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Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what steps he has taken to set up regional resource centres for urban development as recommended in the Rogers report, "Towards an Urban Renaissance". 
At the national level we have commissioned a feasibility study of a recommendation made by the Social Exclusion Unit's Policy Action Team 16 (Learning Lessons), for the creation of a National Centre for Neighbourhood Renewal. This would provide the training, knowledge and skills needed to support neighbourhood renewal activity and would help to achieve many of the same ends as the Task Force's proposed Regional Resource Centres. Consultation meetings are taking place later this month on the results of the feasibility study.
At the regional level there is also a great deal happening on the ground to improve urban development skills particularly in response to the Continuing Professional Development initiative. Academic institutions across the country are now getting together with regeneration practitioners and professional institutions in putting together relevant good practice guidance and training packages for everyone from existing professionals to community volunteers.
The Government are also working closely with the professional institutions and local government to improve training in urban design skills and are considering, with the Local Government Association, the way resources can be deployed more effectively in the pursuit of excellence in this area. A skills seminar is being held by the Minister for Housing and Planning on 13 July to take this forward.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received on varying the discounts available under the Right-to-Buy Scheme in areas of high demand for housing; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Raynsford: I am aware of no such representations to date, though we published our Housing Green Paper "Quality and choice--a decent home for all" earlier this year and we are considering responses as they come in. The Green Paper said that we do not intend to make any further substantial changes to the Right-to-Buy Scheme.
Ms Beverley Hughes: As the then Minister for Transport announced on 11 March 1999, the South-east and East of England Regional Air Services (SERAS) study has started from the position that nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out.
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We are currently in the early stages of assessing a wide range of options, both at existing airports and possible new sites. We will proceed through successive sifts to narrow down options to a final shortlist, on which there will be a full public consultation before Ministers come to decisions.
It is expected that the study will be completed by spring or summer 2001, to be followed by public consultation. The results will feed into an Air Transport White Paper, which will also take account of the Government's decisions in response to the Inspector's report on the Heathrow Terminal 5 Inquiry.
Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the earliest date will be that planning authorities near Gatwick Airport will be able to consider planning applications following the conclusion of the airport study of South-east airports. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: The South-east and East of England Regional Air Services study (SERAS) is expected to be completed by spring or summer 2001, to be followed by public consultation. The results will feed into an Air Transport White Paper, which is intended to provide a framework for the future development of aviation and airports in the United Kingdom.
In the meantime, before the SERAS study has been completed and the White Paper published, planning applications for development in the Gatwick Airport area will be subject to normal provisions of the planning system and will be determined against existing national, regional and local policies.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many changes he has made to the system of revenue grant distribution to local authorities since 1997; and if he will give details of the changes. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: There were 15 changes in the method of determining Standard Spending Assessments (SSAs) for the 1998-99 Local Government Finance Settlement; and 20 changes for the 1999-2000 Local Government Finance Settlement.
The July 1998 Local Government White Paper announced a 3-year review of Revenue Grant Distribution. It said that the Government did not expect to make fresh changes to the method of calculation of SSAs except where there are changes in the functions of councils, or the funding of particular services.
In 2000-01 there were therefore only limited adjustments to SSAs to accommodate the establishment of the Greater London Authority and related changes, most notably those arising from the alterations to the boundary of the Metropolitan Police District and the Essex, Hertfordshire and Surrey police areas.
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Changes in the method of determining SSAs are contained in circular letters to local authorities, dated 2 December 1997, 2 December 1998 and 25 November 1999, copies of which are in the Library. For convenience, copies of the relevant extracts have been placed in the Library.
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unscheduled line closures on the London Underground that have occurred since 1 January; and if he will set out the (a) cause and (b) duration of each line closure. 
Mr. Hill [holding answer 11 July 2000]: This is an operational matter for London Underground who have supplied details of unscheduled line closures (defined for this purpose as delays of more than four hours) as set out in the following table.
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|Date||Location||Line||Cause||Initial delay (mins)|
|3 January 2000||Baker Street/Finchley Road||Metropolitan & Circle||Object on track||274|
|6 January 2000||Baker Street||Metropolitan & Circle||Computer system failure||290|
|19 January 2000||Edgware Road sidings||Metropolitan & Circle||Train derailment||355|
|20 January 2000||Gunnersbury||Non LUL||Fire/smoke alert||277|
|20 January 2000||Baker Street/Edgware Road||Metropolitan & Circle||Signal problems||400|
|26 January 2000||Baker Street||Metropolitan & Circle||Computer system failure||473|
|5 February 2000||Stratford||Jubilee||Computer system failure||271|
|12 February 2000||Liverpool Street||Central||Person on track||319|
|13 February 2000||Aldgate||Metropolitan & Circle||Train derailment||401|
|23 March 2000||Blackfriars/Temple||District||Flooding||259|
|29 March 2000||Turnham Green/Richmond||Railtrack||Loss of traction current||241|
|9 April 2000||Aldgate/Liverpool Street||Metropolitan||Points failure||430|
|19 April 2000||Waterloo||Waterloo & City||Track circuit failure||278|
|15 May 2000||Roding Valley/Woodford||Central||Person under train||556|
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Mr. Quinn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber in assisting regeneration projects in the region. 
Ms Beverley Hughes [holding answer 12 July 2000]: The Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber (GOYH) continues to contribute effectively to maximising competitiveness and prosperity in the region, and supporting integrated policies for an inclusive society. In particular it has worked closely with Yorkshire Forward (the Regional Development Agency) to support it in its first full year of operation.
New Deal for Communities (NDC): Bradford and Hull have each received £50 million and £55 million respectively over 10 years under the first round of NDC and Doncaster and Sheffield have been invited to submit bids for schemes.
Regional Selective Assistance (RSA): RSA to the value of over £15 million was offered to businesses. This is expected to lead to capital investment of £207 million and the creation/safeguarding of over 6,200 jobs.
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by the closing date of 31 December 1999. Over £560 million of funding has been committed to support a wide range of projects that maximise the benefits to the region. GOYH continues to work closely with partners to ensure that the new European programmes for 2000-06 are ready to start in 2000.
Local Transport: Last year the region's local authorities received a total allocation of £109 million for their provisional local transport plans (LTPs). GOYH has continued to support the local authorities with the preparation of their full LTPs, which will cover the five years to 2005-06.
Working with Local Government: GOYH has continued to support the modernisation of local government and has contributed to the assessment process for Beacon council and Invest to Save applications from local authorities.
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