Written Answers 11 to 15 January 2010

Monday 11 January 2010

Driving
Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what mechanisms are in place to ensure that staff who drive (a) a vehicle for which (i) his Department and (ii) one of its Executive agencies is responsible have valid driving licences and (b) their own vehicles in the course of their official duties for (A) his Department and (B) one of its Executive agencies have valid driving licences and insurance; what guidance is issued to those staff in respect of road safety while carrying out official duties; what steps are taken to monitor compliance with that guidance; what requirements there are on such staff to report to their line managers accidents in which they are involved while driving in the course of their official duties; and whether such reports are investigated. [302175]

Dan Norris: The core-Department’s Driving Policy and Guidance applies to all driving and travel by staff on official DEFRA business. It covers the Marine Fisheries Agency and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate also. Other DEFRA departmental bodies should have their own equivalent arrangements in place in line with DEFRA’S Safety Policy signed off by the permanent secretary.

Individual employees must follow all procedures and guidance extant to keep them safe and healthy while driving and travelling on DEFRA business. They must have:

(i) a full valid UK driving licence for a properly taxed vehicle and appropriate motor insurance;

(ii) obtained a driving permit from the relevant official vehicle manager if using a DEFRA owned vehicle or, hiring a car from a car hire company;

(iii) submit their driving licence, insurance, MOT documents and proof of vehicle tax details to their manager on request annually as part of the risk assessment process applicable to driving on official business. Managers are responsible for ensuring compliance with this risk assessment requirement; and

(iv) report motoring convictions, offences, accidents and incidents.

Senior managers must, in accordance with the DEFRA Safety Policy, ensure compliance with this policy in areas within their span of control. This includes provision of budget for appropriate training where identified and nominating a named person or persons to co-ordinate risk assessments for driving and travel activities within their control. They are required to ensure the safe and efficient operation of vehicles used on official business.

Drivers must observe all legal requirements with regard to reporting accidents. All incidents and accidents (including near misses) that occur on an official journey must be reported to the departmental health and safety unit (DHSU). Accidents or incidents involving a pool or Private Use Scheme car must also be reported to core-DEFRA’s travel liaison unit and the contracted supplier for accidents and breakdowns.

Managers must ensure reporting of all accidents, injuries or near misses, monitor the effectiveness of preventative measures by investigating accidents and near misses, carry out initial investigations, and review local risk assessments, following accidents, incidents and near misses, keep appropriate records of documentation checks, and request copies of vehicle check lists from individual drivers at regular intervals.

The DHSU monitor accident/incident reports to identify trends, advise managers where requested and investigate accidents and incidents if so requested, arrange training as necessary, keep a central log of completed risk assessments and regularly audit completed risk assessments.

Electric Vehicles
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Minister for the Olympics whether she plans to allocate funds for the installation of electric car charging points in the construction site of the Olympic village. [308481]

Tessa Jowell: The Athletes’ Village plans and budget include electric car charging points which will remain after the games as part of London 2012’s sustainable legacy.

Departmental Legislation
Chris Huhne: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what criminal offences have been (a) created and (b) abolished by secondary legislation sponsored by his Department since 1 May 2008. [307794]

Chris Mole: A table setting out the title of each piece of secondary legislation creating an offence within the scope of the question, the number of offences created by that piece of legislation and a general description of the offences is listed as follows.

More detail about the offences created and information about offences that have been abolished (other than in respect of the revocation of the Air Navigation Order 2005 (see as follows)) could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Offences contained in the Air Navigation Order 2005 were abolished when that Order was replaced by the Air Navigation Order 2009 (see the entry for the Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2009 in the table).

While all reasonable efforts have been made by the Department to ascertain what offences have been created by secondary legislation since 1 May 2008, it is impossible to guarantee that every new offence has been noted in the enclosed table without incurring disproportionate cost in terms of officials’ time. For example: where an instrument extends an existing provision to cover a new situation it might not be apparent that an offence was involved without further research and this would require a significant amount of time.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm100111/text/100111w0006.htm

Motor Vehicles: Safety
Tim Farron: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what regulations govern requirements about the location of lights on vehicles to demonstrate the dimensions of the vehicle. [310124]

Paul Clark: The location of lights, including those to indicate the dimensions of vehicles, is set out in the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989.

