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20 Jun 2008 : Column 1196W—continued


Departmental Public Participation

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the Answer of 10 June 2008, Official Report, column 158W, on departmental public participation, what action (a) has been taken and (b) is planned in response to each survey listed in the Answer. [212327]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Research with members of the public, including that listed in the answer on 10 June 2008, Official Report, columns 158-62W, forms an important part of the Department’s evidence base. Monitoring customer satisfaction with transport services helps to underpin improvements to services. Research helps us to understand the transport needs and priorities of the public and is used to design, implement, and evaluate the impact of policy interventions. It also provides important insights into the links between attitudes and behaviour, and how best to bring about behavioural change. The Department’s research also contributes to the development of awareness campaigns, such as Think! and Act on CO2, and monitors their impact. This ensures that the campaigns are effective, reach the target audience, and achieve value for money.

Further information can be found in the Department’s Evidence and Research Strategy. This is available at:

Driving Tests

Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many driving test centres the Driving Standards Agency plans to operate in addition to the planned multi-purpose test centres. [212438]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 19 June 2008]: Currently the Driving Standards Agency plans to operate a national network of 277 centres offering practical driving tests for car, lorry and bus drivers in addition to 66 multi-purpose test centres. A further 41 casual hire sites, mainly in Scotland, will also be operational.

These plans will be kept under review and are subject to change depending on the business needs of the agency delivering a cost-effective and efficient service to the public.

Driving Tests: Fees and Charges

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she next plans to review the level of fees for (a) car and (b) motorcycle practical driving tests; and if she will make a statement. [211646]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) reviews the fees set for all practical and theory driving tests and other functions each business year.
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Any fee proposals are based on the DSA business plan. DSA published its Business Plan 2008-09 in April 2008. DSA will consult later this year on any proposed changes so that revised fees are in place for 1 April 2009 the start of that business year.

Driving Tests: Scarborough

Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has for the future of Scarborough Driving Test Centre; and if she will make a statement. [212437]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 19 June 2008]: From September 2008, motorcycle testing at Scarborough will move to the multi-purpose test centre in Hull, which is about 45 miles from Scarborough. Motorcycle test candidates will also have the option of travelling to York, some 40 miles from Scarborough, once the multi-purpose test centre there is acquired and operational.

Practical car driving tests will continue to be carried out at Scarborough driving test centre.

Driving Tests: Southend

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many car and motorcycle tests were conducted at the Southend driving test centre in each of the last 10 years. [210593]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The number of practical car and motorcycling tests conducted at the Southend driving test centre in each of the last 10 years is shown in the following table:

Car Motorcycling Total

1998-99

7,687

479

8,166

1999-2000

6,620

697

1,359

2000-01

6,477

518

6,995

2001-02

6,314

355

6,669

2002-03

7,284

453

7,737

2003-04

7,780

571

8,351

2004-05

8,756

390

9,146

2005-06

9,687

392

10,079

2006-07

9,231

431

9,662

2007-08

9,045

393

9,438


James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much the proposed move of driving tests from the Southend Driving Test Centre to the Multi-Purpose Test Centre in Basildon will cost. [210595]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Based on similar relocations in the recent past the Driving Standards Agency would expect to spend around £5,000 in removal costs for moving from Southend Driving Test Centre to the Multi-Purpose Test Centre in Basildon if that is the final decision.

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff are employed at the Southend driving test centre; and how many positions will be available for these staff if the centre is co-located with the Multi-Purpose Test Centre in Basildon. [210596]


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Jim Fitzpatrick: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) employs seven driving examiners at the Southend driving test centre.

DSA will offer the driving examiners employed at Southend driving test centre the opportunity to take part in a preference exercise for alternative posts prior to any potential redeployment.

If the centre is co-located to the Multi-Purpose Test Centre in Basildon, positions would be available for all the driving examiners currently employed at Southend.

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the projected cost is of providing services to users who live within the current Southend catchment area if the Southend Driving Test Centre is co-located with the Multi-Purpose Test Centre in Basildon (a) in total and (b) per test. [210597]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Driving Standards Agency does not hold the information required in this format and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment has been made of the feasibility of Southend driving test centre being used for car driving tests only. [211057]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) is currently reviewing the responses received to the recent consultation on the future of Southend driving test centre before a decision is made.

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether any steps have been taken by the Driving Standards Agency to identify a site in Southend that is suitable for motorcycle tests compliant with European Community Directive 2000/56/EC. [211058]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) initially focused its search for a suitable site for a multi-purpose test centre on the Chelmsford area. Following poor availability of suitable sites in Chelmsford the search area was widened to include Basildon.

The search areas used are intended to bring the widest possible population coverage within DSA's criterion that most motorcycle customers should be within 20 miles or 45 minutes of a multi-purpose test centre.

