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3 Mar 2011 : Column WA355



3 Mar 2011 : Column WA355

Written Answers

Thursday 3 March 2011

Buses

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Department for Transport is encouraging joint working between operators and local authorities to secure a high level of punctuality for passengers. The department is promoting an approach based on the development of bus punctuality partnerships. The Bus Partnership Forum, the main stakeholder group for the bus industry chaired by my honourable friend Norman Baker MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, recently discussed how to encourage punctuality partnerships to deliver results at the local level.

The department is discussing with the Traffic Commissioners and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency changes to the monitoring and enforcement of bus punctuality so that it complements the partnership approach. The changes are intended to give greater weight to prevention than hitherto has been the case.

Disabled People: Blue Badges

Questions

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The Government set the legal framework for the Blue Badge scheme. Either local authorities or the police are responsible for its enforcement. The Government do not investigate Blue Badge fraud, however, on 14 February the Government announced a package of measures designed to facilitate enforcement by local authorities, including improved legal powers.

Asked by Lord Bradshaw



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Earl Attlee: It is estimated that there were 2.55 million valid Blue Badges in circulation on 31 March 2010.

The Blue Badge scheme is administered by local authorities and there are no national-level statistics on fraud, forgery or misuse relating to Blue Badges. However, the Department for Transport estimates that detected badge fraud could cost local authorities up to £7 million per annum and the National Fraud Authority has estimated that total badge fraud could cost as much as £46 million per annum. This is one reason why the Government announced on 14 February a package of reforms designed to improve enforcement of the scheme.

Energy: Biofuels

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: The rate of excise duty for biodiesel produced from used cooking oil is £0.20 per litre less than the rate of duty for ultra low sulphur diesel. This 20p tax differential was introduced on 1 April 2010 and is set to run for a period of two years.

The renewable energy directive provides additional support for biofuels from waste, including used cooking oil, by double counting the contribution they make towards national targets. We will be consulting soon on proposals to implement the renewable energy directive.

The department has commissioned work to assess likely scenarios for the availability of biofuels through to 2050; this research includes biodiesel from used cooking oil. The research is due to complete this spring and will be published on the department's website.

International Planned Parenthood Federation

Questions

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool



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Baroness Verma: The Department for International Development (DfID) has provided unrestricted funding to International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) UK through a programme partnership arrangement (PPA) since 2008. The strategic objectives and specific, measurable performance indicators for the PPA were developed in partnership between DfID and IPPF UK. The PPA is designed to support activities in developing countries, as covered by the International Development Act. IPPF UK provides annual narrative reports on progress against agreed objectives.

DfID also provides £4,999,999 funding to IPPF through the Governance and Transparency Fund (GTF) for the period 2008-13. This project supports work in 12 countries in Latin America, Central Asia and eastern Europe, and is managed by a consortium led by IPPF Western Hemisphere Region in partnership with IPPF European Network. DfID receives annual narrative reports for the GTF funded projects.

DfID has not funded affiliates of the International Planned Parenthood Federation including the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which is a non-grant receiving member association of IPPF. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has not received DfID funding either directly or indirectly for use in the United States.

Overseas Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Bates

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): The table below gives details for countries in which the Government are providing support in the current financial year.

Type of supportCountry

(a) Humanitarian Aid

Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Chile, Eritrea, Burma, Haiti, Yemen, Chad, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania, Pakistan, Iraq, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Eritrea, Niger and Zimbabwe.

(b) Mediation

Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, India, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, South Africa, Sudan, Somalia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cote d'Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Liberia, Angola, Nigeria, Yemen, Lebanon, Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Moldova, Kosovo.



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The lists include both conflict and non-conflict affected countries as the Government do not maintain an unclassified list of countries that they consider to be affected by conflict.

The Government also provide humanitarian and mediation support through, for example, multilateral organisations such as the United Nations (UN), and military support to a range of conflict-affected countries through their commitments to UN, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, European Union (EU) and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe international peacekeeping missions.

Ports

Question

Asked by Lord Empey

Earl Attlee: There are around 90 trust ports in the United Kingdom. The second edition of Modernising Trust Ports, the Department for Transport's guidance to the sector, contains a list of trust ports in Britain. It is available on the department's website: http://www.dft. gov.uk/pgr/shippingports/ports/trust/goodgovernancesecondedition.pdf.

Railways: Channel Tunnel

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

Earl Attlee: Under The Channel Tunnel (International Arrangements) Order 2005 economic regulation of the Channel Tunnel is carried out by the Channel Tunnel Intergovernmental Commission assisted in the United Kingdom, as required, by the independent Office of Rail Regulation.

