Parliamentary Questions: 10th-13th June

Parliamentary Questions: 10th-13th June

12th June

Written Answers

Cycling

Mr Marcus Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what funding his Department allocated to projects relating to cycling between (a) 2005 and 2010 and (b) 2010 to 2014.

Mr Goodwill: During the five financial years 2005-06 to 2009-10, the Department for Transport (DFT) provided funding for cycling through Cycling England, an arm’s length organisation set up in 2005; in that period, Cycling England received £105 million from the DFT.

During the five financial years 2010-11 to 2014-15, the DFT allocated a final £63 million to Cycling England, and has allocated direct funding of £224 million for cycling projects, comprising: the £94 million Cycling Cities and National Parks fund, £28.5 million for Links to Schools/Linking Communities, the £35 million cycle safety fund, £14.5 million for Cycle Rail, £4.8 million to the Highways Agency and £46.8 million for Bikeability. In addition, the DFT’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund is providing £540 million for local authorities to prioritise sustainable transport projects, of which 28% or £151 million is being allocated to cycling projects. So total investment by this Government in cycling in the five financial years 2010-11 to 2014-15 is £438 million.

DFT funding for the LSTF and its Cycling Ambition, Cycle-Rail, and Linking Communities funds is often used to lever matching local contributions. When these other sources are included, spend on cycling in England is equal to £5 per person a year, while spend in the eight cycling ambition cities is around £10 per person a year. From 2015-16, the LSTF forms part of the Local Growth Fund, a long-term funding commitment of £2 billion a year.

 

Cycling: Children

Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will issue guidance on the safe use of bicycle trailers to provide a minimum level of safety for children being towed by bicycles on the roads.

Mr Goodwill: The Department has no current plans to issue guidance on the safe use of trailers on bicycles. However children should be transported safely and securely and trailers should be in a roadworthy condition before being used on the highway.

 

Driving

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the potential benefits of mandatory display of passed plates by all novice drivers for a minimum period.

Mr Goodwill: None. There is no probationary period for new drivers and no requirement to display a ‘P’ plate. However, the Transport Research Laboratory Report on “Novice Drivers: Evidence review and Evaluation Pre-Driver Training, Graduated Driver Licensing” made a number of recommendations on novice driver safety. One recommendation was that on successful completion of the driving test a driver would be permitted to progress to a probationary licence from age 18. During the 12 month (minimum) probationary licence the driver would be required to display a green ‘P’ plate to identify their licence status and aid enforcement of other recommended restrictions.

 

Health

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what use his Department has made of the National Wellbeing Index introduced by the Office for National Statistics in formulating policy since the introduction of that Index in 2011; and what policies his Department has introduced to improve national well-being as defined in that Index since 2010.

Stephen Hammond: The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is measuring National Well-being, not as an index but through a framework of 41 indicators which capture social progress around important aspects of life for individuals, communities and the nation. The statistics are experimental and we would not expect to have examples of major policies that have been heavily influenced by the well-being data at this stage.

Evidence provided to the Environmental Audit Committee for its Inquiry into Well-being can be found at:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/well-being

 

Large Goods Vehicles: Driving Tests

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what training is given to driving examiners who test students in laden lorries.

Stephen Hammond: Potential large goods vehicle (LGV) examiners are required to hold the relevant driving licence entitlement for the category of vehicle they will be testing. In the case of laden lorries that is either category C or category CE.

Initial training courses last five weeks with a ratio of two trainees to each trainer. Courses emphasise health and safety issues connected with working practices, test centres and vehicles. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) conducts regular progress checks which culminate in a final test and end-of-course evaluation.

Since early 2010 some of the vehicles used to train examiners to conduct category C and CE practical driving tests have been loaded with independent bulk containers to simulate a lorry carrying a commercial load. Consequently during training all potential LGV examiners are trained and examined using loaded vehicles. Before 2010, some category CE training made use of concrete blocks on the trailer to simulate a load.

DVSA also delivers refresher courses for examiners who have not conducted LGV testing for six months or more which readdress the most important elements of the initial training course.

 

Motor Vehicles

Jim Fitzpatrick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to promote telematics in cars (a) for young drivers and (b) generally.

Mr Goodwill: The Department is conducting focus groups with young people, parents and employers to gain a better understanding of their perspective on the safety of young drivers, including the use of telematics. During a meeting with the insurance industry, the Department agreed to commission new research into how telematics can change the behaviour and attitudes of learner drivers. We are currently working with insurance companies to encourage participation before tendering the research.

We will publish the findings of both the focus groups and research in due course.

 

Road Signs and Markings: Northern Ireland

Mr Ivan Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether officials in his Department consulted their Northern Ireland counterparts before publishing the draft Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2015.

Mr Goodwill: Department for Transport officials worked closely with Northern Ireland colleagues throughout the Traffic Signs Policy Review. A meeting was held with the devolved Administrations in February 2014, at which the proposed changes to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions were presented.

The Northern Ireland Executive has also been invited to respond to the public consultation on the draft regulations.

 

Roads: Repairs and Maintenance

Cathy Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the cost of administering the Potholes Challenge Fund.

Mr Goodwill: In the 2014 Budget, the Government announced a £200 million pothole fund for the financial year 2014-15. Some £168 million is being made available to councils in England, including up to £10 million for London. This is enough to fix over 3 million potholes on the local road network.

The administering of the fund falls under the current operating costs of the Department for Transport and so no additional costs have been incurred.

 

Roads: Safety

Sammy Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to research the use of non-slip surfaces for manholes in order to reduce the number of accidents involving motor cycles.

