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Regional Cinema

Mrs. Brinton: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if he will make a statement about the Government's plans to support independent regional cinema. [144794]

Mr. Chris Smith: The new Government-funded body for film, the Film Council, recently launched a development strategy for film and the moving image in the English regions. It will provide funding of up to £6 million a year to facilitate the establishment of an integrated regional film agency in each region, with the capacity to determine its own industrial and cultural priorities for film. The funding provided will include a level of support for independent cinema exhibition. The Film Council is also due to launch a new strategy for cinema exhibition later this year.

Commercial Radio (Greater London)

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many commercial radio stations there are covering the Greater London area. [146113]

Mr. Chris Smith: There are 15 London-wide analogue and eight local Independent Local Radio (ILR) services within the Greater London area. The two Greater London digital multiplexes carry 17 commercial services (some of which are simulcasts of analogue services). The third Greater London Multiplex, expected to be licensed in May, should enable an additional 10 services. In addition, the three national analogue stations and the Digital One national commercial multiplex (which carries 10 services) also cover Greater London.

Digital Television

Mrs. Gilroy: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps he is taking to ensure that new televisions which are described as digital can receive digital communications. [145077]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

I am concerned that consumers may not be being given sufficiently clear information about what new televisions are, or are not, able to receive digital services. My Department is working with industry to develop a clear labelling system for digital televisions and is in touch with the Local Authorities Co-ordinating Body on Food and Trading Standards (LACOTS) about the nature and extent of consumer problems in this area.

The Trade Descriptions Act 1968 already prohibits false or misleading descriptions of products. It would therefore be an offence to describe a television set falsely, and if there are instances where traders are misdescribing analogue sets as digital, I would urge consumers to bring them to the attention of their local authority trading standards department.

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ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

M5 (Gloucestershire)

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will estimate the cost of improving Junction 10 on the M5 to provide access to both north and southbound traffic; and if he will make a statement on the future of the junction. [145176]

Mr. Hill: The Highways Agency is proposing to implement a Route Management Strategy Study (RMS) over the length of M5 between Junctions 4a (M5/M42 junction south west of Birmingham) and 15 (M5/M4 junction north of Bristol) which will include an evaluation of Junction 10 near Uckington, in Gloucestershire. The study is expected to be commissioned around the turn of this year and will take approximately 12 months to complete.

The purpose of the RMS study will be to consider the route in its regional context while also focusing on local needs and considering how we can best integrate roads planning with other transport and planning decisions. The Highways Agency will take a 10-year forward look covering the maintenance, operation and improvement projects for the route to ensure that it can sustain development growth. The views of local authorities, regional planning authorities, bus and lorry operators, the police and members of the public will all be sought and taken into account as part of the study.

As part of the study, specific consideration will be given to the merits of modifying Junction 10 of M5 to provide for all traffic movements but until the study is completed it is not possible to provide an estimate of the potential costs.

Vehicles (Crime)

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many owners of vehicles found in Lewisham were prosecuted by the DVLA, other than the Sidcup office, for (a) not registering their vehicle and (b) not taxing their vehicle in 2000. [144998]

Mr. Hill: All keepers of unlicensed vehicles found in Lewisham or those guilty of not registering their vehicle in their name are prosecuted by the Sidcup office. There were no prosecutions for these offences taken by any office other than Sidcup.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many people were prosecuted as a result of activity by the DVLA Sidcup office in 2000 for (a) not registering their vehicle and (b) not taxing their vehicle. [144999]

Mr. Hill: During the period January-December 2000, 129 people were prosecuted by the Sidcup office for not registering their vehicle and 11,933 people were prosecuted for not taxing their vehicle.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what were the highest and lowest fines imposed on people for (a) not registering their vehicle and (b) not taxing their vehicle as

22 Jan 2001 : Column: 450W

a result of a successful prosecution by the DVLA Sidcup office in 2000. [145000]

Mr. Hill: Figures relating to individual levels of fines are not available without a separate exercise to extract this information. The maximum fine available to the courts for each of these offences however is £1,000 (or five times the annual rate of duty whichever is more).

The average fine imposed in cases prosecuted by the Sidcup office during the year 2000 was around (a) £50 for not registering a vehicle and (b) £110 for not taxing a vehicle. In addition, offenders were ordered to pay an average of £65 in penalties relating to unpaid duty and £40 in costs.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many complaints were received in the DVLA Sidcup office in 2000 about untaxed vehicles (a) by telephone, (b) by letter and (c) by e-mail. [145001]

Mr. Hill: During the year 2000, the DVLA Sidcup office received 9,249 reports of unlicensed use from members of the public by telephone and 5,250 reports by letter. There are no facilities to receive e-mails direct at Sidcup and figures for reports received at DVLA Swansea (appropriate to Sidcup) by this method are counted in with those by letter.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many untaxed vehicles were identified and (a) clamped and (b) removed by the DVLA contractor Sureways in each of the London boroughs in 2000. [144996]

Mr. Hill: A total of 3,945 untaxed vehicles were wheel-clamped in London during the year 2000 with 1,705 removed and impounded. The breakdown for each London borough is as follows:

London boroughVehicles clampedVehicles removed
Barnet3418
Barking11853
Bexley283120
Brent9241
Bromley8027
Camden51
Croydon15323
Ealing7138
Enfield5730
Greenwich576241
Hackney10455
Hammersmith and Fulham10232
Haringey5720
Harrow104
Havering00
Hounslow50
Islington4627
Kensington and Chelsea5721
Kingston136
Lambeth208104
Lewisham333180
Merton11756
Newham17575
Redbridge16466
Richmond468
Southwark334151
Sutton7222
Tower Hamlets11630
Waltham Forest19199
Wandsworth209103
Westminster11754
Total3,9451,705


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Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many residents of Lewisham were prosecuted by the DVLA, other than the Sidcup office, for (a) not registering their vehicle and (b) not taxing their vehicle in 2000. [144997]

Mr. Hill: A Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) offence is prosecuted in the area in which it is detected. It is not possible to identify the place of residence of these offenders without a special exercise being carried out to extract this information.

