Written Answers to Questions

Monday 8 September 2014

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Animal Welfare: Trapping

Lindsay Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will take steps to ban the use of snares across the UK. [208115]

George Eustice: The Government takes animal welfare issues very seriously. My noble Friend, Lord de Mauley, has met interested parties from both sides of the debate. He has invited them to work with DEFRA to consider the range of solutions for improving welfare standards when managing fox and rabbit issues.

As part of this we are working with stakeholders to improve the Government’s advice on how to comply with existing requirements.

Broadband: Rural Areas

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made on the Rural Community Broadband Fund initiative; and if she will make a statement. [208116]

Dan Rogerson: Applications under the Rural Community Broadband Fund have resulted in 22 projects, totalling around £13.5 million, both community and local authority led, for areas not in scope of the Government's mainstream superfast rollout programme. Of this, 17 local authority led projects have been developed totalling around £12.5 million and are due to be delivered as extensions to county council contracts under the main rollout programme. A further five community led projects have been contracted under the fund, representing approximately £1.15 million in grant funding. The fund is now closed.

Environmental Protection

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's policy position was on each of the three main priorities agreed at the European Environment and Health Ministerial Board in Vilnius, Lithuania on 1 July 2014. [207760]

Dan Rogerson: The membership of the European Environment and Health Ministerial Board (EHMB) comprises four environment Ministers, four health Ministers and four international institutions, appointed by the World Health Organisation and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The UK is not a member.

The Government's policy position towards the eventual elimination of asbestos-related diseases is well established. The UK has a high rate of asbestos-related disease because of our past use of very high levels of asbestos.

8 Sep 2014 : Column 414W

Consequently, our regulatory system for controlling occupational asbestos exposure is now one of the strictest in the EU. For example, we license and closely regulate contractors carrying out the highest-risk work with asbestos and we require more proactive management of asbestos in buildings and structures. Within Europe, the Government is focused on the need for active compliance with agreed EU measures and for any proposed new measures to be risk based, realistically achievable and the result of proper impact assessment. We remain determined to continue to reduce present exposures to minimise any future death toll.

The Government signed the Minamata Convention in October last year. We expect that the UK will be in a position to ratify it by 2018 when EU and probable consequent UK legislation is in place to provide for full implementation. A legislative proposal is expected from the European Commission early next year, which will then be considered by the UK along with other Member States.

We recognise the importance of action to address air pollution and will consider carefully the initiative for a resolution at the World Health Assembly next year.

The Government is committed to securing an ambitious, legally binding, global agreement with mitigation commitments for all by the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) in Paris, to come into force by 2020. We recognise the important link between tackling climate change and health, and welcome EHMB’s priority to support COP 21.

Exhaust Emissions: Hartlepool

Mr Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what information her Department holds on (a) air quality and (b) pollution levels caused by vehicles in Hartlepool constituency; and if she will make a statement. [207742]

Dan Rogerson: DEFRA provides information about recent and historic levels of pollution, pollution forecasts, health advice and background modelled data on the UK-AIR website at:

http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/

Forecasts are issued daily and cover the next five days.

Although DEFRA does not have a permanent monitoring station in Hartlepool, the nearest monitoring stations can be found on UK-AIR’s interactive monitoring networks map at:

http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/interactive-map.

Modelled data is provided for levels at roadside locations for major roads in the UK. This data can also be found at:

http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/data/gis-mapping.

Local authorities (in this case Hartlepool council) have a responsibility to assess air quality at a local level. DEFRA provides guidance and air quality assessment tools to support local authorities in carrying out their duties under the Environment Act 1995. This information can be found at:

http://laqm.defra.gov.uk/.

Local authorities report on the outcomes of assessments in air quality reports and submit the reports to DEFRA.

8 Sep 2014 : Column 415W

Air quality reports include air quality monitoring data, pollutant emissions, sources of pollution and historical trends.

Hartlepool council’s air quality reports do not apportion information on pollution levels between those caused by traffic vehicles and other sources.

Food Supply

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate she has made of the proportion of the UK's food demand met by food grown in the UK; and what that figure was in (a) 1984, (b) 1994 and (c) 2004. [207743]

George Eustice: The proportion of UK food consumption that was produced in the UK was 63% in 1994 and 53% in 2004. The detailed trade data used in this calculation is not available before 1988.

The latest available figures for 2013 give the proportion as 53%.

A full-time series from 1988 to 2013 is available in Chapter 14 (table 14.5) of the publication “Agriculture in the United Kingdom” at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/agriculture-in-the-united-kingdom

An alternative and frequently used measure is the UK production to supply ratio for indigenous type food. This compares total national production with production excluding exports and including imports. It is not directly comparable with the domestic food consumption proportion above because it includes food that the UK exported which could have been consumed domestically. The UK production to supply ratio for indigenous type food for 2013 was 73%. “Indigenous type food” refers to types which can be produced in the UK on a commercially viable basis.

A time series of the production to supply ratio is also available in table 14.1 and chart 14.5 in “Agriculture in the United Kingdom”.

Nature Conservation: Crime

Sir Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will bring forward legislative proposals to increase the penalties available for people convicted of wildlife crime; and if she will make a statement. [207945]

George Eustice: Strong penalties are already in place for wildlife offences.

The Law Commission’s Wildlife Law Project has been considering the appropriateness of criminal offences and sanctions. It is due to present its final report and a draft Bill to Ministers at the end of the year. We will consider these issues further in the light of the Law Commission’s final recommendations.

Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Greyhound Regulations 2010; and if she will make a statement. [207759]

8 Sep 2014 : Column 416W

George Eustice: No assessment of the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations 2010 has yet been made. They are due for review five years after they came into force, which will be April 2015.

Communities and Local Government

Parking Enforcement

20. Nick de Bois: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps his Department is taking to prevent unfair parking enforcement practices. [905219]

22. Caroline Nokes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps his Department is taking to prevent unfair parking enforcement practices. [905221]

Mr Pickles: This Government is bringing forward a range of measures to make local parking fairer for residents and shoppers.

