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Council Houses

Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the availability of funding for council house modernisation and repair in local authorities where tenants have voted against stock transfers. [9624]

Ms Keeble: Resources for renovating and repairing council housing stock are provided through the Major Repairs Allowance, the credit approvals issued through the housing annual capital guideline and the maintenance allowance within Housing Revenue Account Subsidy. The levels of resources (£ million) for these for this year and next year agreed in the 2000 Spending Review are as follows:

£ million

2001–022002–032003–04
Capital works
Major Repairs Allowance1,6001,5121,403
Housing credit approvals705793842
Revenue expenditure
Maintenance allowance1,9151,8051,685

It is for local authorities to decide, in consultation with their tenants, whether they wish to pursue the available options for generating increased investment in the housing stock. In addition to housing transfer, additional resources are available through the arms length management (£460 million available over the three years to 2003–04) and Private Finance Initiatives (£760 million over the three years).Where an authority has had an unsuccessful partial or whole housing transfer ballot it will be essential to understand the reasons why tenants voted against the transfer. There is no bar on these authorities revisiting transfer.

Foundations

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what funding has been made available to foundations in advance of their annual budget for the delivery of help to home improvement agencies. [9545]

Ms Keeble [holding answer 22 October 2001]: "Foundations" operates as the national co-ordinating body for home improvement agencies under contract to my Department. Funding under the contract is provided in the form of quarterly payments made in arrears on the basis of evidence that the requirements of the contract have been fulfilled.

25 Oct 2001 : Column: 388W

Storage Premises (Fires)

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many fires have taken place in warehouse, distribution and other storage premises since 1990. [8233]

Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 22 October 2001]: The table shows the total number of fires for each year from 1990 to 1999 for 'warehouses and other distribution' and 'outdoor storage' premises.

Fires in warehouses and other outdoor storage premises, UK 1990–99

YearTotalWarehouses and other distributionOutdoor storage
19902,1927441,448
19911,9036221,281
19921,7825511,231
19931,8146091,205
1994(23),(24)3,1938832,310
1995(23),(24)3,7918562,935
1996(23),(24)4,0407023,338
1997(23),(24)3,9757263,249
1998(23),(24)3,9167713,145
1999(23),(24),(25)4,1207573,363

(23) Figures are based on sample data

(24) Including late call and heat and smoke damage incidents

(25) Provisional


The number of fires within these categories before 1994 is not directly comparable with data for later years. Since 1994 the statistics have included late calls and heat and smoke damage, and have also been estimates derived from samples.

Aircraft Air Filters

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of studies into the transmission of disease through the air filter systems of passenger aircraft; and if he will make a statement. [9615]

Mr. Jamieson: Consultants commissioned by the Government have reviewed published studies on the transmission of disease in aircraft cabins and have made two medium/low priority recommendations for further research. We are currently considering these recommendations. The House of Lords Select Committee Report on Air Travel and Health, on the basis of the evidence presented to it, concluded that


Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will seek an international agreement to speed up the replacement of air filters on passenger aircraft. [9616]

Mr. Jamieson: Since the use of aircraft cabin air filters is not mandatory, an international agreement on the timing of their replacement is inappropriate. It is for airlines to select a suitable maintenance regime that would ensure industry or in-house performance standards are met.

25 Oct 2001 : Column: 389W

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what his policy is on the replacement of aircraft air filters; and if he will make a statement. [9614]

Mr. Jamieson: Use of aircraft cabin air filters is not mandatory. Therefore it is for airlines to select an appropriate maintenance regime that would ensure industry or in-house performance standards are met.

Bypasses

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what criteria his Department uses for the approval of bypasses. [9664]

Mr. Jamieson: All bids for new schemes whether bypasses or other classes of scheme are assessed using the New Approach to Appraisal developed during the Roads Review in 1998. NATA is based on the five criteria that underlie our transport policies: environmental impact, safety, economy, accessibility and integration. NATA favours no particular class of scheme nor is it our policy to give special preference to bypasses, although I fully recognise the environmental benefits which such schemes can bring about.

Radon

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will provide assistance to homes which have radon concentrations higher than the Action Level. [9599]

Ms Keeble: It is already possible to offer such assistance. Local housing authorities may provide discretionary Private Sector Renewal Grants to assist home owners with radon remedial works to their properties where the annual averaged concentration of the gas exceeds the Action Level.

Bye-law Applications

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many bye-law applications from local authorities there were in each of the past five years, broken down by category, indicating in each case if they were approved. [9666]

Dr. Whitehead: Local authorities are empowered to make a wide range of bye-laws for which confirmation is given by the Secretary of State responsible for the issues to which the bye-law relates. The information requested is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what criteria his Department uses to judge bye-law applications from local authorities. [9665]

Dr. Whitehead: In considering applications from local authorities for confirmation of bye-laws regard is had to the relevant matters set out in Home Office Circular 25/1996 which include: that the bye-laws are within the powers of the enabling legislation and that any action required by the legislation, such as consultation with a named public body, has been taken; that they do not duplicate or conflict with the general law, existing

25 Oct 2001 : Column: 390W

bye-laws or any local Act or common law; that the nuisance they address merits criminal sanctions and that, to a reasonable person, the penalty available is proportionate; that they directly address a genuine and specific local problem and do not attempt to deal in general terms with essentially national issues; and that they do not conflict with Government policy.

London Underground

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what research his Department has conducted into the applicability of the proposed not-for-profit Railtrack model for re-organising London Underground. [9893]

Mr. Jamieson: Following the 1997 election, London Transport and the Government, advised by PricewaterhouseCoopers, considered a number of different options for the future of the Tube—including the possibility of a not-for-profit private sector trust. We believed then, as we do now, that our modernisation plans are the best way forward for London Underground.

Public sector London Underground will continue to be responsible for running the railway. The operation of track, signals, trains and stations will remain in public hands. The public sector will also be responsible for managing the contracts to maintain and improve the Tube. London Underground is a not-for-profit organisation.

Our plans for the modernisation of the Tube will provide the massive long-term investment the underground needs to deliver a 21st century service. There will be more than £13 billion for investment and maintenance over 15 years, providing significant improvements in the quality, capacity and reliability.

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the cost to date of advisers on the public- private partnership for London Underground. [10152]

Mr. Jamieson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) on 16 October 2001, Official Report, column 1170W.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 22 October 2001, Official Report, columns 93–94W, who was the author of the document which showed that one of Mr. Kiley's assistants had proposed changes to a draft report by Parsons Brinkerhoff; and in whose ownership this document is. [10223]

Mr. Byers: I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by my right hon. and learned Friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton in another place on 24 July 2001, Official Report, House of Lords, column 1845.


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