PQs 7th – 10th November 2011

Driving: Disqualification
Asked by Viscount Simon
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many drivers are currently listed on the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency database who have more than 12 points on their licence and whose licences have not been removed due to a successful plea of personal hardship resulting from the loss of a driving licence. [HL12173]
Earl Attlee: This information is not held on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s database as the courts do not notify why someone with more than 12 penalty points is not disqualified. On 21 September 2011, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s records showed that 9,747 drivers in Great Britain have 12 points or more without disqualification.
In cases where a driver has accumulated 12 or more penalty points, a court can exercise its discretion and choose not to disqualify the driver.
Aviation: Regulations
Asked by Lord Empey
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they agree with the objections raised by the Civil Aviation Authority to proposals on flight time limitations made by the European Aviation Safety Agency. [HL13051]
Earl Attlee: Yes, the Government agree with the objections raised by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in response to the proposals made by EASA on flight time limitations.
Asked by Lord Empey
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to accept proposals made by the European Aviation Safety Agency concerning flight time limitations.[HL13052]
Earl Attlee: The European Aviation Safety Agency has yet to publish its final proposals. We will not support the proposals if they do not provide an adequate level of protection against fatigue.
Asked by Lord Empey
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they agree with the objections made by the British Airline Pilots Association to the proposals from the European Aviation Safety Agency on flight time limitations. [HL13053]
Earl Attlee: The British Air Line Pilots Association’s objections are to requirements contained in draft proposals that were issued for consultation by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The Civil Aviation Authority responded to the consultation identifying those parts of the proposal we supported and those areas where we had some concerns. Details of the response can be found on the CAA website: www.caa. co.uk.
EASA is reviewing its proposals in the light of the responses to consultation and will issue revised proposals in due course. It is too early in the rule-making process to say what will be in EASA’s final proposal.
Transport: MoT Scheme
Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many cars have failed their MoT test in each year since 1996.[HL12875]
Earl Attlee: The information requested is in the table below:
(In 000s)
Year Cars tested Failures











































1 MoT computerised figures are available from 2005-06 but computerisation was only phased in at the vehicle testing stations during that year.

Source: Transport Statistics Great Britain
Motorways: Accidents
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate the Transport Research Laboratory has provided to her Department’s Road Safety Division of the likely change in the number of (a) lives lost, (b) serious and (c) slight casualties which would result from increasing the motorway speed limit to 80 mph and improving compliance using average speed cameras in the last three years. [71937]
Mike Penning [holding answer 15 September 2011]: The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) published their report ‘An evaluation of options for road safety beyond 2010’ in 2009 on their website at:
http://www.trl.co.uk/online_store/reports_publications/trl_reports/cat_road_user_safety/report_an_evaluation _of_options_for_road_safety_beyond_2010.htm
The Department is currently conducting a more sophisticated and comprehensive analysis of all the principal effects of raising the motorway speed limit and will include these estimates as part of the documentation for the consultation planned for later this year.
Roads: Accidents
Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether officials in her Department have had recent discussions with (a) the Home Office and (b) the Highways Agency on reducing the time taken to clear major roads following an incident; and if she will make a statement. [76534]
Mike Penning [holding answer 24 October 2011]: Officials from the Department for Transport have held recent discussions, on reducing the time taken to clear motorways following an incident, with the Home Office, the Highways Agency and representatives of the emergency services.
Social Enterprises
Mr Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions she has had on promoting social enterprises in the area for which her Department is responsible in each month since May 2010; and if she will make a statement. [77328]
Norman Baker: Ministers and officials frequently engage with the community transport sector, including the Community Transport Association (CTA), a representative body. This partnership has led to a four-year funding agreement which will see us working together to build capacity in the sector and promote a more sustainable business model.
