Previous Section Index Home Page

19 Jun 2008 : Column 1058W—continued

Social Security Benefits: Overpayments

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how much was recovered by his Department’s Recovery From Estates Debt Management Unit in the latest year for which figures are available; [210603]

(2) what the cost of running his Department’s Recovery From Estates Debt Management Unit was in the latest year for which figures are available. [210626]

Mr. Plaskitt: Recovery From Estates recovered £23.3 million in 2007-08. The cost of running the unit was £1.4 million.

19 Jun 2008 : Column 1059W


Aviation: Standards

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what risk assessment she has made of pilots flying into London airports whose English language skills are not compliant with the minimum requirements of the Civil Aviation Organisation; and if she will make a statement; [211993]

(2) if she will make a statement on the findings of the Air Accident Investigation Branch investigation into the incident of a LOT Airliner, involving language communications difficulties with air traffic control on its approach to Heathrow airport; [211994]

(3) if she will prevent any airline operators from landing at London's airports who do not comply with the International Civil Aviation Organisation's requirement for pilots to be proficient in English language; and if she will make a statement. [211995]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Air Accidents Investigation Branch investigation into LOT flight 282 on 4 June 2007 concluded that the primary cause of the incident was a single error made by the co-pilot prior to take off from Heathrow by the use of “E” instead of “W” when the longitude co-ordinates were entered into the flight management system. This led to the crew experiencing difficulties navigating the aircraft and necessitated their return to Heathrow under the guidance of air traffic control.

The AAIB report notes that the crew's difficulties were complicated by the commander of the aircraft having some difficulty comprehending and communicating with the air traffic controllers, a situation probably exacerbated by the high workload in the cockpit attendant on the navigational problems. The report suggests that the incident is indicative of problems which can arise through a lack of understanding between controllers and flight crews.

Accurate communication between flight crews and air traffic controllers is clearly a matter of the first importance to the safety of international aviation. The requirements for language proficiency for operational personnel are determined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, which has traditionally required that air-ground radiotelephony communications shall be conducted in the language normally used by the station on the ground or in the English language.

In 2003, with UK support, ICAO took steps to reinforce rules on language proficiency. It set a deadline of March 2008 for proficiency in Level 4 (operational) and above English for all pilots flying international routes, and for ATC controllers serving international airports and routes. The proficiency scale ranges from Level 1 to Level 6, with guidelines published for pronunciation, fluency, structure, vocabulary, comprehension and interaction. Level 4 (operational) proficiency is considered as a minimum 'stepping stone' to higher levels.

The UK became compliant with ICAO's language proficiency requirements on 5 March 2008.

However, in recognition that not all states would be able to comply fully by March 2008, ICAO, while urging states to meet the deadline if at all possible, has allowed for a transition period from March 2008 until
19 Jun 2008 : Column 1060W
March 2011. The Polish Civil Aviation Office are due to specify a date by which they will comply with the ICAO requirement for English language proficiency.

I naturally hope that all ICAO signatory states become compliant with the language proficiency requirements as soon as possible. As ICAO Level 4 (operational) proficiency in English is not yet binding on States, however, the UK, as an ICAO signatory, cannot make this a requirement for granting permission to foreign airlines to operate to UK airports.

I understand however that evaluation of this incident by UK air navigation services provider, NATS, has identified to a number of learning points which have been incorporated into NATS' “Training for Unusual and Emergency Circumstances” package which all controllers are required to complete annually.

The European Aviation Safety Agency is consulting on its draft implementing rules for operations and flight crew licensing from May to November 2008. These proposals include legal requirements on language proficiency.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps the Government have taken to increase the provision of bicycle racks in public places. [211750]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The provision of bicycle racks in public places is the responsibility of individual local authorities.

We encourage all local authorities to develop a cycling strategy as part of their local transport plan (LTP). This can include the provision of bicycle racks as well as on and off road cycle facilities such as cycle tracks and cycle lanes.

In January the Department announced a £140 million investment, over the next three years, for its cycling delivery body, Cycling England. This will complement local authority spend. £47 million of this has been allocated to extending the cycling demonstration towns (CDTs) programme to include up to 17 towns and a large city. As part of their programmes the successful CDTs will be able to provide cycle parking as well as other facilities for cyclists.

As part of the proposed package of public transport improvements to complement the planned congestion charge scheme, the Greater Manchester authorities intend to provide more than 2,500 extra cycle parking spaces introduced at 250 new locations and secure long-term parking facilities for bikes at rail and Metrolink stations.

We made funds available to provide over 2,500 cycle parking spaces in 2004-05, together with cycle shelters and CCTV at various stations all round the country.

