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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 22 March 2001

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Vehicle Excise Duty

Mrs. Fitzsimons: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to facilitate the reporting by the public of invalid road vehicle excise duty discs. [154445]

Mr. Hill: Members of the public may report apparently unlicensed vehicles seen on the public road by providing details of the vehicle concerned, together with the location and details of the keeper, if known, to the nearest Local Office of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This information is used as a starting point for further investigation.

Alternatively, members of the public may complete specially designed witness statements which are available from the Agency's network of Local Offices. The statement form may also be downloaded from the DVLA website. If prosecution action follows, a copy of the statement containing the witness's name is made available to the alleged offender.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much revenue was raised from motorcycle and moped vehicle excise duty in the last 12 month period for which figures are available, indicating the amount raised for each vehicle excise duty band; if he will estimate the rate of evasion, indicating the estimated number of untaxed motorcycles and mopeds used on public highways for each category; and if he will make a statement. [154721]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 20 March 2001]: £40.3 million was raised in vehicle excise duty (VED) from motorcycles and mopeds in 1999-2000 in Great Britain.

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Following a full roadside survey in 1999, it is estimated that there are around 265,000 unlicensed motorcycles and mopeds in GB. This represents a drop in the evasion level from 35 per cent. in 1994 to 25 per cent.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has a number of initiatives in hand to tackle the problem of unlicensed motorcycles. The Agency is working closely with the police in targeting unlicensed motorcycles at events and rallies and conducting specific motorcycle enforcement campaigns. The introduction of automatic number plate readers later this year will make it easier to detect unlicensed motorcycles. A consultation document will be issued shortly which will seek views on the introduction of a licence disc for motorcycles which cannot be removed intact once fixed to the number plate. As well as making it easier to detect unlicensed motorcycles this proposal should also resolve the problem of the theft of motorcycle licence discs.

London Underground

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 2 February 2001, Official Report, column 315W, on London Underground, what proportion of the maximum capacity of London Underground train carriages was reached at peak periods during January and February on a line by line basis. [154397]

Mr. Hill: This is an operational matter for London Underground Ltd. (LUL) who inform me that they regularly monitor train crowding which enables them to assess the level of crowding on the busiest sections of each line. The complexity of this survey means that it is not cost-effective for it to be carried out on a monthly basis. It is therefore not possible to provide the information specifically requested in the question for January and February this year as to do so would incur disproportionate costs.

The table shows the most recent information as measured by London Underground at various times during 1999-2000. For each line it provides a snapshot of the busiest quarter-hour period on the busiest section The table shows in columns F and G the theoretical design capacity of trains as set out in the earlier answer on 2 February 2001, Official Report, column 315W, and in columns H and I the average number of people recorded by LUL in 1999-2000 as using those lines at the busiest period. However, it should be noted that in practice some trains may have a higher and some a lower crowding. This could be caused by either any unevenness in the time between consecutive trains or in the uneven distribution of customers along platforms.

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ABCFGHI
Design capacity Actual number of people
Line Busiest section TimeHour capacityQuarter-hour capacityHour capacityQuarter-hour capacity
BakerlooCharing Cross to Piccadilly Circus08.45-09.0027,9546,98921,6765,419
CentralBethnal Green to Liverpool Street08.45-09.0045,58211,39537,8769,469
VictoriaVictoria to Green Park08.45-09.0042,36310,59133,0988,274
Waterloo and CityWaterloo to Bank07.45-08.0014,8183,70411,8542,964
JubileeSt. John's Wood to Baker Street08.45-09.0019,3754,84419,9494,987
NorthernClapham North to Stockwell08.45-09.0028,2586,56429,2867,321
PiccadillyEarl's Court to Gloucester Road08.30-08.4533,2168,30425,1446,286
CircleSloane Square to Victoria17.30-17.458,9582,2408,4932,123
H&CLiverpool Street to Moorgate08.30-08.458,9582,2408,4932,123
MetropolitanFinchley Road to Baker Street08.30-08.4535,9848,99134,4098,602
DistrictVictoria to St. James's Park08.30-08.4530,3807,59527,0856,771
East London LineSurrey Quays to Canada Water08.15-08.306,8151,7046,5211,630

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Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 2 February 2001, Official Report, column 315W, on London Underground, what evidence his Department has obtained to show that the figures for the maximum capacity of London Underground train carriages are compatible with the health and safety of passengers. [154399]

Mr. Hill: The health and safety of passengers is the responsibility of London Underground and it is the Underground's top priority. I understand that the capacity of London Underground carriages is not itself considered to be a health and safety issue. However, London Underground recognises the possible safety implications of overcrowding. Access to platforms, and therefore trains, is restricted whenever necessary on safety grounds.

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much money has been provided by the Government since May 1997 to London Underground; and if he will make a statement. [154450]

Mr. Hill: We have provided £1.9 billion of funding to London Underground since May 1997. Government funding has supported total investment in the Underground between 1997-98 and 2000-01 of some £3.4 billion.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he will announce a conclusion to his negotiations with Transport for London concerning the PPP for the London Underground. [154990]

Mr. Hill: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister announced last month that he had agreed to work together with the Commissioner of Transport for London, Bob Kiley, and with London Underground, on developing mutually acceptable modifications to the Public Private Partnership. Mr. Kiley has said in discussions with the Government that he seeks the unified management control of key underground operations, mainly through keeping the maintenance of track and signalling within London Underground. The 55-point plan that he is now discussing with us provides for that control within the overall structure of the PPP.

There are inevitably some technical issues still to be worked out but I believe that there is now a real basis for an agreement to allow the PPP competitions to proceed to a satisfactory conclusion. Discussions are being taken forward as quickly as possible so that we can get on with the PPP competitions and the massive investment which the Underground so urgently needs.

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Devon Way, Stafford

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what guidance he has given the Highways Agency (a) generally and (b) specifically relating to Devon Way, Stafford, for consultation with residents before trees that screen trunk roads are removed; [154259]

Mr. Hill: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Tim Matthews, to write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from John Kerman to Mr. David Kidney, dated 22 March 2001:









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