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21 Apr 2009 : Column 11WS

E. Full receipts. There will be a requirement for receipts for claims for all remaining transactions (for office costs, travel, and communications), including those under £25. MPs’ claims will be subject to independent audit by the National Audit Office.

F. Transparency of MPs’ Second Incomes. The Prime Minister has already asked the Committee on Standards in Public Life to look into the issue of MPs and second jobs, in order to avoid conflicts of interest and to reflect the fact that MPs receive a parliamentary salary for a full-time job. Meanwhile, there should be greater transparency.

This Government have been the first to publish a list of Ministers’ interests.

Where Members of Parliament have a second source of income from second jobs, irrespective of whether it is in their capacity as an MP, every payment shall be declared with a full description of who paid and what for. There shall also be a full declaration of the hours worked for the payment received.

G. Pensions. We have taken steps through the SSRB to reform MPs’ pension arrangements. In the meantime, in order to contain the cost to the public purse, a proposal will be put before Parliament to increase the contribution required from MPs by around £60 per month for the current year and to extend the scheme’s pension limit of two thirds of final salary to all scheme members for future service.

H. We will ask the Committee on Standards in Public Life to look at the circumstances applying in Northern Ireland before final application of the flat rate allowance for MPs representing Northern Ireland.

I hope that with the support of the whole House we could implement the majority of these proposals in time for 1 July. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has offered to meet with the leaders of the main Opposition parties to discuss them. The Committee on Standards in Public Life will report their views in due course, which of course we will consider seriously, but we should implement as many interim changes as possible without delay.

Northern Ireland

District Electoral Area Commissioner (Northern Ireland)

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Shaun Woodward): I am pleased to announce to the House that I have appointed Richard Mackenzie CB as District Electoral Areas Commissioner for Northern Ireland. His appointment will take effect from 1 July 2009 following the completion of his work as Local Government Boundaries Commissioner for Northern Ireland. As District Electoral Areas Commissioner, Mr Mackenzie’s role will be to make recommendations on the grouping of local government wards in Northern Ireland into multi-member constituencies for the purposes of elections to local councils.

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New Road Safety Strategy

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): The Department has today published a consultation paper on a new road safety strategy for Great Britain. The consultation document, “A Safer Way”, proposes a new approach to road safety, ambitious new casualty reduction targets and a number of new measures to assist in achieving those targets. It also proposes a long-term vision to make Britain’s roads the safest in the world.

The paper puts forward four national targets for achievement by 2020, as compared with the 2004-08 average. The headline target is to reduce road deaths by one-third. We propose further targets to reduce serious injuries on our roads, also by one-third, and to halve the combined total of death and serious injuries to children on our roads. Lastly, given our aims to increase levels of walking and cycling and to improve safety, we suggest a target to halve the rate of road death and serious injury to pedestrians and cyclists per kilometre travelled.

Our current strategy has improved road safety significantly, reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries by 36 per cent. over the last decade, but eight deaths a day is still intolerable and we want to make our roads safer still. By improving our roads, our vehicles and our behaviour on the roads, we aim to develop a road safety system in which mistakes on the road do not lead to death or serious injury. We propose to do this through smarter working with local partners, not through creating large numbers of new offences and regulation. We need to target action on those roads, people and behaviours most associated with death and serious injury on our roads.

To improve safety on rural roads, where 60 per cent. of all British road deaths happen, we propose annually to publish maps highlighting the main roads with the poorest safety records, encouraging local agencies to rapidly improve safety standards. We also propose to recommend to highway authorities that lower limits are adopted on single carriageways currently subject to 60 mph limit, where risks are relatively high and there is evidence that a lower limit would significantly reduce casualties. To improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, we propose to give guidance to local highway authorities recommending that, over time, they introduce 20 mph limits into all streets which are primarily residential in nature.

Improved vehicle safety will continue to be crucial in reducing road casualties. We aim to support improvements through regulation, where appropriate, but also through consumer information and raising awareness, working in partnership with industry. We expect further improvements in vehicles’ crash protection to be targeted around particular problems or collision types. We believe that advanced vehicle safety systems, helping drivers and riders to avoid crashes, have the potential to deliver increasing improvements in safety.

Our recent consultation on road safety compliance put forward measures to crack down on irresponsible behaviour and we will set out our conclusions in the final version of the new road safety strategy. Our proposals in the compliance consultation included tougher penalties for extreme speeding, and tackling drug and drink-driving.

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We propose to support responsible road use by improving driver training and testing, through the highly successful THINK! campaign and through development of a seamless suite of educational materials from pre-school to pre-driver, the first phase of which will be published later this week. Significant new effort will also go into improving driving skills and standards.

Despite improvement in 2007, the number of collisions involving 18-24 year olds and newly qualified drivers remains unacceptably high. Tackling this issue remains a priority within our proposed new strategy, and we are also today announcing a programme of measures that will strengthen the way that people learn to drive and are tested, and create a culture of continued and lifelong learning.

The Driving Standards Agency’s “Learning to Drive” consultation paper prompted almost 7,000 responses. The responses, many of which were from young people, confirm general support for our view that education and incentive through improved training and testing is the best way to improve the safety of newly qualified drivers. As well as recognising that the great majority of people want to be law abiding and safe, such an approach also acknowledges that people learn to drive for many reasons, including to access education and employment.

Newly qualified drivers have told us that the current regime does not properly prepare them for driving unsupervised. The programme of measures will ensure that they are better equipped to drive safely and responsibly in modern driving conditions. They will also introduce a more efficient and effective learning process, and give employers and insurers greater confidence in the driving abilities of newly qualified drivers and those who have invested in further training.

The changes will be delivered through a phased implementation programme, which supports progressive improvements while avoiding disruption to those currently learning to drive. The first phase aims to deliver, over
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the next two years, an improved learning process, improved theory and practical driving tests, and further options for learning and qualifications.

Full details are set out in “Learning to Drive: Report on Consultation”, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. The consultation on the new road safety strategy closes on 14 July 2009. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of the House and are also available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

First Great Western Franchise (Correction)

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Geoffrey Hoon): On 26 February 2008, Official Report, columns WS 73-74, my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Bolton West (Ruth Kelly), made a statement to the House about the performance of the First Great Western Franchise, in which she also announced a package of benefits designed to bring about real improvements for passengers. The package is worth £29 million and is fully funded by First Great Western.

One of the elements of the package of passenger benefits announced in the statement was that First Great Western would undertake “refurbishment of Thames Valley commuter trains to a higher standard than committed in the franchise agreement to commence this year (2008) and to be completed by 2011”.

The stated completion date of 2011 was incorrect as it did not reflect the obligation in the agreement with First Great Western, which was to procure agreed expenditure on the refurbishment of the Thames Valley commuter trains by 31 March 2012, and I apologise for this.

I understand that First Great Western are confident that they will meet this obligation by the agreed date.

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