For example, the Department part funds the CTA’s Rural Social Enterprise Programme, which is helping eight community transport organisations in rural areas to become social enterprises. The learning from this will help the wider sector become more sustainable and less reliant on grant funding.
In March this year, I announced an additional £10 million funding package, which has been distributed to rural local authorities, with the aim of kick-starting and supporting community transport.
Buses: Inspections
Nick de Bois: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans she has to review regulations in respect of safety inspections under Section 19 of the Transport Act 1985. [78295]
Norman Baker: There are no plans at this time to review regulations in respect of safety inspections under section 19 of the Transport Act 1985.
Cycling: Safety
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the use of trixi safety mirrors on the number of road accidents involving cyclists in London; [79459]
(2) what assessment her Department has made of the cost effectiveness of the use of trixi safety mirrors in (a) reducing accidents involving cyclists and (b) encouraging cycling. [79460]
Norman Baker: The Department has provided Transport for London (TfL) with a signs authorisation for the use of cycle safety mirrors (known as “trixi” mirrors) across the Mayor of London’s Cycle Superhighway network. The Department has made no assessment of the cost effectiveness of these mirrors in reducing accidents involving cyclists and encouraging cycling in London or elsewhere, although it is aware that TfL is undertaking its own monitoring and will be interested in the outcome of that.
Invalid Vehicles: Accidents
Jessica Morden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what analysis her Department has made of the number of accidents caused by mobility scooters in each of the last five years. [79063]
Norman Baker: Although my Department has no central database which records the number of mobility scooters involved in accidents, we are aware of reports of specific incidents. Road casualty statistics do not currently include mobility scooters as a separate vehicle category. However, I am pleased to note that from 2013, the police will be able to record whether a mobility vehicle has been involved in an accident on the public highway.
Driving: Diabetes
Mr Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance her Department plans to issue on the interpretation of the term severe hypoglycaemic event for the purposes of EU Directive 2009/112/EC and 2009/113/EC and reporting requirements under the DVLA driver licensing rules; whether this term will include severe hypoglycaemic events which occur during sleeping hours; whether the term will be interpreted to refer only to events occurring during waking hours in accordance with section 10.4 of the Annex to Directive 2009/112/EC; and what assessment she has made of the merits of clarifying the interpretation of the definition proposed for severe hypoglycaemia as being where the help of another person is required to specify that other persons’ help is necessary for the treatment of hypoglycaemia. [R] [75310]
Mike Penning: Guidance on what constitutes both severe and recurrent hypoglycaemia is already available on the DVLA website and is also contained in the DVLA booklet “At a Glance Guide to the current Medical Standards of Fitness to Drive”. That is available to all health care professionals and can be downloaded from the DVLA’s website. This guidance confirms that “Severe hypoglycaemia” means that the assistance of another person is necessary to treat the episode of hypoglycaemia.
The directive does not differentiate between hypoglycaemic attacks which occur whilst the driver is asleep or awake for group 1 (car and motorcycle) licensing. Section 10.4 of the annex says that a group 2 (bus or lorry) driver must be reassessed if any severe hypoglycaemic event occurs during waking hours. We have approached the EU to confirm the directive’s intention for severe hypoglycaemia.
Roads: Accidents
Mr Bain: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the effect of reducing the frequency of MOT tests on the number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads. [79681]
Mike Penning: In April 2011 the Department for Transport published the results of independent research commissioned to examine how vehicle defects affect accident rates, and to consider the potential road safety impact of changing the frequency of the MOT.
Copies of the publication have been placed on the Library of the House.
Traffic Lights: Safety
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether she has any plans to permit the installation of trixi traffic light safety mirrors by local authorities without the requirement to seek express permission from her. [79962]
Norman Baker: Cycle safety mirrors (“trixi mirrors”) must currently be authorised by the Secretary of State for Transport, the right hon. Member for Putney (Justine Greening), because they are not prescribed within the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD).
