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Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much has been received in tolls on the Second Severn Crossing in each year of its existence. [26064]

Mr. Jamieson: The Second Severn Crossing opened in 1996. However, the concession for the crossing was granted in 1992, at which time the Concessionaire (Severn

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River Crossing plc) were able to use revenue from the existing crossing to partly finance the construction of the new crossing.

Listed is the toll revenue received since 1992. Up to 1996 the figure is for the first Crossing only, after that date the figure is for the two bridges combined. Separate figures for the two bridges is not immediately available.


The final figure for toll revenue for 2001 is not currently available.

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions which major (a) bridge, (b) tunnel and (c) trunk road tolls (i) can and (ii) cannot be paid by credit or debit card. [26079]

Mr. Jamieson: Of the major tolled bridges and tunnels (there are currently no major tolled trunk roads open) only the Tyne Tunnel accepts payment by credit or debit card. All of the undertakings (Dartford Crossings, Humber Bridge, Mersey Tunnels, Severn Crossings, Tamar Bridge and Tyne Tunnel) have a system for pre-payment for which payment by credit or debit card is available.

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what provision exists for tolls for the Second Severn Crossing to be paid in euro. [26078]

Mr. Jamieson: The Concessionaire (Severn River Crossing plc) is already prepared to accept payment for tolls in euros.

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to allow drivers on the Severn Crossing to pay tolls with credit and debit cards. [26066]

Mr. Jamieson: There are no plans at present to allow credit card payments due to the fact that finance companies levy about a 3 per cent. surcharge for such transactions. Neither the Concessionaire (Severn River Crossing plc) nor the Government are currently prepared to fund this surcharge. However, the Concessionaire and the Government will continue to review this position.

Second Severn Crossing

Mr. Edwards: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the outstanding debt is on the Second Severn Crossing; and if it will be repaid. [26065]

Mr. Jamieson: The outstanding debt on the crossing stands at £469,606,000 as at 2000 accounts. It is intended that the whole of this debt will be paid by the end of the concession period, likely to be about mid 2014.

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Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress his Department's review of Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations has made. [26082]

Mr. Jamieson: The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions intends to carry out a public consultation shortly on proposals to update the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989 to relax certain provisions and to align others with requirements already in force under European Community law.

Planning Appeals (Listed Buildings)

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many appeals affecting listed buildings have been (a) upheld and (b) dismissed in each of the last five years for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [25966]

Ms Keeble: The provision of information on planning appeals is the responsibility of the Planning Inspectorate. I have asked the Inspectorate's Chief Executive, Mr. Chris Shepley, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Chris Shepley to Mr. Bob Russell, dated 11 January 2002:

Appeals with listed building issues


Listed building appeals


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Renewable Energy

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to revise PPG22 to take account of Government targets for renewable energy generation. [25931]

Ms Keeble: It is already our policy to promote a positive approach to planning for renewable energy to help meet the Government's targets for producing electricity from renewable sources. In 2000 we initiated the preparation of regional assessments and targets for renewable energy provision to encourage a more strategic approach to planning at regional and local levels.

We intend to review the existing planning policy guidance note of renewable energy (PPG 22) as soon as practicable.

Vehicle Emissions

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the use of fuel economy labels to help introduce less polluting and more fuel efficient vehicles. [25932]

Mr. Jamieson: Provision of information to consumers on the fuel economy and CO 2 emissions performance of passenger cars is an important element of the Government's policy for reducing CO 2 emissions. Provision of fuel economy labels on new passenger cars and of general information on fuel economy at the point of sale has been a requirement under UK law since the mid 1980's. From 21 November 2001 the UK implemented a new EU directive which, besides making changes to the format and content of information to be provided on cars at point of sale, also requires CO 2 emissions to be displayed.

Comparative figures on the fuel and emissions performance of all models of new passenger cars are available on the Vehicle Certification Agency's website at and in "The New Car Fuel Consumption and Emissions Figures" booklet published by VCA.

Bus Safety

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent research his Department has carried out into safety considerations concerning passengers standing in buses; and what discussions he has had with bus and coach operators on the subject of the safety concerns of passengers standing in those vehicles. [26484]

Ms Keeble: My Department is currently looking into the issue of standing passengers. We are participating in a research project under the European Community 5th Framework Project—Enhanced Coach and Bus Occupant Safety (ECBOS), which is looking at all safety issues that effect bus passengers. This includes seated and standing passengers, provisions of internal fittings, handholds, steps and gangway slopes inside the vehicle. The findings of this work will be used to influence any future regulatory changes in this area.