This includes changing the law to clamp down on CCTV “spy cars”, introducing grace periods, and giving local taxpayers the right to demand a review of parking in their area.

Community Integration

21. Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps his Department is taking to help encourage integration in local communities. [905220]

Stephen Williams: We are supporting a wide range of exemplar projects to break down barriers, encourage local action, promote British values and create the society everyone can participate in. This includes projects to help people remember the personal contribution made by their relatives and communities in the Great War.

Local Government Finance Settlement

23. Karl Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment he has made of the effect of the local government finance settlement on communities with the highest levels of need. [905222]

Kris Hopkins: Councils facing the highest demand for services still receive substantially more funding per dwelling. The 2014-15 average area spending power per dwelling for the 10% most deprived authorities is almost 50% greater than for the least deprived 10%.

Council Tax

Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people in receipt of (a) war disablement pension, (b) war widows pension, (c) war widowers pension, (d) guaranteed income payments, (e) survivor's guaranteed income payments he estimates pay increased council tax bills as a result of recent changes to council tax support in England. [208028]

8 Sep 2014 : Column 417W

Kris Hopkins: The Department does not collect data about individual claimants and has no plans to do so. These are local schemes, and it is for local authorities to ensure that the effect on specific groups of council tax payers is proportionate and fair. We made a £100 million transition grant available in 2013-14 to help councils develop well-designed schemes and maintain incentives to work.

Spending on council tax benefit doubled under the last Government, costing taxpayers £4 billion a year-equivalent to almost £180 a year per household. Welfare reform is vital to tackle the budget deficit left by the last Administration.

Our reforms to localise council tax support now give councils stronger incentives to support local firms, cut fraud, promote local enterprise and get people to into work. We are ending the last Administration’s ‘something for nothing’ culture and making work pay.

Fire Services

Sir Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether his Department audits the annual reports submitted to it on operations of fire and rescue services; and if he will make a statement. [207772]

Penny Mordaunt: Section 25 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 requires the Secretary of State to report to Parliament every two years on the extent to which fire and rescue authorities are acting in accordance with the Fire and Rescue National Framework, which includes a requirement that authorities publish an annual statement of assurance on financial, governance and operational matters. A copy of that report has been placed in the Library of the House.

On 15 July 2014 the Secretary of State reported that he was satisfied that each fire and rescue authority in England had been acting in accordance with the Framework.

Housing: Greater Manchester

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate his Department has made of changes in the (a) number and (b) value of houses in (i) Greater Manchester, (ii) the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport and (iii) the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside in each year to 2020. [207778]

Brandon Lewis: Historic statistics for housebuilding completions by district are published in the Department's Live Tables 253 (annual) and 253a (quarterly), which can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-house-building

Historic dwelling stock estimates, by district, can be found at Live Table 125 (annual):

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-dwelling-stock-including-vacants

Historic statistics on average house price by district are published in the Department's Live Tables 581 (mean, quarterly), 582 (median, quarterly), 585 (mean, annually) and 586 (median, annually) which can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-housing-market-and-house-prices

8 Sep 2014 : Column 418W

The Department does not publish forecasts of overall house building and average house prices.

Private Rented Housing: Warrington

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate he has made of the number of (a) flats, (b) houses and (c) houses of multiple occupancy in the private rented sector in Warrington in each year since 2008; and what the cost was of privately renting a (A) one bedroom flat, (B) two bedroomed house and (C) room in a house of multiple occupancy in each such year. [208082]

Brandon Lewis: The Department does not collect data on the number or cost of privately rented flats, houses and houses of multiple occupation by local authority district.

Statistics on the estimated number of dwellings in the private sector (owner occupied and private rented combined) by local authority district, including Warrington, from 2009 to 2013, are published in the Department's Live Table 100, which is available at the following link.

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/live-tables-on-dwelling-stock-including-vacants

Census estimates of the number of privately rented flats and privately rented houses, in 2011, for local authority districts, including Warrington, are available at this link.

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/search/index.html?newquery=ct0259

Statistics on the private rental market for local authority districts, including Warrington, are published by the Valuation Office Agency and are available at this link.

http://www.voa.gov.uk/corporate/statisticalReleases/PrivateRentalMarketStatistics.html

Justice

Buildings

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will review his departmental estate in order to reduce costs; and if he will make a statement. [206692]

Mr Vara: Since the start of the Spending Review (SR10) the size of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) estate has reduced by over 600 properties to nearly 1,500 properties. As a result, lower business as usual costs have been achieved. We have removed nearly 50% of the administrative estate from our portfolio over the last four years. We have already reduced 180 to 98 administrative properties in England and Wales including from 18 to 4 administrative properties in London, saving over £34 million a year.

As part of the Government’s Strategic Land and Property Review, Departments have already committed to reforms expected to release land worth £3.5 billion between 2015 and 2020, with a further £1.5 billion expected to be identified following the outcome of operational reviews.

The Ministry of Justice continues to work with the Government Property Unit to ensure that the Ministry of Justice estate operates in an efficient manner and represents value for money.

8 Sep 2014 : Column 419W

I refer my hon. Friend to the latest State of the Estate Report (SofTE) which reports annually on progress made during the year in improving the efficiency of the Government’s civil estate. This is available online at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/state-of-the-estate

The latest space savings mean that the estate is 2 million square metres smaller since January 2010, the result of consistent efforts by Departments to reduce their property holdings and increase the efficiency of the space they occupy.

This reduction in the size of the estate has been achieved through extensive co-operation between Departments and agencies in engaging with place-based strategies, as well as the continuing impact of the National Property Controls (NPCs).

NPCs include a moratorium on the acquisition of new properties and a presumption that leases will be surrendered at the earliest contractual opportunity. Exemptions are allowed only with Cabinet Office approval if they meet strict value or space-saving criteria.

