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25 Nov 2008 : Column 1179W—continued

Fatal Road Accidents: Illegal Drugs

9. Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of fatal road accidents were caused or contributed to by drivers under the influence of illegal drugs in the latest period for which figures are available. [238600]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Impairment by drugs was recorded as a contributory factor by the police in 64 fatal crashes in Great Britain in 2007—that is 2.5 per cent. of all fatal crashes where contributory factors were reported. It is not possible to distinguish whether illegal or medicinal drugs were involved.

DVLA

10. Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of customer satisfaction levels with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency. [238601]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) commissioned a telephone survey of 1,000 private motorists in July-August 2008. The survey assessed motorist satisfaction with DVLA core business transactions, and provided an overall weighted satisfaction score of 92.32 per cent. compared to 89.82 per cent. in 2007-08.

Commercial customer satisfaction has been assessed by means of measures taken in DVLA-led surveys in autumn 2008, namely DVLA Commercial Customer Survey and DVLA Fleets Survey.

Young Person’s Railcard

11. John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent representations he has received on the future of the 16-25 railcard. [238602]


25 Nov 2008 : Column 1180W

Paul Clark: The Government have not had any representations on the future of the 16-25 railcard.

Air Travel: Emissions

12. John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has considered to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions from air travel; and if he will make a statement. [238603]

Jim Fitzpatrick: We have a comprehensive approach to aviation's climate change impacts. This includes pressing internationally for global action; bringing aviation into the EU emissions trading scheme from 2012; supporting improvements in technology, encouraging operational procedures, and air traffic management; and other economic instruments.

Rail Network

13. Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the adequacy of the capacity of the rail network; and if he will make a statement. [238604]

Paul Clark: The Rail White Paper set out the Government’s commitment to increase rail capacity across by 2014, backed by investment of £10 billion. This includes the procurement of an additional 1,300 carriages for operation across the network. 423 vehicles have already been ordered and yesterday we announced proposals to procure a further 200 which will benefit passengers in the Thames Valley, around Bristol and on longer distance regional services in central northern England.

Concessionary Bus Fares

14. Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his most recent assessment is of the adequacy of his Department’s funding of the national concessionary bus fares scheme. [238605]

Paul Clark: The Government remain confident that there is sufficient funding in total to meet the cost of the statutory minimum bus concession. We are also confident that the extra funding provided this year £212 million, to meet the additional costs of the move to England-wide free off-peak bus travel is sufficient. A formula was used to distribute this year’s additional funding taking account of factors such as local population, tourist numbers and current bus use. The Department for Transport will continue to monitor the impact of the new concession.

16. Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions his Department has had with the Local Government Association on the operation of the national concessionary bus fares scheme. [238607]

Paul Clark: Officials in the Department for Transport have had regular meetings with the Local Government Association (LGA) regarding concessionary travel. The LGA and representatives from other tiers of local government are present at regular meetings of the Department’s Concessionary Fares Working Groups.


25 Nov 2008 : Column 1181W

Rail Services: Halifax-London

15. Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent progress has been made on the provision of a direct rail link between Halifax and London. [238606]

Paul Clark: Network Rail is due to present a further assessment of timetable options for the east coast main line to the Office of Rail Regulation on or before 19 December. The Office of Rail Regulation expects to publish its decision regarding which train operators will be granted new access rights during January 2009.

Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation

17. Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to modify the renewable transport fuel obligation; and if he will make a statement. [238608]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yes. The Gallagher Review on the indirect effects of biofuel production recommended that the rate of increase in the renewable transport fuel obligation should be slowed. Our consultation issued on 15 October proposes this, together with changes to introduce new eligible fuels and to rectify a discrepancy in the definition of how the obligation is calculated.

High Speed Rail Line

18. Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if his Department will take steps to build a high speed rail line north from London. [238610]

Paul Clark: The Government are looking at the need for additional transport capacity as part of the new approach to planning set out in the October 2007 document “Towards a Sustainable Transport System”. While Network Rail is reviewing the case for new lines as one option, enhancement of the capability of the existing network is equally important, as shown by the £8.8 billion investment in upgrading the west-coast main line, which has significantly reduced travel times.