Mr Goodwill: There are various types of manhole covers on the market that have enhanced skid resistance. In addition, the Institute of Highways Engineers has produced guidance on locating manhole covers to reduce the risk they pose to motorcyclists. As such, the Department currently has no plans to commission research on these issues.

 

Speed Limits: Urban Areas

Caroline Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of changing the national urban default speed limit to 20 mph on (a) air pollution and (b) other environmental conditions; what similar studies in other developed nations his Department has assessed; and if he will make a statement.

Mr Goodwill: The Department does not have any current plans to introduce a default 20 mph speed limit. Local authorities are best placed to determine the speed limits for their areas, based on local knowledge and the views of the community, and have the powers to do so. We are aware of studies carried out for local authorities, including for the City of London, which showed no overall negative effects on air quality in 20 mph speed restrictions.

However, the Department is about to commission comprehensive research into the effects of 20 mph limits. This will cover many aspects including effects on speed, collisions, casualties and modal shift. The research will also consider air quality, best practice, road users’ perceptions and effects on the quality of the environment, as well as relevant research from other countries.

More information is available here

Written Statement

EU Transport Council

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): I attended the final Transport Council under the Greek presidency (the presidency) in Luxembourg on Thursday 5 June.

The Council reached political agreement on its first reading of the technical pillar of the fourth railway package—recast directives on interoperability and safety, and a regulation on the European Agency for Railways (ERA). Discussions were generally positive with the UK and other member states overwhelmingly supporting the presidency compromise texts. I emphasised the benefits of market opening in the UK and welcomed the incoming Italian presidency’s position to progress the political pillar (a position strongly endorsed by the Commission), but abstained from the votes on procedural grounds as only one of the three texts (the regulation on ERA) had cleared all our parliamentary scrutiny processes.

The Council also reached political agreement on the amended directive laying down the maximum weights and dimensions of road vehicles in national and international traffic. Discussions focused on the outstanding issue of cross-border movement of vehicles that exceed the maximum weights and dimensions laid down in the directive. Member states were divided between those pushing for legal clarity and those that could not support any changes to the relevant article (article 4) due to concerns about negative modal shift and increased demands on infrastructure. I strongly supported a proposal which would have provided the legal certainty the UK was seeking in order to safeguard the long-standing cross-border movement of vehicles of over 4 metres in height between the UK and Ireland. This was supported by several other member states. There was, however, significant opposition and as a result the presidency had no option but to conclude that no changes would be made to article 4 in order to secure a deal on the overall file. Following lobbying in the margins from the UK and other likeminded member states the Commission agreed to make a declaration reaffirming that its interpretation of the directive is that if two neighbouring member states both allow vehicles that deviate from the requirements in the annex, then those neighbouring member states may permit the cross-border movement of these vehicles, but not more widely. This was a positive outcome for the UK as it confirmed that our existing cross-border practices could continue.

The Council took note of progress reports on the proposed air passenger rights and the port services regulations. The Commission expressed disappointment that the Council had not yet reached a common view on air passenger rights and hoped rapid agreement could be reached on this and all other aviation dossiers including the EU-Ukraine common aviation area agreement. On the specifics of the air passenger rights dossier, the Commission expressed reservations regarding the category of unexpected flight safety shortcomings and the proposed deletion of the compensation regime for missed connecting flights. Several member states used the opportunity of the progress report on the port services regulation to emphasise their concerns, in particular on scope and whether a regulation was the appropriate legal instrument.

Any other business was dominated by a wide range of aviation items with the Commission providing updates on work at international and European levels to improve aircraft tracking following the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370, and also its report on the application of the airport charges directive. Spain presented its information paper on preserving and enhancing the EU influence in the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the Netherlands pressed the Commission for a clear timetable to discuss further the social dimension in the air transport sector.

Under land transport the presidency provided information on the outcome of the 8 May informal Transport Council and on Shift2Rail. The Commission also provided an update on the cross-border traffic offence directive. On the maritime side, the Council conclusions on the EU’s maritime transport policy were adopted without debate.

Finally, Italian Transport Minister, Maurizio Lupi, set out the theme for the Italian EU presidency as “infrastructure and transport for growth and cohesion” and confirmed that the transport priorities will be actions on TEN-T networks, ports services, the political pillar of the fourth railway package and the single European sky. The key dates for the Italian presidency will be Transport Councils on 8 October in Luxembourg and 3 December in Brussels. An informal council will be held in Milan on 16-17 September.

Further information available here

 

10th June

Driving Offences: Insurance

Mr Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many cases of uninsured drivers have been reported, by region, in each of the last five years.

Mr Goodwill: It is not possible to calculate the number of uninsured drivers. However, the number of uninsured vehicles in Great Britain has fallen to 1 million from 1.4 million in 2010 due to a combination of police enforcement activity and the continuous insurance enforcement scheme. We do not have a breakdown by region.

 

Roads: Safety

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made by his Department’s Justice for Vulnerable Road Users Working Group.

Mr Goodwill: The Justice for Vulnerable Road Users group is a sub-group of the Cycling Stakeholder Forum. It includes representatives from the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Metropolitan Police, Crown Prosecution Service, Sentencing Council, CTC, British Cycling and RoadPeace. The next meeting is scheduled for later this month.

The remit of the group is set out in a terms of reference agreed by the membership. The group has recently looked into whether it would be possible to link data to see how many fatal road traffic accidents have resulted into convictions and this will most likely be discussed at the forthcoming meeting. Many of the other concerns of the Group should be covered in the forthcoming Ministry of Justice Review of Motoring Offences.

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