CAFCASS

Richard Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many complaints have been made against the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in the last three years; and how many such complaints have been upheld; [207284]

(2) how many complaints have been (a) made and (b) upheld against the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service in the last three years. [207300]

Simon Hughes: The following table sets out the number of complaints received by CAFCASS in each of the last three years:

Financial yearNumber of complaints

2011-12

1,264

2012-13

1,496

2013-14

1,596

In 2012 CAFCASS simplified their complaints process, reducing the number of stages involved from three to one and ending the classification of complaints as ‘upheld’. Figures for the number of upheld complaints during this period do not, therefore, exist. The focus of the complaints system is now on putting things right for service users while their case is ongoing so that any necessary remedial action can be taken.

The rising trend shown by the figures is, in part, a reflection of the increase in the volume of cases which CAFCASS dealt with during this period. However, the main factors which have contributed to the rising trend are CAFCASS’ focus on raising awareness of the complaints process for service users.

Contempt of Court: Sentencing

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many people were imprisoned for contempt of court before each division of the legal system in each month since May 2013. [207771]

8 Sep 2014 : Column 420W

Mike Penning: The following table sets out the number of people who were received into custody for contempt of court between May 2013 and March 2014 (the latest available figures). Contempt of court covers a wide variety of conduct which undermines or has the potential to undermine the course of justice.

Receptions into prison1 for contempt of court, May 2013 to March 2014, England and Wales
 Number

2013

 

May

11

June

8

July

13

August

14

September

7

October

12

November

7

December

6

  

2014

 

January

8

February

7

March

8

1 This excludes imprisonment in court cells and police cells. Note: These figures have been drawn from administrative IT systems which, as with any large scale recording system, are subject to possible errors with data entry and processing.

Courts: Hearing Impaired

Rehman Chishti: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many and what proportion of courtrooms do not have induction loops installed. [207804]

Mr Vara: HM Courts and Tribunals Service operates a reasonable adjustments policy to provide access to information and services for customers with disabilities.

Information on the number of court rooms with induction and infra-red hearing enhancement systems is currently being collected as part of the 2014 court room survey. I will write to my hon. Friend, as soon as the information is available.

Courts: Sunderland

Bridget Phillipson: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 10 October 2013, Official Report, column 377W, on courts: Sunderland, what progress has been made on plans to rebuild Sunderland court. [207412]

Mr Vara: No decision has been made on the future use of the site which was proposed for the Sunderland Justice Centre. All significant estate decisions, including new investment proposals such as the Sunderland scheme, are assessed and considered through departmental governance processes to ensure that they offer value for money to the taxpayer.

HM Courts and Tribunals Service continues to keep the use of its estate under review to ensure it meets operational requirements.

8 Sep 2014 : Column 421W

Dangerous Driving

Richard Graham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many drivers charged with dangerous driving offences were made to surrender their licence as a condition of bail in the last year. [207113]

Mr Vara: Bail conditions are recorded on HMCTS’ case management systems as a free text field. As each condition is a unique data entry and there is no common field that could be aggregated to enable central collation they cannot answer this question. The only way it could be answered would be to manually check every case where conditional bail has been granted at any point during the case and check both the conditions and the offence or offences. This would incur disproportionate costs.

Driving Offences

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when his Department will publish the review of all driving offences and penalties announced on 6 May 2014. [207530]

Mike Penning: The Government’s review of driving offences and penalties announced in May 2014 is ongoing. The timing of any publication of the review’s findings and recommendations will be considered once the review is completed.

EU Law

Mr Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many times the UK has lost EU infraction proceedings since May 2010 which relate to matters that fall within his Department's responsibility. [206661]

Mr Vara: The UK has never been fined in relation to a breach of European Law. However, the European Court of Justice ruled on 13 February 2014 (Case C-530/11) that the UK was in breach of its obligations under the public participation directive to ensure the costs of going to court in respect of environmental matters are not prohibitively expensive. The Department is currently in discussion with the European Commission regarding the Court’s judgment.

Fines: Greater Manchester

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much in fines was levied by each magistrates' court in Greater Manchester in 2013-14; and what proportion of such fines were subsequently (a) written off and (b) collected by each court. [207763]

Mr Vara: It is not possible to identify the amounts imposed, written off and collected for individual magistrates courts as data on fines imposed is recorded by local accounting divisions. The only way data for individual courts could be obtained is to carry out a manual search of all fine accounts. This would incur disproportionate cost.

8 Sep 2014 : Column 422W

Insolvency

Mr Slaughter: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether an impact assessment will be made before the Statutory Instrument to end the temporary exemption for insolvency litigation under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act is laid before Parliament. [207650]

Mr Vara: In April 2011 the Government published an Impact Assessment in relation to the reforms set out in Part 2 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012.

It explained that while there may be a reduction in the number of cases brought where no win no fee conditional fee agreements are used, overall the LASPO reforms will tackle excessive costs. The Government does not propose to update the Impact Assessment in relation to insolvency proceedings.

The LASPO reforms will apply to insolvency proceedings from April 2015. As provided in the Act, implementation will be by way of Commencement Order.

Legal Aid Scheme: EU Countries

Simon Kirby: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what information his Department holds on levels of spending on legal aid in each EU member state; what assessment he has made of where the UK ranks in relation to other EU member states in respect of such spending; and if he will make a statement. [206620]

Mr Vara: Legal aid forms a vital part of our justice system and the Government strongly believes that access to justice is the hallmark of civil society.

The most recent EU data allowing international comparisons of legal aid spend was collected in 2010 and published in 2012 by the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ). This can be found at:

http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/cooperation/cepej/evaluation/2012/Rapport_en.pdf.

This shows that the legal aid budget approved for England and Wales of 2.521 million euros, was the highest of any of the 41 countries assessed. For more detail, see table 2.1 in the publication.

The publication also shows the annual public budget allocated to legal aid per inhabitant, which controls for countries having different population sizes. This shows that in 2010, England and Wales was second highest of the 41 countries assessed, with 45.7 euros of the public budget allocated to legal aid per inhabitant, compared to an average of 7.7 euros for the other European countries. The country with the highest legal aid allocation per inhabitant was Northern Ireland with 53.5 euros. For more detail, see figure 2.22 in the publication.