A registration offence is always prosecuted in the area in which the offender lives provided the last registration document was issued on or after 24 March 1997. No resident of Lewisham would be prosecuted for failing to register their vehicle by any office other than Sidcup in these circumstances.

If the last registration document was issued before this date however and the offence also included a VED offence detected outside the Sidcup area, both offences would be prosecuted in the area they were detected. There are no figures available for these cases.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate the DVLA has made of the percentage of vehicles on the streets of each of the London boroughs which are (a) not registered to the current keeper and (b) not taxed. [144976]

Mr. Hill: The DVLA has no estimate of the percentage of vehicles in London which are not registered to the current keeper. As a result of the last roadside survey carried out in June 1999 the Agency estimates that 162,000 vehicles are not taxed within the London area. Figures for the individual boroughs are not available.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many calls the DVLA Sidcup office took about untaxed vehicles from members of the public in each of the last five years. [144993]

Mr. Hill: During the year 2000, a total of 9,249 telephone calls and 5,250 letters were received. For the period 1997-99, individual figures are not available but over the period, 40,253 telephone calls and 4,283 letters were received. Figures prior to 1997 are not available.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many prosecutions for untaxed vehicles were discontinued because the information on the registered keeper was not kept up to date (a) in London and (b) nationally in 2000. [144994]

Mr. Hill: Cases which are discontinued because of outdated information are not identified separately. However, during the year 2000, 25,189 cases in London and 178,662 cases nationally, were closed as the Agency was unable to contact or confirm the offender. A number of these would relate to outdated keeper information being held on record.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many complaints were received by the DVLA Swansea about untaxed vehicles found in each of the London boroughs in 2000. [144995]

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Mr. Hill: During the period January-December 2000, there was a total of 69 complaints about untaxed vehicles received by DVLA Swansea. Of these, 58 were referred to the Sidcup office, seven to Stanmore and one to Wimbledon. There is no breakdown of the originating borough.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions where the DVLA's roadside cameras for automatic photographing of tax discs and number plates will be piloted. [144977]

Mr. Hill: The camera systems for detecting untaxed vehicles through the reading of number plates will be piloted in the areas covered by the DVLA local offices in Swansea, Edinburgh, Luton and Shrewsbury.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many vehicles in London are exempt from registration for three months as a result of being sold into the motor trade. [144978]

Mr. Hill: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has responsibility for recording vehicle keepership changes on a national basis. Regional information cannot be provided without running a prohibitively expensive scan of the vehicle database.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what estimate he has made of the impact on the effectiveness of the DVLA plan to photograph tax discs and number plates automatically from roadside cameras on tracking down drivers of untaxed vehicles of registration details being out of date. [144975]

Mr. Hill: The effectiveness of the DVLA camera scheme for the enforcement of vehicle excise duty will be measured by the number of additional evaders successfully penalised, and by the number encouraged to relicense voluntarily when faced with the increased risk of being caught.

Camera enforcement will still require the tracking down of those responsible for the offence where vehicle keepership details are not up to date. However, expected increase in compliance following the introduction of the cameras should improve the up-to-dateness of the DVLA record and reduce the incidence of out-of-date registration details.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what arrangements the DVLA has made to take details of untaxed vehicles from members of the public in Lewisham. [144987]

Mr. Hill: The DVLA Sidcup office currently has two members of staff employed fully on taking reports from the public by telephone or letter. All calls and letters are logged onto a computer database and referred to the Agency's Inquiry Officers for investigation. Members of the public are also advised that they can if they wish, complete witness statements themselves. The DVLA website contains information on how to report unlicensed vehicles with the facility to download and print the statement of witness form.

22 Jan 2001 : Column: 453W

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many prosecutions in England and Wales there were (a) for driving without a valid vehicle excise duty licence, (b) for driving without insurance and (c) for failing to complete and present a SORN for the most recent 12 month period for which figures are available; and what percentage in each category were successful. [144936]

Mr. Hill: (a) Prosecutions for using or keeping a vehicle on a public road, without a valid excise duty licence for England and Wales were:




(b) Prosecutions in England and Wales for the offence of


(c) Prosecutions in England and Wales for failing to complete and present a SORN declaration were:




Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the latest estimate is of the number of unlicensed motor vehicles regularly used (a) on the highway, (b) off the highway with a valid SORN and (c) off the highway for more than one month without a valid SORN. [144938]

Mr. Hill: The results of the most recent roadside survey of vehicle excise duty (VED) evasion were published in 1999, when it was estimated there were some 1.5 million untaxed vehicles in use on the public road at any time.

Enforcement action under SORN was deferred until May 2000 to give the public time to become familiar with the law. DVLA is developing a means of producing SORN information which should be available later in the year.

Mr. Fearn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many without prejudice £25 fine notices were issued per month to vehicle owners who failed to provide information on unlicensed vehicles for which there is no SORN application over the last year. [144937]

Mr. Hill: The information requested is as follows:

Number
2000
January2,745
February7,787
March3,288
April4,312
May14,506
June14,423
July15,989
August18,227
September20,960
October26,103
November32,391
December29,375


22 Jan 2001 : Column: 454W


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