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Travel Concessions (Middlesbrough)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what travel concessions are available, and how many people are eligible per group, (a) in total, (b) in Teesside and (c) in the Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East constituency. [17798]

Ms Keeble: The Transport Act 2000 requires local authorities and PTEs in England and Wales to provide half-price fares on local buses to pensioners and disabled people, with no charge for the pass. In addition, the Transport Act 1985 gives local authorities discretion to provide a more generous scheme (eg less than half-fare or free travel; discounted travel on trains, metros, trams, ferries; or cross-boundary travel). In London, the Freedom Pass scheme is covered by the Greater London Authority Act 1999. Broadly 5.5 million pensioners and 1.5 million disabled people are eligible for these concessions.

Regional or constituency data are not held centrally.

Rough Sleepers Unit

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much money from the rough sleepers unit has been invested (a) in total and (b) broken down by area since the creation of the unit. [17797]

Ms Keeble: The rough sleepers unit has a programme budget (both capital and revenue) of £200 million over three years. In London, a total of £159 million has been invested over three years drawn from funding streams previously administered by separate Departments. Outside London, where local authorities continue to take the lead in developing local strategies, the unit has invested £39 million under the homelessness action programme. The unit's budget is ring-fenced.

Total grant for three years 1999–2000 to 2001–02, based on actual expenditure in 1999–2000 and 2000–01 and forecast expenditure in 2001–02
£ million

South West6.185
South East6.805
West Midlands2.227
East Midlands3.268
Yorks and the Humber2.532
North West5.378
North East1.602


1. The national figure covers projects like the National Homelessness Advice Service where it is not possible to breakdown by region

2. The London figure includes moneys not directly administered by the RSU (ie SHMG, capital and S.30) but which are part of our overall budget

23 Nov 2001 : Column: 506W

Special Purpose Vehicles

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what plans he has for special purpose vehicles to be created to undertake works in connection with the replacement of the (a) south-west and (b) south and central passenger franchises; and if he will place the plans in the Library; [18218]

Mr. Byers: The framework for special purpose vehicles for rail investment projects is currently being developed by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) and my Department. The SRA strategic plan will identify the investment projects for which an SPV may be appropriate.


Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects to publish the Green Paper on planning. [18013]

Ms Keeble: Shortly.

Domestic Sprinklers

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent representations he has received on the use of domestic sprinklers to prevent death and damage by fire in domestic homes. [17391]

23 Nov 2001 : Column: 507W

Dr. Whitehead: My Department regularly receives representations from organisations calling for the greater use of domestic sprinklers.

The Government recognise that domestic sprinklers have a role to play in promoting life safety, particularly for the most vulnerable. The Fire Safety Advisory Board will continue to assess their value in the light of emerging standards and improvements in sprinkler technology. We have, therefore, recently commissioned research into the benefits of sprinklers in residential properties, including the preparation of a regulatory impact assessment. The results and conclusions from this work should be available in a little over two years from now.

Additionally, the housing health and safety rating system, which we propose should replace the housing fitness standard, includes guidance in respect of hazards from fire. Although not mandatory for houses in multiple occupation, sprinklers may well be recommended where the risk of fire is high.

Vehicle Specification

Mr. Neil Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what decision he has reached following the consultation exercise on the European Commission's proposal to introduce pedestrian protection features in new cars by means of a negotiated agreement with vehicle manufacturers. [18270]

Mr. Jamieson: We have decided that we should support the negotiated approach in this case. The most significant factor is that it offers the quickest route to introducing worthwhile pedestrian protection into the design of new car models.

The first phase of the agreement offers about 25 per cent. of the fatality reduction and 60 per cent. of the serious injury reduction expected from the European Enhanced Vehicle Safety Committee (EEVC) proposal on pedestrian protection. The full EEVC benefits are to be achieved in the second phase.

I have recently written to the Chairmen of the European Scrutiny Committees, informing them of the Government's position.

