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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 26 June 2008


Departmental Homeworking

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many staff in his Department are authorised to work from home. [212517]

David Cairns: All the staff in the Scotland Office are on secondment from the Scottish Executive or the Ministry of Justice who are both committed to achieving a work life balance for all staff. No staff in the Office formally work from home.

Departmental Pay

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the average pay per hour worked by (a) permanent and (b) temporary staff in his Department in the last period for which figures are available, broken down by pay band. [212505]

David Cairns: Staff in the Scotland Office are on secondment from the Scottish Executive or the Ministry of Justice, and the office reimburses those Departments for the costs involved. The office does not maintain a record of the hourly pay of staff; such information is held by the parent Departments.

Departmental Public Expenditure

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much was spent on (a) new furnishings, (b) art and (c) new vehicles by his Department in each of the last three years. [213521]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office spent the following

Furnishings Art New Vehicles














Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much timber and timber products were procured by his Department in each of the last five years; and at what cost. [213752]

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David Cairns: The Scotland Office does not separately record expenditure on timber products from other similar expenditure; total expenditure on office furnishings was:












Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much timber and timber products were procured by his Department originating from independently verified legal and sustainable sources or from a licensed FLEGT partner in each of the last five years; and at what cost. [213753]

David Cairns: All timber and timber products procured by my Department over the last five years have come from sustainable sources. The amount procured and the cost could only be established at disproportionate cost. The Scotland Office forms part of the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Justice does not keep separate records for the timber and timber products used in that part of its estate.

Electoral Commission Committee

Peter Hain

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the hon. Member for Gosport, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, whether the Commission has received a report from the police on the case of the right hon. Member for Neath (Mr. Hain). [214217]

Sir Peter Viggers: The Electoral Commission informs me that it has received no such report.


Departmental Responsibilities

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what (a) reviews, (b) consultations and (c) task forces her Department is (i) responsible for and (ii) scheduled to establish; on what date each such initiative (A) started and (B) is expected to be completed; and what the purpose is of each. [213488]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 24 June 2008]: Details of the Department for Transport's current consultations and reviews have been placed in the Libraries of the House. The Department has no task forces.

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Invalid Vehicles: Greater London

Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which London boroughs operate a Shopmobility scheme; and what funding is provided for the scheme from the public purse in each of those boroughs. [213801]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We understand that there are three Shopmobility schemes operating in London: in Camden, Kensington and Chelsea and Wood Green. Shopmobility centres are not centrally funded by Government, and data regarding how much funding these schemes receive are therefore not available.


Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when she expects the Highways Agency to implement its proposals for widening the M1 between junctions 10 and 13; and what estimate she has made of the cost of the scheme. [209287]

Mr. Tom Harris: We announced in March that we had asked the Highways Agency to investigate alternative options for adding capacity to the M1 between junctions 10 and 13, including hard shoulder running. This work is under way and due to be complete by the autumn. The timetable for implementing improvements will depend on the option selected. Cost estimates are subject to further work and validation.


Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the average cost per mile of (a) motorway widening and (b) deploying hard shoulder running. [209069]

Mr. Tom Harris: The “Advanced Motorway Signalling and Traffic Management Feasibility Study”, published on 4 March 2008, assumed a capital cost of £5.6 million per kilometre (for both directions, 2004 prices) for hard shoulder running. In addition operating costs of £92,000 per kilometre per year (2004 prices) were assumed. These costs were based on experience from the M42 hard shoulder running scheme, with some adjustments for development of design and allowance for risks. By way of comparison the capital cost of conventionally widening this section of the M42 was estimated at between £18 million and £25 million per kilometre in current prices.

Official Cars

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 10 March 2008, Official Report, column 8W, on departmental official cars, what other suitable cars are available for non-Cabinet Ministers to use. [214012]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government Car and Despatch Agency does not hold a list of suitable cars; it is for each Minister to choose a suitable car for official use in line with the criteria set by the Prime Minister.

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Oil: Prices

Graham Stringer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the change in levels of (a) urban and (b) inter-urban congestion following recent increases in the price of oil. [213023]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 23 June 2008]: Data on urban and inter-urban congestion can be found in the Department's Transport Statistics Bulletin, Road Traffic and Congestion in Great Britain Q1 2008 at:

Provisional data on inter-urban congestion up to March 2008 are included in this bulletin. May 2008 data will be released on 3 July. Data on urban congestion are included for the period to August 2007. We have not yet analysed our urban data after this date and so do not have an estimate of changes in congestion since then.

BERR have recently published new oil price projections in light of a consultation on them that ended early this year. They can be found at:

BERR propose reviewing these assumptions on a regular basis, at least annually.

