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Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research her Department has conducted into the effects of late payments on small businesses; and if she will make a statement. 
Nigel Griffiths: Specific research into the effects of late payment has not been carried out because this government has always recognised that late payment of debts can have serious effects on the cash flow of smaller companies, which is why we had a manifesto commitment to introduce a Late Payment Act to allow small businesses to:
claim interest on late payment from other business or public sector bodies, allow creditors to claim a fixed sum of compensation to cover debt recovery costs should late payment happen. Compensation entitlements are: £40 for a debt of up to £999.99, £70 for a debt of between £1,000 and £9,999.99 and £100 for amounts over £10,000.
This package of measures has had a positive effect on payment times. The Grant Thornton European Business Survey showed that the average time taken in the UK to settle accounts in 1997 was 49 days. By 2002 this had fallen to 41 days. By comparison, the average settlement time in our European neighbours was 50 days.
11 May 2004 : Column 257W
A recent survey by the REL Consultancy Group looked at average days payable outstanding (DPO) and concluded that UK companies' payment performance stands at a commendable 33.6 days against 42.4 days for Europe as a whole, whilrcountries such as Italy (67.9) and France (63.4) perform considerably less well.
Mr. McNulty: The Government does not specify the composition of airport consultative committees. However, an airport designated under s.35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 must provide adequate facilities for consultation to those in the categories there specified, which include organisations "representing the interests of persons concerned with the locality in which the aerodrome is situated".
Mr. McNulty: The Department issued revised guidance on airport consultative committees, including matters relating to their composition, in December 2003. The guidance may be viewed on, and downloaded from, the Department's website.
Mr. McNulty: The Department does not maintain a central register of consultative committees and the membership of each is a matter for the committee itself. 51 aerodromes are designated under s.35 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982, of which 43 are in England. I understand that all these have consultative committees, as may some aerodromes which are not so designated.
|(13) Currently subject to audit.|
Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many staff were employed by the Driving Standards Agency to handle test booking enquiries, broken down by the number of staff dealing with (a) telephone inquiries and (b) internet inquiries in the last year. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Driving Standards Agency employs 166 permanent staff in two call centres to deal with practical test bookings and telephone inquiries. Some 100 employment agency staff are also currently employed to ensure that sufficient resource is available to meet the demand. One member of staff has dealt with internet inquiries since the introduction of the practical test internet booking facility in October 2003.
Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much money the Driving Standards Agency received from Transport for London under its contract to test Hackney Carriage black cabs within London. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Driving Standards Agency does not receive money from Transport for London under the contract for testing applicants for a hackney carriage licence. Instead, applicants pay the Agency directly for tests that they take. In 200304, the Agency conducted 847 tests at a cost of £55.30 a test, resulting in total revenue of £46,839.
Mr. Jamieson: Enforcement of the new ship and port facility security regime agreed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in December 2002, including Ship Security Plans and International Ship Security Certificates, will be under the Ship and Port Facility (Security) Regulations 2004. These Regulations are currently being drafted and are expected to be laid before Parliament in early June, to come into force on 1 July at the same time as the IMO regime.
Mr. Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many pedestrians have been involved in collisions with light rail vehicles in each year since 1997; and how many (a) deaths and (b) injuries resulted from such collisions. 
Mr. Jamieson: The numbers of pedestrians killed or injured in collisions with Tram/light rail vehicles for each year since 1999, the first year for which figures are available, are shown in the following table.
Dr. Howells: The available information relates to local authority areas. In the Oldham local authority area there were 13 deaths in road accidents in 1997 and four deaths in 2002, the latest year for which information is available. The number of serious injuries fell by 33 per cent. from 85 in 1997 to 57 in 2002. Estimates on the basis of parliamentary constituencies will become available in the summer when I shall write to my right hon. Friend with figures for Oldham West and Royton and place a copy of my letter in the Libraries of the House.
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