PQs 15th – 25th April

UN Decade of Action for Road Safety
12. Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to support the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety. [153164]
Stephen Hammond: The Government’s contribution to the UN Decade for Action is set out in our Strategic Framework for Road Safety. We are tackling road safety by improving enforcement of drug driving and careless driving; launching a new motorcycle safety campaign; and bringing forward proposals for improved young driver safety.
As part of the UN’s Road Safety Week in May, the Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales (Mr McLoughlin) is speaking at a PACTS event on pedestrian safety.
Electric Vehicles
 
Katy Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what position the Government will adopt at the Council of the European Union on the mandatory installation of acoustic vehicle alerting systems on quiet hybrid and electric vehicles. [150649]
Norman Baker: During the early discussions in the Council Working Group, the Government supported the Commission’s proposal to allow vehicle manufacturers to voluntarily install acoustic vehicle alerting systems on electric and hybrid electric vehicles. Some member states are requesting this to be a mandatory requirement and I am considering currently whether to revise our negotiating approach in the light of these developments.
Bicycles: Hire Services
 
David Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to support public cycle hire schemes outside of London. [150627]
Norman Baker: We are already supporting cycle hire schemes through both the £600 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund and the £14.5 million fund made available to Train Operating Companies to improve cycle facilities at stations.
Driving: Licensing
 
Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will hold discussions with the (a) Ministry of Justice and (b) Association of Chief Police
16 Apr 2013 : Column 299W
Officers to work with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to provide 24-hour cover to enable the suspension with immediate effect of the licence of a driver deemed incapable of driving; and if he will make a statement. [150562]
Stephen Hammond: Following representations made by the hon. Gentleman, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) worked closely with the Association of Chief Police Officers to speed up the revocation of a driving licence where vision problems have been demonstrated.
The police now notify DVLA through a priority electronic mail facility and the licence revocation notices are being issued with 24 hours of receipt of the notification. Police notifications of other medical conditions are also fast tracked for immediate consideration.
Insurance
 
Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what outcomes were agreed at the insurance industry meeting held on Monday 25 March 2013; and how any such outcomes will be taken forward. [151482]
Stephen Hammond: The Government intend to issue a Green Paper later in the spring looking at a range of options for improving the safety of newly-qualified drivers and hold a further industry meeting following publication of that paper.
Road Signs and Markings
 
Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if his Department will consider including on matrix signs displaying information about poor visibility an instruction to drivers to use headlights; and if he will make a statement. [151565]
Stephen Hammond: The Highways Agency is in the process of updating its variable signs and signals policy to make additional variable message sign legends available to cover the use of headlights in circumstances where adverse weather reduces visibility.
Roads: Accidents
 
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to answer of 19 March 2013, Official Report, column 574W, on deaths: accidents: road, what assessment he has made of the reasons for the increase in deaths of (a) main roads and (b) B roads in 2010-11. [151410]
Stephen Hammond: I refer the hon. Member to the written answer from the then Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mike Penning), on 9 July 2012, Official Report, columns 73-74W.
Additional information is available on pages 5-6 of Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2011: Overview and trends in reported road casualties, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9274/rrcgb2011-01.pdf
Dementia
 
Oliver Colvile: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has a dementia strategy. [151834]
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport has no specific strategy for dementia. However, the Department recognises the importance of helping people live well with dementia.
The Accessibility Action Plan identifies the importance of working with transport operators on staff training and best practice regarding support for disabled passengers, for example travel training schemes, including those with dementia.
The plan can be found at the following website:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/accessibility-action-plan
Motorcycles
 
Steve Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the contribution of roadworthiness problems to motorcycle accidents. [151815]
Stephen Hammond: While no specific assessment has been made 1% of all motorcycles involved in accidents in GB in 2011 had at least one vehicle defect recorded as a contributory factor.
Electric Vehicles: Noise
 
