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20 Jan 2009 : Column 1296W—continued

Average call times on the tax credits helpline fluctuate according to peaks in the business. The peak in demand in July reflects the tax credits renewals statutory deadline date of 31 July. There is an increasing trend, encouraged by HMRC, towards renewing by telephone rather than by post. This has been shown to provide more accurate, up-to-date information, and so reduce overpayments.

Between 1 December 2006 and 31 November 2008, on average, it took between 16 and 24 seconds for calls to be answered. For the number of calls to the hon. Members’ tax credit helpline handled by the Tax Credit Office MP hotline, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 10 December 2008, Official Report, columns 199-200W.

Information about the number of calls received and unanswered is provided in the following table.

Number of calls to Tax Credit Office MP hotline Calls handled Calls abandoned or unanswered











































































(1) Figures for September, October and November 2008 correct those provided in the answer given on 10 December 2008, Official Report, columns 199-200W.

Information about the (a) longest, (b) shortest and (c) average length of calls to the Members’ tax credit hotline is not available.


A40: Pembrokeshire

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment he has made of the quality of the single carriageway section of the A40 in Pembrokeshire; [248624]

(2) what recent representations he has received on the merits of dualling the A40 in Pembrokeshire. [248737]

Paul Clark: The Welsh Assembly Government is responsible for motorways and trunk roads in Wales, including the A40 in Pembrokeshire.

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Aviation: Compensation

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the answer of 13 November 2008, Official Report, column 1285W, on aviation: compensation, whether he has concluded his review of protection of air passengers; and if he will make a statement. [249512]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government’s work on short-term measures to improve passengers’ experience in any future airline or tour operator failure is nearing completion. This work has comprised:

The Government have not yet reached decisions on whether any longer term changes are necessary but are continuing to discuss this with stakeholders.


Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been spent by (a) the Highways Agency and (b) Gloucestershire county council on the B4008 since the opening of junction 12 on the M5. [248239]

Paul Clark: The Highways Agency has not spent any money on the B4008 because, as part of the local highway network, it is the responsibility of Gloucestershire county council.

We have been advised by Gloucestershire county council that, since Junction 12 of the M5 became an all-movements junction in 2003, the council have spent £171,000 on surfacing at Standish in 2004-05 and £93,000 on Standish Railway Bridge in 2007-08.


Mr. Goodwill: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he will take to reinstate the inclusion of indirect land-use impacts in EU biofuel sustainability criteria. [249624]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Indirect land use impacts will be taken into account by the European Commission for the first time as part of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED). The Commission will report on the impact of
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indirect land use change, and, if appropriate, propose a methodology to take account of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by indirect land use change, by 31 December 2010 for agreement by the European Council and European Parliament by 2012.

The UK will continue to be instrumental in promoting sustainable biofuels. Accordingly we will use our research programme to help ensure that the development of an EU-wide methodology is based on the best available science.

Dartford-Thurrock Crossing: Tolls

Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the revenue from the Dartford river crossing was in the last financial year for which figures are available; and what proportion of that figure represented profit. [249613]

Paul Clark: Details of the annual total revenues from the Dartford crossing are placed in the House Library. The latest available figures of £69 million are for 2006-07. Revenues from the crossing must by law be spent on transport.

Driving Tests: Motorcycles

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the suitability of locations required for multi-purpose testing sites for motorcycles; and whether he has made an assessment of whether a minimum and maximum distance is required between these sites. [248578]

Jim Fitzpatrick [holding answer 19 January 2009]: Following an extensive public consultation exercise on the implementation of the new motorcycle test, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) recognised that a network of multi-purpose test centres (MPTCs) would be needed to deliver the new motorcycle test.

The criterion used for establishing this network was that most motorcycle candidates should have to travel no more than 20 miles or 45 minutes to a MPTC. While not every candidate would be able to reach a test centre within this time/distance criterion, DSA had to strike a balance between convenience for candidates and the efficient provision of testing services.

A key factor in deciding on search areas was the need to identify sites which would give the best geographical coverage for most test candidates and where MPTCs would be used efficiently based on demand for tests in those localities. It follows that those areas with a high population density were the main search locations.

Driving Under Influence

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the estimated cost is of introducing the new roadside breath screening devices with data capture functions to police forces in England and Wales. [248992]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The cost to the Department for Transport of funding the purchase of these devices for every police force in England and Wales is £1.9 million.

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Electrification: Barking

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with (a) Network Rail and (b) Transport for London on electrification of the Barking to Gospel Oak section of the North London line. [249091]

Paul Clark: The Department for Transport is working closely with Transport for London as it reviews the business case for electrifying the Barking to Gospel Oak line.

Electrification: East Midlands

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to be able to make an announcement about electrification of the East Midland line north of Bedford to Sheffield. [249771]

Paul Clark: The Department for Transport is working closely with the rail industry to examine the case for further rail electrification. A decision on the electrification of the Midland Main Line will be announced later this year.

Haulage: Carbon Emissions

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department has spent to assist road haulage companies to reduce (a) greenhouse gas emissions, (b) other emissions and (c) fuel costs in the last five years. [247555]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department for Transport assists the road haulage industry through two key programmes, the Freight Best Practice (FBP) programme and the Safe And Fuel Efficient Driving (SAFED) programme. These provide advice, tools and training programmes which reduce CO2 and other emissions as a direct consequence of reduced consumption of fossil fuel. We have invested £7 million in FBP and £7.5 million in SAFED since 2003. The latest assessment of the effectiveness of the programmes in 2006 showed them to have saved around 120,000 tonnes of CO2 and 52,000 tonnes of CO2 respectively each year since 2005.

The Department for Transport funding for these programmes applies to England only. The current FBP programme has the facility to be supported by funding from the devolved Administrations while maintaining a single management process. This is proving attractive and cost-effective for them with Scotland and Northern Ireland currently funding specific programme activities for their areas.

Heathrow Airport: Air Routes

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what effect the adoption of dual mode use of the runways at London Heathrow Airport would have on the Terminal Control North flight routing redesign proposals made by National Air Traffic Services. [248651]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport’s statement of 15 January 2009, Official Report, columns 355-60, on
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Britain’s transport infrastructure in which he made clear that the Government did not support the adoption of mixed mode (using existing runways for both arrivals and departures) at Heathrow airport.

Heathrow Airport: Noise

James Brokenshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the number of people living in the London Borough of Havering who would be subject to additional aircraft noise should dual mode use of the runways at London Heathrow Airport be adopted. [248650]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Noise impacts of possible development options at Heathrow were presented in the November 2007 consultation document but not borough by borough. We announced on 15 January our decision not to support mixed mode on the existing runways as an interim measure ahead of a third runway.

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