Parliamentary Questions: 19th-27th March

Parliamentary Questions: 19th-27th March

27th March

Written Statements

Executive Agencies

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): I am pleased to announce the publication of the 2014-15 business plans for all of the Department for Transport’s Executive agencies—the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Vehicle Certification Agency (VGA), the Highways Agency (HA) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The business plans set out:

the services each agency will deliver and any significant changes they plan to make;

the resources they require; and,

the key performance indicators (KPIs) by which their performance will be assessed.

These plans allow service users and members of the public to assess how the agencies are performing in operating their key services, managing reforms and the agency finances.

The business plans will be available electronically on gov.uk and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses in due course.

 

Drug Driving

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): In May 2012 the Government introduced primary legislation to Parliament that would create a new offence of driving with a specified controlled drug in the body above the specified limit for that drug. The Crime and Courts Act 2013 inserted a new section 5A in the Road Traffic Act 1988 and sets out the framework for the new offence.

Regulations now need to be made to specify the drugs to be included in the legislation and the limits to be specified. I have today published the summary of responses to the two consultations which sought views on these regulations.

The summary concludes that overall there is support for the Government’s proposed approach and I intend to lay regulations in Parliament on this basis.

However, the Government have also concluded that there are significant concerns on the proposed limit for amphetamine. I have therefore asked my officials to reconsider the limit for this drug, with a view to consulting again later in the year and including the new limit in further regulations at a subsequent date.

 

By taking this approach to the new offence our roads will be safer by making it easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs and clarifying the position for those who take medication.

Copies of the summary of responses will be laid in the Libraries of both Houses.

 

Written Questions

Level Crossings

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he last raised level crossing safety issues in a meeting with Network Rail.

Stephen Hammond: The Secretary of State for Transport meets with Network Rail regularly and a variety of issues are discussed.

 

Pedestrian Crossings

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the benefits to children’s safety of road crossing patrollers.

Mr Goodwill: The Government firmly believes in localism and providing local authorities with powers to introduce measures to deal with local needs and conditions. Local authorities will invariably have a strategy to improve road safety and will prioritise their road network based on the need to reduce casualties.

The provision of the school crossing patrol service is a matter for the local authority. Legislation gives them the power to make arrangements for the patrolling of places where children cross roads on their way to or from school, but does not impose a duty on them to do so. Funding decisions are also a matter for the local authority based on their local needs and priorities.

It is for the council to assess the crossing situation and determine a course of action as it is in this situation. In some cases, if the authority agrees that children from a particular school need help in crossing a busy road but have not recruited anyone, they have to think about finding other ways of making the crossing safer—for example, by putting in a pedestrian crossing.

 

Pedestrian Crossings: Essex

Robert Halfon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much has been spent on road crossing patrollers in (a) Essex and (b) Harlow constituency in the last 10 years.

Mr Goodwill: The Department does not hold records of the amount spent on school crossing patrol services in each local authority.

 

Roads: Lancashire

Jake Berry: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much has been allocated to Lancashire county council to repair potholes in (a) Lancashire and (b) Rossendale;

(2) how much has been allocated from the £200 million fund to repair potholes to Blackburn with Darwen borough council to repair potholes in Darwen.

Mr Goodwill: From the £200 million to help fix potholes on the local road network announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the March 2014 Budget, £168 million will be for local authorities in England. This funding will be made available through a bidding exercise and it will be for Blackburn and Darwen council to submit a bid to the Department. Guidance on how councils can apply for this funding will be made available in the coming weeks.

The Department for Transport has agreed to provide £90.1 million to Lancashire county council for road maintenance during the financial years from 2011-12 to 2014-15. This funding can be used to help repair potholes.

Rossendale falls within Lancashire county council’s area of responsibility and we do not allocate any funds directly to the borough council for road maintenance.

For more information please click here

 

26th March

Driving: Diabetes

Simon Hart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance his Department has issued on the interpretation of nocturnal hypoglycaemic events for the purposes of EU Directive 2009/112/EC and 2009/113/EC; how that guidance differs from that issued for daytime hypoglycaemic events; and what assessment he has made of the evidential basis for those guidelines.

Stephen Hammond: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency provides guidance on hypoglycaemia to all drivers who notify they have insulin treated diabetes. Advice is also available on gov.uk.

