PQs 7 – 10 March

Roads: Safety
Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has assessed the merits of setting targets for the reduction of child road deaths and serious injuries in the forthcoming road safety strategic framework. [43288]
Mike Penning: The UK already has some of the safest roads in the world, but the coalition is considering how to make them even safer for all road users. The new strategic framework for road safety will set out the Government’s vision for road safety, national measures, and how we will work with others to achieve this. We have been discussing this with stakeholders and we intend to publish in the near future.
PACTS comments: PACTS hopes that the Government’s vision for road safety and national measures will follow the approach endorsed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who found that countries with casualty reduction targets had 17% lower fatalities than countries without targets.
 
 
Third Sector
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department are participating in volunteering activities as part of his Department’s involvement in the big society initiative. [42666]
Norman Baker: The ministerial team supports and encourages volunteering in many ways, in our ministerial roles and as constituency members. We actively support initiatives by participating in visits, attending community events and raising awareness of volunteering through media activity.
Ministerial involvement in charities is recorded in the “List of Ministers’ interests”. The current list is available on the Cabinet Office website at:
http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/resource-library/list-ministers-interests
Voluntary Work and Charitable Donations
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has a policy to encourage its employees to (a) volunteer and (b) donate via payroll giving. [43246]
Norman Baker: Although the central Department for Transport and its agencies do not have a specific policy to encourage volunteering and payroll giving, opportunities for volunteering activities are promoted on their intranet sites. Case studies of individual and team volunteering are publicised, and employees are encouraged to share their experiences.
Up to three days special paid leave are allowed annually for volunteering, and examples of eligible activities are listed in the staff handbook.
The Department operates and publicises its Give as You Earn (GAYE) payroll giving scheme which enables employees to make regular payments to good causes directly from salary.
The central Department for Transport won the 2010 Volunteering Partnership Award for Innovative Projects for its Fast Stream volunteering mentoring project.
PACTS comments: PACTS believes that road safety is a good example of the Big Society, as a large number of organisations and individuals (government, professional, academic, campaigning and civil) contribute to working towards the vision set by the government. This underlines the need for a clear vision from the government, which we hope will be within the strategic framework document. Read more on this subject in our latest report Tackling the Deficit.
 
 
Railway Stations: Heating
Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 12 January 2011, Official Report, column 349W, on Network Rail: passengers, if he will assess the merits of introducing a duty to provide a warm waiting area at train stations as part of any future rail franchise agreements. [43159]
Mrs Villiers: The Department for Transport has no plans to introduce such a duty. Reforms to the franchise process, such as longer franchises, will give franchisees better incentives for long-term investment in the stations.
PACTS comments: Issues such this will be considered in PACTS’ next research project – ‘Safer Mobility for an Ageing Population’. We expect to find that older people are discouraged from using public transport by a lack of facilities, such as having nowhere to sit whilst waiting or no public conveniences.  
Other Parliamentary Questions this week:
 
Cycling
7. Damian Hinds (East Hampshire) (Con): What recent steps he has taken to encourage cycling as a means of transport. [45280]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): We have announced a local sustainable transport fund of £560 million over four years, which we are committed to even in these difficult times. We are also committed to funding Bikeability cycle training for the remainder of this Parliament.
Damian Hinds: Will my hon. Friend join me in welcoming the opening this coming weekend of the first sections of east Hampshire’s super-scenic highway for cyclists, walkers and riders, Shipwrights way, which will link in with the rail network for commuters and recreational users of the new South Downs national park?
Mike Penning: We welcome that project, and I understand that there are proposals for an extension, for which I am sure that the local authority will bid to the local sustainable transport fund for funding.
Mr Brian H. Donohoe (Central Ayrshire) (Lab): Of course, it is not possible for me to come here from my constituency on a bike-although many of my constituents believe that I should, on the basis of the recent exposure of expenses. One area of concern is the number of potholes on the roads. What is being done about potholes, because everybody knows that they are a major problem, given the recent climatic conditions?
Mike Penning: Local authorities are doing their best to deal with potholes. We will announce at least an additional £100 million to help local authorities to fill potholes.
Speed Limits
10. Stephen Phillips (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): What recent representations he has received on consistency in the setting of speed limits in rural areas. [45283]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): I have not received any representations about consistency in the setting of speed limits in rural areas. The Department for Transport issues guidelines for local authorities, and it is for them to decide what speed limits are required in their area.
Stephen Phillips: There is a very considerable problem in Lincolnshire, with speed limits being set at inappropriate and inconsistent levels in accordance with policies set by the county council, which many feel do not take into account the guidance to which the Minister has referred. What can he do about that, and will he undertake to meet me, and local campaigners, to discuss the matter further?
Mike Penning: I will be more than happy to meet my hon. Friend, his local authority and campaigners to discuss that issue. The guidance is there for local authorities to implement, and we will see what we can do to ensure that things are better in his area.
Satellite Navigation Systems
13. Laura Sandys (South Thanet) (Con): What assessment he has made of the potential for satellite navigation systems to increase the proportion of journeys undertaken by haulage companies using major routes. [45286]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): No such assessment has been made by the Department. It is for hauliers to plan their routes and for satellite navigation system providers to provide the technology that ensures that hauliers use the appropriate routeing.
Laura Sandys: Last weekend I came bonnet to bonnet with a huge articulated lorry in the village of Wingham on a very small rural A road. What can we do through the sat-nav system to distinguish rural A roads from the dual carriageways that lorries should be using?
Mike Penning: I am very aware of that problem, because it happens in my constituency as well, but there are new satellite navigation systems specifically for hauliers, which include software to ensure that hauliers stay on their routes. There is no benefit to hauliers in going down side roads, and local authorities have the powers to make weight restrictions if necessary. I will look into the problem in my hon. Friend’s constituency.
Jonathan Reynolds (Stalybridge and Hyde) (Lab/Co-op): Haulage companies that avoid the M62 by travelling between the M1 and Manchester via the Snake and Woodhead passes are one cause of severe congestion in the Longdendale area of my constituency. If the Minister cannot influence that through satellite navigation companies, will he bear in mind the need for some form of bypass in the Longdendale area?
Mike Penning: It might be easier to speak to manufacturers of satellite navigation systems than to build a bypass. As I said, software specifically for hauliers is now available, which should alleviate the problem as it rolls out.
 
