Mr Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many individuals took the practical driving test in the last 10 years for which figures are available; and how many in each such year failed the number plate test and were required to be examined by the competent medical authority. 
Mike Penning: The number of individuals who have taken the practical driving test since April 2004 (the earliest date for which data available), and the number of those who failed to read the number plate and failed the eyesight test, are shown in the table.
|Total individuals||Individuals that failed the eyesight test|
If an eye sight test is failed, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) notifies the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency by faxing a D255 form on the day.
DSA does not know the number of candidates who were then required to be examined by a competent medical authority after the number plate test failure.
PACTS comments: The DVLA is currently holding a consultation on proposals to amend driving licence standards for vision, diabetes and epilepsy. It is proposed that the ‘number plate test’ which tests eyesight as part of the practical driving test should be amended, with the distance at which the number plate has to be read reduced. Opticians do not believe this test is sufficient and would like to see a formal eye examination with an authorised medical examiner imposed. This PQ illustrates that a small percentage of people regularly fail the test, though this does nothing to prove or disprove the effectiveness of the number plate test.
John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport by what date he expects his Department’s report on potential measures to reduce the congestion caused by road incidents to be published; and what the reason is for the time taken to publish the report. 
Mike Penning [holding answer 14 March 2011]: We completed a review of motorway closure incidents at the end of January 2011, in line with the Department’s business plan commitment.
We will publish the report shortly and set out our plans.
We are committed and remain on track to implement the recommendations from the review by December 2012, in line with the Department’s business plan.
Speed Limits: Schools
Teresa Pearce: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many schools in (a) Erith and Thamesmead constituency and (b) in total are situated in 20 mph zones; and what steps he is taking to encourage more 20 mph limit zones around schools. 
Mike Penning: This information is not held by the Department for Transport as local speed limits are the responsibility of individual local authorities. The number of schools situated in 20 mph limit zones will therefore be a matter for the London borough of Bexley. The Department’s guidance to local traffic authorities on setting local speed limits was published in August 2006 (DfT Circular 01/2006). A copy has been placed in the Library of the House and is also available on the Department’s website. It recommends that local authorities consider introducing 20 mph zones wherever vehicle speeds of 20 mph are desired, including roads around schools.
Ambulance Service: Safety Belts
Mrs Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider the merits of introducing an exemption from requirements to wear seatbelts in motor vehicles for staff of ambulance services. 
Mike Penning: The proposal to exempt ambulance crew from seat belt wearing would raise a variety of concerns. There is clearly a risk of personal injury to paramedics being unrestrained, not only to themselves but to patients and other passengers when an ambulance is being driven at speed in an emergency.
We would, however, be prepared to consider representations on this issue from the authorities responsible for providing ambulance services, and to establish what the current practice is and how far they support your proposal.
Bus Services: Concessions
Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the cost to his Department was of funding free bus passes for the elderly in the latest period in which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Norman Baker: The majority of funding for concessionary travel is provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) through Formula Grant. From April 2011 the responsibility for the administration of travel concession schemes will move from lower tier authorities to upper tier authorities and all funding will be provided to those authorities through Formula Grant. Local authorities spend around £1 billion a year on statutory and discretionary concessionary travel schemes.
From 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2011, the Department for Transport also provided Special Grant funding to local authorities by way of transitional help to cover the extra costs of the England-wide off-peak bus travel concession, which was introduced on 1 April 2008. The Special Grant funding was £212 million in 2008-09, £217 million in 2009-10 and £223 million in 2010-11.
Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the take-up rate was by elderly people of free bus passes in the latest period in which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Norman Baker: The National Travel Survey 2009 estimates that 76% of eligible older people take up their entitlement to free bus passes.
Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport with reference to the report of Passenger Focus on the operation of the assisted passenger reservation system, if he will take steps to encourage the rail industry to (a) install a new booking system that allows for monitoring of service delivery, (b) publish findings of the monitoring system and (c) set a service level target in each franchise. 
Norman Baker: In response to the previous Passenger Focus report into the assisted passenger reservation system, published in 2008, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) launched a project to improve the system. This is due to begin testing in the next few weeks and the Department for Transport is contributing £141,000 towards the cost from the Access for All Programme.
