PQs 16th – 19th May 2011

Railways: Standards
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with Network Rail on recent signal failures; and if he will make a statement. [54296]
Mrs Villiers: I regularly meet Network Rail and other key industry bodies to discuss performance issues on the network. Network Rail has briefed me on the recent signal failures, and the measures taken to minimise the impact and likelihood of such failures.
PACTS comments: All current safety performance reports can be found on the RSSB website at: http://bit.ly/gfzqap 
Roads: Accidents
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential role of targets in achieving reductions in deaths and serious injuries on roads. [55811]
Mike Penning: We have concluded that the best way to build on the UK’s enviable record on road safety and ensure a continuing decline in road deaths and seriously injured accidents is to set out a new policy framework for road safety, including a significant degree of devolution to local authorities, rather than a series of numerical targets.
PACTS comments: Much of the road safety sector has expressed its disappointment in the omission of casualty reduction targets in the recently published Road Safety Strategic Framework. The OECD has found that countries with targets had an average of 17% greater casualty reduction than those without. 
PACTS is preparing a full response to the Strategic Framework, which will be available shortly.  
Car Hire: Young People
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential effects on the level of road safety of requiring car rental and leasing companies to hire vehicles to people aged under 23; and if he will make a statement. [52704]
Mike Penning: No assessment has been made. There are provisions in the Equalities Act 2010 banning age discrimination in services, public functions and associations. The Government Equalities Office has issued a consultation on proposed exemptions to the ban, which runs until 25 May 2011, with a view to new provisions coming into force in April 2012. It does not propose a specific exception for vehicle rental companies to deny services to drivers in high risk age groups, but accepts that they should be able to justify various proportionate measures to manage the risks, including requiring a minimum level of driving experience; not renting cars to people with adverse driving records; and charging higher prices to drivers in high risk groups.
Driving Offences: Fines
Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what proportion of speeding fines issued to citizens of EU countries other than the UK were paid in each of the last five years. [51869]
Mike Penning: While there will have been overseas drivers caught by police for speeding, brought before the court, and fined at the time, the current system does not enable us to interrogate it sufficiently to record payments made by the nationality of the offender.
Motorcycles
John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many motorcycle examiners have worked with the Transport Research Laboratory on trials of the proposed new motorcycle test since June 2010; [51574]
(2) how many trials of the proposed new motorcycle test the Transport Research Laboratory has conducted on the public highway since June 2010; at what location in each case; and how many more such trials he expects to be conducted before the proposals for a single motorcycle test event are put out to public consultation; [51587]
(3) what the total monetary value is of the contract between his Department and the Transport Research Laboratory for the trial of a new motorcycle test; how many motorcycle examiners are required to work on the trial at each stage; and what estimate he has made of the total number of working hours motorcycle examiners will have spent on the trial at its conclusion. [51589]
Mike Penning: No contract between the Department for Transport and the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) for trials of changes to the motorcycle test has yet been let. TRL has not conducted any trials of the proposed new motorcycle test since June 2010, on or off the highway, so no motorcycle examiners have been involved in trials by TRL. We plan that such trials will be carried out before we proceed to public consultation on the proposed changes to the motorcycle test.
Commuters
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has taken to promote Walk to Work Week to commuters. [55404]
Norman Baker: The coalition Government are committed to supporting sustainable travel initiatives, including walking and cycling. Given that half of all car journeys are under five miles there would be improvements to health, air quality and traffic congestion if more of these journeys were undertaken either on foot, bike, or by public transport.
Our new Local Sustainable Transport Fund has made £560 million available to local transport authorities to fund schemes that create growth and cut carbon, including those which incentivise walking.
On 12 May I walked to work with Living Streets as part of Walk to Work week. Many members of staff at the Department of Transport and across Whitehall have also taken the opportunity to walk to work.
We are also encouraging staff to think about how they can travel and work differently as part of our preparations for reducing our travel during the Olympics next summer.
Cycling: Safety
Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will meet representatives of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group to discuss issues of road safety of interest to cyclists. [53987]
Mike Penning: I would be delighted to meet with representatives of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group to discuss road safety issues of interest to cyclists. We share the objective of improving cycling safety and I would be interested to hear the group’s views on how the Government can best support the delivery of this objective.
Motor Vehicle: Testing
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether his Department has any plans to change the frequency of MOT inspections for private and commercial vehicles; and if he will make a statement. [53202]
Mike Penning [holding answer 3 May 2011]: I intend to review the MOT test scheme. I have not preconceptions about the outcome of a review; the aim will be to strike the right balance between vehicle safety and the burden imposed on motorists by MOT test requirements.
I will make an announcement in due course about the timing and scope of the review, which will include, but not be limited to, a review of MOT test frequency. There will be an opportunity for anyone with an interest to contribute to the debate.
Motor Vehicles: Excise Duties
Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the contribution of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport of 30 March 2011, Official Report, column 144WH, what proportion of receipts from vehicle excise duty and other taxes on motorists were spent on the road network in the latest period for which figures are available. [55758]
Mike Penning: The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s annual Budget document, available via the HM Treasury website, sets out the Government’s spending and revenue plans. Revenue from the various motoring taxes (including fuel duties and vehicle excise duties) is not ring-fenced for expenditure on roads.
Roads: Accidents
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the potential effects of his proposals for the MOT vehicle test on the number of people (a) killed, (b) seriously injured and (c) slightly injured as a result of motoring accidents; and if he will make a statement. [53784]
Mike Penning: I intend to review the MOT test scheme. I want to make sure that a review takes account of all the latest information available to us. To that end, we have recently published the results of independent research the Department commissioned to examine how vehicle defects affect accident rates, and to consider the potential road safety impact of changing the frequency of the MOT. The Effect of Vehicle Defects in Road Accidents report can be found at
http://www.trl.co.uk/library/reports_publications/latest_publications/
This research will be a useful addition to other information we will be gathering through the review process.
Roads: EU Action
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to bring forward proposals to allow the EU to exercise greater control over the road network in the UK. [53079]
Mike Penning [holding answer 28 April 2011]:There are no proposals to give the EU greater control over the UK’s road network and the Government have no intention of bringing forward any such proposals.
Cycleways
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much his Department has spent on maintaining cycle lanes in the last five years; [55324]
(2) how much his Department has spent on promoting the use of cycle lanes in the last five years. [55325]
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport does not provide funds specifically for maintenance of cycle lanes, which are part of the highway and maintained as such. Local authorities determine their own spending priorities and it is for them to decide how much to allocate to general road maintenance.
However, in 2010-11 the Department provided a grant of £1.5 million to Sustrans for maintenance of the National Cycle Network. Through the project 385 kilometres of traffic-free (i.e. off road) sections of the National Cycle Network were upgraded, maintained or even built.
The Department for Transport does not specifically promote the use of cycle lanes as they are only one of several measures which can improve conditions for cyclists.
Between 2006-07 and 2010-11 the Department for Transport, via Cycling England, provided funding for 17 Cycle Towns and one Cycle City aimed at encouraging more people to cycle more safely, more often. Infrastructure improvements, including cycle lanes, were an element of many programmes. More details of these are available at:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/cyclingengland/
Driving Offences: Fines
Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many people normally resident in EU countries other than the UK were liable to pay a speeding fine in England in each of the last five years. [51867]
Mike Penning: In 2006, we estimated that around 3% to 4% of all speeding offences detected on camera were by foreign-registered vehicles. However, we do not have data on the nationality of drivers of vehicles and we have no practical mechanism to count those foreign licence drivers who are committing offences undetected or GB licence holders driving foreign registered vehicles.
We are aware that the current systems mean that foreign drivers are less likely to face the consequences of dangerous road use. We are looking at ways of improving enforcement where we do not have details of the driver who committed the offence. We are also considering innovative approaches to fine collection by using third parties to improve enforcement.
Railway Stations: Access
Mr Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress his Department is making in ensuring that railway stations are more accessible. [55643]
Norman Baker: We are committed to improving access to rail travel and have continued with the Access for All programme. This will provide accessible, step free routes to 148 priority stations by 2015 and is in addition to the upgrades being delivered through franchise commitments and major programmes of investment such as Crossrail and Thameslink. Good progress is being made with work complete at 51 stations and in progress on site at 27.
In addition, we have introduced a new ‘Medium Tier’ fund for access improvements at intermediate sized stations, for which we are currently inviting applications and will continue to set aside around £5 million per year over the spending review period for train operators to use for smaller access enhancements.
Large Goods Vehicles: Accidents
Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what proportion of traffic accidents on motorways involved a heavy goods vehicle with a foreign registration in (a) 2008, (b) 2009 and (c) 2010; and what proportion of such incidents were attributed to poor visibility or blind spots on such vehicles. [53204]
Mike Penning: The following table shows the number of reported personal injury road accidents on motorways involving foreign registered heavy goods vehicles in Great Britain in (a) 2008 and (b) 2009 (the latest data for which information is available):

