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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement in respect of each of the English regions on (a) how many local authorities provided the necessary information on the review of the national land use database and (b) what action he plans to take to ensure that those regions who have not reported satisfactorily do so. 
Ms Keeble: The number of local authorities providing returns for the 2001 update of the national land use database of previously developed land is shown in the following table. My Department is working with local authorities, English Partnerships, the Government Offices and other regional bodies to improve response rates for the 2002 update.
|Government office||Number of authorities in region||Number of authorities returning in 2001||Percentage of authorities returning in 2001|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||24||17||71|
|East of England||49||24||49|
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on his Department's advice to local authorities on whether they will permit widows and widowers of firefighters to retain their pensions on remarriage. 
Dr. Whitehead: Under the current rules of the firefighters' pension scheme, the surviving spouse of a firefighter who remarries will lose the rights to a widow's/widower's pension. There are no proposals at present to amend the scheme in this respect and therefore we could not advise local authorities to permit surviving spouses to retain their pensions on remarriage. We continue to discuss amendments to the current scheme with the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council which includes representatives of the Scottish Executive, the Northern Ireland Administration, fire service employers and unions and staff associations.
13 May 2002 : Column 444W
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what his estimate is of the comparative costs of (a) loans entered into by registered social landlords for capital developments and (b) the equivalent cost to local authorities; and if he will make a statement. 
RSLs are private sector organisations who borrow directly from banks, building societies and other financial institutions. Loan costs will vary according to the RSL taking the loan, the type of loan and when it is taken out.
Borrowing for housing investment by local authorities is generally from the Public Works Loans Board. Loan costs will also vary due to the type of loan, when it is taken out and the local authority involved. The cost of servicing the loans is met through housing revenue account subsidy.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what plans he has to provide inter-operability between emergency services and their radio communications systems; 
(3) which Department has responsibility for taking decisions on the replacement of radio communication systems for fire and ambulance services; 
(4) what consultations he has had to determine the procurement process for the fire and ambulance service for the replacement of their radio communications systems. 
The requirements for inter-operability reflect identified needs following the attack on the World Trade Centre. The Presidents of the associations representing the Chief Officers of the emergency services have now agreed a new and enhanced requirement for the inter-operability of radio systems between the services.
On 7 May 2002 I made an announcement about the procurement of a national radio communications system for the Fire Service in England and Wales. DTLR will now be discussing with fire authorities how best to implement the new national strategy. A new specification reflecting this enhanced requirement is being prepared. There will be competitive procurement for the fire services in accordance with EU procurement legislation.
13 May 2002 : Column 445W
proportion of tenants have bought their homes through right to buy schemes in rural areas in the last 15 years; and if he will make a statement. 
When selling properties under the right to buy scheme, landlords may impose restrictions on their resale if they are located in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, or certain rural areas designated for this purpose. An owner may be required to offer the property back to the landlord (if they wish to resell within ten years) or to people who have lived or worked locally for three years. The intention is to try to ensure that more of the existing housing in rural areas is available to local people. There are currently 24 designated rural areas, and our November 2000 Rural White Paper "Our Countryside: The Future" encouraged other local authorities to consider seeking designation.
Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps his Department has taken to monitor the incidence of mast sharing by mobile phone operators. 
Ms Keeble: The Government's policy is firmly to encourage mast and site sharing where that is the optimum environmental solution. Planning Policy Guidance Note 8, "Telecommunications" provides guidance on this.
In addition, as part of the mobile phone industry's 10 commitments to improve the handling of telecommunications development, operators have pledged to publish clear, transparent and accountable criteria and cross-industry agreement on site sharing.
The industry sends site sharing statistics to the Department on a quarterly basis as part of this commitment. Latest figures show that, out of the current 10,416 sites that are capable of some form of mast/tower share, 3,669 sites have at least one sharer present. In addition, 2,713 applications for site share are pending.
Kate Hoey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether the Government Office for London has provided him with a brief on the site at St Thomas' Hospital known as Block 9. 
13 May 2002 : Column 446W
Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what new planning guidelines will be introduced on the role of regional assemblies in planning applications. 
Regional planning bodies already offer advice to local planning authorities and give evidence at an appeal where the planning application raises regional or sub-regional issues relevant to the delivery of regional planning guidance.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 7 May 2002, Official Report, column 24W, if he will place a copy of the analysis by Smith and Williamson of responses to the Planning Green Paper in the Library. 
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