PQs 26th – 30th Nov 2012

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
 
Cities Fit for Cycling
 
1. Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab): What progress he has made on implementing the recommendations of Cities Fit for Cycling. [130581]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Norman Baker): The coalition Government is working hard to promote cycling and make it even safer. Yesterday I announced a further £20 million of funding for cycling projects. This is on top of the £30 million of funding announced earlier this year to tackle dangerous junctions. We have also made it simpler for councils to put in place 20 mph zones and limits and install Trixi mirrors to improve the visibility of cyclists at junctions, by reducing bureaucracy.
Jonathan Ashworth: I am grateful to the Minister for that detailed reply. I recently met representatives of the Leicester cycling campaign, who made it clear that they felt that, if I may say so, the Government need to put more emphasis on and more support into cycling. Given that, will the Government commit to implement all the proposals of the Cities Fit for Cycling campaign and invest in dedicated separate cycling infrastructure?
Norman Baker: That, if I may say so, is a churlish interpretation of what the Government has done, which is to put enormous effort into improving cycling and progressing all the recommendations of The Times Cities Fit for Cycling campaign, which I very much welcome. It is perhaps worth noting that there was a huge backlog of important cycling interventions that we inherited when we took office and we are progressing well to deal with those.
Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): The Minister may know of the all-party group that I started in the early 1980s called PACTS—the parliamentary advisory council for transport safety—which organised the seatbelt legislation. We had the annual Westminster lecture, the 23rd, last night at which Jeanne Breen vigorously said that we are not going to get cycling deaths down and there will be a rising level of road accidents because this Government have given up targets.
Norman Baker: I do not think that is entirely fair. We have seen great action on road safety from the Secretary of State and from the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Wimbledon (Stephen Hammond), who has just launched a campaign on cycle safety. Targets are an easy substitute for action. What we saw under the previous Government was legislation which caused delays, and targets which were a substitute for action. We like to get things done, not to set arbitrary targets.
Road Deaths and Injuries
 
8. Graeme Morrice (Livingston) (Lab): If he will make it his policy to reinstate national targets to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the roads. [130589]
13. Kate Green (Stretford and Urmston) (Lab): If he will make it his policy to reinstate national targets to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the roads. [130595]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick McLoughlin): The Government have no plans to reinstate national targets. The strategic framework for road safety sets out measures that we intend to take to continue to reduce casualties. Those include making forecasts of the casualty numbers that we might expect to see through to 2030 if our measures, and the actions of local authorities, are successful.
Graeme Morrice: With the numbers killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads increasing for the first time in 17 years, will the Secretary of State think again about the decision to axe national targets on reducing deaths and serious injuries, which helped to focus efforts across Government, local government and the agencies?
Mr McLoughlin: I will never take safety lightly; it must always be uppermost in the mind of the Secretary of State for Transport. The United Kingdom has a very good record. In 1979, the number of people killed on the roads was 6,352. In 2011, the number was 1,901. That is still far too many, but the country has been heading in the right direction.
Kate Green: Campaigners will meet in my constituency this weekend to discuss how we can improve local road safety. There is growing support for 20 mph speed limits in residential areas. Why does the Department advise that safety has to be balanced against economic considerations and traffic flow, when there is no evidence of longer journey times in 20 mph areas?
Mr McLoughlin: I am always willing to look at the hon. Lady’s representations. It is important that we take a range of measures to improve safety. We have taken a range of measures, as have the companies that produce cars. There is no doubt that cars are much more responsive in their braking power than they were 30 years ago. We have made movements in the right direction. In some areas, 20 mph speed limits are right.
Mr John Leech (Manchester, Withington) (LD): At a time of budget constraints, agencies understandably concentrate scarce resources on the performance targets against which they are measured. That is clearly having an impact on road safety budgets. I urge the Secretary of State to reconsider this decision because quite apart from the personal tragedy that is involved in all fatalities, it is a false economy, because every fatality costs a lot of money.
Mr McLoughlin: Indeed. The hon. Gentleman is right: a fatality not only causes huge damage and a dramatic situation for the family involved in that tragedy, but there is also cost to the health service and other services. There has been no diminution in the desire of the Department for Transport to improve road safety, and there will not be while I am Secretary of State.
Paul Maynard (Blackpool North and Cleveleys) (Con): The Secretary of State may be aware that road traffic deaths in the east midlands are double those in the north east per capita. As I learned from the Transport Committee inquiry into road safety, national targets allow underperforming local authorities to shelter behind the excellent performance of other local authorities, Blackpool included. Does the Secretary of State agree that national targets actually lead to more traffic deaths in some parts of the country because we are not targeting underperformance?
Mr McLoughlin: I am grateful to my hon. Friend; he makes an interesting point. Whenever serious or fatal accidents take place I want a proper investigation to take place, the results of which can be carried across to provide experience to other local authorities throughout the United Kingdom.
Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse) (Lab): The Secretary of State’s decision will be bitterly regretted by campaign groups across the country. Targets introduced by the Thatcher Administration 30 years ago had cross-party support and have successfully brought down casualty rates across the country. His use of the word “forecasts” indicates that he is trying to claw something back from his predecessor’s bad decision to abolish targets. Will the Secretary of State think again? Targets are not the whole solution but a component; they are part of the way to reduce serious injuries and deaths on British roads.
Mr McLoughlin: I know the hon. Gentleman takes this issue incredibly seriously, and although he talks about deaths I think we should look at the seriously injured as well. In the year ending June 2012, there were 1,790 deaths on British roads—a 6% drop on the year before.
Mark Pawsey (Rugby) (Con): The Secretary of State is well aware that those most at risk on our roads are young drivers. I was pleased to see his recent positive comments about placing restrictions on young drivers—for example, on the number of passengers they may carry or the times of day they may drive. Will he indicate to the House how those proposals might be taken forward?
Mr McLoughlin: A number of representations on young drivers have been made to the Department for Transport and, as I said in that interview, they are all worth considering and investigating properly to see whether we can reduce the terrible toll that is sometimes caused by young drivers. However, that is not so of all young drivers. We read about the horrendous cases, but not about the many cases where young drivers behave and act responsibly on the road, as do other road users.
T6. [130609] Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) (Lab): Despite the challenge of our famous hills, Sheffield has embraced cycling, and many of my constituents have backed The Times’ “Cities fit for Cycling” manifesto. Will the Government commit to implementing the manifesto in full, as Labour has, and does the Minister recognise that only investment in a dedicated cycling infrastructure will encourage road safety and a switch to bikes?
Norman Baker: The amount of money the Government has invested in cycling—through the local sustainable transport fund and the £20 million I announced only yesterday to the House—dwarfs what the last Government invested over 13 years. We are making good progress on all the points identified by The Times’ campaign, which we very much welcome, and on catching up with the legacy that I am afraid we inherited from the last Government.
Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op): I wrote to one of the previous Ministers about enforcement of advanced stop lines, but did not get a very positive response. Will the Government now look at ensuring that advanced stop lines at traffic lights are complied with much more effectively?
Norman Baker: We are always open to suggestions to improve road safety and traffic management. We are undertaking a review of traffic signs, which has been completed, and a further review of traffic management processes. If the hon. Gentleman gives me specific details of his concern, I will ensure that it is fed into the process and given proper consideration.
WRITTEN ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
 