Drivers who experience recurrent episodes of severe hypoglycaemia cannot be issued with a licence. Severe hypoglycaemia is defined as needing the assistance of a third party to treat the episode. Recurrent severe hypoglycaemia is more than one episode of severe hypoglycaemia in 12 months. These standards are specified in the Third European Union Directive on driving licences, which does not distinguish between events while a person is awake or asleep. The European Commission has confirmed that hypoglycaemia occurring at night cannot be discounted when considering the number of occurrences of severe hypoglycaemia in 12 months.

The guidelines are based on standards determined by experts from across the European Union and agreed by the Secretary of State for Transport’s Honorary Medical Advisory Panel on Driving and Diabetes Mellitus.

 

Driving: Licensing

Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on the introduction of a graduated driving licensing scheme for young drivers.

Mr Goodwill: Improving the safety and ability of young drivers is a key priority for the Government which is why we have made the driving test more realistic. The Department is considering several other options to ensure that newly qualified drivers are properly prepared and drive safely.

This is a difficult topic and it is important that we get this right. Once we are confident that we have struck the right balance between driver safety and restricting the freedom of our young people we will come forward with our proposals.

 

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 4 February 2014, Official Report, column 139W on driver: licensing, how many cases handled by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency that required medical decisions were returned within the 90 working days target in each of the last five years.

Stephen Hammond: The information the hon. Member has requested is not readily available. I have asked officials at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to collate the required information and I will write to the hon. Member when it is available. I will place a copy of that letter in the Library of the House.

For more information please click here

25th March

Level Crossings

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of steps taken to improve the safety of level crossings since the death of Emma Lifsey in Bassetlaw constituency on 4 December 2012.

Stephen Hammond: The Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales (Mr McLoughlin), has made no assessment of the steps taken to improve the safety of level crossings. The safety of level crossings is a matter for Network Rail. The industry recommended further investment be provided in the 2014-19 period for level crossing closures and safety measures and a £109 million ring fenced fund was agreed by the Government for this period.

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many level crossings have wig-wag lights which are so old that they present a danger to the public?

Stephen Hammond: The Department for Transport does not hold this data. Prosecutions are a matter for the Office of Rail Regulation, the independent safety regulator for the railways, as the relevant enforcement authority.

More information can be obtained from:

Network Rail
Kings Place
90 York Way
London
N1 9 AG

Telephone: 020 7557 8000

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Office of Rail Regulation plans to prosecute Network Rail in relation to the conclusions of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch that the wig-wag lights in place on 4 December 2012, in relation to the incident which killed Emma Lifsey, were old and could not be seen.

Stephen Hammond: Prosecutions are a matter for the Office of Rail Regulation, the independent safety regulator for the railways, as the relevant enforcement authority.

More information can be obtained from:

The Office of Rail Regulation
One Kemble Street
London
WC2B 4AN
Telephone: 020 7282 2000

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Network Rail on the treatment of Emma Lifsey’s family by Network Rail following her death on a level crossing.

Stephen Hammond: The Secretary of State for Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales (Mr McLoughlin), has had no discussions with Network Rail on this matter. Level crossing safety policy matters are discussed on a regular basis with Network Rail at an official level.

 Offshore Industry

Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the current level of (a) use and (b) availability is amongst offshore helicopter passengers in the oil and gas industry of emergency breathing systems that meet Category A of the Civil Aviation Authority’s relevant technical specifications.

Mr Goodwill: There are currently no Category ‘A’ emergency breathing systems (EBS) in use by, or available to, passengers on UK offshore helicopter flights. The EBS currently in use in the UK sector of the North sea does not meet the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) higher Category ‘A’ specification contained in CAA Publication CAP 1034, primarily because it takes too long to deploy. The EBS used in the Norwegian sector also does not meet the Category ‘A’ requirement, primarily as it cannot be deployed underwater.

EBS that would likely meet Category ‘A’ is commercially available. In particular the passenger short term air supply system (P-STASS) developed for the UK military, which the CAA understands is currently being considered by the industry, has previously been used for civilian operations (e.g. the Marine Incident Response Group).

Grahame M. Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential effect of implementing the recommendations in the Civil Aviation Authority’s safety review of helicopter operations in the offshore oil and gas industry on the annual number of passenger-carrying helicopter flights in that industry.

Mr Goodwill: The primary concern of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is the safety of the public, and the absolute focus of its recent Offshore Helicopter Review has been to make safety improvements in that sector. I am satisfied that implementing the recommendations in the CAA Review will lead to improvements in safety and that all the changes proposed are both realistic and achievable. The CAA is directly engaging with the oil and gas industry, helicopter operators and workforce representative groups through its new Safety Action Group. I do not see that recommendations contained in the Review will have any significant effect on the annual number of offshore helicopter operations.