Railways: Closures

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Lord Shutt of Greetland: We appreciate that passengers will have been disappointed by the decision made by Deutsche Bahn, the owners of the Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway (WSMR), to cease operations on the line, but we welcome its statement that it is actively seeking alternative employment for its staff.



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WSMR is an open access operator, run as a commercial entity and is not part of the franchised rail network. The decision to close the business was for its owners rather than Government. While passengers travelling from some stations will lose direct services into London Marylebone, alternative services are available, which are being advertised through WSMR's website.

WSMR has announced that passengers who already have WSMR tickets will be able to use them to travel with other operators.

We are currently consulting on the future shape of the InterCity West Coast franchise ahead of its re-letting in April 2012 and welcome views, as part of this consultation, on running services to the areas served by WSMR.

WSMR currently has track access rights to run the services from Marylebone to Wrexham for the period up to December 2014. However, once it ceases running these services, any operator, either passenger or freight, may apply for the rights to run trains on these paths. It is a matter for the Office of Rail Regulation to determine the most appropriate use of the paths available.

Railways: Compensation

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Under the National Rail Conditions of Carriage, which are binding on all passenger train operators, compensation for delayed trains must be paid in travel vouchers (valid on services provided by all train operators). Train operators may use a more flexible method of compensation at their discretion.

Roads: Bus Lanes

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

Earl Attlee: The M4 bus lane was suspended from December 2010 for a trial period of 18 months. It will be reinstated as part of the transport arrangements for the 2012 Olympics, as part of the Olympic Delivery Authority's planned traffic management measures on this section of the Olympic Route Network. Sufficient data should be collected during the trial to inform the final decision about the future of the bus lane. If this supports the permanent removal of the M4 bus lane, then a revocation order will be made for commencement after the Olympics and Paralympics in autumn 2012. The speed limit will be reviewed as part of this process.



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Schools: Academies

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): Local authorities will have a strong, strategic role in relation to education and children's services, acting as a champion for parents, families and vulnerable pupils, in the new schools system. They already have an important role in identifying schools that would benefit from becoming academies and we anticipate that, as academy status spreads, local authorities will increasingly move to a strategic commissioning and oversight role.

Schools: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): The dedicated schools grant (DSG) is distributed by the department through a single guaranteed unit of funding per pupil for each local authority. It is for the local authority to decide how much funding it delegates to the maintained schools in its area. Each local authority in consultation with its schools forum has a funding formula that it has designed to cater for the needs of its own area.

Overall, the city of Manchester received £350.8 million of revenue funding for schools in 2010-11, including DSG and other specific grants for schools. For 2010-11, the authority's DSG funding per pupil was £4,919.11. For 2011-12, the DSG funding per pupil will be £5,875.61, including £956.50 for specific grants that have been mainstreamed into the DSG. The final DSG allocations for local authorities will be based on the January 2011 pupil count and will be published in summer 2011.

The pupil premium is additional to the DSG. The level of the premium will be £430 per pupil and will be the same for every deprived pupil, no matter where they live. Using data from January 2010 this would be worth an additional £9.9 million for the city of Manchester. The actual amount allocated may, however, be higher or lower than that since we will use data from January 2011 when they are available.

South Wales Police

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird



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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): This information is not held centrally. Appointments and renewals are a matter for the relevant police authority.

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Neville-Jones: This information is not held centrally and is a matter for the South Wales Police Authority.

Transport: Appraisals

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

Earl Attlee: Decisions on the projects detailed were supported by information on scheme impacts assessed using the NATA framework. Estimates of the benefit-cost ratio (BCR) used in this assessment were adjusted to account for the impact of wider impacts, reliability, landscape and higher CO2 values consistent with

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Department of Energy and Climate Change's latest advice. Benefit-cost ratios were also adjusted in line with draft departmental guidance on the treatment of indirect tax revenues, specifically the impact on fuel duty revenue to the Treasury. No modification was made in regard to the aggregation and valuation of small time-savings.

Wreck Removal Convention Bill

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

Earl Attlee: The powers in the Wreck Removal Convention Bill are proposed to take effect only when the Nairobi International Convention for the Removal of Wrecks comes into force. Under the terms of the convention, and in line with the polluter pays principle, it is expected that all costs to the state incurred in locating, marking and removal of wrecks should be recoverable where the convention applies.

In the situation described, where the wreckage does not pose a hazard to navigation nor is likely to do so, the Secretary of State would direct the General Lighthouse Authorities only if he determined that they were the organisations best placed to locate, mark or remove wreckage which could reasonably be expected to result in major harmful consequences to the marine environment, or damage to the coastline or related interests.


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