The new system will allow the Association of Train Operating Companies to monitor performance by train operator and individual station and we expect that the industry will publish this information. We are considering introducing service targets for each franchise once an industry wide consensus on fair and objective targets can be agreed.
Kwasi Kwarteng: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to reduce road congestion. 
Mike Penning: This Government’s vision is for a transport system that is an engine for economic growth. A key part of this is tackling congestion and the unreliable journey times that congestion generates.
In regard to local highway authority managed roads, we have published a Local Transport White Paper. It explains how the Government are placing localism at the heart of the transport agenda, and taking measures to empower local authorities when it comes to tackling issues, such as congestion, in their areas.
In addition we are intending to commit £1.5 billion to local authority major transport schemes in the spending review period and a further £560 million through a new Local Sustainable Transport Fund.
On the strategic road network, we are taking forward a range of measures. This includes investment in 14 new major improvement schemes and delivery of a new National Traffic Information Service to enable motorists to make informed decisions about how to avoid congestion and thereby contribute to its reduction.
The Highways Agency Traffic Officer Service continues to play a vital role in swiftly clearing incidents and incident related congestion. We have also recently completed a review of motorway closure incidents, focusing on what improvements could be made to reduce incident durations. We are committed to ensuring that any improvements identified from the review are taken forward by December 2012.
Bus Services: Concessions
Mr Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of availability of services to provide free bus passes to elderly people in rural areas; and if he will make a statement. 
Norman Baker: The National Travel Survey 2009 estimated that 87% of households in Great Britain were within six minutes walk of a bus stop while a further 10% were within 13 minutes. Between 1998 and 2009, the proportion of households in rural areas that were within 13 minutes walk of an hourly or more frequent bus service increased from 45% to 58%.
The England-wide concessionary travel pass is valid for free travel on local buses at off-peak times in any local authority. Its use is not restricted to the local authority in which the pass holder resides.
Cycling England and Bikeability
Shabana Mahmood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans his Department has for the future of (a) Bikeability and (b) Cycling England. 
Norman Baker: We have already announced that Bikeability—cycle proficiency for the 21st century—will be supported for the remainder of this Parliament, thereby giving confidence in our commitment to this valuable programme.
We have also announced grants totalling £11 million to local authorities and School Sport Partnerships to provide up to 275,000 Bikeability cycle training places for children in 2011-12.
As announced in the Public Bodies Review, Cycling England is to be abolished when its current remit expires on 31 March 2011 and its functions will be taken in-house. Cycling England was reviewed as part of the coalition Government’s commitment to radically increase the transparency and accountability of public services and reinvigorate the public’s trust in democracy. The Government’s approach was based on the presumption that state activity, where needed, is best undertaken by bodies that are democratically accountable at either national or local level.
We also believe that the Government’s move towards localism, and particularly in this regard the nature of the new Local Sustainable Transport Fund, for which all local transport authorities outside London are eligible to bid and for which we expect bids for cycling related projects, means that the rationale for a body like Cycling England has weakened. I would however like to acknowledge the good work the organisation has done during its existence.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what projections he has made of the likely levels of usage of electric cars in the next 20 years. 
Norman Baker: Specific projections for 2031 are not yet available; the Department for Transport is currently working towards ambitions for the 4(th) Carbon Budget period (2023-27).
It is not known which vehicle technology will dominate the market in the long-term. We are clear that uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles (such as electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles), in addition to efficiency improvements in conventional vehicles, is required to meet our long term carbon reduction targets. EU targets for average new car emissions are currently 130g/km by 2015, and 95g/km by 2020.
Transport Analysis guidance, WebTAG, provides guidance on how to conduct appraisal of transport schemes and forecasts on key uptake assumptions for vehicle propulsion types. WebTAG is being developed to ensure that ultra-low emission vehicles are appropriately represented.
Ian Mearns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for consultation on the transfer of powers from local transport authorities to proposed elected mayors under the provisions of the Localism Bill; and if he will make a statement. 