Mr Buckland: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he has taken to ensure that quiet electric and hybrid buses funded by the Green Bus Fund can be detected by (a) guide dog owners and (b) other vulnerable pedestrians who rely on their hearing to safely cross the road. [151676]
Norman Baker: Whether to add noise to electric and hybrid electric vehicles is being considered in the context of the Regulation on vehicle noise currently being negotiated at a European level. Some member states are requesting this to be a mandatory requirement, and I am considering whether to revise our negotiating approach in the light of these developments.
Motor Vehicles: Testing
 
Mr Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on transposition into UK law of EU Commission Directive 2010/48/EU, relating to roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers. [151548]
Stephen Hammond: The UK Government’s approach to the transposition to Great Britain of EU Commission Directive 2010/48/EU has been to ensure the UK is compliant with the directive, while avoiding excessive and unnecessary regulation.
The transposition of Directive 2010/48/EU into the MOT test was completed in full and in this way on the 20 March 2013.
Steve Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the Government’s policy is on EU proposals for harmonised roadworthiness testing. [151814]
Stephen Hammond: The UK Government has agreed to a General Approach in the Council of the European Union to more harmonised periodic testing proposals. Negotiations are continuing to secure an effective approach which avoids unnecessary and costly burdens on UK businesses and motorists. I would also refer my hon. Friend to my written ministerial statements to the House of 18 December 2012, Official Report, columns 96-98WS, and 7 January 2013, Official Report, columns 10-12WS.
Roads: Accidents
 
Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road traffic accidents have been recorded on shared spaces in each of the last five years; and how many (a) motorist, (b) cyclist and (c) pedestrian deaths resulted from such accidents in that period. [152378]
Stephen Hammond: The information requested is not collected. The shared spaces cannot be identified in the reported personal injury road accident dataset.
Roads: Havering
 
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many fatalities there have been in the London borough of Havering in the last five years as a result of road traffic accidents involving (a) motorcyclists, (b) cyclists and (c) pedestrians. [152042]
Stephen Hammond: In the last five years in the London borough of Havering there have been the following numbers of fatalities in road traffic accidents:
(a) Six fatalities in accidents involving motorcycles, of which five were motorcyclists.
(b) No fatalities in accidents involving cyclists.
(c) Nine fatalities in accidents involving pedestrians, of which nine were pedestrians.
Motorcycles: Accidents
 
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to reduce motorcycle fatalities. [152258]
Stephen Hammond: The Government are aware that motorcyclists account for just 1% of the traffic on our roads but in 2012, they accounted for 19% of fatalities, so reducing this number is a key priority.
Our latest THINK! Motorcycle Safety Campaign, which began in March, reminds drivers to look out for motorcyclists—particularly at junctions—and to see the person behind the helmet and not just a motorbike.
In addition, as part of this Campaign, the THINK! team have worked with key motorcycling stakeholders and partners, including manufacturers, retailers, insurers and training organisations, in developing effective materials to communicate key messages to motorcyclists. These include promoting protective gear, post test training and defensive riding techniques.
The latest round of 11 motorcycle helmets rated under our ‘SHARP helmet safety scheme’ now brings the overall total to 300. With safety helmets across a wide price range scoring highly, all riders should be able to find a high performing helmet in a size and style that fits them, and at a price they want to pay.
Roads: Safety
 
Mr Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the suitability of shared space schemes for people with a (a) mobility impairment, (b) visual impairment, (c) hearing impairment and (d) cognitive impairment. [152380]
Norman Baker: It is for local authorities to assess the suitability of their own shared space schemes for all road users including people with mobility, visual, hearing and cognitive impairments.
In October 2011, the Department for Transport published guidance on the design and provision of shared space schemes. It focuses heavily on designing for disabled people in general with a particular emphasis on the needs of blind or partially sighted people.
The research underpinning the guidance included accompanied journeys and interviews with a number of different user types: drivers; non-disabled pedestrians; visually impaired pedestrians; mobility impaired pedestrians; pedestrians with learning difficulties; and pedestrians who are deaf or hard of hearing. This research provides independent evidence and an improved understanding of how different user types behave in shared space, and how this differs from behaviour in conventionally designed streets.
The guidance and the supporting research report are available online at:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/ltn-01-11
Road Maintenance
 
