PACTS Comments on Parliamentary Questions 15th – 18th Nov
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport is keen to encourage the development and uptake of electric vehicles.
The spending review announced provision of over £400 million for measures promoting the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicle technologies. These measures include: support for consumer incentives for electric and other ultra-low emission cars throughout the life of this Parliament.
The Secretary of State has already announced details of the Plug-In Car Grant, which, from January 2011, will reduce the upfront cost of eligible cars by 25% capped at £5,000. Available across the UK, the scheme will be open to both private consumers and business buyers.
We will continue to monitor the most effective way to deliver support for consumer incentives, with the first review of the Plug-In Car Grant taking place in 2012; continued investment in electric vehicle recharging infrastructure through the ‘Plugged in Places’ scheme.
The Government are committed to mandating a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Data derived from the Plugged-In Places programme will inform the design of a national network; and further investment in research and development activities supporting this next generation of vehicle technologies.
With the government encouraging the use of electric vehicles, it is likely that we will see a rising number on the roads. The impact on safety of a changing mix of vehicle fleet has yet to be seen. While electric vehicles could be lighter and safer for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists, we must also consider the danger of nearly-silent vehicles and the possibility of electric vehicle drivers becoming vulnerable road users themselves. PACTS will continue to keep this under review through its Vehicle Design Working Party.
Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his most recent estimate is of the number of uninsured drivers in (a) England and Wales, (b) England, (c) Cambridgeshire Constabulary and (d) North East
Mike Penning: About 1.4 million vehicles (4% of the total) in Great Britain are estimated to be driven by uninsured drivers based on a comparison of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) database of registered vehicles and the Motor Insurance Database (MID). No information is held on a regional or constituency basis.
In addition to existing measures to tackle uninsured driving, a Continuous Insurance Enforcement scheme is planned. The scheme will identify uninsured vehicles by comparing information held on the same databases on a regular basis. Enforcement action will be taken against keepers of uninsured vehicles.
Having attended the Transport Select Committee Meeting on ‘The Cost of Motor Insurance’ last week, we know that this is currently an important issue. Motor insurance premiums have increased by 40% in the past twelve months*, causing problems for insurance companies and drivers alike. Increasing personal injury claims in frequency and cost (the AA gives the cost of putting a passenger in a wheelchair for life as £17m) and fraud are key reasons behind the rise.
Given the clear links between unlicensed driving and increased accident risks, and unlicensed and uninsured driving, there is evidently concern for the safety of uninsured drivers.
Young males, being the highest risk group, have the highest premiums. We need to find a way of ensuring that young people are not priced out of the market.
Other Written Answers this week:
British Transport Police
Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with the chief constable of British Transport Police on the role of British Transport police in schools. 
Mrs Villiers: Department for Transport Ministers have not discussed the subject with the British Transport police. The force is nevertheless heavily involved with schools through both specific programmes such as their project on tackling knife and violence project and on a day to day basis when dealing with anti-social behaviour and other local issues.
Bus Services: Concessions
Maria Eagle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the likely effect on (a)average bus fares and (b) the number of bus services of the proposed 20 per cent. reduction in the Bus Service Operators Grant (i) nationally and (ii) in London. 
Norman Baker [holding answer 26 October 2010]: We estimate that the potential increase in average fares and average reduction in bus services, as a direct result of the 20% reduction to the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), would be around 1.5%. In practice, the effect will depend on the commercial decisions of bus operators and, where relevant, local authorities and Transport for London.
I spoke to the Confederation of Passenger Transport UK, who represent the bus industry, following the Chancellor’s announcement on 20 October. They were hopeful that, in general, the small reduction in BSOG could be absorbed without fares having to rise.
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the effect on the level of cycling of the (a) Bikeability, (b) Cycling Towns and Cities and (c) Finding New Solutions Cycling England programmes. 
Norman Baker: In 2009, the Department for Transport commissioned an independent evaluation of the Cycling City and Towns programme, which includes infrastructure investment, cycle training (Bikeability), and other measures to encourage more people to cycle more often, and more safely. The evaluation is scheduled to run until 2012, with final results available in 2012-13.