Magistrates Courts: Crawley

Henry Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much was spent on building, refurbishment and maintenance in Crawley Magistrates' Court in each year since 2009-10. [207403]

Mr Vara: Completing large-scale refurbishment work at the Crawley Magistrates Court has resulted in greatly improved facilities for visitors and users of the building.

8 Sep 2014 : Column 423W

The costs of building, refurbishment and maintenance at the Court since 2009-10 are shown in the following table:

 £000

2009-10

4.3

2010-11

300.9

2011-12

1,073.8

2012-13

2,731.7

2013-14

152.1

These costs include capital and resource costs related to the refurbishment of the property, maintenance of the land, building and equipment (including general maintenance and cleaning).

HM Courts and Tribunals Service continues to keep the use of its estate under review to ensure it meets operational requirements.

Network Rail

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the National Rail framework agreement published on 1 September 2014, when he plans to lay the draft regulations to make Network Rail subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and under what parliamentary procedure he plans to ask the House to approve those regulations. [208117]

Simon Hughes: Draft regulations to extend the Freedom of Information Act to Network Rail in relation to functions of a public nature that it performs will be laid as soon as possible so that it is subject to the Act by April 2015 at the latest. The regulations, to be made under section 5 of the Act, are subject to affirmative resolution procedure.

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what the reasons are for the time taken to lay regulations to make Network Rail subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [208131]

Simon Hughes: The regulations to extend the Freedom of Information Act to Network Rail will cover the functions of a public nature that it performs in accordance with section 7(5) of the Act. The Ministry of Justice and Department for Transport will work with Network Rail to identify correctly those functions and make sure that they are appropriately described in the draft regulations before they are laid. Section 5(3) of the Act requires that we consult Network Rail about its inclusion before regulations are made.

Police Cautions

Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice for what types of indictable-only offence a caution was issued in each year since 2009; and how many cautions were issued for each type of offence in that period. [206955]

Mike Penning: Simple cautions are a non-statutory disposal available to the police to dispose of any offence committed by an adult and designed for dealing with low level, mainly first time offending. The Ministry of Justice issues guidance on the process to be followed by

8 Sep 2014 : Column 424W

the police and the CPS when they are administering simple cautions for adult offenders. This guidance states that the use of a simple caution for indictable only offences should only be given following authorisation by the CPS. These will be cases where there were exceptional circumstances which would mean that it was not in the public interest to prosecute.

Since 2007 the overall number of simple cautions issued has halved. The cautioning rate, that is, the number of offenders cautioned as a percentage of offenders who were either cautioned or convicted, in 2013 was 20%; which has declined from a peak of 31% in 2007.

Procurement

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many contracts (a) his Department and (b) its agencies and non-departmental public bodies (i) have let and (ii) plan to let that are worth (A) between £1 million and £3 million and (B) over £3 million since 2010; how much his Department has spent on monitoring each such contract; and how many officials in his Department monitor each contract. [205374]

Mr Vara: The information is as follows.

(a) Since the start of January 2010 the Ministry of Justice has let 114 contracts with a estimated value between £1 million and £3 million, and 189 with a estimated value over £3 million. Please note this figure can vary between points in time as forecast contract value at award can be more or less than actual contract value as the contract progresses—this means contracts could fall into, or drop out of, the parameters specified above.

The Ministry of Justice cannot accurately provide a figure for the number of contracts it plans to let. The department will evaluate each requirement on a case by case basis before making the decision to engage with the market or continuing to deliver the service in-house.

The private sector has an important role to play in helping deliver much needed reforms. We remain committed to promoting a diverse market including public, private and voluntary sector, as well as ensuring rigorous contract management and high standards of behaviour.

We have undertaken a major review of contract management to ensure that we have in place robust and accountable systems.

(b)We are unable to answer the second part of the question as doing so would incur disproportionate costs. To provide this information would entail contacting all individuals responsible for the operational and commercial management of contracts, performance managers, audit and others. We would then be required to do a cost analysis of the time that individual allocated to the management of the respective contract.

Right of Search

Sir Edward Garnier: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many joint search warrants have been applied for by the police and another applicant and issued by the courts in England and Wales in the last five years; and who the other applicant was in each such case. [207544]

Mr Vara: HMCTS does not collate this information centrally. Warrants of entry are issued by magistrates courts and each magistrates court that issues warrants maintains the data associated with it in a manual log. Courts are required to hold warrants issued for a period of three years. Only manual checks at every magistrates

8 Sep 2014 : Column 425W

court could answer this request, and even then only for the last three years. This would incur disproportionate costs.

Road Traffic Offences

Richard Graham: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when his Department's Review of Motoring Offences will be published. [207433]

Mike Penning: The Government’s review of driving offences and penalties announced in May is ongoing. The timing of any publication of the review’s findings and recommendations will be considered once the review is completed.

Sentencing: Females

Kate Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many women aged 18 years and above from each ethnic group were sentenced to custody for a first offence, broken down by (a) offence type and (b) sentence length in the last two full years for which data is available. [207307]

Simon Hughes: Sentencing decisions are entirely a matter for the independent judiciary. When considering the appropriate sentence, the judge will take into consideration a number of factors, including the seriousness of the offence and the impact that the crime has had on the victim.

All courts must follow guidelines issued by the independent Sentencing Council. The judge will take into account any mitigation which might include personal

8 Sep 2014 : Column 426W

circumstances, expressions of remorse and a guilty plea. While the sentencing framework and guidelines apply equally to everyone, any differences in sentencing outcomes may therefore occur for a number of reasons, including the types of crimes committed and the seriousness of the offence.