In addition to this many train operators have provided improved cycle parking at public interchanges often working with local authorities. For example, TfL have provided improved cycle parking including the introduction of the innovative cycle centre at Finsbury Park Station, and Surrey county council have also worked with train operators to improve cycle parking at a number of stations in the county.

19 Jun 2008 : Column 1061W

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps the Government has taken to promote road safety amongst cyclists. [211751]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I refer my hon. Friend to my answer of Tuesday 13 June 2008, Official Report, column 848W, to the hon. Member for the City of Chester (Christine Russell).

Cars: Research

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 22 April 2008, Official Report, column 1894W, to the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight) on cars: research, what studies in this area conducted elsewhere in the EU her Department has evaluated. [210599]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department is aware of EU studies on eco-driving techniques. However, these relate to the most efficient way of driving in different traffic conditions rather than to the effects of constant speed driving. We are not aware of any specific EU studies which have been undertaken on the most economical constant driving speed.

My response of 22 April indicated that we had taken account of the results of EU research in deriving emissions factors. The principal study considered was the EU ARTEMIS programme. However data from COST 319
19 Jun 2008 : Column 1062W
(MEET), COPERT 4, PARTICULATES and OSCAR programmes were also considered in deriving emissions factors.

A summary of the ARTEMIS programme is available at Publication of the final report(1) is currently pending.

Details of the COST 319 (MEET), COPERT and PARTICIPATES programmes are available at:

Unfortunately the OSCAR programme website is no longer available.

Departmental Training

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much (a) her Department and (b) its agencies spent on training courses for staff in the last (i) 12 months and (ii) five years. [210561]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The following table sets out the amounts that the Department for Transport has spent on training courses for staff over the last five years:

2007-08 2006-07 2005-06 2004-05 2003-04

Central DfT (£m)






Highways Agency (£m)






Government Car and Despatch Agency (£000)






Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (£m)






Marine and Coastguard Agency (£m)






Driving Standards Agency (£000)






Vehicle Certification Agency (£000)






Vehicle Operator Service Agency (£000)






Great Western Trains: Rolling Stock

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps she is taking to ensure that sufficient rolling stock continues to be available to First Great Western (FGW) to operate the Cardiff-Portsmouth line in the event that Arriva give notice that they wish to terminate the arrangement whereby their rolling stock is leased to FGW. [211090]

Mr. Tom Harris [holding answer 13 June 2008]: The Department for Transport remains in dialogue with the parties involved to ensure they understand what risk there may be of the additional trains being recalled, and how that risk can be mitigated.

Heathrow Airport: Passengers

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many passengers connecting between flights at Heathrow Airport began their journeys in (a) the UK, (b) France, (c) Belgium, (d) the Netherlands, (e) Luxembourg, (f) Germany, (g) Austria, (h) Switzerland, (i) Italy, (j) Spain and (k) other locations in the last year for which figures are available. [211100]

19 Jun 2008 : Column 1063W

Jim Fitzpatrick: The number of passengers connecting (transferring) between flights at Heathrow airport who began their journeys at locations in (a) the UK, (b) France, (c) Belgium, (d) the Netherlands, (e) Luxembourg, (f) Germany, (g) Austria, (h) Switzerland, (i) Italy, (j) Spain and (k) other locations, in 2007 are shown in the following table.

Country from Transfer passengers (thousands)



















United Kingdom


Other locations


Total transfer passengers at Heathrow


Motorways: Road Traffic Control

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what consultation her Department undertook on the ramp metering scheme model before its implementation on the highway network. [208086]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Highways Agency (HA) developed a deliberately proactive stakeholder engagement strategy to support the wider implementation of ramp metering across its network. The purpose of the strategy was to explain the concepts and anticipated benefits of ramp metering, introduce the project structure and the sites selected for implementation, engender understanding, trust and support among stakeholders, provide a coherent and consistent picture of progress and minimise the risk of mis-information.

Due to the extent to which ramp metering affects the operation of the motorway, the HA recognised that there would be a wide range of interested parties, both at a national and local level, with whom it would be essential to liaise. These included the network ‘consumers’ (nationally and local to a scheme), regional and local government, police and other emergency services, driver and business representative groups, suppliers and staff.

The stakeholder engagement strategy and associated communications plan provided a detailed identification of the main stakeholders and their information needs, the roles and responsibilities for stakeholder engagement and the key messages and available channels of communication. Different types of communications included presentations, press notices, briefing notes, meetings, leaflets and a publicity video.

As an example, for the new sites on the M4 in the South East, liaison has taken place with the following stakeholders:

Next Section Index Home Page