Regional Airports

19. Hugh Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is for regional airports in the north of England; and if he will make a statement. [238611]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Regional airports, including those in the north of England, generate regional growth and investment, and we support their development provided environmental considerations are addressed. “The Future of Air Transport” White Paper invited airports to publish master plans outlining their future development proposals, and many have now done so.

Aviation: Surcharges

Mr. MacShane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with representatives of airline companies on fuel surcharges imposed prior to the recent fall in oil prices. [236782]


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Jim Fitzpatrick: The Secretary of State for Transport meets UK airlines on regular basis. The issue of high oil prices has been raised frequently over the past 18 months as a significant concern for the aviation industry.

Channel Tunnel

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of current spare passenger capacity on (a) the High Speed 1 rail link and (b) the Channel Tunnel. [236244]

Paul Clark: There is currently significant spare capacity on High Speed 1. Much of this will be utilised when domestic high-speed services commence in December 2009. And, potentially, the opening up of the international passenger rail market from 2010 will see further increases in the use of the railway in the future.

Although the Department for Transport has made no formal assessment of the current spare capacity in the channel tunnel, it is my understanding that a significant level of capacity remains available for international services. The allocation of paths through the channel tunnel, and the precise number that have been unused, are matters for Eurotunnel.

Concessions: Gloucestershire

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with (a) Gloucestershire County Council, (b) Tewkesbury Borough Council and (c) Cheltenham Borough Council on their funding of free off-peak travel for elderly and disabled people; and if he will make a statement. [239194]

Paul Clark: No recent discussions have taken place with any of these three councils. The Department for Transport is always willing to discuss the concerns of local authorities, whether on concessionary travel or any other transport issue.

The Government remain confident that there is sufficient funding in total to meet the cost of the statutory minimum bus concession. We are also confident that the extra funding provided this year, £212 million, to meet the additional costs of the move to England-wide free off-peak bus travel is sufficient in aggregate. A formula was used to distribute this year's additional funding taking account of factors such as local population, tourist numbers and current bus use. The Department for Transport will continue to monitor the impact of the new concession.

Cycling

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much funding his Department has allocated to promote (a) cycling and (b) walking in 2008-09; and what percentage of his Department's total budget for that year that figure represents. [238288]

Paul Clark [holding answer 24 November 2008]: The Department for Transport's investment in cycling and walking is primarily via local authorities. The Department is supporting local authorities (excluding London) via local transport plan funding with £577 million in 2008-09.
25 Nov 2008 : Column 1183W
The TfL block grant is £2.528 billion. Local authorities determine their own spending priorities and it is for them to decide how much to allocate to cycling and walking.

The Department also funds a range of initiatives, often via non-governmental partners, to promote sustainable travel, including cycling and walking.

In 2008-09 these initiatives include:

Initiative £ million

Cycling

Support for Cycling England programmes

20

Transport Direct cycle route mapping

0.4

Walking

Walk to School initiatives

1.8

Wider sustainable travel, including year five of a five year programme of funding for three sustainable travel towns and the sustainable travel to school project

5.4


The Department's overall DEL budget for 2008-09 at the main estimates is £13,649.7 million. As we do not monitor the expenditure by local authorities on cycling and walking, any percentage figure would be misleading.

Cycling: East Midlands

Mr. Skinner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many cycle routes have been established in the east midlands since 1998. [238075]

Paul Clark: The Department for Transport does not collect this information centrally.

Departmental Early Retirement

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many employees in his Department took early retirement in each of the last five financial years; and at what total cost. [238971]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to our previous answer of 17 July 2008, Official Report, column 611W.

Previous years and expenditure can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Information Officers

Mr. Hunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent on employing press and communications officers in (a) his Department, (b) its non-departmental public bodies and (c) its agencies in each of the last three years. [239673]

Mr. Hoon: Communications activities across the Department for Transport are not exclusively carried out by staff or units solely dedicated to this purpose. Staff costs are therefore not readily available for communications activities alone and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Estimates of the pay cost of press officer activities have previously been compiled and are set out as follows for the years 2005-06 to 2007-08 as follows:


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£ million

2005-06 2006-07 2007-08

DFT(C)

0.77

0.88

0.84

DSA

0.06

0.06

0.06

DVLA

0.19

0.19

0.14

GCDA

0

0

0

HA

0.27

0.30

0.36

MCA

0.15

0.15

0.15

VCA

0

0

0

VOSA

0.04

0.04

0.04


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