We are currently in the process of producing new road transport forecasts (which will include congestion) based on these updated oil price projections. We are also aiming to release new appraisal guidance with fuel prices based upon them shortly.

Railways: Fares

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which train operating companies’ franchise agreements permit them to increase fares by more than one per cent. above inflation for a given period of time; and by how much and over what period of time this is permitted in each case. [209075]

Mr. Tom Harris: Southeastern and Northern have RPI plus 3 per cent. regimes. Southeastern is for the entire franchise area until the end of 2011; fares regulation will revert to RPI plus 1 per cent. from January 2012. Northern has an RPI plus 3 per cent. regime for the Leeds and West Yorkshire area only—this applies for the length of the present franchise. Both regimes were approved on the basis of supporting rolling stock investment in those franchises.

Railways: Rolling Stock

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment she has made of the number of uncommitted carriages held by rolling stock companies available for use by train operating companies who wish to lease extra carriages. [211091]

Mr. Tom Harris [holding answer 13 June 2008]: There has been no formal assessment carried out. It is up to the leasing companies to manage their portfolio of vehicles and offer them for lease to the market. However, current market indications are that there is very little suitable off-lease rolling stock available. Any vehicles which are off lease are being offered to the operators.

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Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport under what circumstances control of an A road would be moved from the local authority to the Highways Agency. [213961]

Mr. Tom Harris: The roads managed by the Highways Agency on behalf of the Secretary of State are of strategic importance, either nationally or regionally, and carry large volumes of long distance traffic.

The composition of the strategic road network was reviewed as part of the Government's Transport White Paper “A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone”, published in 1998. The factors taken into account in identifying this network are set out in the White Paper and in the accompanying document, "A New Deal for Trunk Roads in England".

If the Secretary of State for Transport were to judge that the function of a local authority road had changed such that it now met the factors established in that White Paper, or if a road formed a better alternative to an existing trunk road, the road could be transferred to the strategic road network and managed by the Highways Agency.

The only other circumstances in which that can occur is during the delivery of major improvement schemes to the strategic road network, when very short sections (a few hundred metres or less) of local authority controlled roads can be transferred to the Highways Agency as part of the realignment of roads and reconfiguration of junctions required by the scheme.

Roads: Planning

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what her Department’s definition of route protection status is in the context of planned road developments. [209306]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Highways Agency issues a Direction (TR111) under article 15 of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995, which requires a local planning authority to

In most cases a TR111 is put in place at the same time as a preferred route is announced.

Rolling Stock

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the 1,300 extra carriages referred to in the High Level Output Statement include the carriages for the London Midland line announced prior to July 2007. [212949]

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Mr. Tom Harris: The 217 new carriages ordered by London Midland and announced in June 2007 as part of the West Midlands Franchise Awards Process, are part of the 1,300 extra carriages promised in the High Level Output Specification. The new carriages will allow existing carriages to be cascaded, delivering extra capacity as set out in the Rolling Stock Plan.

Rolling Stock: Consultants

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much her Department had spent on consultancy fees on the procurement of new Pendolino carriages for the West Coast Main Line on the latest date for which figures are available. [212613]

Mr. Tom Harris: There are two components associated with this project. The first is the four new 11-car sets which are the replacements for the Grayrigg set, written off after the accident. The second component is the new 62 vehicles to be added to the existing fleet so that 31 trains are extended from nine to 11 cars. The total consultants fee up to end of period two (24 May 2008) for both the replacement sets and the new 31 two car sets is £518,000 on a project budget of £169 million for the period to 2014.

Transport: Bedfordshire

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the relative merits of (a) a guided busway and (b) a reinstated railway between Luton and Dunstable; what account she has taken of (i) climate change policy and (ii) the trend in oil prices in forming her view; and if she will make a statement. [213490]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 24 June 2008]: The Luton to Dunstable Busway local transport major scheme is being promoted by Luton borough council. The proposed scheme involves the construction of approximately 12 km of busway, linking the centres of Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis with London Luton airport.

As part of the process of assessing whether the Busway was the best option to progress, I understand that the council evaluated a number of alternative schemes including heavy rail and light rail. The assessment concluded that none of the alternative options provided as good value for money as the Busway.

The scheme was granted initial Government funding approval in December 2003. Following two public inquiries, the scheme secured all its statutory powers in November 2006 under the Transport and Works Act 1992.

The Department for Transport is now currently considering a request from Luton borough council to move the scheme to the next approval stage within the Department's local major scheme process. As part of our assessment of Luton's Conditional Approval bid, the Department will be revisiting the earlier analysis of the environmental and modelling aspects of the scheme in the light of developments since Programme Entry was granted in 2003.

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