In general vehicles must have front and rear position lights fitted within 400 mm of the edge of the vehicle. (For trailers, however, only those above a certain width are required to have front position lamps.) Larger vehicles must also be fitted with end outline marker lamps, and side marker lamps to indicate their width, length and height.

Taxis: Licensing
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport (1) what plans he has to reduce the number of unlicensed minicab drivers; [309439]

(2) what estimate has been made of the number of unlicensed minicab drivers operating in each of the last four years. [309440]

Mr. Khan: In order to offer a private hire vehicle (PHV) service lawfully in England (outside London), the operator, the driver and the vehicle must be licensed by the relevant local authority under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976. It is a matter for local licensing authorities to ensure vehicles are licensed in the correct manner, to make assessments of the extent of illegal operation in their area and take appropriate enforcement action where necessary. We do not keep a central record of any such assessments. The Department for Transport issues guidance to local authorities in this respect.

National Policy Statements: Transport
Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when he expects to publish the National Policy Statement on transport infrastructure. [309796]

Mr. Khan: I have been asked to reply.

We expect to publish for consultation a draft National Policy Statement for national networks (strategic roads and railways, including strategic rail freight interchanges) early this year, and a draft National Policy Statement for airports in 2011.

Driving Offences: Disqualification
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment he has made of the merits of making driving whilst disqualified an offence triable either-way. [308214]

Claire Ward: We have not considered making the offence of driving while disqualified triable either way.

Driving Under Influence: Gloucestershire
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what proportion of drivers convicted of offences of driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Gloucestershire were (a) first-time offenders and (b) had two or more convictions in each year since 1999. [309137]

Claire Ward: The figures requested are in the following table and cover a range of offences related to driving under the influence of drink or drugs and failing to provide a specimen. The table shows the number of offenders with previous convictions for any of these offences. Figures for 1999 are not available.

These figures have been drawn from the police’s administrative IT system, the police national computer (PNC), which, as with any large scale recording system, is subject to possible errors with data entry and processing. The figures are provisional and subject to change as more information is recorded by the police.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmhansrd/cm100111/text/100111w0029.htm#10011154000010

Tuesday 12 January 2010

A519
Mr. Cash: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps he has taken to provide sufficient safety measures on the A519 at Slindon. [309865]

Paul Clark: The A519 is a local road and the responsibility of Staffordshire county council. I understand that the county council have recently undertaken speed surveys along this stretch of highway which indicate that no enforcement action is necessary. As part of the national review of speed limits on A and B roads, the A519 through Slindon will undergo a review commencing in April 2010.

Driving under Influence
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what timetable has been set for the (a) publication of and (b) Government response to the review by Sir Peter North of proposed changes to the legislative regime for drink and drug driving. [309461]

Paul Clark: Sir Peter North has been asked to report by 31 March. The Department for Transport will then consult on his findings and will then publish the final road safety strategy. The date for publishing the report and the strategy will be decided in light of Sir Peter’s findings.

Roads: Safety
Mr. Soames: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport if he will issue guidance to local authorities on best practice in dealing with the effects of extreme weather conditions on UK roads. [310505]

Mr. Khan: The Government endorse the UK Roads Liaison Group’s (UKRLG) code of practice on highways maintenance management, “Well-maintained Highways”, which already includes recently-updated guidance on winter service and other extreme weather events. The code is available free from:

www.ukroadsliaisongroup.org

On the specific issue of managing salt distribution for keeping local roads clear, we are working with salt suppliers, the Local Government Association and the Highways Agency to prioritise the use of salt, to ensure salt reaches those most in need.

It is up to local highways authorities to decide what measures to take in response to the severe weather conditions.

Driving
Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what mechanisms are in place to ensure that staff who drive (a) a vehicle for which (i) his Department and (ii) one of its executive agencies is responsible have valid driving licences and (b) their own vehicles in the course of their official duties for (A) his Department and (B) one of its executive agency have valid driving licences and insurance; what guidance is issued to those staff in respect of road safety while carrying out official duties; what steps are taken to monitor compliance with that guidance; what requirements there are on such staff to report to their line managers accidents in which they are involved while driving in the course of their official duties; and whether such reports are investigated. [302165]

Mr. Woolas: The Home Office policy on fleet management and operations, including the use of private
vehicles, requires that all staff present their driving licences for checking at least once per annum. This is shortly to be increased to a twice per annum check.