Trixi mirrors were authorised initially at certain sites as part of a trial on Transport for London Cycle Superhighway. To further assist monitoring of their effectiveness, the authorisation is being applied across the whole Cycle Superhighway Network.
The Department intends to update TSRGD following the publication in October of the traffic signs policy review ‘Signing the Way’:
Based on the outcome of the current trials, we will consider the suggestion my hon. Friend makes regarding trixi mirrors as part of this update, which is expected to conclude in 2014.
TRANSPORT QUESTIONS Thursday 10th November
Aviation Safety
1. Katy Clark (North Ayrshire and Arran) (Lab): What the outcome was of the meeting of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s advisory group of national authorities on 25 and 26 October 2011; and if she will make a statement [79676]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Justine Greening): The meeting of the advisory group of national authorities provided an opportunity for representatives of EASA and European Union member states to exchange views on a number of safety rules currently under development. The discussion will help inform EASA’s development of the rules in that area.
Katy Clark: I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. A recent survey of pilots has shown that 43% said that they had at some point fallen asleep in the cockpit, and 31% said that when they had woken up the other pilot was also sleeping. Does she agree that the proposals to increase the time pilots work to up to 13 hours, with fewer rest periods, represent a threat to public safety?
Justine Greening: First, I should say that the Civil Aviation Authority has received no reports of pilots falling asleep under the mandatory occurrence reporting scheme, but obviously we will always be guided by its views on safety, for which it has an outstanding reputation around the world. The Government have expressed our concerns about the proposed changes and continue to make them known. We will work with other countries to ensure that the final rules reflect those concerns.
MOT Tests
3. Ian Mearns (Gateshead) (Lab): What assessment she has made of the safety implications of changing the frequency of MOT tests for road vehicles. [79679]
8. Mrs Mary Glindon (North Tyneside) (Lab): What assessment she has made of the safety implications of changing the frequency of MOT tests for road vehicles. [79686]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Justine Greening): With permission, Mr Speaker, I will answer this question together with number 7.
In April 2011 the Department published the results of independent research commissioned to examine how vehicle defects affect accident rates, and to consider the potential road safety impact of changing the frequency of the MOT. Copies of the publication have been placed in the Library.
Mr Speaker: May I just very gently say to the Secretary of State that I think the grouping is between 3 and 8, rather than 7? But I think we know what we are talking about.
Ian Mearns: May I welcome the Secretary of State to her new role? It is a fantastic opportunity for her to think again about this proposal. The MOT Trade Forum estimates that 2,200 vehicles a day fail their MOT with defects that are regarded as dangerous and would make vehicles unroadworthy—half a million vehicles a year that would be unroadworthy and dangerous to the public. Will she think again about this very strange set of proposals?
Justine Greening: I appreciate both the correction from you Mr Speaker—I do not usually get my numbers wrong—and the very genuine and balanced way in which the hon. Gentleman puts his question. It is important that we have a balanced and informed debate about any changes to the MOT, and, as he will be aware, we in this country go further with our MOT than is required under EU legislation, so the proposal was looked at as part of the red tape challenge. I am considering all the issues, however, and we expect to make an announcement soon about the timing and scope of the review.
Mrs Glindon: I, too, welcome the Minister to her new post. In 2008, the Tories in opposition criticised Labour plans to reduce the frequency of MOTs, and, when the then Government dropped the policy because of the increased risk of death and many more serious accidents, a then shadow Minister said that he was glad that the policy had been
“consigned to the dustbin of history.”
So why try to recycle it now?
Justine Greening: We in this Government are looking across the board to see what we can do to get rid of unnecessary red tape and regulation, and the MOT review came up as a result of that, but, as I just said to her hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns), it is important that we have an informed and balanced debate. I am considering all those points; I met the Motorists Forum yesterday; and I expect to make an announcement soon about the timing and scope of the review.
Mr Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): I join in the welcome given by the House to the Secretary of State. Before she throws in the towel on this excellent proposal, will she reflect on the fact that most of those bleating about it outside the House have a vested interest and want the law kept as it is so that it generates more income for them? Will she also remind herself and the House that 97% of road accidents are caused by human error, not by vehicle defect?