For more information click here

 24th March

Driving: Licensing

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of (a) the cost of establishing the system to enable driving records to be accessed online by drivers and the insurance industry and (b) the annual cost of running that system.

Stephen Hammond: The development cost of establishing the system to enable driving records to be accessed online by drivers and the insurance industry is expected to be around £8.8 million. The estimated annual cost for support and maintenance is £2 million, excluding VAT.

Motorways: Repairs and Maintenance

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 27 February 2014, Official Report,column 456W, on motorways: repairs and maintenance, what the reasons are for the discrepancy between the figures of eight deaths in the preceding three years and 1,747 injuries in the preceding 12 months of people repairing motorways stated by the Highways Agency in a press release dated 21 October 2013.

Mr Goodwill: The figures quoted are based upon different data selection criteria and from different time periods. The answer of 27 February 2014, Official Report, column 456W, (motorways: repairs and maintenance) is the number of people repairing motorways killed or injured by vehicles in 2012 and 2013. The Highways Agency press release of 21 October 2013, referred to the number of road workers killed and injured while improving and maintaining the strategic road network in England, irrespective of the causation or duties being undertaken. The eight road workers killed occurred between 2009 and 2013 and the figure of 1,747 quoted in the same press release included a large volume of near misses, hazards and damage to plant and equipment where no injuries had been sustained.

Roads: Repairs and Maintenance

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) which local authorities receive what proportion of the £140 million to fix roads damaged by flooding and adverse weather announced on 9 March 2014;

(2) pursuant to the financial statement of 19 March 2014, what the breakdown is of the £200 million funding for potholes schemes; and whether that £200 million includes the £140 million to fix roads damaged by flooding and adverse weather announced by the Secretary of State for Transport on 9 March 2014.

Mr Goodwill: The funding allocations from the £140 million announced on 9 March to help repair roads damaged by the severe wet weather were announced on 20 March 2013. This includes a further £33.5 million announced earlier this year as part of the transport element of the Severe Weather Recovery Fund. A table which provides information on the funding we will be paying to local highway authorities by end March 2014 is available at the following weblink:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/294497/extra-funding-to-repair-roads.csv/preview

The £200 million for a Pothole Fund was announced in the Budget on 19 March 2014 is new money and in addition to the £140 million funding. From the £200 million, £168 million be made available to councils in England through a bidding exercise. Further details on the fund will be made available in the coming weeks.

For more information please click here.

20th March

Road Markings

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment his Department has made of the overall condition of road markings on roads and motorways.

Mr Goodwill: Highway authorities have a duty of care to ensure road markings are maintained so that they can be seen by motorists.

Contractors are required to regularly monitor the condition of markings on trunk roads and motorways.

Cycling: Safety

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 11 February 2014, Official Report, column 525W, on cycling: safety, if he will publish a breakdown of the source of cycling funding by (a) central Government,(b) local authority and (c) the private sector for the period 2005 to 2010.

Mr Goodwill: From the 2005-06 financial year through to 2010-11 cycling was funded by the Department for Transport through Cycling England, an arm’s length organisation set up in 2005. During the five years 2005-06 to 2009-10 Cycling England received £105 million from central Government. This compares to £278 million funding for cycling from central Government from 2010-11 to 2014-15.

The Department does not hold records for local authority funding. There are a wide variety of sources local authorities may use to fund cycling, therefore the local authorities themselves will be best placed to respond. Similarly, the Department does not record private sector funding.

Roads: Repairs and Maintenance

Jesse Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he is taking to repair potholes.

Mr Goodwill: The Department for Transport is providing over £1 billion to local authorities this financial year for local highways maintenance which includes tackling potholes.The Chancellor of the Exchequer on 19 March as part of the Budget announced an additional £200 million in 2014-15 specifically to address the problem of potholes—£168 million of this new funding is being made available to councils in England. Further guidance will be made available on how councils can bid for this funding in the coming weeks.

The Highways Maintenance Efficiency Programme which the Department for Transport sponsors published a report in April 2012 which provides advice to councils on how to deal with potholes. This is available at the following weblink:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/3995/pothole-review.pdf

Written Statement

EU Transport Council

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): I attended the first Transport Council under the Greek presidency (the presidency) in Brussels on Friday 14 March.