Results from preliminary evaluation of the original six cycling demonstration towns (CDTs) are available. They have shown changes in the levels of cycling and physical activity in CDTs across a range of indicators, including a one percentage point increase in the proportion of people cycling for 30 minutes at least three times a week, and a 27% increase in levels of cycling as measured by automatic cycle counts. These findings strongly suggest that cycling levels were increasing in the CDTs three years after the initiative began, with some evidence that similar increases were not occurring in comparable areas.
The “Finding New Solutions” projects are a number of small programmes looking at other types of journeys people could make by bike: to work, for leisure and to and from railway stations. All of the projects are due to conclude at the end of March 2011. Data are being collected as the projects progress, and evaluation will be undertaken once they are completed.
Large Goods Vehicles: Accidents
Mr Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the incidence of the involvement of (a) foreign-registered and (b) all heavy goods vehicles in road traffic accidents in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Large Goods Vehicles: Inspections
Mike Penning: The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) already inspects a large number of foreign heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), both at ports of entry and at the roadside. In the year to 31 March 2010, VOSA conducted 99,508 roadworthiness checks on foreign-registered HGVs, an increase of more than 60% compared to 2008-09.
Motor Vehicles: Testing
Mike Penning [holding answer s 13 and 18 October 2010]: I intend to review the MOT test scheme, using the latest information available. However, the Department for Transport has no specific proposals at this stage and no preconceptions about the outcome. The aim of the review will be to strike the right balance between vehicle safety and the burden imposed on motorists by MOT test requirements.
Network Rail: Public Footpaths
Ben Gummer: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether Network Rail plans to make formal arrangements for public access to the footpath it owns between Bourne park and Halifax road in respect of its location on Sustrans National Cycle Route 1. 
Mrs Villiers: This is an operational matter for Network Rail as the owner and operator of the national rail network. My hon. Friend should contact Network Rail’s acting chief executive at the following address for a response to his question:
Acting Chief Executive
90 York Way
London, N1 9AG.
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 9 November 2010, Official Report, columns 282-83W, on schools: transport, how many school travel advisers funded by his Department there are in each local authority area. 
Norman Baker: Together with the Department for Education, the Department for Transport has provided sufficient funding through area-based grants in each of the past six years to enable local authorities in England to employ about 250 full-time equivalent school travel advisers (STAs).
Bus Services: Information Services
Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to amend the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2000 to require on-board audio and visual passenger information systems on buses. 
Norman Baker: Research has been commissioned to assess the costs and benefits of installing audio visual systems on buses. The research project has brought together a cross section of stakeholders, including Guide Dogs, Royal National Institute of Blind People and Royal National Institute for Deaf People. We will take account of the results of this work in considering any changes to the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR). The project is due to report shortly.
Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of changes in the level of cycling in each cycling city and town in the latest period for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Norman Baker: In 2005 the Department for Transport funded six cycling towns and in 2008 this funding was extended to include a further 11 cycling towns and one city until March 2011. Their remit was to increase significantly their cycling levels.
Preliminary evaluation of the first six cycling demonstration towns (CDTs) provided evidence of early changes in the levels of cycling and physical activity in CDTs across a range of indicators, including a one percentage point increase in the estimated proportion of people cycling for 30 minutes at least three times a week, and a 27% increase in levels of cycling as measured y automatic cycle counts. Taken together, these findings (published by Cycling England in 2009) strongly suggest that cycling levels were observably increasing in the CDTs three years after the initiative began, with some evidence indicating that similar increases were not occurring in comparable areas.
Independent evaluation and monitoring of the 12 new CCTs (Cycling City and Towns) is scheduled to run until 2012, with final results (including the results of a large-scale pre-and post intervention household survey) available in 2012-13. Analysis of the monitoring data will not be conducted until a suitable time series is available, to enable intervention effects to be distinguished from seasonal and other natural fluctuations in the data.
Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee
Gavin Shuker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the potential saving to the public purse as a result of the abolition of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee. 
Institute for Fiscal Studies
M18: Speed Limits
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons a 50 mph temporary speed limit was in force on the M18 motorway on 1 November 2010; what guidance he provides to the Highways Agency on the imposition of temporary speed limits when work is not being carried out; and if he will make a statement. 
Mike Penning: Work to replace the central reserve safety barrier is taking place in stages on the M18 between Junctions 2 and to the north of Junction 4. This is the first in a series of four schemes being undertaken between September 2010 and the end of March 2011.