Justine Greening: My right hon. Friend makes an important point. Approximately 3% of accidents are a result of vehicle defects, and he is also right that many of the representations against the review have come from those whose businesses would be affected by it. I have been very clear, however, and as a new Secretary of State it is right that I consider all the points that have been made. I will make an announcement shortly.
Mr John Leech (Manchester, Withington) (LD): Before the election, an Opposition MP wrote:
“I share your concern about the potential implications of moving to the European standard of roadworthiness testing. It seems to me that the road safety and environmental costs of moving from annual to biannual testing, and extending the initial period from three to four years, may far outweigh the predicted costs savings.”
Given that the right hon. Member for Tatton (Mr Osborne) is now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will the Secretary of State hold discussions with him in order to avoid the Government making a fundamental mistake on changes to MOT testing?
Justine Greening: I do not think I can add anything further about my approach to looking at this area, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I have regular discussions with the Chancellor of the Exchequer across the portfolio of transport that I now look after, and I will continue to do so.
John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) (Lab/Co-op): May I add my welcome to the Secretary of State? Although she is new to the job, does she recognise that motorists and many thousands of people employed by the motoring industry have already waited more than a year while Ministers have dithered over the proposal, and that they will still be in the dark after this exchange? Let us be clear: this out-of-touch plan would allow 800,000 more dangerous-to-drive vehicles to stay on the roads for up to a year longer. Will she listen to motoring organisations, such as the AA and the RAC, and ditch the plan, which could lead to more accidents and higher costs and burdens for the responsible majority of motorists?
Justine Greening: If we are ever going to get policies right, we need to go through the right process for developing them. As has been said in the House, the hon. Gentleman’s Government looked at this area—
John Woodcock: And rejected it.
Justine Greening: He says they rejected it but, ultimately, they considered this area, too. I met the AA and, indeed, the RAC Foundation yesterday, because they are part of the motorists’ forum we have established. There was a helpful exchange and, as I have said to him, I will make an announcement once I am satisfied I know what the scope of the review should be.
Winter Resilience
7. Rehman Chishti (Gillingham and Rainham) (Con): What steps her Department is taking in respect of winter resilience on the roads and railways. [79685]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Justine Greening): Significant efforts have been made this year across the transport sectors, including road and rail, in order to boost resilience and preparedness for winter weather. We are working closely with all key transport operators, the local government sector, salt suppliers and other key partners to ensure that our transport network keeps moving in the event of severe winter weather.
Rehman Chishti: I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. However, last winter rail services from and to my constituency were severely disrupted and many commuters were left stranded with little or no information. What steps has the Minister taken to ensure that my constituents receive better information about delays, disruption and cancellation?
Justine Greening: My hon. Friend is right to point out that the rail industry can raise its game. In fact, it is significantly better prepared for this winter than previous ones. Actions are being taken, through investment in rail and in carriages, to make sure that snow and ice does not stop on the tracks. There is also better investment in clearing snow and in managing the situation in terms of passenger information, which is critical. I know that that is something that his franchise operator has focused on.
Rural Bus Services
9. Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge) (Lab): What progress she has made on improving access to bus services in rural areas; and if she will make a statement. [79687]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker): The provision of bus services in rural areas, as in urban areas, is predominantly a matter for commercial operators and for local authorities. However, I recently provided £10 million of extra funding to local councils to help to develop community transport in their areas.
Angela Smith: Does the Minister accept that the equivalent of Beeching is going on in rural bus services, made in Whitehall and about which the national Government are doing nothing other than passing the buck to local authorities?
Norman Baker: No, I do not accept that. Almost four out of five bus services are provided commercially as opposed to being subsidised by local councils. So far there have been no cuts at all to support from central Government for those services. The BSOG—bus service operators grant—cut will come in next April. The performance of local authorities up and down the country is very varied. If she looks at East Riding, which is not very far from her, she will find that the Beeching cuts to which she refers are certainly not occurring there or in many other councils. Many councils are protecting bus services; some are not.
Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): The local sustainable transport fund has been a great success, but more improvements are needed in sustainable transport, including rural public transport. Will the Government consider further support in this area, which is critical for people and their ability to get around and for jobs and growth?
Norman Baker: I am happy to say that the local sustainable transport fund has been a success, providing £560 million, which is more money in the four-year period than the previous Government provided. Every single qualifying council that could have bid for money has done so. Tranche 1 is out of the door—£155 million already—and tranche 2 bids are due in shortly, as are the larger bids. As part of the growth review, the Government are looking to see what we can do to boost transport further.
Lilian Greenwood (Nottingham South) (Lab): Last week, the UK Youth Parliament voted transport costs its number one issue, while the Association of Colleges has warned that falling student numbers are being
“exacerbated by the number of local authorities who have cut back or axed their student travel subsidies.”
Will he now wake up to the devastating impact his 28% cut to local transport funding is having on young people, particularly in rural areas?
Norman Baker: I am conscious of the concerns of young people because I invited some to give a presentation at the most recent bus forum that I hosted, which was attended by the major operators and local authorities. I have subsequently written to the bus companies and involved the local authorities to try to get some action to help people of that age with their particular needs for public transport access. This issue is very much on the Government’s radar.
Foreign HGV Drivers
10. Fiona Bruce (Congleton) (Con): What steps her Department is taking to monitor use of the road network by foreign HGV drivers. [79688]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, for which I am responsible, carried out 67,000 checks last year on foreign-registered heavy goods vehicles for compliance with roadworthiness, overloading and drivers’ hours rules. The Department regularly publishes statistics on the amount of goods transported to and from the United Kingdom by foreign-registered HGVs.
Fiona Bruce: I was recently advised by a constituent of an accident that she had on the busy stretch of the M6 between Sandbach and Knutsford, in which she was hit by a foreign lorry driver in a left-hand drive vehicle who did not see her in his mirrors as he moved into the middle lane. In virtually the same place, a family of six were tragically killed in an accident caused by a foreign lorry driver in 2008. What steps can the Government take to prevent such accidents from occurring again?
Mike Penning: I am aware of the problems that occur around the country, particularly as a former HGV driver myself, including the problems that foreign drivers have with their mirrors. That is something that we are considering with our European counterparts. However, we must realise that only 3.5% of the HGVs on British roads and 5.2% of those on our motorways are foreign. Although it is a big issue, the biggest issue is with HGV driving and the quality of driving as a whole, not just with overseas drivers.
Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North) (Lab): There would be the possibility of taking up to 5 million lorry journeys off our roads every year, provided that there was the rail capacity to take those journeys. There is a scheme to promote a dedicated freight railway line from the channel tunnel to Glasgow, linking all the main conurbations throughout Britain. Under that scheme, full-scale lorries, double stack containers and so on would go on trains. I am happy to explain the scheme to the Minister if he would be interested.
Mike Penning: My door is always open to the hon. Gentleman, as he knows. The biggest issue with rail freight is capacity. The west coast main line in particular, which runs through his part of the world and my part of the world, is at capacity levels. That is why High Speed 2 is so important.
Mr Speaker: Perhaps the hon. Gentleman feels an Adjournment debate coming on. We shall no doubt discover whether that is the case.
Road Maintenance
12. Mr Dominic Raab (Esher and Walton) (Con): What steps she is taking to repair roads. [79691]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker): The Department is providing £3 billion over the four years from 2011-12 onwards to local highway authorities in England for roads for which they are responsible. On top of that, we provided an additional £200 million in March for English authorities to repair damage caused by the winter. The Highways Agency is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in England, and in this financial year its budget for maintenance is £840 million, excluding costs associated with private finance initiative projects.
