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Cruise Liner Terminals

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Davies of Oldham: Proposals to create cruise liner terminals are primarily matters for the private sector companies involved and we would only be formally aware of them if our statutory consent was required. At present we have been given notice of one such application, at Liverpool.

Rail Passenger Demand Forecasting

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House a copy of the Rail Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook, published by the Association of Train Operating Companies.[HL3289]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook contains commercially sensitive information, and holders are contractually obliged not to supply it to third parties, so a copy cannot be placed in the Library.

Drivers: Defective Eyesight

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will itemise and quantify the "cost and intrusion" mentioned by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey in Grand Committee on the Railways and Transport Safety Bill on 5 June (Official Report, col. GC 288) in connection with amendments about driving with uncorrected defective eyesight.[HL3317]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The "cost and intrusion" mentioned by my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey in Grand Committee on the Railways and Transport Safety Bill on 5 June cannot, of course, be itemised and quantified precisely at this stage. However, in terms of costs, if the amendments in relation to driving with uncorrected defective eyesight

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which were debated were to be accepted, drivers would be faced with bills for regular vision tests (the cost of these varies across the UK between £10 and £20) and with having to purchase two new pairs of spectacles or lenses whenever their prescription changed. The requirement for regular eyesight testing would generate a significant number of additional transactions at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and, given that the driver licensing system is required to be self-financing, the considerable cost involved in processing these would have to be met by all licence holders in higher licence application fees. The "intrusion" which my noble friend Lord McIntosh spoke of referred to the inconvenience that would be caused to the majority of drivers, who do not have defective eyesight and who would presumably be compelled to carry documentation confirming this.

Rural Bus Subsidy Grant

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent the rural bus service grant is meeting its aims.[HL3354]

Lord Davies of Oldham: Rural bus subsidy grant is fulfilling its primary purpose of improving access to services and facilities for those living in rural areas. Local authorities are supporting 1,900 new and improved rural bus services by means of the grant. About 21 million passenger journeys were made on those services in 2001–02. The grant has formed an important part of a package of support for rural transport which also includes support for projects under the Department for Transport's Rural Bus Challenge competition and the Countryside Agency's rural transport partnership and parish transport grant schemes.

The 2003 Budget Report announced that rural bus subsidy grant would be continued until 2005–06 with some modifications, including its extension to a wider range of demand responsive services.

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