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Written Answers to Questions

The following answers were received between Tuesday 1 September and Wednesday 9 September 2009

Prime Minister


Mr. Hurd: To ask the Prime Minister for what reasons the comment facility on his video on Parliamentary expenses reform posted to the Downing Street YouTube portal is not enabled. [289083]

The Prime Minister: It is not possible to post comments on any Downing street YouTube video. My Office does however receive and respond to many other comments each year through e-mails, letters, ePetitions, webchats and Twitter.


Mr. Hague: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will place in the Library a copy of each item of his correspondence with Colonel Gaddafi of Libya in which Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is mentioned; [290638]

(2) whether he discussed (a) commercial contracts for oil and gas and (b) Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi during his meeting with Colonel Gaddafi of Libya at the G8 summit in July 2009; and if he will place in the Library the record of the meeting. [290639]

The Prime Minister: A copy of my letter to Colonel Gaddafi of 20 August has been placed in the Libraries of the House. During my meeting with Colonel Gaddafi in July I did not discuss oil and gas contracts. I did raise the need for a more effective global dialogue between energy producing and consuming countries.

Leader of the House

Members: Allowances

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Leader of the House whether she plans to publish claims made under the additional cost allowance for 2004-05 by those who are no longer hon. Members; and if she will make it her policy to publish claims made by former hon. Members who are also prospective parliamentary candidates under the additional cost allowance during their period of service in the House. [290806]

Ms Harman: The publication of information relating to hon. Members' claims for additional costs allowance is a matter for the House of Commons Commission.

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Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what assessment the Highways Agency made of the effect on entry to and exit from the A14 for industrial units in Burton Latimer of the imposition of a Grampian condition on the sustainable urban extension to the east of Kettering; and what recent estimate the Highways Agency has made of daily traffic volumes on the A14 between junctions (a) 7 and 9 and (b) 9 and 10. [290886]

Chris Mole: In response to the Kettering East Planning Application, the Highways Agency has reviewed all the information provided by the developer in order to determine the impact of the proposals on the performance of the A14. This has included a review of the developer's proposals for access and egress onto/off the A14. This consists of replacing existing junction 10 with an enlarged junction, approximately 1 kilometre to the east of its current location.

The Agency's review of these proposals did not include an assessment of the implications of the junction improvements on the wider community including the industrial units at Burton Latimer, as this was not necessary at this stage. However, it is envisaged that the developer will carry this out as part of the statutory processes required for implementation of the access arrangements. These processes will also provide an opportunity for all parties, including the Highways Agency, to comment on the details of the proposals.

While the conditions the Agency has directed specifically relate to the access arrangements proposed to date, it is prepared to consider any other options put forward including the possibility of improving the junction in its current location. It should be noted, however, that the Agency would not accept an additional access onto the A14 in accordance with policy (Department for Transport Circular 02/2007) in particular safety and efficiency.

The Highways Agency's recent estimates of daily traffic volumes between junctions on the A14 are as follows:

Direction Junctions AADT( 1)















(1) AADT-Annual Average Daily Traffic, based on rolling year between June 2008 and May 2009.

Air Travel Organiser's Licensing Protection Contribution

Mr. Bone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) what the level of the Air Travel Organiser's Licensing Protection contribution will be once the Air Travel Trust Fund deficit has been eliminated; [290770]

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(2) by what date he expects the deficit in Air Travel Trust Fund to be eliminated; and if he will make a statement. [290771]

Chris Mole: In his written statement of 16 July 2009, Official Report, column 82-83WS announcing an increase to the ATOL Protection Contribution (APC), the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Paul Clark) explained that

"The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) intend to review the rate of the APC before the Air Travel Trust fund (ATTF) moves into surplus, projected to be by the spring of 2012."

A summary of responses to the CAA's consultation on increasing the APC and a copy of the CAA's advice to the Secretary of State are available in the House Library.

Aviation: Passengers

Mr. Brady: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent assessment his Department has made of the likely effect on air passenger numbers at (a) Heathrow Airport and (b) regional airports of the introduction of high-speed train services between London and the North. [290746]

Chris Mole: High Speed Two (HS2) Ltd. has been formed to help develop the case for high speed services between London and Scotland, and will report to Government by the end of the year. As part of its work HS2 will be assessing passenger demand for high speed rail services, including the likely number of passengers attracted from aviation. We are, however, satisfied that the case for new runway capacity at Heathrow remains strong, given projections of future demand for long-haul air traffic which cannot readily be served by rail.

