§ Mrs. Dunwoody
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the value of variable speed limits in the M25 controlled motorway pilot scheme, in terms of(a) overall journey times and (b) road accidents and casualties. 
§ Ms Glenda Jackson
The value of variable speed limits in the M25 controlled motorway pilot schemes is being monitored by the Transport Research Laboratory. The results from their first year assessment, the report for which was released in February 1997, indicate that(a) during the first 12 months of operation of the pilot, the scheme had accommodated traffic increases in weekdays of 1.3 per cent. during the morning peak period on the clockwise carriageway, and of 3.7 per cent. during the afternoon peak period in the anticlockwise carriageway, without measurable increase in journey times. However, the natural variability of traffic behaviour had masked any overall reduction in journey times; and(b) police records up to August 1996 showed a 30 per cent. reduction in injury incidents and a 25 per cent. reduction in damage only accidents compared to the previous year.
The results from the second year of operation are expected to be available in about two months' time. Indications are that the pilot is continuing to provide worthwhile benefits to motorists in terms of both traffic operation and safety, while contributing to pollution reductions through smoothing traffic flow.