for money. In this particular case, the household considered a number of options. They concluded that the combination of scheduled flights to and from the Caribbean combined with a chartered boat represented the best value for money. In addition to producing significant savings on travel costs, the use of a boat also resulted in a significant saving on accommodation costs and a reduced carbon footprint. The cost of chartering the Leander was £210,000. This included crew hire and fuel. In addition £10,176 was spent on provisions for those staying aboard the Leander.

The travel arrangements were endorsed by both the Department and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the basis that they represented best value for money.

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