Blue Badge Scheme

Mr. Brady: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will make it his policy to extend the Blue Badge scheme for disabled parking to people suffering from colitis, Crohn's disease and similar conditions. [290743]

Chris Mole: In October 2008 the Department for Transport published the Comprehensive Blue Badge (Disabled Parking) Reform Strategy which outlined a number of changes to the scheme, including our intention to extend eligibility to certain groups of people whose level of disability imposes severe limitations on their personal mobility and safety. Whilst colitis, Crohn's disease and similar conditions were considered for eligibility during the development of the Reform Strategy, it was decided that the Blue Badge scheme would not be extended to people affected by these conditions and there are no plans to alter this.

British Railways Board Residuary: Manpower

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how many people have been employed by the British Railways Board Residuary in each year since 1997; and what the (a) income and (b) expenditure of that body has been in each such year. [290634]

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Chris Mole: British Railways Board Residuary (BRBR) Ltd was formed in February 2001. The income, expenditure and headcount information for the period since BRBR's creation is shown in the following table:

£ million

Income Operating expenditure Employees (FTE)( 1)

































(1) Full time equivalent

Crossrail: Expenditure

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport how much his Department has spent on preparation for Crossrail; and what estimate he has made of (a) the likely expenditure by (a) June 2010 and (b) any required expenditure after June 2010 in the event that the project is cancelled. [290635]

Chris Mole: Expenditure on preparation for Crossrail prior to the signature of the core agreements for the scheme in December 2008 was £175 million. This figure includes the costs incurred by Crossrail Ltd in support of the Crossrail Act 2008 and related agreements, and the Department for Transport's financial, legal and technical consultancy fees in support of the parliamentary process and agreements.

By June 2010 it is estimated that expenditure by Crossrail Ltd in support of the delivery of the project will have reached £1,550 million. This includes the costs of land and property expenditure and the costs of consultancy services procured by the Department to support the programme.

There are no precise estimates as to how much expenditure would be required if the project were to be cancelled; this is contingent on a number of different factors, including contractual commitments and potential income from land no longer required.

Crossrail Ltd is jointly funded by the Department and Transport for London.

Driving Offences

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what plans he has to provide for the police to issue on-the-spot fines to motorists for (a) careless driving and (b) other road traffic offences for which offenders are prosecuted. [290728]

Chris Mole: The Road Safety Compliance Consultation, published in November 2008 sought views on proposals for measures to improve compliance levels with key road safety laws. This included a proposal to allow for fixed penalties for certain categories of careless driving. The consultation ended on 27 February 2009 and all responses are being carefully considered.

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The Department for Transport will announce its response to the consultation and the measures it intends to take forward, including on careless driving, alongside the new Road Safety Strategy later this year.

Both VOSA and the police already have the ability to issue on-the-spot fines for certain road traffic offences.

Driving Under Influence

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the merits of reducing the drink-drive limit from its current levels. [290727]

Chris Mole: The Department for Transport's Road Safety Compliance consultation document explains that we are keeping the present limit under review and have work in hand to improve available evidence needed to assess the potential road safety effect of a lower limit. We have also said that we intend to review the new evidence in the course of finalising the Government's Road Safety Strategy beyond 2010, to be published later this year.

Heathrow Airport

Simon Hughes: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether his Department has revised its net present value estimate for a new runway and terminal at Heathrow airport to take account of the new methodology for carbon pricing in appraisals provided by the Department for Energy and Climate Change. [290897]

Chris Mole: The assessment of the economic case presented in Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport Impact Assessment followed the guidance on the shadow price of carbon, issued by DEFRA following the Stern Review. In developing the Impact Assessment, the Department for Transport considered the potential impact of significantly higher values and concluded that the economic case remained robust.

However, no revised net present value estimate for a new runway and terminal at Heathrow airport that takes account of the new carbon values published in July 2009 by the Department for Energy and Climate Change is available.

Preliminary work since the January Heathrow decision indicates that the economic case for Heathrow's third runway is robust to the new carbon values.

The Department for Transport currently expects to publish the next generation of air passenger demand forecasts in 2010.

Highways Agency: Ragwort

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps the Highways Agency is taking to remove ragwort from (a) the roadside and (b) other land for which the Highways Agency is responsible. [290684]

Chris Mole: Ragwort is a difficult plant to control and requires a long-term and systematic approach as the seeds can remain dormant in the ground for over 20 years.

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The Highways Agency dedicates significant resources to its control each year. It is not possible to eradicate ragwort entirely because plants can spread from adjoining land. The Agency's service providers are required to follow the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs code of practice as well as Agency specific guidance, to control ragwort at the roadside and on other Agency owned land. Control measures, which include the use of herbicides, are particularly targeted at locations where livestock is most at risk.

Year round monitoring is undertaken to identify the location of ragwort plants, so that control measures can be used when most effective, and not just during the flowering season. Adjacent landowners are informed where ragwort is present, to encourage them to introduce their own measures of control.

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