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Andrew Bennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when section 63 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 will be implemented; what the legal and financial implications of this will be for local authorities; what incentive it will provide for them to ensure that their rights of way networks are kept fully open; and if she will make a statement. 
Alun Michael: Following our recent consultation on implementation of section 63 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, we are now drafting regulations in the light of the 126 responses we received, with a view to commencing the provisions in early 2003.
Local highway authorities are already under a duty to protect the rights of the public to use rights of way. Under the new burdens procedure, highway authorities collectively are being funded for the additional requirements imposed by section 63. The procedures will provide a formal means for any person to draw to the authority's attention paths which are being obstructed and to take court action where they fail to act. The provisions will encourage authorities to be more proactive in their attempts to keep rights of way free from obstructions, leading to improved access and use of rights of way.
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Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, pursuant to her answer of 16 July 2002, Official Report, column 138W, on the National Access Database, when the results of the feasibility study into the National Access Database being conducted by the Countryside Agency will be published. 
Alun Michael: The National Access Database feasibility study report has been received by the Agency. A research note outlining the findings of the feasibility study is now expected to be published in November 2002.
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Mr. Caborn: Information about National Lottery ticket sales is not collected by constituency. But the National Lottery Commission is able to provide information about sales broken down by postcode area, and I shall write to my hon. Friend with it as soon as possible
David Taylor: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what improvements are planned for Members' access to Information and Communications Technology on the Parliamentary Estate. 
Mr. Kirkwood: The Commission has adopted as a strategic objective the development and maintenance of an information infrastructure that is unified, consistent, seamless and accessible. There are a number of projects under way which will allow Members to derive greater benefits from Information and Communications Technology in their work.
The House Administration as a whole is considering the Information Committee's recent report, Digital Technology: Working for Parliament and the public, which looks at ways of using Information and Communications Technology to bring the House and the public closer together, something which I know is important to the hon. Gentleman.
Kevin Brennan: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if the Commission will take steps to ensure that hon. Members may invite musicians from their constituency to play music in the House. 
Mr. Kirkwood: Permission for musical performances is granted on a case-by-case basis by the Speaker. I understand that the Speaker has agreed to occasional performances provided that meetings and events in adjoining areas are not disturbed. Hon. Members who wish to have music performed at a private function in a refreshment room should direct their request to the Catering Committee, which advises the Speaker.
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Simon Hughes: To ask the President of the Council, what plans the Commission has to give hon. Members additional allowances for members' staff in order to cope with exceptionally heavy workloads. 
Mr. Bradshaw: This is not a matter for the Commission. The Speaker's Advisory Panel has power to consider this and make recommendations if they consider it appropriate. However, allowances were increased last July by at least 50 per cent. in order to meet the needs of our constituents and it may be best to wait until the new system has bedded in before considering whether further increases are merited.
Mr. Bradshaw: The Government's objective remains to complete the reform process on which it embarked in 1997. Whether progress is possible and how fast is now a matter for Parliament itself to influence in the light of the forthcoming report of the Joint Committee of both Houses. The Government has said it will not seek to influence the Joint Committee's deliberations. We will decide how best to proceed in the light of the Joint Committee's views and the opinions of both Houses as expressed in free votes on the options defined by the Joint Committee.
Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Council, what percentage of hon. Members have used the facility of a visit to an EU institution in each of the years for which figures are available; and what steps he has taken to encourage greater take up of this facility. 
|Year||No of Members||Percentage (%)|
|20023 (first six months)||76||11.5|
The ''quick guide'' to members' allowances contains details of the entitlement. This was sent out to all Members in May, and further copies are available from the Department of Finance and Administration.
The House itself approved an amendment of the scheme on 9 May, to allow up to three visits each year to national parliaments of EU member states and those of candidate countries, in addition to EU institutions in Brussels, Strasbourg and Luxembourg.
I understand that Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) officials are ready to assist Members using the allowance, and I am pleased my hon. Friend has given me the opportunity to remind Members of its existence.
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