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Trunk Roads (Norfolk)

33. Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has for upgrading Norfolk's trunk roads; and if he will make a statement. [21590]

Mr. Jamieson: We recently announced the preferred routes for schemes to dual the last two single carriageway sections of the A11 trunk road between the M11 in Cambridgeshire and the city of Norwich. Studies have been commissioned to look at safety, congestion and other transport related problems along the A47 corridor in Norfolk. A £4.5 million scheme to improve the A47 Hardwick roundabout is programmed to start in the next financial year.

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Railtrack

34. Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will release the minutes of the meetings that took place between 1 July and 30 September between the Government, Railtrack and Credit Suisse First Boston. [21591]

Mr. Jamieson: My right hon. Friend informed the House about relevant discussions with Railtrack and its advisers in his statement of 15 October.

There is no commitment under the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information that pre-existing documents, as distinct from information, will be made available in response to requests.

It is not, in any case, the Government's practice to release information the disclosure of which may be an issue in legal proceedings. Such information is exempted from disclosure under section 4 of Part II of the Code.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the sum that would need to be granted to (a) Railtrack plc and (b) Railtrack Group to give the bonds an A Credit rating. [19426]

Mr. Spellar: The credit rating of the proposed Company Limited by Guarantee would depend upon its structure and financial framework.

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what were the sums (a) agreed in 2000 and (b) at the latest date for which information is available for payments to Railtrack in (i) 2001–02, (ii) 2002–03 and (iii) 2003–04 by the (A) Government and (B) Strategic Rail Authority. [22118]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 10 December 2001]: I refer the right hon. Member to the reply given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Mr. Jamieson) to the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) on 10 December 2001, Official Report, column 555W.

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what legal requirement will be placed on the administrators of Railtrack under the strategic plan drawn up by the Strategic Rail Authority. [23363]

Mr. Byers [holding answer 17 December 2001]: The Strategic Plan will be published on 14 January.

Air Traffic

35. Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to limit the vectoring off from approved routes by National Air Traffic Control when residential areas are affected. [21592]

Mr. Jamieson: The Government have no such plans. While the balance of environmental advantage generally lies in concentrating departing aircraft along routes that avoid densely populated areas where possible, the vectoring of aircraft from such routes once they have climbed above agreed minimum altitudes is necessary for efficient and safe management of aircraft.

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Rail Franchises

36. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what response he has given to proposals from train franchisees to acquire and run vertically integrated operations. [21593]

Mr. Jamieson: I have not responded to any specific proposals.

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what guidance his Department gave to the Strategic Rail Authority on the renewal of rail passenger franchises in (a) September 1999 and (b) July 2001; what plans there are to make any amendments to this guidance; and if he will make a statement. [23511]

Mr. Jamieson: The Secretary of State's Instructions and Guidance to the Franchising Director, issued on 29 September 1999, addressed this issue. A revised approach was set out in the draft Directions and Guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority and the draft Statement of Policy on Passenger Rail Franchising issued for consultation on 29 June and 16 July respectively.

The consultation responses received on the draft Franchising Policy statement are being considered and a revised version will be published very shortly.

37. Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the rail franchise renewal process. [21594]

Mr. Jamieson: A revised approach to franchising was set out in the draft Directions and Guidance to the Strategic Rail Authority and the draft Statement of Policy on Passenger Rail Franchising issued for consultation on 29 June and 16 July respectively. The responses received are under consideration.

The Strategic Rail Authority's franchising programme will be reviewed in the light of this. An announcement will be made in due course.

East of England Development Agency

38. Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent discussions he has had with the East of England Development Agency on the region's transport infrastructure. [21595]

Mr. Jamieson: The Secretary of State has had no specific discussions with the East of England Development Agency on the state of the region's transport infrastructure. Ministers are, however, aware of the Agency's transport priorities as set out in their Regional Economic Strategy, published in June this year.

Euston-North Wales Rail Service

Mrs. Betty Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when his Department last met the office of the Rail Regulator to discuss the quality of the service provided by Virgin trains between Euston and North Wales; and if he will make a statement. [21584]

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Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority monitors train operators for both performance and quality of service. The Authority has regular contact with the operators, including official quarterly meetings with senior management to discuss areas of concern. My Department are in regular contact with the authority over these matters.

Regional Rail Services

Mr. Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what discussions he has had with the Strategic Rail Authority on devolving rail services on a regional basis. [21567]

Mr. Spellar: There have been no such discussions. Special arrangements apply in Scotland following devolution. But the Government's general view is that the GB railway is a national network and should be operated as such.

Antisocial Tenants

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what interdepartmental co-ordination there is on speeding up the eviction of antisocial tenants. [21573]

Ms Keeble: My officials are liaising with colleagues in other Government Departments, in particular the Home Office, Lord Chancellor's Department and the Court Service.

Local Authority Grant Settlement

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representations he has received from local authorities in country districts on the grant settlement for 2002–03. [21587]

Dr. Whitehead: By midday on 11 December, we had received 15 representations from shire district councils concerning the 2002–03 grant settlement. Of these, 11 relate to the data used for the authority concerned. The other four relate to the methodology used or level of funding provided by the settlement.

Millennium Dome

Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress has been made in relation to the future use of the Millennium Dome. [24724]

Mr. Byers: Meridian Delta Ltd. have today been appointed exclusive partners with English Partnerships for the regeneration of the Greenwich peninsula and to take over ownership of the Millennium Dome, through a 999 year lease.

Once legally concluded the deal will provide a 20,000 seat arena inside the Dome, surrounded by an urban entertainment complex. The total investment in and around the Dome will be £200 million. The deal also provides for the regeneration of the Greenwich peninsula through a joint venture between EP and MDL which, over its 20 year lifetime, will provide a total investment of around £4 billion, at least 5,000 new homes and an estimated 20,000 full-time jobs.

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Meridian Delta Ltd. is a consortium that includes Lend Lease (developers of the Sydney Olympic Village and the Bluewater shopping centre), Quintain Estates and Development and Anschutz Entertainment Group—the second largest entertainment company in the world.

English Partnerships expects to conclude a legally binding contract with MDL by the end of May 2002, but it is intended that it will provide both a guaranteed minimum price for the land that English Partnership is putting into the joint venture and a substantial share of the overall remaining profits of the joint venture.

The precise amount to be received by EP over the lifetime of the deal depends on the final details of the deal and the amount of development ultimately undertaken. However, it will amount to several hundred million pounds and is structured in such a way that it is likely to generate better value for the public sector than could have been achieved through either of the deals with Nomura or Legacy. The deal also provides for MDL to take on all of the risks associated with operating and maintaining the Dome. The public sector's only remaining interest will be to receive a share of profits once they exceed a threshold, still to be determined.

We welcome the fact that the National Audit Office is scrutinising the sale process and will report to Parliament. We have kept the NAO informed throughout and will continue to do so.


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