4. Mr Brian H. Donohoe (Central Ayrshire) (Lab): What plans he has for road maintenance funding. [153152]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): The Highways Agency, which is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in England, has a budget this financial year for some £750 million worth of highways maintenance, excluding the costs associated with private finance initiative projects. The Department is also providing £890 million this financial year to local highway authorities in England for highways maintenance. Funding for highways maintenance in Scotland is a matter for the Scottish Government.
Mr Donohoe: Across the whole United Kingdom, potholes are appearing in all our roads because of the cuts taking place. I remember my grandmother telling me, “A stitch in time saves nine.” It is for the Government to start believing that that is a good way forward for the maintenance of our roads. It is costing local government more money in compensation for cars in accidents as a result of potholes than it would for them to repair the roads.
Stephen Hammond: I would gently point out that before local authorities start suggesting that the problem is due to cuts in the maintenance budget, they should recognise the more than £3 billion that this Government are giving to maintenance over the life of this Government, the £200 million given in March 2011 for severe weather, and the extra money given at the last autumn statement. The potholes review has published a number of conditions that local councils ought to meet to ensure that they do indeed follow the “stitch in time saves nine” adage from the hon. Gentleman, rather than just putting a band aid solution in place.
Stephen Mosley (City of Chester) (Con): In Chester, potholes have been caused by the bad weather—the freezing rain and snow we have had over the past winter, which has been a bad one. What additional help can the Minister offer my local authority to help put right the damage caused by the weather?
Stephen Hammond: I would like to be able to control the weather, but of course I cannot. It is right that the Government recognise that the pothole damage has undoubtedly been caused by the weather. That is why the Chancellor announced additional funding in the autumn statement.
Jessica Morden (Newport East) (Lab): Will the Minister please clarify the rather confused briefing put out a few weeks ago on funding to help ease congestion on the M4 around Newport? We have had another incident this week, so it would be really useful to know what progress is being made.
Stephen Hammond: I am not sure where the confused briefing came from, but I assume that it must be the Welsh Government, because funding for the M4 around Newport is, as the hon. Lady knows, a matter for them.
Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): One of the lead stories on the BBC’s “Breakfast” this morning was about potholes. The National Audit Office calculates that it would be cheaper to repair our roads than to deal with the damage and injuries caused by potholes. Regardless of whether they are the result of the weather or the cuts, has the Minister had discussions with Treasury colleagues on trying to get additional funding to use those infrastructure projects to get the UK economy moving?
Stephen Hammond: I announced earlier the huge amount of money the Government are committing to highways maintenance. We have continual discussions with the Treasury on the money needed for that, and I am delighted that this Government’s settlement for highways maintenance has been better than that achieved by the previous Government. We remain committed to ensuring that potholes are repaired, and I remind local authorities of their obligations.
Road Signs
 
7. Pauline Latham (Mid Derbyshire) (Con): What steps he is taking to reduce sign clutter on roads. [153155]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): The Government are committed to reducing sign clutter. I recently wrote to English local authorities to encourage them to take action, and I have sponsored an award to encourage the reduction of sign clutter. The Department will be revising traffic sign regulations and general directions to provide local authorities with far more discretion about where and when they place traffic signs.
Pauline Latham: I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. On a recent visit to Vietnam, I noted that the communist Government there put up propaganda signs all over the place. Similarly, Derby city council puts up signs showing anti-Government propaganda. Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money?
Mr McLoughlin: I, too, regularly see those signs, and one must wonder why we are seeing such signs around Derby city at a time when the council is saying that it does not have enough money for other essential services, and when it has just increased council tax. That is unlike Derbyshire county council, which also serves my hon. Friend’s constituency but has had a 0% rise in council tax. That is an important message for the people of Derbyshire about where money is being spent.
Motorway Speed Limit
 