We are committed to making sure sentencers have robust community options at their disposal. We are working with partners in Greater Manchester on a pathfinder aimed at providing sentencers with robust and effective sentencing options in the community that may divert women from custody, where appropriate. Learning from the pathfinder will inform a new operating model for working differently with women in the criminal justice system. We have also legislated to make sure that the needs of female offenders are addressed under our Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. Companies bidding for contracts will be expected to demonstrate an effective approach to the identification and recognition of women’s needs, as well as protected characteristics, to make sure that individual needs are properly addressed. They will be held to account to deliver these services in their contracts. With the Advisory Board on Female Offenders, we have produced guidance for new providers on working with female offenders.

Table 1 shows the number of female offenders aged 18 and above sentenced to immediate custody for a first offence by ethnicity and offence class in England and Wales in 2012-13.

Table 2 shows the number of female offenders aged 18 and above sentenced to immediate custody for a first offence by ethnicity and sentence length in England and Wales in 2012-13.

Table 1: Number of female offenders1 aged 18 and above sentenced to immediate custody for a first offence2 by ethnicity3 and offence class in England and Wales, 2012-13
  Ethnic appearance3 
 Offence categoryWhiteBlackAsianOtherUnknownAll

2012

Violence against the person

92

20

12

4

6

134

 

Sexual offences

23

0

0

0

0

23

 

Robbery

11

5

1

0

0

17

 

Theft offences

188

11

16

2

7

224

 

Criminal damage and arson

16

0

2

0

0

18

 

Drug offences

42

16

7

12

1

78

 

Possession of weapons

10

2

1

1

1

15

 

Public order offences

6

2

1

0

0

9

 

Miscellaneous crimes against society4

114

113

30

25

15

297

 

Fraud offences

107

34

20

11

2

174

 

Summary non motoring

24

4

5

2

1

36

 

Summary motoring

8

0

0

0

0

8

 

Total

641

207

95

57

33

1,033

        

2013

Violence against the person

75

12

10

1

5

103

 

Sexual offences

16

2

0

0

0

18

 

Robbery

8

2

0

0

0

10

 

Theft offences

170

10

7

7

8

202

 

Criminal damage and arson

12

1

1

1

0

15

 

Drug offences

53

9

8

14

1

85

 

Possession of weapons

5

1

0

0

0

6

 

Public order offences

3

0

0

0

1

4

8 Sep 2014 : Column 427W

8 Sep 2014 : Column 428W

 

Miscellaneous crimes against society4

120

96

25

25

25

291

 

Fraud offences

89

16

8

7

9

129

 

Summary non motoring

18

6

1

0

2

27

 

Summary motoring

6

0

0

0

0

6

 

Total

575

155

60

55

51

896

1 Figures are based on counting the number of sentencing occasions for offences committed by offenders who were prosecuted by police forces in England and Wales including the British Transport police. 2 The first offence is the first conviction recorded on the PNC for an offender who committed an offence in England and Wales where an immediate custodial sentence was given. 3 Ethnicity identified and recorded on the PNC by police officer according to the appearance of offenders not as those self-identified and recorded on census. 4 Miscellaneous offences contains a large number and variety of offences, in the case of first time female adult offenders the most common offences are: with intent knowingly possess false/improperly obtained/anothers ID document; Identity Cards Act 2006 S.25(1)(2)(6); possess/control identity documents with intent; attempting to pervert the course of Justice; assisting unlawful immigration to member state. Immigration Act 1971 S.25 as added by Nationality, Immigration & Asylum Act 2002 S.143. Note: All data have been taken from the MOJ extract of the Police National Computer. This includes details of all convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings given for recordable offences (see www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2000/1139/schedule/made for definition). It is therefore possible that some offenders presented in the table above have previously also received convictions for offences not recorded on the PNC. Source: Ministry of Justice, Police National Computer (PNC).
Table 2: Number of female offenders1 aged 18 and above sentenced to immediate custody for their first offence2 by ethnicity3 and sentence length in England and Wales, 2012-13
  Ethnic appearance3 
 Sentence lengthWhiteBlackAsianOtherUnknownAll

2012

Up to and including 3 months

103

20

8

13

3

147

 

Over 3 months and up to and including 6 months

91

53

14

12

8

178

 

Over 6 months and up to and including 12 months

128

58

29

14

10

239

 

1 - 2 years

180

40

18

8

5

251

 

2 - 4 years

118

25

17

8

6

174

 

Over 4 years5

15

8

6

1

1

31

 

Unknown4

4

1

0

0

0

5

 

All

639

205

92

56

33

1,025

        

2013

Up to and including 3 months

85

11

4

11

7

118

 

Over 3 months and up to and including 6 months

65

54

6

8

17

150

 

Over 6 months and up to and including 12 months

137

43

17

19

16

232

 

1 - 2 years

155

27

16

13

4

215

 

2 - 4 years

104

18

14

4

7

147

 

Over 4 years4

15

2

1

0

0

18

 

Unknown5

4

0

0

0

0

4

 

All

565

155

58

55

51

884

1 Figures are based on counting the number of sentencing occasions for offences committed by offenders who were prosecuted by police forces in England and Wales including the British Transport police. 2 The first offence is the first conviction recorded on the PNC for an offender who committed an offence in England and Wales where an immediate custodial sentence was given. 3 Ethnicity identified and recorded on the PNC by police officer according to the appearance of offenders not as those self-identified and recorded on census. 4 Excludes life sentences. 5 Includes cases where sentence length was not recorded on the PNC. Notes: 1. The totals in table 1 and table 2 are different as life sentences have been excluded. 2. All data have been taken from the MOJ extract of the Police National Computer. This includes details of all convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings given for recordable offences (see www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2000/1139/schedule/made for definition). It is therefore possible that some offenders presented in the table above have previously also received convictions for offences not recorded on the PNC. Source: Ministry of Justice, Police National Computer.