In order to undertake the work safely and with the minimum of disruption to the road user the hard shoulder is being used to maintain the full compliment of running lanes throughout the day. In order to do this a temporary 50mph speed restriction is required. This restriction remains in place on each stage until all the work has been completed and the hard shoulder reinstated.
On 1 November works to replace the central reserve barrier had been completed. The hard shoulder, however, was coned off because works to reinstate the verge safety barriers and inspection chambers were taking place. Works were also being undertaken in the northbound verge to repair drains and install new gullies. Additionally, to the north of Junction 3 works were taking place to install both a temporary closed circuit television system in the north and southbound verges as well as speed camera cabling in the southbound verge, for the next stage of barrier works.
National advice on setting temporary speed limits is given in Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 8 which is developed by the Highways Agency on behalf of Department for Transport. This identifies appropriate speed limits based on the relative risk to road users. This risk is normally the same whether road workers are present or not. The Highways Agency produced additional advice in July 2007 (Chief Highways Engineer Memo 203/07) on how to apply temporary speed limits at road works using the risk based approach in Chapter 8.
Motor Vehicles: Testing
Mrs Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether he has made an assessment of the evidence compiled for his Department’s 2008 MOT Scheme Review since his appointment; and if he will make a statement; 
Mike Penning: Although I am aware of the 2008 evidence, I intend to review the MOT test scheme using the latest information available. However, the Department for Transport has no specific proposals at this stage and no preconceptions about the outcome. The aim of the review will be to strike the right balance between vehicle safety and the burden imposed on motorists by MOT test requirements.
Mike Penning: There is a large amount of legislation in the Traffic Acts which could be used in prosecution proceedings. Additionally the rules in The Highway Code can also be used in court proceedings.
The investigation of road traffic collisions and the enforcement of road traffic law is an operational matter for individual chief officers of police. The police take very seriously all the issues arising from road traffic collisions, especially those where a life has been lost. The National Policing Improvement Agency has issued, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, a Road Death Investigation Manual to assist efficient and professional investigations.
Speed Limits: Cameras
Mr Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the (a)accuracy and (b) effectiveness of the ASSET new generation speed cameras; whether he has plans to introduce such cameras on roads; and if he will make a statement. 
Mike Penning: Assessment of all enforcement equipment is subject to Home Office (HO) type approval, which may be granted after rigorous testing by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB). HO has confirmed that no application has been received by HOSDB for type approval for the ASSET enforcement camera.
The coalition has made clear that it is not for central Government to dictate how local authorities address their priorities and issues. Should this equipment gain type approval in the future, it will be for local authorities and police forces to decide if this equipment is appropriate for their needs.
Speed Limits: Cameras
Mike Penning: No evaluation has been undertaken of the Asset camera system by the Department for Transport. Evaluation of all enforcement equipment is subject to Home Office type approval, which may be granted after rigorous testing by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB).
Bikeability Scheme: Children
Norman Baker: The Government have been funding National Standard and Bikeability cycle training in schools since 2006-07 with detailed monitoring of delivery in place since 2007-08. Details of the training delivered are set out in the following table for the period 2006-07 to 2009-10.
|Note: 1. Figures are rounded up to the nearest 1,000.|
Although we do not have an accurate figure for training places funded and delivered by local authorities in England in addition to those funded by the Government, we estimate local authorities outside of London deliver between 20,000 and 30,000 additional Level 2 National Standard or Bikeability places each year.
Driving: EU Action
Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has taken to increase the level of information-sharing between the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and its counterpart organisations in Europe to reduce the number of vehicle offences committed by EU drivers without UK licences. 
Mike Penning: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) shares information with EU member states when registering imported vehicles and exchanging driving licences. This helps prevent stolen vehicles from being registered in other member states and allows the validity of driving licences to be confirmed prior to exchange.
Transport: Local Government Finance
Norman Baker [holding answer 28 October 2010]: No. Block funding provided to local authorities from 2011-12 for small transport schemes and highway maintenance will not be ring-fenced. This will give local authorities flexibility to spend the funding as they see fit to meet local priorities.
I recently announced the establishment of a £560 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund to enable local government to deliver sustainable transport measures that support local economies while reducing carbon. The fund will be allocated though a light touch bidding and assessment process which will maximise the discretion available to local authorities on how they use the funding. Further details about how the fund will operate will be published shortly.