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Train Overcrowding

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he last discussed with the SRA overcrowding on trains. [28662]

Mr. Spellar: Ministers and officials from my Department have regular meetings with the Strategic Rail Authority to discuss all aspects of service provision.

London Underground

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many and what percentage of (a) Metropolitan and (b) Piccadilly line trains departed at least five minutes late from Uxbridge in each month in (i) 2000 and (ii) 2001. [28478]

Mr. Spellar: This is an operational matter for London Underground, who inform me that they do not hold the information requested in a readily available form and that it could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Housing and Council Tax Benefits

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how each local authority performed against the local government performance indicators on housing benefit and council tax benefit in the most recent year for which figures are available. [28393]

Dr. Whitehead: Details of the estimated outturn performance on housing benefit and council tax benefit for individual English authorities at 31 March 2001 is available on the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions website at: www.local-regions.dtlr.gov.uk/ bestvalue/indicators/indicatorsindex.htm.

The estimated overall performance of local authorities in England against each relevant best value indicator in 2000–01 was as follows:

Housing benefit and council tax benefit best value performance indicators

Indicator(17)AverageTop quartileMedianBottom quartile
76 Security—whether authority has written and pro-active strategy for combating fraud and error (Yes/No)89% Yesn/an/an/a
77 Average cost of handling HB/CTB claim£82.39£102.00£75.25£51.00
78a Average time for processing new claims50 days35 days45 days60 days
78b Average time for processing notifications for changes of circumstance23 days10 days18 days31 days
78c Percentage of renewal claims processed on time71907557
79a Percentage of case for which the benefit calculation was accurate93979592
79b The percentage of recoverable overpayments (excluding council tax benefit) that were recovered in the year95706148

(17) Numbers refer to the BVPIs published in Best Value and Audit Commission Performance Indicators for 2000–01 available on www.local-regions/dtlr.gov.uk//bestvalue/indicators/indicatorsindex/htm

Note:

Details of the final outturn performance data for 2000–01 will be available shortly on the same website.


24 Jan 2002 : Column 1041W

Trans-European Rail Networks

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent discussions he has had with his European colleagues regarding retention of the identified trans- European rail networks within the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [28747]

Mr. Jamieson: There have been no discussions about the TEN rail network in the UK. The Commission has published proposals to amend the guidelines governing the development of the TEN (Decision No. 1692/96), and we are about to publish a consultation document to consider the draft revisions. However, no substantial changes to the network in the UK are proposed.

Regional Assemblies

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many written representations he has received in the last 12 months expressing support for an elected regional assembly in the (a) South East, (b) Eastern region, (c) South West, (d) West Midlands, (e) East Midlands, (f) Yorkshire and Humberside, (g) North West and (h) North East, broken down by constituency. [29109]

Mr. Byers: The information is in the table:

RegionNumber of written representationsNumber attributable to constituencies
South East2
Winchester1
Fareham1
East of England1
Hitchin and Harpenden1
South West00
West Midlands10
East Midlands00
Yorkshire and Humber10
North West5
Salford1
Burnley1
North East13
Wansbeck1

It is not possible to give a definitive breakdown of constituencies as a number of these representations were from organisations as opposed to individuals.

We have also received five written representations in favour of directly elected assemblies generally.

Special Advisers

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the average time is that the Head of his Department has recommended since May 1997 between a special adviser leaving his Department and taking up outside employment; and if he will make a statement. [28911]

Dr. Whitehead: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 21 January 2002, Official Report, column 594W.

24 Jan 2002 : Column 1042W

Speed Cameras

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many speed cameras the Government have part-funded in the last two years; and how many lives are estimated to have been saved as a consequence. [29392]

Mr. Jamieson: The Government do not fund speed cameras. The cost of purchasing and operating cameras falls to the local authorities and police. Eight police force areas have been trailing a new funding system that allows some fixed penalty fine revenue to be netted-off and re-invested in speed camera operation. It is estimated that 109 fewer people were killed or seriously injured as a result of the increased enforcement in the trial areas. The new funding system is now available nationally and I fully expect, as more areas join, the numbers of those killed or seriously injured to decrease still further.

Bus and Rail Journeys

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many (a) bus and (b) rail journeys there were in each year since 1995; and if he will express the figures as an index using 1997 as the base. [29697]

Mr. Jamieson: Figures for bus journeys are collected by financial year. The table provides statistics from 1995–96 to 2000–01 and index numbers based on 1997–98 = 100.

Bus and rail journeys in Great Britain
Million

Financial yearLocal busIndexNational railIndex
1995–964,383101.276190.0
1996–974,350100.580194.7
1997–984,330100.0846100.0
1998–994,24898.1892105.4
1999–20004,28198.9931110.0
2000–014,30999.5957113.1

Road/Rail Interface Risks

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress has been made on the report from the Health and Safety Commission's working group on risks associated with road/rail interface since December 2001; if he will give a date for its publication; and if he will make a statement. [29580]

Mr. Jamieson: The report is progressing to schedule and I understand from the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) that it will be discussed by them on 12 February. It remains the hope of the HSC that its report will be available in the first quarter of 2002. I look forward to receiving the report when Ministers will consider any recommendations contained therein.

Shenfield-Colchester Transport Links

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the costs and viability of (a) constructing an additional railway track between Shenfield and Colchester and (b) upgrading the equivalent stretch of the A12 to dual 3. [29624]

24 Jan 2002 : Column 1043W

Mr. Jamieson: The London to Ipswich Multi-Modal study will recommend a plan for transport in the London to Ipswich corridor over the next generation.

Traffic Signs

Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 15 January 2002, Official Report, column 204W, on traffic signs, (1) whether the conditions under which the 1989 Guildford Direction Signs Demonstration Project were conducted met the standards that are required for similar research undertaken by his Department today; [29719]

Ms Keeble: The Guildford Direction Signs Demonstration Project was used to trial a number of recommendations made in the report on the Direction Signs Review, published by the Stationery Office in 1987. The project was jointly administered by Surrey county council, Guildford borough council and the Department. It entailed the replacement of 420 directional signs across the town and its approaches with new versions. None of the work was carried out in car parks.

A number of ideas were tested, including improvements to the system of colour-coding routes to emphasise their status. This and other features illustrating good practice were incorporated in the revised Traffic Signs Regulations that followed in 1994 and in departmental guidance to highway authorities.

The project was carried out to standards similar to those which would apply to a comparable project today, with close involvement of the Department's own specialists. I have no reason to question the rigour with which the work was conducted. Descriptions of the project written by some of the individuals who took part were published in the technical press (Highways and Transportation Journal July 1989 and February 1990).


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