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Mr. Howard: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what action he is taking to ensure that greater priority is given in the repair of track to the restoration of full normal line speeds for the services operated by Connex South Eastern. 
Mr. Hill: The industry is working hard to achieve a steady improvement in rail services across all parts of the country. Railtrack expect that nationally train services will be largely back to normal by the end of January. The Rail Recovery Action Group, chaired by the Minister for Transport, has been formed to help to get services back to normal as soon as possible.
Ms Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what additional guidance he will offer to local authorities to ensure that the concerns of local residents over planning applications for mobile telephone masts can be more fully represented; 
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11 May 2000. The Group recommended a precautionary approach, comprising a series of specific measures, to the use of mobile phone technologies until we have more detailed and scientifically robust information on any health effects. In their response, the Government accept the recommended precautionary approach advised by the Stewart report. Our acceptance of a precautionary approach is limited to the specific recommendations in the Group's report and the Government's response to them.
My hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Planning wrote to all hon. Members for constituencies in England on 29 June 2000, to set out what we were doing to take forward the land-use planning recommendations in the Stewart report, and to reiterate how local planning authorities should treat applications for mobile phone development in the meantime. A similar letter was sent to all Council Leaders in England, copied to all Chief Planning Officers.
On 31 July 2000, we issued a consultation paper to seek views on possible changes to the planning arrangements for telecommunications development. In particular, the consultation paper sought views on how to improve public consultation in the planning process. The consultation paper included a draft revised planning policy guidance note (PPG8--Telecommunications). The consultation period ended on 31 October. The Department is currently analysing the responses. We shall announce our conclusions as soon as practicable.
Mr. Mullin: Tomorrow my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister for Transport will be launching a national consultation document on air transport, entitled "The Future of Aviation". This is the first major step towards a new White Paper on air transport. The consultation document invites views on a wide range of aviation and airports issues that underpin air transport policy. In particular, it will examine consumer issues; the best use of airspace and airport capacity; environmental questions; and planning for airport development. The closing date for responses is 12 April 2001. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House. Two supporting studies will also be issued alongside the consultation document: part 1 of a UK Air Freight Study and a study into the Potential Impact of Changes in Technology on the Development of Air Transport in the UK. Copies of these studies will also be placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many owners of houses in multiple occupation have been prosecuted for permitting use of substandard accommodation in each of the last 20 years. 
Mr. Mullin: Information is not collected from local authorities, in either England or Wales, on the number of owners of houses in multiple occupation who have been prosecuted for permitting use of substandard accommodation and this, therefore, is not centrally available.
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Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what percentage of and how many houses in multiple occupation did not have adequate fire escapes in (a) England in 1980 to 2000 and (b) Wales in 1980 to 1998. 
Mr. Mullin: This information is not available centrally in England. However, in 1996, it was estimated that 27,500 traditional HMOs (bedsits) and purpose-built HMOs in England were unfit under section 352 of the Housing Act 1985 due to inadequate "means of escape". This was approximately 30 per cent. of the total number of these dwellings. There is no centrally available information for Wales.
Mr. Mullin: This information is not available in the form requested. Estimates of the number of people living in HMOs in 1991 and 1996 in England are provided in the table. There are no reliable sources of information for intervening years or prior to 1991. Comparable figures for residents living in hostels and bed and breakfast accommodation are not available.
|Number of people(1)|
(1) Figures include people living in converted flats, purpose-built HMO and traditional HMO (bedsits)
(2) Figures from the English House Condition Survey 1996
(3) Figures from the English House Condition Survey 1991
Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what percentage of and how many houses in multiple occupation were judged to be substandard in each of the last 20 years. 
Mr. Mullin: This information is not available in the form requested. Comparable information on the standard of some houses in multiple occupation in England is available for 1991 and 1996 in the English House Condition Survey. However, this covers only standards relating to use as a dwelling generally rather than standards for multiple occupancy. There are no reliable sources of information for intervening years or prior to 1991. Information on the condition of hostels and bed and breakfast type accommodation is not centrally available.
|Substandard under section 604 only|
1. Substandard dwellings are taken as equivalent to unfit under Section 604 of the Housing Act 1985 (as subsequently amended)
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Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list meetings he has had with the Mayor and Greater London Assembly about the introduction of congestion charging in Greater London. 
Mr. Hill: Neither my right hon. Friend nor I have had any meetings with the Mayor or the Assembly specifically about the introduction of congestion charging in Greater London. I have regular meetings with the Mayor at which we cover topics of mutual interest. We have touched on congestion charging in this context.
Judy Mallaber: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he has completed a preliminary assessment of the economic appraisal of the proposed extensions to the Midland Metro. 
Mr. Prescott: In accordance with the policy set out in my Department's Guidance on Local Transport Plans, West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority sought a provisional view on the economic appraisal for two proposed extensions to the Midland Metro, prior to seeking the necessary powers under the Transport and Works Act (TWA). The extensions are between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill and to Birmingham city centre. We have now completed a provisional assessment of the appraisal. I am satisfied that on the basis of the available information the current proposals pass our economic appraisal tests for deciding eligibility for funding.
This provisional view is given solely in respect of the economic appraisal, and does not in any way indicate any view that I may take on any subsequent TWA application. Any such application would be determined entirely on its merits in the light of all the relevant considerations, and only after all interested persons had been given a full opportunity to state their views.
Should TWA powers be obtained, final approval of the project for funding would depend both on whether an updated economic appraisal, reflecting any changes to the scheme as a result of the TWA process or any other
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developments, demonstrates that the project still represents good value for money and on conclusion of a satisfactory agreement on funding.
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