§ Mr. Chope
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action the Government have taken to give accredited recovery vehicles(a) higher priority in congested traffic and (b) permission to run on the hard shoulder as set out at paragraph 3.143, of the White Paper, "A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone". 
§ Mr. Jamieson
[holding answer 5 March 2004]: Following discussion between the emergency services, officials from the Department for Transport and the Highways Agency and representatives of vehicle rescue and recovery operators, in November 2003 the Association of Chief Police Officers produced agreed guidance on use of the hard shoulder. The guidance makes clear that general use of the hard shoulder by recovery vehicles would not be appropriate where traffic is free flowing or where congestion has been caused by an unplanned incident. Where the latter has occurred, priority must be given to the emergency services. However, it identified certain circumstances where recovery services could be permitted to use the hard shoulder, for example where drivers or passengers of broken down vehicles are considered to be at risk and traffic is stationary or very slow moving for an extended period. Authority for such use is granted on a case by case basis by the police.