Where official vehicles are used then the Home Office self-insures these as permitted under the Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 143. Where private vehicles are used then staff members must have management approval to drive on official business and must present a valid insurance certificate which provides indemnity against all third party claims arising for injury or death of third parties or damage to property.

Home Office policy, currently managed by HM Prison Service but transferring in to Home Office this month, requires that any staff involved in an accident must report the facts to their line manager within 24 hours. All accidents are required to be investigated at local business unit level.

Staff are advised of their requirement to comply with current legislation with regard to driving through policy and a driver safety leaflet is provided to business units to issue to drivers.

Home Office policy on driving at work is currently under review and is being revised to maintain its currency with legislation.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

M6
Mr. Timpson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what progress has been made on the review of road safety between junctions 15 and 19 of the M6 motorway. [310065]

Chris Mole [holding answer 11 January 2010]: The Highways Agency has reviewed road safety between Junctions 15 and 19 of the M6, and other adjacent sections of the motorway, as part of its overall Annual Safety Report. This report has recommended further investigations at various locations along the motorway. The Highways Agency has also launched a number of targeted educational campaigns and other initiatives aimed at improving road safety along this and other sections of the motorway.

Roads: Snow and Ice
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of provision of grit and salt to treat roads and pavements during very cold weather periods; and what the sources are of salt used for such road treatments. [309987]

Mr. Khan: The Government have convened a group called the ‘Salt Cell’, bringing together the Department for Transport, the devolved Administrations (Scotland and Wales), the Highways Agency, the Local Government Association (LGA), County Surveyors Society, Met Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Cabinet Office.

The aim of the Salt Cell is to provide advice to suppliers on the most effective distribution of available salt supplies in order to minimise the risk to public safety. The Salt Cell is continuously gathering and assessing salt stock and resilience levels and is working hard to ensure the delivery of salt goes to where it is needed most.

There are three significant salt mines within the UK. There are also three major salt merchants that import salt as well as supply UK produced salt. There are other salt merchants and businesses which supply relatively small quantities of salt.

Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport on what date the Salt Cell became operational. [310553]

Mr. Khan: The Salt Cell became operational on the 6 January 2010 in order to respond to the current severe weather conditions.

Roads: Advertising Hoardings
Question asked by Lord Lloyd-Webber

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many road accidents are attributed each year to distractions caused by advertising beside major roads. [HL1066]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The information requested is not collected by the Department for Transport.

Thursday 14 January 2010

Driving
Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what mechanisms are in place to ensure that staff who drive (a) a vehicle for which (i) her Department and (ii) one of its executive agencies is responsible have valid driving licences and (b) their own vehicles in the course of their official duties for (A) her Department and (B) one of its executive agencies have valid driving licences and insurance; what guidance is issued to those staff in respect of road safety while carrying out official duties; what steps are taken to monitor compliance with that guidance; what requirements there are on such staff to report to their line managers accidents in which they are involved while driving in the course of their official duties; and whether such reports are investigated. [302176]

Jim Knight: In respect of staff driving a vehicle for which (i) the Department (ii) one of the Department’s executive agencies is responsible:

Before authority is given to use such a vehicle, the employee’s driving licence will be checked by their line manager to ensure they have a full current licence which is valid for the vehicle they will be using.

The manager must also ensure that there are no periods of disqualification in force. Details of the check must be recorded. The check should be carried out at least once per year. The manager should record details of the check as follows:

Driver name;

Date of licence check;

Disqualifications, if any; and

Date next check due.

Employees with endorsements for theft of vehicle or taking without consent (unauthorised taking) are not given permission to drive such vehicles.

An employee cannot drive any such vehicle if they are currently disqualified from driving or their licence is currently withdrawn.

Where staff who drive their own vehicles in the course of their official duties for (A) the Department and (B) one of the executive agencies for which the Department is responsible, the manager must ensure that the insurance conditions for the vehicle are satisfied.

Guidance to those staff in respect of road safety while carrying out official duties, is published on the Department’s intranet to inform drivers of road safety while carrying out official duties, and, for drivers of the fleet of leased vehicles provided for the use of staff of the Department and its executive agencies, additional road safety guidance is provided on the leasing company’s dedicated website.

Line managers must satisfactorily complete a work-related road safety checklist with an individual member of staff before approving an individual’s business journey for the first time. The line manager must review the checklist annually as a minimum.