10. Sarah Champion (Rotherham) (Lab): What recent discussions he has had on increasing the motorway speed limit to 80 miles per hour; and if he will make a statement. [153159]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): Work is continuing to assess the potential economic, safety and environmental impacts of trialling 80 mph speed limits across a number of sites on the motorway network. It is important that decisions are made on the basis of sound evidence, and as part of that I have had discussions with a number of bodies.
Sarah Champion: The Highways Agency proposes to expand its managed motorways programme so that the hard shoulder between junctions 32 and 35A of the M1 will be used as a permanent traffic lane, with the scheme running 24 hours rather than at peak congestion times, as other schemes do. Does the Minister share my concern, and that of local authorities, South Yorkshire safer roads campaign, and South Yorkshire police, that that proposal, especially at 80 miles per hour, will create a real safety issue?
Mr McLoughlin: I am obviously willing to hear any representations about the managed motorway scheme that we are progressing. We have found that where we have managed motorways, we have a better flow of traffic and safer statistics overall for the use of that particular road. These are important matters and I am more than happy to discuss the issue with the hon. Lady. I assure her that we are trying to increase capacity for her constituents and other people who use that very important motorway.
Mr David Nuttall (Bury North) (Con): But does the Secretary of State agree that retaining a 70 mph limit on our motorways and not strictly enforcing it risks bringing the law into disrepute, and that it would be far better to have an 80 mph limit that is enforced?
Mr McLoughlin: My hon. Friend makes one of the many arguments for an increase. The 70 mph limit was set in 1965, and it is fair to say that, since then, there has been a great improvement overall in road safety, but I want to look at all those issues.
Mr John Leech (Manchester, Withington) (LD): The human cost in lives, the economic cost of infrastructure changes and the environmental impact of carbon emissions are surely all good enough reasons to rule out once and for all any increase in the speed limit.
Mr McLoughlin: As I said in the replies I have just given, I am not ruling that out—I am looking at it. The hon. Gentleman makes important arguments that go the other way. It is not a straightforward issue.
Station Accessibility
 
13. Mr Robin Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress he has made on improving station accessibility for disabled and infirm people. [153165]
Norman Baker: Under the Access for All programme 99 stations have received an accessible route since 2006 out of 155 projects due to be completed by 31 March 2015. More than 1,000 stations have also received more minor access improvements under the programme. A further £100 million has been made available to extend the programme until 2019.
This is in addition to access improvements being delivered by other major projects or by train operators and local authorities.
Motorcycles
 
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to incorporate motorcycling fully into general transport policy. [152398]
Stephen Hammond: I refer the hon. Member to my answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Steve Baker) on 22 April 2013, Official Report, column 593W.
Motorcycles: Driving Tests
 
Steve Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy that the requirement for motorcycle riders to take more than one full motorcycle test to pass through rider licensing stages be replaced by a training requirement for licensing progression through each stage after an initial full motorcycle test; and if he will make a statement. [153229]
Stephen Hammond: The relative merits of the training and testing options for upgrading motorcycle riding entitlements were carefully considered during the consultation on the implementation of the 3(rd) Directive on Driver Licensing (Directive 2006/126/EC). In order to ensure adequate service provision, the Driving Standards Agency needed to offer the testing option. The costs associated with the introduction of a parallel training option would have made it unattractive to motorcycle trainers and their potential customers.
Schools: Transport
 
Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many education providers were consulted before the Guidance on home to school travel and transport was published in March 2013. [152935]
Mr Laws: A working group of four local authority home-to-school transport practitioners and two road safety policy officials from the Department of Transport were consulted on the appeals element of the guidance. The local authority practitioners represented the Rural Access to Learning Group, the Association of Transport Co-ordinating Officers, and Road Safety GB.
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