Owing to operational concerns over the potential redevelopment of the area around the existing Southend driving test centre, Southend was not considered as a specific search area for the location of a multi-purpose test centre.

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what account was taken of the Driving Standards Agency's travel distance criterion in proposing to co-locate the Southend Driving Test Centre with the Multi-Purpose Test Centre in Basildon. [211060]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The “Code of Practice on Written Consultations—Driving Test Centres” used by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) states that candidates in areas with a population density equal to or more than 1,250 persons per square kilometre customers should not have to travel further than seven miles to a driving test centre.


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The proposed site for the Multi-Purpose Test Centre in Basildon is some ten miles away from Southend. Therefore DSA has run a public consultation about the future of Southend driving test centre. This commenced on 13 February and closed on 9 May 2008. DSA is currently reviewing the responses received before a decision will be made. This is expected to be announced in August 2008.

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment has been made of the environmental impact of co-locating Southend Driving Test Centre with the Multi-Purpose Test Centre in Basildon; and what account was taken of (a) people travelling from Southend to Basildon for driving lessons and (b) time spent in traffic. [211061]

Jim Fitzpatrick: No environmental impact assessment has been prepared for the co-location of Southend Driving Test Centre with the Multi-Purpose Test Centre in Basildon. There is no requirement for the Driving Standards Agency to do so.

All learner drivers should be taught to drive safely and confidently on a variety of roads rather than to follow test routes. So it should not be necessary for learner drivers to travel to Basildon from Southend for driving lessons, unless it is for pre-test familiarisation. This should minimise the environmental impact of those journeys and reduce the time spent in traffic.

Driving Tests: Standards

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Driving Standards Agency plans to review its code of practice with regard to guidance on (a) population density and (b) proximity to a driving test centre. [211059]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) currently has no plans to review its “Code of Practice on Written Consultations—Driving Test Centres.”

Ministers agreed the code of practice when it was revised in July 2005. This code of practice is available on the DSA website at:

Motorcycles: Driving Tests

Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many multi-purpose test centres (MPTCs) she estimates will be operational for motorcycle driving tests on 29 September 2008; and what estimate she has made of the greatest distance a candidate will have to travel to access a MPTC in (a) England, (b) Wales and (c) Scotland on that date. [212439]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 19 June 2008]: The Driving Standards Agency estimates that 39 multi-purpose test centres (MPTCs) will be operational by 29 September 2008. There will also be up to 12 part time motorcycle test centres to support these MPTCs.


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These provisions will ensure that around 75 per cent. of motorcycle test candidates will be within 45 minutes or 20 miles of a motorcycle testing facility. In addition, around 93 per cent. of the population will be within 60 minutes of an MPTC and 98 per cent. within 90 minutes.

No estimate has been made of the longest distance a candidate will have to travel.

Railways: South East

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the effect of the draft determination of the Office of the Rail Regulator on (a) platform lengthening at Royston and (b) electric power upgrades on the line from Kings Cross to Cambridge; and if she will make a statement. [211076]

Mr. Tom Harris: I am pleased that the Office of Rail Regulation has confirmed that the Government's specification for a substantial increase in rail capacity by 2014, with further improvements in reliability and safety, is affordable within the funds we have made available. Passengers at Royston will be among the many that will benefit from our widespread investment in the railways. Improving the power supply between Cambridge and Kings Cross, and lengthening the platforms at Royston and other stations, will enable longer trains to operate, meeting the growing peak demand.

Transport: Greater Manchester

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport at what time, on what date, in what form and by whom information on the matters covered in her Statement of 9 June 2008, Official Report, columns 22-34, on transport (Greater Manchester), was made available to (a) The Times, (b) The Daily Telegraph and (c) the Financial Times; and whether she authorised the releases of the information. [210591]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 12 June 2008]: Information relating to the matters covered in the Secretary of State's Statement on 9 June 2008 on transport in Greater Manchester was made available to all media in the form of a press release, issued by the Department for Transport's Communication Directorate at 3.48 p.m on 9 June.

No information relating to the matters covered in that Statement was made available to The Times, The Daily Telegraph or the Financial Times by the Department in advance of the Statement being made by the Secretary of State.

Transport: Safety Measures

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the use of electronic stability control anti-skid systems; and what plans she has to encourage their more widespread use. [212340]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department for Transport sponsored a study in 2007 to consider the effectiveness of passenger car Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems in Great Britain. The research indicated that
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ESC-equipped passenger cars are involved in 25 per cent. fewer fatal road accidents and are 11 per cent. less likely to be involved in a serious accident.

Officials have been active in agreeing international technical requirements for ESC systems. We anticipate that the European Commission will bring forward proposals for mandating ESC systems to the majority of new types of cars, heavy commercial vehicles and their trailers from October 2012.

We welcome the introduction of ESC systems as a positive step to improving the safety of all road vehicles and have encouraged motorists to purchase ESC equipped vehicles.


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