In respect of what requirements there are on such staff to report to their line managers accidents in which they are involved while driving in the course of their official duties, drivers must report all accidents involving vehicles while on official business to their line managers.

In addition, where accidents occur in a vehicle provided for the driver, the driver must report the accident to the vehicle provider.

In terms of whether such reports are investigated, in the case of vehicles provided for the driver, vehicle providers have in place their own mechanisms for accident and claims management.

In the case of staff driving their own vehicles, the staff member’s own insurance company would handle accident and claims.

Motorways: Accidents
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what (a) research and (b) trial work his Department has undertaken for the purposes of improving the provision of information to drivers on the motorway network on incidents on their routes in the last five years; and what assessment he made of the outcomes of such work. [309473]

Chris Mole: The Highways Agency has undertaken a number of trials and carried out research regarding a number of its information services. These include:

Traffic England Website

Prior to the new website being launched in April 2009, customer panels were held to test the functionality and understanding of the new site. Following this feedback, changes were made to the design and functionality of the website.

Atlas Professional Website

(A website aimed at professional users such as Travel News Media) The Highways Agency recently carried out an evaluation of this website with users via an online questionnaire. The Agency also asked users for their comments on new functionality that could be offered on this site, which were received positively and this site is due to be refreshed with new functionality later this year.

Variable Message Signs (VMS)

The Agency undertakes National Road Users Satisfaction Surveys on a regular basis which includes questions regarding the accuracy of messages shown on our VMS regarding incidents ahead and these results are used to inform improvements to accuracy of messages. In addition, we also seek feedback about whether road users receive sufficient information about incidents and how they receive this information. This is then fed back to our teams to improve the way information is disseminated.

Travel Times on Variable Message Signs (TTVMS)

This service was trialled on sections of the motorway network from July 2006 until September 2007. Following customer surveys the majority of respondents thought showing travel and delay time messages was a good idea, found them useful and easy to read and understand. Following this, TTVMS was implemented across the whole HA network.

Highways Agency Information Points

A Highways Agency Information Point (HAIP) is a real-time system, providing road users with a unique platform for receiving information on the state of the road network ahead. An initial HAIP prototype was trialled at Hopwood Services on the M42 in 2005, following this success further HAIPs were installed across motorway service areas and truck stops. Following research into drivers’ reactions to HAIPs, they have now been updated and now contain a non-interactive single display system.

Traffic Radio

Spoken information service trials took place during 2005 and 2007 and this demonstrated the viability of a ‘dip in/dip out’ radio service providing constantly updated traffic information on a national and regional basis.

CCTV

A partnership trial with two companies, MxData and the BBC was held in 2006. The Highways Agency created two accounts to access the existing HANET service allowing each organisation to take, store and forward images to the public. During the trial period, a report from MxData showed an overwhelming positive response

Roads: Accidents
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what research into the effectiveness of traffic policing in reducing numbers of casualties on the roads his Department has commissioned in the last five years [309431]

Paul Clark: In 2007 the Department for Transport published a research report on the development of a database to examine the relationship between road policing activity and accident reduction available at

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme2/roadpolicingaccidentreduction/

Roads: Preston
Mr. Hendrick: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what the percentage change in the number of (a) deaths and (b) serious injury as a result of road accidents has been in Preston between 1997 and the most recent year for which information is available. [311071]

Paul Clark: The information requested is shown in the following table:

Reported killed and seriously injured road casualties Preston d istrict a uthority: 1997 and 2008

1997 2008 Percentage change
Killed
9
9
0

Seriously injured
156
103
-34
Roads: Salt
Mrs. Villiers: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport whether he has approved proposals to amend limits on drivers’ hours for the purposes of facilitating the distribution of salt and grit supplies. [310382]

Mr. Khan [holding answer 12 January 2010]: Ministers issued delegated authority prior to the Christmas period on a conditional basis to named senior officials to issue relaxations to the EU drivers’ hours rules for the distribution of road salt.

However, a request was not submitted to the Department for Transport by industry until 7 January. A relaxation to the enforcement of the EU drivers’ hours rules was issued and notified to stakeholders on the same afternoon under the delegated authority provided to officials.

The driving time limits and duty limits for ‘gritters’, which fall in scope of the domestic drivers’ hours rules, can be automatically suspended in emergency events such as severe and prolonged adverse weather conditions. Local authorities are aware of this provision and are using it, where absolutely necessary, accordingly.

 

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