Telephone Services

Valerie Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice under what timetable his Department plans to phase out use of telephone lines with the prefix (a) 0845, 0844 and 0843 in accordance with the Cabinet Office guidance on customer service lines published in December 2013 and (b) 03 and 08, where 03 is the primary number under a dual numbering system. [207291]

Mr Vara: The Ministry of Justice is making good progress towards phasing out telephone lines with the

8 Sep 2014 : Column 429W

prefix

(a)

0845, 0844 and 0843 in accordance with the Cabinet Office guidance on customer lines published in December 2013 and

(b)

03 and 08, where 03 is the primary number under a dual numbering system. The Department is widening engagement across the business to ensure a comprehensive solution within the Cabinet Office timelines, which allow until November 2014 for implementation.

Further to my answer to the hon. Member’s parliamentary question of 23 June 2014, Official Report, column 11W, the Department has recently ordered the cancellation of 16 of the higher-rate numbers in the County Court Business Centre (CCBC) in Northampton, reducing the overall total of higher-rate numbers operated by the Department from 34 to 18.

Northern Ireland

Claims Management Services

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Justice and the Minister of Justice in Northern Ireland on the regulation of claims management companies in Northern Ireland; and if she will make a statement. [207975]

Mrs Villiers: I have had no discussions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice, or David Ford, the Minister of Justice in the Northern Ireland Executive on these matters, nor have I received any representations from hon. and right hon. Members or MLAs to do so.

The Ministry of Justice is responsible for regulating the activities of businesses providing claims management services in England and Wales under Part 2 of the Compensation Act 2006. This includes businesses based outside England and Wales but which carry out regulated services there.

The question of regulating companies providing claims management services in Northern Ireland but which do not provide such services in England and Wales and are therefore not subject to Ministry of Justice regulation, is one for Northern Ireland Executive Ministers to consider.

Northern Ireland Government

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions she had with US Senator Gary Hart when he visited Northern Ireland in the last week of August 2014; and what the subjects were for discussion. [207974]

Mrs Villiers: Senator Hart and I discussed a range of issues as part of his recent visit. I made clear to him that the Government is pressing for a resumption of all-party talks on flags, parades and the past, and that we want to see progress on implementation of welfare reform.

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what recent discussions she has had with the First and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland; and what issues were discussed; [207978]

8 Sep 2014 : Column 430W

(2) what recent discussions she has had with the First and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland regarding the killings in Ballymurphy in West Belfast in August 1971. [207979]

Mrs Villiers: I am in regular contact with the First and Deputy First Minister to discuss a range of issues, including the importance of resuming all-party talks on flags, parades and the past, the need for the Executive to reach agreement on the implementation of welfare reform in Northern Ireland, and the need to implement the provisions of the economic pact agreed between the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive.

Public Records

Ms Ritchie: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Defence since 16 October 2013 regarding the release of documents relating to Northern Ireland held at Swadlincote under the 30 year rule. [207977]

Mrs Villiers: I have not yet had the chance to discuss this matter with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence but would be happy to do so.

Leader of the House

Speaker: Elections

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Leader of the House if he will bring forward proposals to implement the recommendation of the Procedure Committee in its Fifth Report of 2010-12, 2010 Elections for Positions in the House, HC 1573, paragraph 19, that the House be invited to decide whether on the first day of a new Parliament, where the Presiding Member's decision on the question that a former Speaker take the Chair is challenged, the question should be decided by secret ballot or by open division. [207923]

Mr Hague: The Government agrees with the Procedure Committee that it is a matter for the House to determine.

House of Commons Commission

Carol Mills

Mr Simon Burns: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, whether (a) Mr Speaker and (b) other members of the panel were informed by the headhunters, Saxton Bampfylde, of the potential problem surrounding Ms Mills in the Australian Parliament before the decision was taken to recommend Ms Mills' appointment as the next Clerk of the House and Chief Executive. [207886]

John Thurso: Saxton Bampfylde provided written notes on each candidate interviewed on 30 July, and a representative of the company was available to talk to the panel if required. The notes on Ms Mills did not refer to an investigation into the use of closed circuit television footage by officers of the Parliament of Australia’s Department of Parliamentary Services.

8 Sep 2014 : Column 431W

Data Protection

Sir Greg Knight: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, what reassessment has been made of the security of files and emails containing sensitive material relating to constituents being stored by PICT in a cloud system in the light of the recent security breach of the iCloud system. [207888]

John Thurso: It is not the practice of the Commission to comment on security matters in any detail.

However, Parliamentary ICT does not use the iCloud System and was not impacted by recent reported security breaches of this system.

We use a Government accredited Cloud service for emails and files.

Parliamentary ICT took advice from Legal Services and the Director of Parliamentary Security, scrutinising the agreement with the Cloud service supplier to confirm that safeguards are in place to protect the security of data when it entered into these arrangements.

Further advice and guidance for Members can be found on the ICT security pages on the Parliamentary Intranet.

Speaker: Visits Abroad

Michael Fabricant: To ask the hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, representing the House of Commons Commission, what the (a) date, (b) location and (c) cost of all official overseas visits undertaken by the Speaker was in each of the last five years. [207736]

John Thurso: The travel costs of the Speaker and the Members of Parliament and/or House Officials he travels with are routinely published on Parliament's website. These costs may be found at:

http://www.parliament.uk/site-information/foi/transparency-publications/speakers-office/the-speakers-official-travel-expenses/

Attorney-General

Cybercrime

Chi Onwurah: To ask the Attorney-General how many prosecutions of (a) cyber and (b) cyber-enabled crimes have been initiated in each the last five years; and how many such prosecutions were successful. [208123]

The Solicitor-General: Neither the Crown Prosecution Service nor the Serious Fraud Office centrally record the number of prosecutions initiated, or those which resulted in a successful outcome, relating to cyber or cyber-enabled crime. A number of offences may involve the use of a computer or a network in the commission of the offence. To obtain details of the number of cases where defendants were alleged to have been involved in cyber or cyber-enabled crimes would require a manual review of individual case files to be undertaken which would incur a disproportionate cost.