Cycling: Safety
Shabana Mahmood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects on measures to ensure cyclists’ safety of reductions in expenditure by his Department. [43111]
Norman Baker: The Government are keen to promote sustainable travel initiatives, including cycling.
Funding streams to local authorities have been simplified and de-ring-fenced, to give local authorities more freedom and flexibility to develop and implement solutions to meet local needs.
We have announced the local sustainable transport fund, a bid-based fund that will be for local authorities to build on their plans for sustainable travel measures through their local transport plans. The purpose of the fund is to enable the delivery by local transport authorities of sustainable transport solutions that support economic growth while reducing carbon.
We are making £560 million available to the fund over the four-year period to 2014-15. This compares the £140 million of funding provided for Cycling England in total over the three-year period from 2008 to 2011.
We will not know the expenditure on cycling-including cyclist safety-until bids have been received in June and determined, which will occur this summer. The level of expenditure on cyclists’ safety will depend on the priorities determined by local councils bidding to the fund.
Blue Badge Scheme: Learning Disability
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance he has given to local authorities on the provision of blue badges for drivers responsible for adults with learning difficulties; and if he will make a statement. [44898]
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport has not issued any guidance specifically on this matter. Blue Badges can be issued to individuals who receive the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance, are registered blind, receive a war pensioners mobility supplement, or who have a “permanent and substantial disability that causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking”. People with conditions such as learning difficulties will be eligible for a badge if they meet one or more of these criteria.
Cycling
Shabana Mahmood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans his Department has to increase cycling as a means of transport in (a) Birmingham, (b) the West Midlands and (c) England. [43109]
Norman Baker: The Government have committed to funding the Bikeability cycling proficiency training programme for the lifetime of this Parliament-until 2015, thereby giving confidence to the future of the programme. The focus of Government support will be on providing children the opportunity to receive training when at school.
In addition, the Government have allocated £560 million resource and capital funding to support local sustainable travel projects in the form of the local sustainable transport fund. Through this, local transport authorities outside London are eligible to bid for packages of sustainable travel measures which can incorporate cycling initiatives.
Cycling England
Shabana Mahmood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of closing Cycling England. [43108]
Norman Baker: Cycling England will cease to exist after 31 March 2011. All contracts relating to its work, including board appointments, were due to come to an end on that date and therefore there is no cost for early termination. Any contracts for work which is continuing are being renegotiated in line with departmental procedures. The three staff of Cycling England are Department for Transport employees.
Pedestrian Crossings
Damian Hinds: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department holds on the relative safety records of (a) pelican, (b) puffin, (c) toucan and (d) other forms of signal-controlled pedestrian crossings. [43668]
Norman Baker: A recent study, conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory on a limited number of sites, indicated that personal injury accident frequencies at puffin crossings could be some 17% lower than at pelican crossings. We intend to publish the results of the study later this year. No other comparative studies have been carried out in recent years.
Pedestrian Crossings
Damian Hinds: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the cost to the public purse of the replacement of pelican crossings by puffin crossings (a) in total and (b) per crossing in the last 10 years. [43667]
Norman Baker: All decisions to install or alter pedestrian crossing facilities are taken at local level and the Department for Transport does not hold any information regarding costs incurred by local authorities for this purpose.
Driving Offences: Insurance
Mr Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent meetings he has had with the Motor Insurance Bureau on the number of uninsured drivers. [43505]
Mike Penning: The Secretary of State for Transport has not had any meetings with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB). Motor insurance is one of my responsibilities. I have met with the MIB and have visited their headquarters in Milton Keynes.
Railway Stations: Public Service Announcements
Bill Esterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which public service announcements are required at railway stations. [44460]
Mrs Villiers [holding answer 4 March 2011]: There is a requirement for public security announcements to be made at rail stations as part of the National Rail Security Programme. Under this programme, announcements are set at a level proportionate to the prevailing threat and vulnerability, and are kept under constant review.
The Department for Transport’s code of practice ‘Accessible Train Station Design for Disabled People, Version 2’, issued in September 2010, sets out various requirements concerning the making of announcements. The number of announcements made will vary depending on the level of service at any given station
Aviation: Working Hours
Mr Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the likely effects on safety of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s plans to reform flight time limitations. [41406]
Stephen Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects on the safety of UK air travel of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s proposals for flight time limitations. [41509]
Mrs Villiers: I refer the hon. Members to my answer given to the hon. Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham) of 7 February 2011, Official Report, column 51W.
Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will assess any potential risk to UK air travel posed by the European Aviation Safety Agency’s plans to reform flight time limitations. [42062]
Mrs Villiers: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 17 February, Official Report, column 966W.
Aviation: Pilots
Steve Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on the maximum amount of time airline pilots should be expected to fly in 24 hours. [43765]
Mrs Villiers: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 28 February 2011, Official Report, column 176, given to the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon).
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what his policy is on the maximum amount of time airline pilots should be expected to fly in one day. [43899]
Mrs Villiers: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 28 February 2011, Official Report, column 176, given to the hon. Member for North Down (Lady Hermon).
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