The Council reached a general approach on a proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Railways. There was strong member state support for the presidency text—it was seen as a key step towards breaking down barriers to a single market and supporting the efficiency, transparency and increased competitiveness of the European rail industry. This important piece of legislation completes the technical pillar of the fourth railway package and will help to further develop the single European rail area. The Commission called on the Council to begin discussions on the remaining market opening and governance pillars to retain the “package” concept of the fourth railway package. I strongly supported this position.

For more information please click here

19th March

Heathrow Airport

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many aircraft have had to land due to (a) engine problems,(b) fuel shortages and (c) other technical problems at Heathrow Airport in the last five years.

Mr Goodwill: The number of events where an aircraft landed at Heathrow for (a) engine related problems (b) instances of low fuel and (c) other technical problems, are shown in the following table. The source of these data is the Civil Aviation Authority:

Reporting period 2009-13 (last five full years)
(a) Engine (b) Fuel (c) Other Technical Total
2009 8 3 52 55
2010 9 6 60 66
2011 8 2 52 54
2012 5 2 38 40
2013 4 3 48 51

Zac Goldsmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many near-miss aircraft incidents have occurred under 7,000ft with aircraft (a) arriving at and (b) taking off from Heathrow Airport in the last five years.

Mr Goodwill: The independent UK Airprox Board, which is responsible for investigating all reported near miss incidents by pilots and controllers in UK airspace, has provided the following relevant information:

Date of incident Aircraft types involved
27 July 2009 Boeing 777 and Cessna 525
19 November 2009 Airbus A320 and Boeing 737
4 January 2011 Airbus A319 and Bell 206 Jet Ranger
8 September 2013 Embraer 190 and unknown paraglider
21 November 2013 Boeing 747 and Cessna 750

The first three incidents listed were all assessed to be non-risk-bearing airproxes. The last two incidents have yet to be assessed.

Large Goods Vehicle Drivers: Sleep Apnoea

Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to raise awareness of obstructive sleep apnoea among lorry drivers.

Stephen Hammond: Advice on obstructive sleep apnoea is available on GOV.UK and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) includes an information leaflet on the risks of driving while tired with every digital tachograph card that is issued.

The DVLA has also worked with the Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Partnership group to promote an awareness campaign that was launched in October 2013. Information was published on a range of private sector websites relating to obstructive sleep apnoea.

Large Goods Vehicles

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with (a) his counterpart in the Scottish Government, (b) the freight and haulage industry and (c) the European Commission on payment of the HGV user levy should Scotland vote to leave the UK in September 2014.

Mr Goodwill: No specific discussions have taken place on this matter at ministerial level. Officials from the Department of Transport have discussed the HGV levy with colleagues at Transport Scotland and with the major haulage and logistics trade associations such as the FTA and RHA who have their own representatives in Scotland. As part of the UK, Scottish HGVs will benefit from the offsetting reductions to vehicle excise duty when the HGV Levy is introduced. In the event of Scottish independence and irrespective of whether or not Scotland joins the EU, Scottish HGVs would be liable for the HGV Levy if they were to travel on roads in the UK. As such they would need to pay for the HGV Levy as would any other non UK registered vehicle.

Roads: Accidents

Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of road accidents resulting in a (a) serious injury and(b) fatality involved people driving for business purposes in each of the last four quarters.

Mr Goodwill: The proportions of reported road accidents resulting in (a) serious and (b) fatal injuries involving at least one driver driving as part of work in each quarter of 2012 are given in the following tables.

Fatal road accidents
Fatal accidents involving at least one driver driving as part of work As a percentage of all fatal accidents As a percentage of all fatal accidents where at least one driver’s journey purpose is known
Q1 134 34 75
Q2 119 32 69
Q3 121 28 63
Q4 130 30 63
Total 504 31 67

 

Serious road accidents
Serious accidents involving at least one driver driving as part of work As a percentage of all serious accidents As a percentage of all serious accidents where at least one driver’s journey purpose is known
Q1 1,205 24 56
Q2 1,126 22 53
Q3 1,251 22 54
Q4 1,211 23 52
Total 4,793 23 54

Journey purpose information is only available for 46% of fatal accidents and 43% of serious accidents.

Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the role of the Health and Safety Executive in reducing accidents by people who drive as part of their employment.

Mr Goodwill: The Department has had no discussions with the Department for Work and Pensions on this topic.

For more information click here

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