Robert Neill: I have been asked to reply.
There is a strong case for elected mayors in our largest cities who have the powers needed for them to promote the success and prosperity of these cities. We intend to look to the cities themselves, their businesses, and those who contribute to the city’s life to see just what powers might be needed.
Large Goods Vehicles: Tolls
John Woodcock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what work his Department has undertaken on (a) consultation and (b) communication with road users on the introduction of a road user charging scheme for heavy goods vehicles. 
Mike Penning [holding answer 14 March 2011]: We have started to discuss our developing ideas informally with interested parties. On 1 February I hosted a ‘Listening to Industry’ event with representatives from the freight industry. Officials have also held exploratory discussions with the relevant trade associations. We aim to launch a formal consultation later in the year.
Parking: Pedestrian Areas
Valerie Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) whether he plans to review the legal provisions in respect of pavement parking; (2) what recent representations he has received on pavement parking. 
Norman Baker: Local authorities have wide-ranging powers under sections 1 and 2 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act (RTRA) 1984 to make Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) to put in place parking controls, including a prohibition on pavement parking either on a designated length of highway or over a wider area. Authorities must indicate the restrictions with the appropriate signs and the Department has designed new signs for area-wide bans.
Last month, I wrote to every English traffic authority to remind them of the powers and tools they already have to tackle local pavement parking problems, and to issue them with the special authorisation necessary for the signs referred to above, in order to encourage them to take action where appropriate. A copy of this letter has been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Representations on this matter were made recently as a result of the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 by:
(a) Newcastle under Lyme borough council;
(b) Newcastle upon Tyne council; and
(c) Birmingham city council.
The Department has also received recent representations on this issue from Living Streets and receive a small but regular amount of correspondence about pavement parking from members of the public.
Public Transport: Disability
Chris Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has taken to ensure consistent levels of access for disabled people to all forms of public transport. 
Norman Baker: I refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer of 4 March 2011, Official Report, columns 626-27W.
Aviation: Working Hours
Mr Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Civil Aviation Authority will maintain separate and enhanced flight time limitations for airline pilots following the implementation of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s Europe-wide regulations. 
Stephen Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will establish separate UK flight time limitations for airline pilots following the implementation of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s regulations on the same subject. 
Mr Buckland: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the Civil Aviation Authority will maintain separate and enhanced flight time limitations for airline pilots following the implementation of Europe-wide regulations by the European Aviation Safety Agency. 
Mrs Villiers: The European Aviation Safety Agency published draft legislation for consultation on 20 December 2010. The consultation closes on 20 March. The Civil Aviation Authority is currently reviewing the proposals. We will respond to the consultation once it has completed its review.
Once EASA’s final requirements are adopted as EU law there will be no scope for member states to establish separate national requirements.
Stephen Lloyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will assess whether changes to pilots’ flight time limitations proposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency provide levels of safety equivalent to existing levels. 
Mrs Villiers: I refer the hon. Member to my answer given to the hon. Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham) of 7 February 2011, Official Report, column 51W.
Mr Buckland: 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. 
Mrs Villiers: I refer the hon. Member to my answer given to the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Stephen Lloyd) on 28 February 2011, Official Report, column 177W.
Mr Buckland: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the effects on safety of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s notice of proposed amendment for flight time limitations; whether he has conducted a risk assessment in respect of the agency’s current plans to reform flight time limitations; and what factors he will use in determining whether changes to pilots’ flight time limitations proposed by the agency provide an appropriate level of safety. 
Mrs Villiers: I refer the hon. Member to my answers given to the hon. Member for Coventry South (Mr Cunningham) of 7 February 2011, Official Report, column 51W, and given to the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr Gray) of 17 February 2011, Official Report, column 966W.
Mike Weatherley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he plans to review the Civil Aviation Authority’s separate and enhanced flight time limitations for airline pilots following the implementation of the European Aviation Safety Agency’s Europe-wide regulations in 2012. 
Mrs Villiers: Under current EU legislation on flight time limitations member states are permitted to maintain national requirements. However, once EASA’s final requirements are adopted as EU law, there will be no scope for member states to establish separate national requirements.