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The European Aviation Safety Agency drafts common safety rules in the fields in which it has competence, namely airworthiness and air operations. These rules, once formally adopted through Community procedures, are legally binding across the EU. In some areas of regulation, such as the type certification of aircraft, the agency implements the rules itself, but in most areas they are implemented and enforced by the member states' national aviation authorities (NAAs)the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the level of safety standards in the helicopter fleet servicing the UK offshore oil and gas industry; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The safety of the helicopter fleet servicing the UK offshore oil and gas industry is regulated by independent aviation safety regulators the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is investigating the fatal accident to a Super Puma helicopter, which occurred on 1 April. EASA and the CAA have closely followed the progress of the investigation and have introduced mandatory safety intervention measures, which required operators of the Super Puma helicopters to inspect and modify their aircraft. The CAA is confident that these measures are sufficient to maintain aviation safety in the light of the information available to date. Should the AAIB investigation reveal additional information, EASA and the CAA will examine that information and consider whether further steps are required.
Mr. Hoon: The Department for Transport reviews assets and land and property holdings on an ongoing basis. As and when appropriate any land or property holdings deemed surplus are promptly identified and disposed of in accordance with business needs.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many officials in his Department are suspended; how many are suspended on full pay; for how long each has been suspended; and what the reasons are for each such suspension. 
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The driving theory test contains three questions relating to first aid. These questions are drawn from two categories: Accident Handling and First Aid. Each candidate is asked two questions on accident handling and one on first aid.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has negotiated a price for the provision of a customer-facing service with the Post Office. The Post Office procured a new computer system through a third party supplier for the provision of the DVLA service and services to other customers. The Post Office shared some of these costs with the agency during negotiations. These costs may not be disclosed as they are commercial in confidence.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will undertake an investigation of the likely effect of dualling the Exeter to Yeovil railway line on (a) demand for services on the line, (b) the environment and (c) the economy of the south-west. 
Paul Clark: Network Rail is already doubling the track at Axminster between Exeter and Yeovil to enable more frequent services to operate. The 2006 rail industry study identified this work would suffice to meet predicted demand for services on the line up to 2017.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport on what dates since 1 January 2007 (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have had (i) discussions and (ii) meetings with representatives of Flying Matters. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: I gave a short address to a Flying Matters round table on The Developing World, Air Freight and Climate Change on 31 March 2008. The organisation represents a broad coalition of bodies who have an interest in supporting sustainable growth in aviation, including the business community, trade unions, tourism bodies as well as airlines, airports, aerospace manufacturers and others in the industry. In the course of business Ministers regularly have meetings with stakeholders from these organisations, as do officials.
Specific official level contact with Flying Matters comprised meetings on 5 May 2007 and 5 February 2009 on a range of aviation issues and brief discussions in late 2007 and early 2008 as part of a series of regular updates to a range of stakeholders on the progress of the Climate Change Bill.
Paul Clark: The current planned roadworks on the M42 are part of the roll-out of the Managed Motorways programme on the motorway box around Birmingham and its approaches. They comprise the installation of ATM between junctions 7 to 9, scheduled to be completed by December 2009, and MIDAS (Motorway Incident Detection System) between junctions 9 to 11, expected to be completed by early August 2009. The work is being carried out in sections within these locations.
It is not possible to guarantee that any motorway will be free of roadworks and lane closures as there will always be the possibility of emergency works, for example as a result of accidents or other unforeseen incidents.
Advance warning of any work taking place will normally be available on the Highways Agency's website, the Traffic England website and on strategic signing on potentially affected approach routes, allowing road users to plan their route accordingly.
Mr. Greg Knight:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons the current roadworks on
the M42 were not phased to take place after roadworks on the M1 motorway between Junctions 25 and 28 were concluded; and if he will make a statement. 
Paul Clark: To minimise disruption to road users, the Highways Agencys policy is to ensure, where possible, that concurrent roadworks are not carried out within six miles of each other. The M1 and M42 schemes comply with that policy, being over 19 miles apart.
Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the merits of registering off-road bikes with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to reduce levels of antisocial behaviour; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: An inter-departmental group led by the Home Office is keeping the matter under review. Its remit is to consider the issues around the off-road use of mini-motos and similar vehicles and to pool knowledge of how those issues are being addressed.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the transport priorities of regional development agencies take account of the results of consultation with transport users. 
Paul Clark: Regions have the opportunity to provide advice to Government on their investment priorities for transport, housing and regeneration, and economic development through regional funding advice.
The Government issued guidance on preparing regional funding advice in July 2008. This guidance stated that regional development agencies, regional assemblies, leaders forums and local government would all have a key role to play in developing the advice, and that sub-regional partners and cities should play a role in ensuring that the advice recognised the importance of developing functional economic areas. Furthermore, the guidance stated that the regional advice would be more credible if it was based on a wide consensus, and reflected the views of the broadest range of stakeholders, including the business community, social, environmental and economic partners, and the third sector. Regional partners were also encouraged to engage the public when gathering advice on regional priorities for development.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance he has issued to (a) local authorities and (b) regional development agencies on mechanisms for consultation with residents and other stakeholders on rail transport strategy. 
Paul Clark: We have not issued any specific guidance to either local authorities or regional development agencies on their mechanisms for consultation with residents and other stakeholders specifically on rail transport strategy. We issued draft guidance in December 2008 to local authorities on preparing local transport plans starting in 2011, which includes consultation on local transport generally.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to encourage an increase in travel to British seaside resorts by rail by (a) tourists and (b) business users. 
In addition, in line with the Department for Transport's Community Rail Development Strategy, a number of Community Rail Partnerships promote rail services to seaside resorts in their areas when this can enhance the viability of local rail services.
Paul Clark: The Department for Transport does not require the use of facial recognition technology on railway property. Along with other Departments, we are keeping this emerging technology under review. In future, it may have the potential to provide an additional tool to help protect the public. As with any such technology, however, its use for public protection would need to be proportionate and balanced with considerations of privacy. Any use would also need to be backed with appropriate safeguards and transparency for the public.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the proportion of journeys between Torbay and London undertaken by rail; and what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of such journeys. 
Paul Clark: The Department for Transport has the estimate of the number of journeys from and to Torbay as published in the National Rail Trends. In 2006-07 the number of journeys made was 788,000. However, the Department does not have any estimate of the journeys as a proportion of total between Torbay and London.
Our aim is to give people real choices about how they travel, which means we need both a reliable, well resourced railway and properly financed roads. Our policy is to make the most of existing capacity on both road and rail and that is where the majority of our investment is focused.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to alter the service level commitment of the First Great Western franchise agreement to increase the number of direct journeys between Paignton and London Paddington. 
Paul Clark: The Secretary of State currently has no plans to alter the service level commitment of First Great Western to increase the number of direct journeys between Paignton and London Paddington.
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