8 Sep 2014 : Column 432W

Domestic Visits

Sheila Gilmore: To ask the Attorney-General pursuant to the answer of 17 June 2014, Official Report, column 551W, on official visits, what domestic visits he and his predecessor have made since January 2013; and what the purpose of each such visit was. [208002]

The Solicitor-General: I have nothing to add to the previous answer given by my hon. Friend, the previous Solicitor-General.

Transport

A14

Stephen Barclay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will publish the methodology behind the benefit-cost ratios calculated for each of the schemes funded in the £1.5 billion works commissioned to improve the A14; [208134]

(2) if he will publish the benefit-cost ratios for each of the schemes funded in the £1.5 billion works commissioned to improve the A14; [208132]

(3) what weighting was given to environmental benefits when calculating the benefit-cost ratio for each of the schemes funded in the £1.5 billion works commissioned to improve the A14. [208133]

Mr Hayes: The Highways Agency published the benefit cost ratios of options for the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme in September 2013 in the ‘Technical Review of Options’ report to support the public consultation.

Following the decision not to toll in December 2013, a re-evaluation was carried out, on the proposed scheme without tolling and to compare its performance with other feasible non-tolled options. The proposed non-tolled option resulted in a BCR of 2.3 (published in the Public Consultation report in April 2014).

Both the ‘Technical Review of Options’ and the ‘Public Consultation’ reports are available on the Highways Agency website

http://www.highways.gov.uk/roads/road-projects/a14-cambridge-to-huntingdon-improvement-scheme/

The methodology for the appraisal of Environmental Impacts is prescribed in Web-based Transport Analysis Guidance (WebTAG) and is dependent upon the scheme’s stage of development. WebTAG is the Department for Transport’s guidance on the transport appraisal process which supports the development of investment decisions and the assessment of potential benefits or disbenefits of a scheme. The most up to date WebTAG guidance has been used.

The appraisal of the environmental impacts of the proposed scheme has and continues to consider both the built and natural environments and people. The environmental impacts that are considered are noise, air quality, greenhouse gases, landscape, townscape, the historic environment, biodiversity and the water environment.

8 Sep 2014 : Column 433W

Blackpool North Station

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions officials in his Department have had with Network Rail on the timetable for temporary closure of Blackpool North station in relation to the electrification of line track in the last two months. [208140]

Claire Perry: In the last two months Network Rail has had regular meetings with Department officials and train operators to discuss the overall programme of rail improvement in the North of England, including discussion regarding the timing of the temporary closure of the line serving Blackpool North Station. Train operators have put to Network Rail a strong view that the temporary closure of Blackpool North station for the works should fall outside Blackpool’s holiday season.

Mr Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions officials in his Department have had with Network Rail on the implications of the works at and around Blackpool North station for (a) capacity, (b) flexibility and (c) frequency of services in and out of Blackpool North station. [208141]

Claire Perry: Network Rail has had regular meetings with Department officials and train operators to discuss the overall programme of rail improvement in the North of England and these have included the implications of any works at Blackpool North station as well as other stations affected. The Network Rail and industry process has ensured that the new Blackpool North infrastructure has the capacity and the capability to handle the projected medium and long term demand growth.

8 Sep 2014 : Column 434W

Cherished Number Plates

Sir Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the transfer and retention of cherished vehicle numbers to be a transaction that is available to complete online. [207943]

Claire Perry: The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is introducing an online Personalised Registration system, which will allow customers to retain and subsequently assign a personalised registration number to a vehicle electronically. This will effectively replace the cherished transfer process as customers will be able to retain and immediately assign a registration number to a different vehicle.

The DVLA has adopted an agile development approach, working in partnership with stakeholders, and looks forward to releasing the components of cherished transfers online, including retention, starting in early 2015 and continuing throughout the year.

Cycling: Accidents

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many and what proportion of (a) men, (b) women and (c) child cyclists suffered (i) fatal and (ii) serious injuries in each of the last 10 years. [208079]

Mr Goodwill: The number of killed and seriously injured pedal cyclists in Great Britain who were male, female or a child (aged 0 to 15) in the years 2004 to 2013 is given in the tables. The proportion of killed and seriously injured pedal cyclists who were male, female or a child for each year is given.

Pedal cyclist fatalities by gender, selected age and severity: GB, 2004-13
 2004200520062007200820092010201120122013

Male

107

131

122

112

97

83

85

85

109

90

Percentage share

80

89

84

82

84

80

77

79

92

83

           

Female

27

17

24

24

18

21

26

22

9

19

Percentage share

20

11

16

18

16

20

23

21

8

17

           

Child: 0-15 years

25

20

31

13

12

14

7

6

13

6

Percentage share

19

14

21

10

10

13

6

6

11

6

           

All ages

134

148

146

136

115

104

111

107

118

109

Seriously injured pedal cyclists by gender, selected age and severity: GB, 2004-13
 2004200520062007200820092010201120122013

Male

1,816

1,811

1,898

1,978

2,009

2,156

2,162

2,536

2,650

2.586

Percentage share

84

82

83,

81

82,

83

81

82,

82

82

           

Female

358

399

398

450

441

450

498

549

572

557

Percentage share

16

18

17

19

18

r7

19,

18

18,

18,

           

Child: 0-15 years

552

507

472

509

405

444

391

392

311

276

Percentage share

25

23

21

21

17,

77

15

13

10

9

8 Sep 2014 : Column 435W

8 Sep 2014 : Column 436W

           

All ages

2,174

2,212

2,296

2,428

2,450

2,606

2,660

3,085

3,222

3,143

Data for 2014 will be available in June 2015.

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many former employees of (a) the Driver Standards Agency and (b) the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency have resigned since the organisations merged into the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. [207555]

Claire Perry: Within the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, there have been 37 resignations since the merger between the Driver Standards Agency and the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency on 2 April 2014 (some of whom are yet to leave the business).