Accidents

Accidents

(a) 2008

(b) 2009

On motorways

7,249

6,643

Of which involved a foreign registered HGV

409

354

     

Proportion involving a foreign registered HGV (percentage)

6

5

It is not possible to identify accidents where a blind spot of, or an area of poor visibility on, a vehicle attributed to the accident.
However, the following table shows the number of accidents on motorways involving a foreign registered heavy goods vehicle in Great Britain where the contributory factor “vehicle blind spot” was assigned to a foreign HGV by a police officer attending the scene:

Accidents

Accidents

(a) 2008

(b) 2009

On motorways(1)

6,317

5,830

Of which involved a foreign registered HGV assigned the contributory factor “vehicle blind spot”

143

155

Proportion involving a foreign registered HGV (percentage)

2

3

(1) Includes only accidents where a police officer attended the scene and in which a contributory factor was reported.
Motor Vehicle: Testing
Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the effects of moving to MOT inspections every two years for private vehicles on the number of (a) vehicles that fail MOT tests, (b) collisions or incidents due to unsafe vehicles, (c) deaths and serious injuries through road accidents and (d) garages and MOT test stations; and if he will make a statement. [53201]
Mike Penning [holding answer 3 May 2011]: I intend to review the MOT test scheme. I want to make sure that a review takes account of all the latest information available to us. To that end, we have recently published the results of independent research the Department commissioned to examine how vehicle defects affect accident rates, and to consider the potential road safety impact of changing the frequency of the MOT. The ‘Effect of Vehicle Defects in Road Accidents’ report can be found at:
http://www.trl.co.uk/library/reports_publications/latest_publications/
This research will be a useful addition to other information we will be gathering through the review process, including on the impacts on garages and MOT stations.
Motor Vehicles: Insurance
Mrs Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will discuss with representatives of the insurance industry the effects of the cost of car insurance for young drivers on the take-up of such insurance; and if he will make a statement. [55478]
Mike Penning: I am keen to work with the insurance industry to look at new approaches to reduce the impact of high insurance costs on young drivers and the Department for Transport is planning seminars with key stakeholders to discuss this.
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