Mr Raab: According to a survey published by Autocar, the last Government left Surrey with the most potholes in the country, while the Federation of Small Businesses reports that poor roads cost a quarter of small businesses at least £2,500 each year. Will the Government confirm their continuing support for repairing Surrey roads through the local sustainable transport fund?
Norman Baker: I am happy to confirm that the Government are committed to doing what we can to help local authorities with road maintenance. We have a highways maintenance efficiency programme to identify best practice, which we are funding centrally. In addition, I am happy to say that in March we allocated an extra £4.1 million to Surrey county council to deal with its specific problems.
Derek Twigg (Halton) (Lab): If we have severe frost and snow again this year, will the Government again make extra money available to local authorities to deal with the problems that that would cause on our roads in the coming six months or so?
Norman Baker: We deal with circumstances as they arise, but we are putting in place measures to ensure that local authorities make the best use of the money that they have. Salt stocks are high, and as I mentioned a moment ago we are investing in steps to ensure that the highways maintenance efficiency programme gets the best value for money from what local councils spend.
Heavy Goods Vehicles
13. Sheila Gilmore (Edinburgh East) (Lab): What assessment she has made of the effect on road safety of the decision to permit longer heavy goods vehicles. [79694]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mike Penning): The Government’s response to the consultation on the use of longer semi-trailers includes a revised impact assessment. It indicates that the forthcoming trial of 1,800 trailers should result in a marginal reduction in accidents and fatalities and their associated costs.
Sheila Gilmore: Given that the original consultation document admitted that longer lorries are less safe, and in the light of the tragic circumstances of last week, which were admittedly different, do the Government not now have cause to reconsider taking any risk with safety by introducing such lorries?
Mike Penning: What happened on the M5 was a tragic incident, and our thoughts and sympathies are with the families who have lost their loved ones and the people who are still very seriously ill in hospital. No assumptions should be made until after the police inquiry is completed.
The research was undertaken by the Transport Research Laboratory, a world-leading independent body. It indicates that there will be a 1.6% reduction in road casualties.
Grayrigg Train Crash
14. Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) (LD): If she will establish a public inquiry into the Grayrigg train crash in February 2007. [79695]
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Mrs Theresa Villiers): The Grayrigg derailment was thoroughly investigated by the rail accident investigation branch in its 2008 report. The accident also received detailed scrutiny during the inquest into the tragic death of Mrs Masson. Ongoing rail industry actions continue to address issues arising from Grayrigg. The Government have therefore decided not to set up a public inquiry.
Tim Farron: Our thoughts and prayers must be with the family of Mrs Margaret Masson, following the conclusion last week of the inquest into her tragic death at Grayrigg in 2007. The inquest revealed that in February 2007 alone, there were no fewer than 700 points-related failures just on the line from Motherwell to Crewe. That is 700 near misses. Does that not demonstrate the need for a much wider, nationwide inquiry, and should not the Government now resolve not to deregulate Network Rail, which would further compromise rail safety?
Mrs Villiers: The Government are determined not to compromise rail safety. We are satisfied that very important lessons must be learned from Grayrigg and previous accidents. In taking forward reform of the railways to make them more efficient, maintaining the highest levels of safety will be a vital priority we intend to keep to.
Topical Questions
T1. [79696] Jack Lopresti (Filton and Bradley Stoke) (Con): If she will make a statement on her departmental responsibilities.
The Secretary of State for Transport (Justine Greening): In just under four weeks in this job, I have met a range of people, organisations and parliamentarians involved in the transport world. For example, I have met the Select Committee on Transport, the industry-formed Rail Delivery Group and the Motorists Forum. I have also addressed the Airport Operators Association and visited the Thameslink site at Blackfriars to see for myself the progress being made with that vital project.
I am clear that my key objective is to ensure that the Department for Transport plays its role in being a driver of economic growth, not just today but in the future, by helping people and goods to get from A to B, while also helping the UK’s delivery of key environmental goals.
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