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Older Population

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what estimates have been made of the resident elderly population of Somerset county council area in each financial year from 1997–98 to 2002–03; [25852]

Dr. Whitehead: The following table provides the information requested.

(a) Elderly supported residents in residential and nursing care on:

31 March 19971,993
31 March 19982,174
31 March 19992,211
31 March 20002,092
31 March 20012,455

(b) Elderly population:

(i) total residents(ii) residents in private households
Mid 199793,85188,954
Mid 199894,65789,718
Mid 199995,24290,272
Mid 200095,94590,939


(a) Department of Health statistical return SRI

(b)(i) ONS mid year population estimates; (ii) ONS mid year population estimates adjusted by the proportion of total residents that are in private households as recorded in the 1991 Census

In the case of population data, the estimates for 2000 are the latest available, and are used in the 2002–03 local government finance settlement. The number of residents in private households is estimated in the same way as for the standard spending assessment formula for elderly residential social services, by assuming that the proportion of total residents in private households is the same as that recorded in the 1991 Census. The figures for the number of supported residents are the actual numbers reported by authorities to the Department of Health rather than estimates. The figure for March 2001 is the latest available. As part of the same data return, the Department of Health collects information on the numbers of supported residents that each local authority is supporting outside their own local authority area. The information can be broken down by age, so those of pensionable age could be specifically identified.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) for what reason the standard spending assessments for 2002–03 were not calculated by reference to the total elderly residential population in each local authority area; what plans his Department has to revise the method of calculation; and if he will make a statement; [25854]

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Dr. Whitehead: The methodology underpinning the standard spending assessment (SSA) formulae has been unchanged since 1999–2000. The formula for residential services was changed in 1999–2000 so that it is based on the elderly population in private households (prior to this it was based on the total resident population). The population in private households excludes the population that is already in institutional care. Some residents that are in residential care in each authority area are funded by other authorities. If they were included in the formula, they would count towards the authority in which they are placed, even though another authority is bearing the cost.

Other arguments that have been made in favour of the change are that the research on which the formula is based considered the characteristics of those in private households about to enter care (and not those already in care), and that the formula should therefore be on the same basis. The number of people in residential care in an authority is also partly dependent on local policy variation, and an objective formula should not reflect this.

In estimating the relative number of potential supported residents in each area, the formula gives more weight to elderly people aged 85 plus and aged 75–84 than those aged 65–74. The formula also takes account of differences in deprivation between areas. The following indicators have been used since 1998–99:

In 1997–98 the formula only used indicators of rented accommodation, limiting long-term illness, and a measure of independent sector provision.

The White Paper "Strong Local Leadership—Quality Public Services" sets out our assessment of the effectiveness of the SSA system. Our assessment focuses on systemic weakness that apply to all authorities rather than issues for individual authorities or groupings of authorities. We have concluded that there are significant limitations, including complexity and the use of SSAs as a measure of "spending need". That is why we have decided to replace SSAs with a new formula-based approach that will be fairer and more intelligible. These new formulae will take effect in 2003–04. We are actively working with local government to develop the new system, and a number of research projects have been set in hand in order to inform the work. This includes a project commissioned by the Department of Health from the University of Kent in order to look at the possibility of a single formula for elderly domiciliary and residential care.

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This work is still at the early stages and we have yet to take a view on the best way forward. We will be consulting widely before taking final decisions.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what resources were allocated, per head, to meet the needs of the elderly population in each local authority area in England in the latest year for which figures are available. [25851]

Dr. Whitehead: DTLR allocates grant to local authorities based on the standard spending assessment (SSA) formulae. There are two SSA formulae focused on the needs of elderly people: the formula for elderly residential and the formula for domiciliary social services. Details of each authority's elderly domiciliary and residential SSA per person aged over 65 have been placed in the Libraries of the House. The figures are for the provisional local government finance settlement for 2002–04.

There are other services provided by local government to elderly people, including cultural and leisure services. These other formulae are based on figures for the population as a whole, and it is not possible to identify an element specific to the elderly without making crude assumptions.

It should be noted that the SSAs are not equal to the actual level of grant provided to local authorities by central Government. This is a lower figure that recognises authorities ability to raise resources through council tax and their share of national non-domestic rates. The actual level of general grant support provided for individual services is not identified, and is a matter for individual authorities to decide.

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