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Mr. Jamieson: The Pilotage Act 1987 assigns to competent harbour authorities the responsibility for deciding the qualifications required of applicants for pilotage exemption certificates. They have to consider skill, experience and local knowledge and, where appropriate, knowledge of English. We have no plans to change this. However, we have proposed to develop with the ports industry guidelines on the way this task might be undertaken: our aim is to assist authorities with advice on agreed industry practice. These guidelines would support the Port Marine Safety Code.
Mr. Jamieson: The issue of pilotage exemption certificates is a matter for the competent harbour authority. I understand from the authority for the Humber that 40 new pilotage exemption certificates were issued in 2001, compared with 35 in 2000. These are the latest readily available figures. There is always a turnover of certificate holders since crews change on vessels regularly using any port. I understand that almost all the new certificates were replacements of additional certificates issued in these circumstances.
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Mr. Jamieson: This is a matter for the competent harbour authority. They have indicated that 77 authorised pilots will be employed by 4 March, that a further 17 have been recruited and are training for authorisation; and that they hope to have a full complement of 110 authorised pilots by the end of March.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much Government funding was given to Associated British Ports for their training of new pilots, under their new pilotage scheme, on the Humber. 
Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the estimated (a) administrative and (b) total cost is of best value in England and Wales in the fire service since its introduction. 
Dr. Whitehead: There are a number of different categories of fire authorities in England and Wales. Broadly speaking, these divide into 34 single-purpose authorities and 16 county fire authorities, where the fire service is provided by the county council as one of a range of services. Single-purpose fire authorities are best value authorities in their own right. For county fire authorities the duty of best value applies at county council level. No overall assessment is available of the costs incurred by fire authorities on the best value process. It would not be feasible to apportion costs incurred by county councils in respect of best value for the fire service.
Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many (a) non-accidental vehicle fires, (b) incidents of arson and (c) incidents of arson in educational establishments there were, broken by (i) fire brigade area and (ii) local authority, in England and Wales, in each year since January 1997. 
Dr. Whitehead: The information requested has been placed in the Libraries of the House. It relates to malicious or deliberate fires attended by local authority fire brigades in England and Wales between 1997 and 2000.
Dr. Whitehead: The target to reduce by 30 per cent. the number of deliberate fires by March 2009 from the 199899 baseline was set as a service delivery agreement target in conjunction with Spending Review 2000. The service delivery agreement target was agreed with Treasury in November 2000.
Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many appeal applications for telecommunications masts to be erected have been received by him; how many have been turned down; and on what grounds. 
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Ms Keeble: Information is not held about appeal decisions for telecommunications masts specifically. The following is information relating to appeal decisions about telecommunications development generally.
|Number of appeals||147||325||589|
|Number of appeals allowed||85||191||248|
|Number of appeals dismissed||52||108||136|
|Number of appeals withdrawn or undecided||10||26||205|
All figures relate to the year in which the appeal was received, not necessarily the year it was decided.
While a large number of issues have been taken into account in determining telecommunications appeals, the most common issues for those that have been dismissed are the effect on the landscape, surrounding area (by reason of size, character, materials etc), areas of outstanding natural beauty or green belt policy issues, and other bad neighbour issues.
Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps are being taken to alleviate traffic noise from the M42, with specific reference to where it passes through Solihull. 
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Ms Keeble: An applicant may appeal against refusal of planning permission by a local planning authority, against the imposition of conditions, or against non determination of a planning application by a local planning authority. The Planning Inspectorate provide advice on making and taking part in planning appeals.
Third parties who object to the grant of planning permission may make an application to the courts for judicial review of the local authority's decision. Public funding is available for legal representation in judicial review proceedings on certain terms and advice should be sought from a legal aid solicitor.
Our Planning Green Paper puts forward a range of proposals designed to improve community participation in the planning system. This includes strengthening the existing opportunities for people to comment on and influence development proposals early in the process before formal planning applications are submitted. In order to help people engage more effectively in the planning process we are working with the Royal Town Planning Institute on ways in which the service provided by Planning Aid can be expanded and better funded.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will list the 30 largest contracts awarded by his Department from (a) May 1997 to April 1998, (b) May 1998 to April 1999, (c) May 1999 to April 2000, (d) May 2000 to April 2001 and (e) May 2001 to the latest date, indicating in each case the values of the contracts and the companies with which the contracts were placed; 
(3) which non-accounting and non-information technology external organisations have won new contracts with (a) his Department and (b) executive agencies in each of the past five years. 
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