Council Tax Discounts

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will consult on the proposed changes to the council tax discounts on second and long-term empty homes. [18381]

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Mr. Raynsford: I am today publishing proposals to give local authorities discretion to reduce or end the council tax discounts which owners of second and long- term empty homes currently receive.

The Government's proposals are set out in "Council Tax: a consultation paper on proposed changes for second homes and long-term empty homes". It fulfils the Government's commitment, made in the rural White Paper last year, to consult on this issue.

The Government are also seeking views on how the extra revenue raised should be used: whether it should be retained locally and whether it should be used for specific purposes such as housing. We are also proposing that councils should have the discretion to give council tax discounts for local reasons such as where homes are hit by flooding or in cases of individual hardship.

Our proposals would give local authorities the flexibility to choose the best option for their communities.

In some areas, second-home owners bring a much-needed boost to the local economy but, in other areas, a high demand for second homes is pricing local people out of the property market and undermining the viability of local services. Equally, homes left empty for long periods can blight local communities and encourage crime and antisocial behaviour. The proposals we are announcing today could be used to help encourage owners of empty homes to bring them back into use.

More than half a million properties which are no one's main residence currently receive a 50 per cent. council tax discount. Over half of these are long-term empty properties. Potentially, up to £200 million could be raised in England by ending the council tax discounts on second and long-term empty homes.

The Government are asking for responses to their consultation by 15 February 2002.

Planning Applications

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the latest annual figures for the number of planning applications under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 in England and Wales by (a) region, (b) the number of application passed, (c) the number sent to appeal and (d) the number of successful appeals; and if he will provide the same figures for the previous 10 years. [13595R]

Ms Keeble [pursuant to her reply, 14 November 2001, c. 726–28W]: The information for England for 1990–91 to 2000–01 is in the table.

Planning applications and appeals against refusal: England 1990–91 to 2000–01

Planning applications(2) Appeals against refusal(3) Percentage of
DecidedGrantedRefusedReceivedDecidedAllowedappeals allowed
North East14.713.
North West44.340.
Yorkshire and the Humber34.530.
East Midlands35.
West Midlands37.
East of England55.
South East89.
South West56.749.
North East14.313.
North West42.
Yorkshire and the Humber33.
East Midlands32.929.
West Midlands35.531.
East of England51.745.
South East84.
South West52.846.
North East14.413.
North West40.536.
Yorkshire and the Humber32.729.
East Midlands31.628.
West Midlands35.
East of England48.842.
South East80.369.710.
South West50.
North East14.413.
North West40.536.
Yorkshire and the Humber32.929.
East Midlands32.529.
West Midlands33.929.
East of England47.
South East78.
South West49.744.
North East14.413.
North West39.
Yorkshire and the Humber32.328.
East Midlands30.827.
West Midlands32.928.
East of England43.
South East71.
South West47.
North East14.413.
North West39.
Yorkshire and the Humber33.429.
East Midlands31.528.
West Midlands32.
East of England42.937.
South East69.960.
South West45.340.
North East15.914.
North West42.437.
Yorkshire and the Humber35.731.
East Midlands33.630.
West Midlands34.
East of England45.339.
South East71.762.
South West48.542.
North East16.815.
North West43.
Yorkshire and the Humber35.931.
East Midlands33.429.
West Midlands35.
East of England45.
South East68.659.
South West48.642.
North East16.715.
North West44.338.
Yorkshire and the Humber35.930.
East Midlands33.429.
West Midlands35.430.
East of England44.537.
South East68.
South West48.741.
North East17.315.
North West49.342.
Yorkshire and the Humber40.934.
East Midlands36.731.
West Midlands39.
East of England49.740.
South East74.660.514.
South West54.
North East17.515.
North West53.
Yorkshire and the Humber42.734.
East Midlands40.
West Midlands41.534.
East of England55.343.511.
South East82.665.
South West60.747.713.

(2) Section 70 planning applications, ie excludes applications for listed buildings, advertisements and conservation area consents

(3) Figures relate to the number of appeals against section 70 planning applications refused in the year, not the number of appeals received in the year

23 Nov 2001 : Column: 511W

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