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Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions his Department has had with Greater Manchester bus, rail and tram operators and the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive on the introduction of smartcard technology for pre-travel payment on public transport in the county. 
Dr. Ladyman: There was correspondence in December 2003 between the Department and Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority about the planned introduction of smartcards in Greater Manchester. This correspondence related to the ITSO specification for an interoperable ticketing interface for smartcards in travel.
Officials have had informal discussions with Greater Manchester PTE on a number of occasions about the proposed Readycard smartcard scheme, also in the context of the ITSO standard. Officials also attended a GMPTE ITSO workshop last year.
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Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what progress has been made in (a) ascertaining responsibility for and (b) rectifying the flooding problem on the M60 between Denton and Hollinwood, Oldham; and whether enforcement action will be taken to ensure its rectification without the requirement for further public funding. 
Dr. Ladyman: There is no requirement to ascertain responsibility nor seek enforcement against third parties as the need for modification of the carriageway surface to alleviate spray (flooding) arose from reasons other than negligent performance by the scheme contractors.
An initial works pilot to re-profile a section of the affected carriageway to improve surface drainage has now been planned for spring 2006, with the remainder of the work likely to be undertaken in 2007.
Dr. Ladyman: Safety Camera Partnerships within the National Safety Camera Programme are asked to inform the public about the location of camera sites and the type of camera used. The partnerships are not required to give notice of when enforcement will take place at a camera site but all sites must be signed and visible in accordance with the Handbook of Rules and Guidance for the National Safety Camera Programme for England and Wales.
Derek Twigg: I refer the hon. Member to the statements made by the Secretary of State and parliamentary minutes laid on 27 June 2002, Official Report, columns 971989. 4 February 2004 and 15 September 2004 Official Report, column 152WS.
The credit support arrangements described in these minutes were initially provided by the Strategic Rail Authority, but were transferred to the Secretary of State for Transport on 26 June 2005 by a transfer scheme made under powers in the Railways Act 2005.
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Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions his Department has had with (a) metropolitan local authorities and (b) passenger transport executives on the introduction of red route measures to principal transport corridors in cities and conurbations. 
Ms Buck: The only PTE to develop and implement proposals for red routes is Centro, in the West Midlands. Centro are currently implementing a package of measures in Birmingham, Solihull, Wolverhampton and Sandwell as part of a major scheme bid that was given full approval in 2004 by the Department at a cost of £28 million. This scheme is the first of five packages proposed to introduce a total of 130 km of red routes, bus relocations, side road entry treatments, new signs and junction improvements.
The traffic signs required to implement a red route scheme are not prescribed and as such need special authorisation by the Secretary of State. It is not unusual for local authorities contemplating the use of non prescribed signs to contact the Department, but we do not keep records of informal inquiries.
Dr. Ladyman: The Department does not hold this information nor are partnerships required to provide information about vandalism at speed camera sites to the Department. This information may be available directly from partnerships.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the acts of vandalism which have been perpetrated (a) inside and (b) on the outside of his Department's buildings in the last 12 months. 
Ms Buck: There were five recorded acts of vandalism perpetrated inside the Department for Transport during the calendar year 2005. There were three at the Driving Standards Agency regional premises and two at the Driving Vehicle Licensing Agency premises. These incidents included damage to internal doors, cabinets, the discharging of a fire extinguisher, damage to a vending machine and an interview room counter screen.
There were 55 acts of vandalism perpetrated outside the Department for Transport (at regional agency premises) during the calendar year 2005. These incidents
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included damaged windows, damage occurring during break-ins, and a few instances of minor arson and damage to vehicles and heating vents.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the impact of academies upon the academic performance of children from the lowest socio-economic background. 
Jacqui Smith: Academies are established in some of the most deprived and disadvantaged communities in our country, and admit a high proportion of children from the most disadvantaged socio-economic background. The majority of academies have a significantly higher proportion of children with eligibility for free school meals (FSM) relative to both local authority and national averages. Indeed the average FSM eligibility at academies is 34 per cent., compared to a national average of 14 per cent.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are undertaking a full independent evaluation of the academies programme over five years and a comprehensive assessment of the impact of academies upon academic performance will form a vital part of this evaluation.
Improvements in GCSE results are already in evidence, despite many pupils only having attended their academy for a few terms. Of the 14 academies open at the time of the last round of GCSE examinations, all but two showed an increase in the proportion of students achieving five grades A* to C relative to their predecessor schools, and the average increase between 2004 and 2005 in the number of students gaining five grades A* to C across all academies was 7.8 percentage points; some three times the national average.
Several academies have shown remarkable improvements in their GCSE results since opening. The City Academy in Bristol, for example, has shown an increase of 25 percentage points in the number of pupils achieving five grades A* to C in just two years. Four other academies have shown increases of greater than 20 percentage points since opening.
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