Driving Tests

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average waiting time for a driving test was in each year since 2010. [207573]

Claire Perry: The average waiting time for a driving test (measured in weeks) in each year since 2010 was:

Vehicle Type2010-112011-122012-132013-14

Car

7.9

6.5

6.2

6.2

Motorcycle Mod 1

3.4

2.5

3.4

2.0

Motorcycle Mod 2

3.9

3.1

3.5

2.2

Vocational

3.1

2.9

2.9

2.8

ADI part 2

13.4

3.6

3.8

3.8

ADI part 3

1

4.3

4.1

3.9

1 Indicates a brace.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency measures the average waiting times by financial year not calendar year. The waiting times for Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) part 2 and part 3 tests were not measured separately until 2011-12.

For 2010-11 and 2012-13 all waiting times were service standards and for the 2011-12 and 2013-14 they were internal measures. The targets (in weeks) are included in the following table.

Vehicle Type2010-112011-122012-132013-14

Car

6.0

7.7

6.0

6.0

Motorcycle Mod 1

6.0

6.0

6.0

6.0

Motorcycle Mod 2

6.0

6.0

6.0

6.0

Vocational

3.0

3.0

3.0

3.0

ADI part 2 and part 3

3.0

6.0

3.0

6.0

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the discrepancy is between the number of driving examiners and the required number in the UK; and what it was in each year since 2010. [207574]

Claire Perry: These figures are published in our Annual Reports and Accounts, which show the number of examiners (FTEs) as at the 31 March each year.

 PlanActualDifference

March 2010

1,929

1,789

140

March 2011

1,885

1,730

155

March 2012

1,782

1,780

2

March 2013

1,741

1,719

22

March 2014

1,704

1,644

60

Driving: Licensing

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what average time was taken to process driving licence applications where medical investigations were needed in each year for which figures are available. [207553]

Claire Perry: The average time taken to process driving licence applications where medical investigations were needed is shown in the following table:

 Average processing time (working days)

2009-10

24

2010-11

27

2011-12

30

2012-13

42

2013-14

39

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the average time taken to process a standard application for a driving licence was in each year for which figures are available. [207570]

Claire Perry: Since 2010, the average time taken each year to process a standard driving licence application is five working days. This includes the time taken for the driving licence to be delivered to the customer.

Highways Agency

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many times the Highways Agency has been subject to legal challenge by a local authority in each of the last 10 years. [208080]

Mr Hayes: The only figures available are the total number of legal challenges by any organisation or person against the Highways Agency in each of the last 10 years. These are in the following table. The figures include any challenges by local authorities but we do not hold a breakdown of these figures. The research to establish a breakdown of these figures could only be undertaken at disproportionate costs.

 Number of cases opened

2004

50

2005

57

2006

71

8 Sep 2014 : Column 437W

2007

51

2008

65

2009

71

2010

63

2011

46

2012

41

2013

26

2014

47

Large Goods Vehicle Drivers: Working Hours

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) British and (b) foreign national drivers of HGVs were found to be breaking the drivers' hours regulations in each year since 1997;

8 Sep 2014 : Column 438W

how many were prosecuted in each such year; and what penalties were imposed. [207556]

Claire Perry: The information requested is in the following table.

Only fixed penalties and prosecutions have been included as these refer specifically to drivers’ hours and tachograph record offences. Penalties are imposed by the courts and will vary depending on which court deals with the case. Penalties are either a prohibition, a fixed penalty notice or a fine imposed by a court.

All offences carry the same maximum penalty. The fine (and costs) ultimately imposed is determined by each bench dependent on the facts of the case. A majority of offences are dealt with by a magistrates court with the more serious being dealt with at the Crown court.

VOSA roadside drivers hours checks and outcomes
 Nationality of the vehicleFixed Penalty
 GBForeignFor drivers hours and tacho & records offences
 CheckedProhibitedCheckedProhibitedGBForeignNumber reportedNumber of convictions

2007-08

46,325

7,339

30,606

7,329

4,274

3,520

2008-09

53,219

9,158

46,335

9,913

6,801

5,959

2009-10

57,501

8,229

82,371

13,714

2,547

9,981

4,517

4,108

2010-11

51,426

8,263

70,647

11,171

2,000

7,983

3,498

3,364

2011-12

44,517

8,766

56,445

9,586

2,343

6,382

5,475

3,965

2012-13

37,388

7,251

43,408

7,771

1,972

5,191

4,995

3,794

2013-14

38,972

5,070

39,006

6,077

2,022

4,675

5,990

4,050

Lawn Mowers: Insurance

Jim Shannon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions the Government has had with EU institutions on the possibility of insurance cover being required for ride-on lawnmowers. [207712]

Mr Goodwill: We have raised our concerns in the European Court of Justice and have discussed the matter with the Commission at official level. We have taken note of the ECJ’s judgment and we will continue to engage actively with the Commission to achieve as sensible an outcome as possible.

M180

Sir Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reason the Highways Agency closed the M180 in August 2014; and if he will direct the Highways Agency to take steps to prevent a reoccurrence of that closure during future holiday periods. [207812]

Mr Hayes: The Highways Agency closed the M180 eastbound carriageway between junction 3 and the M18 junction 5 in August 2014 to carry out essential maintenance to the carriageway. The work required deep excavation to carry out repairs to the concrete foundations and needed time for the concrete to harden and for the bituminous layers to cool and set before traffic could run on the finished road surface. This type of work is best carried out in the summer months when the weather conditions are most favourable.

The decision to close the carriageway to carry out the works was based on balancing the impact of the works on motorists with an intention to minimise the overall duration of the works. It is clear now that this outcome was not achieved; the agency recognises that road users suffered significant delays and it has apologised for this.

A thorough review of the planning and execution of the works is being carried out by the agency and the lessons learnt from this will be used to mitigate any reoccurrence of such delays.

The remaining work on the M180 has been reprogrammed so that it is carried out overnight when traffic flows are low. The agency is re-consulting local authorities to agree traffic management proposals and diversion routes. Proposals will be scrutinised closely to ensure that they are robust and any residual risks are mitigated.