Electric Vehicles: Safety
 
Mr Scott: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans his Department has to address the danger of silent hybrid and electric motor vehicles. [130205]
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport is working with international bodies to develop recommendations on adding artificial sound to quiet vehicles such as hybrid and electric motor vehicles. These recommendations are expected to specify the characteristic of the sound and the vehicle speed up to which the sound should be generated, so that levels from electric and conventional vehicles are similar. The Department recently published a research report on the audibility of electric vehicles and can be found at the following link:
http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/assessing-the-perceived-safety-risk-from-quiet-electric-and-hybrid-vehicles/PPR525-assessing-the-perceived-safety-risk-from-quiet-electric-and-hybrid-vehicles.pdf
Invalid Vehicles: Safety
 
Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the contribution by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport of 21 March 2012, Official Report, column 258-61WH, on mobility vehicle safety, what progress has been made on reviewing policy and enforcement of legislation on mobility scooter safety. [129875]
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport continues to make progress on the review of mobility scooter safety. We have been in discussions with the industry and other stakeholders about a standardised assessment for new users (including an improved eyesight test), and how best to promote training and encourage the take up of insurance. The results of our discussions will be disseminated as soon as possible. We are continuing the work to identify a suitable legal mechanism for replacing the term ‘invalid carriage’, and suitable amendments to the regulations to enable the weight of powered wheelchairs to be increased will be laid as soon as possible. We will be completing shortly an evidence-gathering research project, as part of the exercise to develop a kite marking scheme for transport of scooters on public transport. The Department is engaging in discussions with operators and the industry regarding suitable designs and guidance to facilitate transport on public transport.
Motorcycles
 
