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27 Apr 2009 : Column 995W—continued

Radioactive Waste: Waste Management

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what expressions of interest his Department has received from local authorities to host nuclear waste disposal sites further to the consultation on managing radioactive waste safety. [270471]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I have been asked to reply.

Geological disposal involves placing higher activity radioactive waste in an engineered underground containment facility designed so that natural barriers and man-made barriers work together to minimise the escape of radioactivity over the long timescales required to allow the radioactivity to decay.

Coupled with the “Managing Radioactive Waste Safely” White Paper published on 12 June 2008, was an invite to communities to ‘express an interest’ in entering without commitment discussions on the possibility of hosting a geological disposal facility at some point in the future.

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Since then expressions of interest have been made by Copeland borough council (July 2008), Cumbria county council (December 2008) and Allerdale borough council (February 2009).

The option to express an interest will be left open for the foreseeable future and we hope that this is the beginning of a number of approaches to Government.

Rural Areas: Roads

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will place in the Library a copy of the research report “Potential impacts of national road user charging in rural areas: a scoping study”, commissioned by his Department. [269890]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The report, “Potential Impacts of National Road user Charging in Rural Areas: a Scoping Study to Identify Required Research” was commissioned by DEFRA's Rural Evidence Research Centre and was published in September 2006, copies will be placed in the Library of the House.


Bus Services: Public Consultation

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what advice his Department provides to local authorities on taking account of the views of local residents in the provision of bus services. [271212]

Paul Clark: Local authorities plan their policies on the provision of bus services in the context of their local transport plans. Guidance from the Department for Transport advises widespread consultation on these plans. In addition, S108 of the Transport Act 2000, as amended by S9 of the Local Transport Act 2008, places certain statutory requirements on local transport authorities, including the obligation to consult organisations appearing to the authority to be representative of the interests of users of transport services and facilities in their area.

Driving Tests

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many individuals have taken the driving theory test in each year since its introduction; in how many cases a voiceover has been used for those whose first language is not English; and how many requests have been submitted for the driving theory test to be taken in a foreign language. [270418]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The number of individuals taking the theory test for all categories since 2004-05 was:

Number of individuals taking theory test

2008-09 (up to February 2009)










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The following number of theory tests have had voice-overs in either English or non-English languages. English voiceovers have been included because some candidates may understand spoken English, but not written English.

Total number of voiceovers Number of English voiceovers Number of non-English voiceovers

2008-09 (up to February 2009)




















Candidates can independently obtain the services of a Driving Standards Agency (DSA)-approved translator. The following theory tests were conducted using either a non-English voiceover, or a DSA-approved translator.

Number of theory tests taken with translators Total number of theory tests with translators or with non-English voiceovers

2008-09 (up to February 2009)















Driving Tests: Greater London

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average waiting time was for a driving test in (a) the London Borough of Bexley and (b) Greater London in the latest period for which figures are available. [270923]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The average waiting times at practical driving test centres in (a) the London borough of Bexley and (b) Greater London on 20 April (the latest period for which figures are available) were as follows:

Waiting time (Weeks)

Car Bike (Module 1) Bike (Module 2) Vocational

(a) London borough of Bexley




(b) Greater London





The waiting times by test centres are updated and published on the Driving Standards Agency’s website every Monday at:

Driving Tests: Greater Manchester

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average waiting time was between applying for and taking a driving test in Greater Manchester on the latest date for which figures are available. [270659]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: Based on the latest available figures, the average waiting times for practical driving tests in Greater Manchester are:

Average waiting time (weeks)



Bike (Module 1)


Bike (Module 2)


Lorry and Bus


The most recent practical test waiting times by test centre are published on the Driving Standards Agency’s website:

They are updated every Monday.

Driving: Licensing

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of licence renewal application forms have been lost by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency prior to processing in each of the last five years; and what percentage of lost forms were subsequently traced in each year. [270661]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) does not hold the information in the requested format.

However, a measure of process accuracy and loss is available from complaints statistics. In the financial year 2008 to 2009, DVLA issued 8.6 million driving licences. In the same period it received 1,584 driving licence related complaints (including medically related complaints). The Driver and Vehicle Agency does not hold a record of the numbers of driving licence applications lost before being processed at the Agency, nor those which are subsequently traced within the Agency.

Motorway Service Areas

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance his Department has provided to private contractors who operate motorway service stations on their parking charges. [270233]

Paul Clark: Department for Transport Circular 1/2008, published on 2 April 2008, sets out the Department's policy on service areas and other roadside facilities on motorways and all purpose trunk roads in England.

Under the circular, signed service areas on motorways and all purpose trunk roads in England are required to provide free parking for up to two hours for all vehicle types. The circular allows service area operators to charge for parking after the initial two hour period.

A copy of circular 01/2008 is available on the Department's website and can be accessed using the following web link:


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance his Department has issued since January 2008 to local authorities on the width and length of parking bays; what representations he has received on the issue since January 2008; and if he will make a statement. [270553]

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Paul Clark: No guidance has been issued since January 2008. The width and length of parking bay markings is prescribed in regulations and detailed guidance on their use is contained in the Traffic Signs Manual, Chapter 5 - Road Markings (2003). This document is on the Department for Transport's website at the following address:

We have received no formal proposals for changes to regulations or guidance. However, from time to time we do receive applications from local highways authorities for authorisation of narrow and/or shorter bays where exceptional site conditions prevent the use of prescribed markings.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on negotiation on the terms of premium payment obligations with train operating companies which indicate they may default on them. [270999]

Paul Clark [holding answer 24 April 2009]: It is the policy of the Department for Transport not to renegotiate existing franchise agreements. We expect our suppliers to deliver their franchise obligations.

Railways: Alcoholic Drinks

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make an assessment of the merits of prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on the rail network. [271125]

Paul Clark: Train companies can already prohibit alcohol on trains using their powers under the railway byelaws. This in turn prevents alcohol being consumed on trains. The byelaws also permit train companies and the police to remove disorderly passengers from trains and stations as well as prosecute for antisocial behaviour.

Railways: Concessions

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will hold discussions with representatives of the train operating companies to consider the provision of free travel for the unemployed in order to attend job interviews. [269754]

Paul Clark: Discussions on this subject have already taken place, along with other fiscal stimulus ideas. At present no firm proposals have been developed.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance is issued to local highways authorities on reduction of guardrail street clutter on road crossings. [270104]

Paul Clark: This month the Department for Transport published Local Transport Note 2/09 Pedestrian Guardrailing, which provides guidance for local highway authorities on the provision and removal of pedestrian guardrail at locations such as road crossings. In March
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last year the Department published Local Transport Note 1/08 Traffic Management and Streetscape, which provides more general guidance on how local highway authorities can minimise street clutter when designing traffic management schemes. Both publications are available via the Department's website.

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