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Regional Airports

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the value is of the investment planned over the next five years by the regional airports whose investments are not subject to PSBR restraint. [103906]

Mr. Mullin: The most recently available information relating to planned investment at the local authority airports recently removed from borrowing controls (Humberside, Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle and Norwich) is as follows:

Year£ million

National Air Traffic Service

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what would happen to the proceeds of sales of surplus land or buildings from the current NATS property portfolio after the implementation of a public private partnership. [103910]

Mr. Mullin: NATS currently owns minimal surplus land or buildings. A number of its key sites are leased. Any proceeds from property disposals after the implementation of the proposed public-private partnership would accrue to the company in which the Government will be a significant shareholder.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if his Department has prepared a valuation of the land and facilities currently owned by NATS. [103908]

Mr. Mullin: The majority of land and facilities owned by NATS are small infrastructure sites. No valuation of these has been prepared. A valuation of major sites is under consideration.

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if the current pension arrangements for NATS staff will be preserved under the proposed PPP. [103904]

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Mr. Mullin: NATS staff employed by the company at the time the PPP is established will be entitled to remain in the Civil Aviation Authority Pension Scheme.

Lighting Column Replacement

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will amend the Standard Spending Assessment formula to make lighting column replacement eligible for capital funding under the transport policy programme; and if he will make a statement. [103766]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Other than in exceptional circumstances, the replacement of lighting columns should be treated as revenue expenditure. Provision for this expenditure is made in Standard Spending Assessments and reflected in the distribution of Revenue Support Grant. Capital allocations made on the basis of local transport plans (replacement for the Transport Policies and Programme system) should not be used for the maintenance of lighting columns.

Rail Safety

Mr. Geraint Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he has received the November monthly report from the HSE on signals passed at danger for the national railway and the London Underground. [104002]

Mr. Hill: I have today placed in the Library the Health and Safety Executive's report for November on Signals Passed at Danger (SPADs) and London Underground's first monthly SPAD report. I propose to put all such future reports in the Library on a monthly basis.

Greater London Authority

Mr. Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much has been spent in the current financial year on preparing for the Greater London Authority. [104007]

Mr. Hill: At the end of September 1999, £2.2. million had been spent by my Department on preparing for the GLA. Further to my answer of 20 October 1999, Official Report, column 591W, the cost of arranging the elections for the Mayor and Assembly on 4 May 2000 and for publicity will fall mainly in the last three months of the current financial year.


Departmental Research Contracts

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the title of research studies, audits and surveys (a) undertaken and (b) commissioned by his Department for completion in (i) 1999 and (ii) 2000, stating in each case when the results are due to be published. [99629]

Dr. Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many research contracts have been let by his Department since May 1997; what is the value of each contract; and in each case whether the contract included (a) a departmental veto over publication of the research results, (b) departmental control over the date of

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publication of the research results and (c) a requirement that the final research results incorporate departmental amendments. [100153]

Mr. Rooker [holding answer 6 December 1999]: Research and Surveys are commissioned by the Analytical Services Division of this Department.

Details of all contracts let as part of the research programme are published in the Department's Research Yearbook; the relevant ones are Yearbooks 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99. Other research studies which have been commissioned (but not yet listed in the yearbook) include:

    Secondary analysis of NDLP Phase One--Childcare

    BA Staff Attitudes to Security

    'ONE' Evaluation

    BA Better Government for Older people prototypes

    Monitoring Restrictions to Council Tax Benefit

    The Changing Role of the Trustee

    Evaluation of the Pensions Helpline

    Overpayments of HB and CTB

    Data and Literature review: ISMI State Provision and Private Insurance

    Local Authority Omnibus Survey

    Prospects of part-time work: the impact of BTWB.

It is the Department's normal practice to publish all research commissioned as part of its research programme. Publication is governed by standard procedures which mean the research reports are published when they are ready. Contractors are required to submit draft reports on which officials (but not Ministers) provide comments; there is no contractual requirement to include these comments.

Research for DSS Communications Directorate.
Research Contracts and their value commissioned by DSS Communication Directorate since May 1997.

Counter fraud publicity strategy development49,150
Counter Fraud Tracking research27,412
Family Credit Advisor Mailing Evaluation8,906
Lone Parents Omnibus5,234
Lone Parents Dipstick (Public Opinion)6,726
Lone Parents Creative Development9,476
Lone Parents Desk Research9,729
NDLP Qualitative Research53,815
Counter Fraud Change of Circumstances38,587
Counter Fraud Publicity Development36,319
Winter Fuel Payments Leaflet Omnibus3,720
Pensions Leaflet Creative Development20,168
Working Benefits campaign testing of audience reaction(1)--
Working Benefits test mailshot qualitative research(1)--
NDLP Strategy Research41,042
Making Work Pay Pitch Research37,171
Making Work Pay Tracking Research65,988
NDLP Pitch Research41,242
Winter Fuel Payments Pre-Post38,034
Winter Fuel Leaflet Development22,731
Pensions Tracking49,902
NDLP Publicity Evaluation75,059
Pensioners MIG Pitch Research66,651
MIG Omnibus10,316
NDLP Research into mailing22,006
Welfare Reform Strategic Communications35,908
Winter Fuel Payments Pre-Post40,972
Internal Communications Desk Research6,997
Internal Communications Qualitative Research64,589

(1) Not available--It is not possible to separate out the value of these contracts from the overall work undertaken by the contractor.

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The research projects listed were commissioned to develop and evaluate publicity campaigns or to inform other presentational issues. Reports of this sort of research are not usually published but are made available on request. Officials have an opportunity to see reports in draft form in order to check for factual accuracy of information and quality of presentation of the report.

Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on the size of the backlog in processing Disability Living Allowance appeals at Warbreck House, Blackpool. [102639]

Mr. Bayley: The administration of Disability Living Allowance is the responsibility of Peter Mathison, Chief Executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Martyn Jones, dated 20 December 1999:

    The Disability and Carer Benefits Directorate aims to clear 90% of DLA appeals within 60 days. The outstanding number of registered appeals awaiting preparation and issue of a submission of evidence to The Appeals Service (TAS) as at 30 November was 6,628. Of these, 6106 (92%) are within the normal processing period. The remaining 522 (8%) were over the 60 day target period.

    There have been delays in processing DLA cases, including appeals, over recent weeks and measures have been introduced to rectify the situation. Staff resources have been diverted from less critical areas of work, and newly recruited staff will have completed their training in January and March. The situation is being closely monitored on a weekly basis.

    I hope this is helpful.

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