Steve Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the role and remit is of each committee and focus group established by his Department and the Driving Standards Agency involved in motorcycle training and testing (a) between May 2010 and August 2012 and (b) from August 2012 to date; and if he will make a statement. [130219]
Stephen Hammond: The groups established by the Department for Transport and the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) between May 2010 and August 2012 and involved in motorcycle training and testing are listed as follows.
No new groups have been established from August 2012 to date.
In addition, the Motorcycle Stakeholder Panel, established in November 2009, met throughout 2010 and 2011. The panel ensured stakeholders were informed of and able to offer input to DSA plans and provided a forum for them to represent their members.
Established in 2010:
The Motorcycle Test Review High Level Steering Group. Provides a high level oversight of the test review process.
Motorcycle Test Review Working Group. As part of the Government’s wider work to promote safe, reasonable use of the road network, the specific focus of the motorcycle test review is to consider how to improve the practical motorcycle test in Great Britain. Specific areas for consideration include:
the content of the practical test;
safe delivery arrangements;
adequate geographical coverage;
implications for the training industry;
implications of the EU third driving licence directive; and
cost implications for riders, trainers and DFT/DSA/DVLA.
Motorcycle Test Review Technical Sub-Group. Considers how best to implement the manoeuvres that should form part of the practical motorcycle test, having regard to the requirements of the EU driving licence directives; reports findings to the Working Group.
Motorcycle Booking Working Group. The working group was established following the announcement of the motorcycle test review to consider the issues trainers identified with booking test appointments. Its aim was to progress the findings of the trainer booking review undertaken in 2009, resolve the inefficiencies of the scheme and plan the implementation of the changes.
Established in 2011:
The Strategic Framework for Road Safety, published in May 2011, set out a commitment to ensure that motorcycle instructors have the appropriate skills and qualifications. DSA established the Learning to Ride Working Group, involving key motorcycle stakeholders, to progress this work. The group is considering a wide range of proposals, including possible changes to the qualification and quality assurance arrangements for motorcycle instructors.
Research Steering Group. Determines the methodology, quality assurance and governance of the research and reports this information to the Motorcycle Test Review Working Group.
Roads: Safety
 
Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many local authorities in England have  terminated the employment of all road safety officers since May 2010. [129177]
Stephen Hammond: The Department for Transport does not collect information about the employment of road safety officers. Local authorities have a statutory obligation to provide road safety, but decisions about whether to employ road safety officers is a matter for local authorities to determine.
Roads: Animals
 
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has any plans to implement wildlife crossings in particularly hazardous areas. [130413]
Stephen Hammond: The Highways Agency has plans for a range of wildlife crossings as part of the construction, improvement and operation of the Strategic Road Network (SRN). Where appropriate, these measures are designed to reduce the potential risk of incidental mortality to animals gaining access to the network and/or to avoid/reduce the potential fragmentation effects of roads. In all of these activities our primary concern is the safety of road users and animal welfare.
Mitigation measures that have previously been constructed along the SRN include tunnels or ledges for combined (multi-species) use, amphibians, badgers and otters; and bridges for badgers, bats, deer and dormice. These are often also combined with delivering wider benefits such as farm access tracks, and Public Rights of Way.
The Agency also undertakes research to better understand the effectiveness of such mitigation measures, in order to minimise the number of animal fatalities on the SRN and therefore reduce their impact. Further advice is published in the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges available online at:
http://www.dft.gov.uk/ha/standards/dmrb/index.htm
Roads: Snow and Ice
 
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps he has taken to ensure that the road system is ready for severe weather conditions in winter 2012-13. [130392]
Norman Baker: I wrote to all hon. Members on 23 November 2012 setting out the steps that the Department for Transport and the wider transport sector have taken in advance of any possible severe winter weather. I have arranged for a copy of this letter to be placed in both Libraries of the House.
Vehicles: Electric and Hybrid Vehicles
 
Questions
Asked by Lord Harrison
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the Safe and Sound campaign about the impact of low-noise vehicles on the safety of blind people.[HL3612]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what discussions they have had at European Union level regarding the introduction of an artificial engine noise on hybrid and electric vehicles.[HL3613]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what research they have commissioned regarding the necessary audibility of an artificial engine noise on hybrid and electric vehicles.[HL3614]
Earl Attlee: The Government are familiar with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association’s Safe and Sound Campaign, although we have made no formal assessment of it. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Norman Baker MP, will be meeting representatives of the campaign next month.
Negotiations on a new EU regulation for road vehicle noise are under way in the European Council of Ministers and this includes provisions for added noise from electric and hybrid vehicles. The Government are fully engaged in these negotiations and our approach is to establish the technical specifications but to allow manufacturers the choice whether to fit the system.
The technical requirements are expected to be those developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe that specify the characteristic of the sound and the vehicle speed up to which the sound should be generated, so that levels from electric and conventional vehicles are similar. The negotiations will continue under the Irish presidency in January 2013.
The Department for Transport recently published a research report on the audibility of electric vehicles and can be found at the following link: http://assets. dft.gov.uk/publications/assessing-the-perceived-safety-risk-from-quiet-electric-and-hybrid-vehicles/PPR525-assessing-the-perceived-safety-risk-from-quiet-electric-and-hybrid-vehicles.pdf.
Roads: Accidents
 
