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Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the budget of his Department is for the current financial year for the use of external advisers and consultants. 
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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representations he has received from Tandridge district council concerning the Department's Consultation Paper on Changes to the Designation of Rural Areas for purposes of the Village Shop Rate Relief Scheme; and what response his Department has made. 
Dr. Whitehead: Tandridge district council responded to the consultation paper on 29 November 2001 expressing concern that three rural settlements in their area would lose their designated status if what was proposed was implemented. A significant number of other local authorities expressed similar concerns about settlements in their areas.
We had proposed that the current designations based on listed parishes be replaced by one based on maps. But in response to the concerns expressed by councils in their reply to the consultation paper, we have maintained the existing designations in addition to the new maps, to ensure that all areas previously designated continue to be so, while we review the reasons for the discrepancies between the previous list and the new maps. Officials have discussed Tandridge's concerns with the council. All councils were informed of our decision to have a dual system in response to consultation in our business rates information letter 13/2001 of 10 December.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if she will set out traffic levels on (a) British roads, (b) roads within the Government office for the south east region and (b) roads within East Sussex for each year from 1997 taking the 1997 levels as 100. 
|Great Britain||GOSE region||East Sussex(15)|
(15) Major roads only
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Following the completion of surveys and economic and environmental assessments, the public were consulted last autumn on the options and we hope to announce a preferred route this spring. Progress thereafter will depend on how swiftly we can complete the necessary statutory procedures. The aim is to complete the scheme within the next five to six years, although we will better that if we can.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what guidance the Government office for the south-east has given to county councils concerning their (a) participation in and (b) initiation of local strategic plans. 
Dr. Whitehead: National Guidance to local authorities on preparing community strategies under the Local Government Act 2000 was issued in December 2000. No additional Guidance has been issued by the Government office for the south-east but GOSE has been involved in discussions with individual local authorities on the setting up of community strategies. For example, GOSE attended a meeting with Hampshire county council to discuss how the county intended to take forward a county-wide local strategic partnership and a county-wide community strategy.
In respect of plans prepared by local planning authorities under the provisions of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, no specific guidance has been given by GOSE to county councils concerning their participation in or initiation of local plans. In addition, guidance has been published by central Government on local transport plans which are prepared by highways authorities under the provisions of the Transport Act 2000, but no separate advice has been issued by GOSE.
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assessment he has made of the need for an inquiry into air travellers' thrombosis with specific reference to the death of Alayne Wake during a return flight from Singapore on 20 December 2001. 
Mr. Spellar: The Government are aware of the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of Alayne Wake and agree that there is a need to investigate the incidence, extent and causation of deep vein thrombosis among air travellers. The Government are planning to participate in the study being set up by the World Health Organisation that will cover these issues, which also will consider interventions that reduce the risk of a DVT.
Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will set up an inquiry into the incidence, extent and causation of deep vein thrombosis among air travellers. 
Mr. Spellar: The Government are planning to participate in a study of the incidence, extent and causation of deep vein thrombosis among air travellers currently being set up by the World Health Organisation. The Government therefore see no need to set up a separate inquiry.
Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he advised Rochford council that its grants were to be increased by 5.5 per cent.; and what is the actual percentage increase. 
Dr. Whitehead: The provisional Local Government Finance Settlement data for 200203 were notified to all local authorities on 4 December 2001. Revised information, to take account of basic credit approvals, which were issued on 13 December, and updates to some supplementary credit approvals, final council tax base figures, revised Learning and Skills Council allocations and updated domestic visitor nights, was issued on 28 December.
The final data will be notified to local authorities immediately after the draft Local Government Finance report has been laid in the House for debate. This is expected to be around the same time as last year, that is late January or early February.
Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will announce the allocations to local authorities for disabled facilities grants in 200203. 
Ms Keeble: My Department is today announcing an £88 million programme of support for the payment of Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG), by local authorities in 200203. This programme pays for 60 per cent. of all DFG expenditure with the remainder being found from the local authorities' own resources. We will shortly be writing to each local authority in England to inform them of their allocation.
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Jon Cruddas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the allocation of housing revenue account subsidy for housing authorities in England for 200203. 
Ms Keeble: Further to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, South-East (Dr. Iddon) on 26 November 2001, Official Report, columns 62122W, I can confirm that, in the light of responses received to consultation, we decided to confirm our proposals for Housing Revenue Account subsidy for 200203, subject to incorporating later data where necessary. The HRA subsidy and Item 8 determinations were issued to authorities on 21 December. Copies of the determinations and supporting material were placed in the Library of the House, and are available on my Department's website.
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