Mrs Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many road traffic collisions were responded to by police in (a) the Northumbria police force area and (b) England in (i) 2009, (ii) 2010, (iii) 2011 and (iv) 2012 to date; and how many such collisions involved a fatality. [129466]
Stephen Hammond: The Department only collects information relating to personal injury accidents, and therefore does not include damage-only accidents in its statistics.
The numbers of personal injury accidents reported to Northumbria police, and in England, in each year since 2009 were as follows:
Reported number of accidents, Northumbria police and England, 2009-11
Number of accidents
2009 2010 2011

Northumbria police

All accidents

3,958

3,599

3,426

Fatal accidents

40

31

28

England

All accidents

144,891

137,277

135,071

Fatal accidents

1,745

1,460

1,509

In-year totals for 2012 have only been published at Great Britain level. The latest published figures cover the period to June 2012 and are available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras45-quarterly-statistics
Figures for geographic areas within Great Britain for the year 2012 are due for publication in June 2013.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average annual cost to the public purse is of road traffic accidents. [129999]
Stephen Hammond: The Department for Transport publishes the overall costs of road traffic accidents in “Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2011 Annual Report”, which is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/9275/rrcgb2011-02.pdf
The figures separately identify medical and ambulance, and police costs; however costs to the public purse are not specifically identified.
Roads: Animals
 
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the average cost to the public purse of installing a wildlife crossing. [129998]
Stephen Hammond: The Department does not collect information on the provision of wildlife crossing for the local authority road network. Illustrative costs for the Strategic Road Network (SRN) have been included in the following table. Any supplementary information to that contained within the table is embedded within non-specific budget costs and therefore could be calculated only at disproportionate costs.
Table of illustrative costs of wildlife crossings constructed on the SRN between 2008 to 2010
Wildlife crossings constructed by the Highways Agency 2008 to 2010
Project name Types of features Capital costs (approximate) (£)

Major projects

M6 Carlisle to Guardsmill Extension

8 wildlife crossings

275,000

A590 High and Low Newton Bypass

wildlife crossing

85,000

A419 Blunsdon Bypass

3 wildlife crossings

16,000

A38 Dobwalls Bypass

3 wildlife crossings

300,000

A69 Haydon Bridge Bypass

wildlife crossing

60,000

A3 Hindhead Improvement

7 wildlife crossings

62,000

A595 Parton—Lillyhall Improvement

3 wildlife crossings

50,000

A14 Haughley New St—Stowmarket Improvement

2 wildlife crossings

(1)5,000

M40 Junction 15 (Longbridge Roundabout)

4 wildlife crossings

20,000

A421 Bedford to M1 Junction 13

2 wildlife crossings

41,000

A1 Dishforth to Leeming Improvement (A1 Dishforth to Barton)

4 wildlife crossings

26,000

A46 Newark—Widmerpool Improvement

15 wildlife crossings

95,000

Area teams—network delivery and development

Area 3 A31 Kingstream

wildlife crossing

55,000

Area 3 St Leornards

wildlife crossing

35,000

Area 3 A3 Morley

wildlife crossing

10,000

Area 3 Welwyn Garden City

wildlife crossing

35,000

Area 5 M25

wildlife crossing

34,000

Area 6 Belstead Brook

wildlife crossing

65,000

Area 8 A45 Barton Brook

wildlife crossing

80,000

Area 10 M6 jcn 29 Tasker Wood

wildlife crossing

39,000

Area 13 09/10

3 wildlife crossings

271,000

Area 13 08/09

wildlife crossing

188,000

Area 14 A1 Sandy’s Letch—2 crossings

2 wildlife crossings

222,000

Area 14 A1 Warren Burn

wildlife crossing

48,000

Area 14 A1 River Aln

wildlife crossing

71,000

Area 14 Cawledge Burn

wildlife crossing

174,000

Area 14 Newlands Burn

wildlife crossing

118,000

Total

2,480,000

(1) In the period

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) deaths and (b) serious injuries have occurred as a result of road traffic accidents involving animals in the last year. [130000]
Stephen Hammond: In Great Britain in 2011 there were eight fatalities and 139 serious injuries resulting from personal injury road accidents involving animals (other than a ridden horse) in the carriageway.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent estimate he has made of the annual cost to the public purse of road traffic accidents involving animals. [130407]
Stephen Hammond: The Department for Transport publishes the overall costs of road traffic accidents in ‘Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2011 Annual Report’, which is available at:
http://assets.dft.gov.uk/statistics/releases/road-accidents-and-safety-annual-report-2011/rrcgb2011-04.pdf
The report gives the number of reported road traffic accidents in 2011 where a police officer attended the scene and recorded an animal or object in the carriageway as a contributory factor in fatal, serious or slight accidents.
However, no estimate has been made of the costs to the public purse of road traffic accidents involving animals.

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