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Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the legal action being taken by him concerning allegations made in the Daily Mail on 19 March; and what estimate he has made of the cost to public funds of this action. 
Mr. Byers [holding answer 22 March 2001]: I have engaged the solicitors Goodman Derrick to act on my behalf in response to the Daily Mail allegations made on 19 March. These allegations relate entirely to my conduct as Secretary of State of Trade and Industry. In line with Treasury advice published in response to a Public Accounts Committee Report in 1993 which states that
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 23 March 2001]: The Health and Safety Executive do not hold the requested information and do not have the power to obtain the information for this purpose. It is therefore unavailable. The hon. Member would be best advised to approach Byker directly to gain the figures he asks for.
2 Apr 2001 : Column: 8W
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will seek to amend the law to permit local authorities to retain fines levied on people (a) dropping litter and (b) responsible for graffiti. 
Mr. Hill [holding answer 26 March 2001]: Under the local Public Service Agreement pilot, the DETR has agreed that two local authorities, Middlesbrough and Stockton-on-Tees, can be paid grants equal to the Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) income they collect for litter offences to offset their costs of providing enforcement services. If the pilot trial demonstrates improvements in the levels of cleanliness in these authorities, consideration will be given to extending this provision to other local authorities.
There are no plans at present to make fines income from graffiti cases payable to local authorities: local authorities have the opportunity to apply to the courts for compensation for damage in the usual way.
Mr. Prescott: Following decades of under-investment, our 10-year plan stresses the need to enhance the rail network to accommodate passenger and freight growth with less passenger overcrowding and better punctuality and reliability.
I have reached agreement in principle with Railtrack on the rephasing of some £1.5 billion of grants. This brings forward money already allocated under the Rail Regulator's review of access charges. In addition to delivering long-term savings to the taxpayer, this agreement provides the basis for a new relationship between the company and Government, including a commitment from Railtrack to proceed to appoint a non-executive director to its main Board with a remit to provide a powerful public and consumer voice. The agreement has been enshrined in an agreed general Statement of Principles published today, copies of which are being placed in the Library of the House.
Railtrack has agreed that the immediate financial implications of last October's tragic accident at Hatfield should fall on its shareholders. It has also agreed that one of the lessons from Hatfield is that it needs to give more attention to the management of the core rail network.
To progress the enhancements, this means bringing in third party finance and project delivery skills to supplement Railtrack, through public-private partnerships. The Strategic Rail Authority has today committed a new joint venture project finance and delivery vehicle for the East Coast Main Line upgrade, which will provide valuable new passenger and freight capacity on this key route.
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The SRA is continuing its programme of franchise renewal to bring benefits to passengers through more frequent services, longer trains and new rolling stock. They are today announcing progress on the East Coast Main Line, South West Trains and Chiltern franchises.
I have also reached agreement to secure the funding and construction of the second and final stage of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link from North Kent to London's St. Pancras Station. This agreement provides for Railtrack to be the operator of the whole line, but for the construction of Section 2 to be funded and overseen by London and Continental Railways, in a new risk sharing arrangement with the project management company, Bechtel.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (1) what specialist advice the Highways Agency used in reaching its decision to cut down trees between the M6 motorway and Devon Way at Stafford on 8 March; 
Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proposals he has received from the European Commission for motorists to retake driving tests at the age of 50 years. 
Mr. Hill: The European Commission is known to be considering making proposals for a Third Council Directive on driving licences. The proposals are yet to be published and we are unclear about what they contain.
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|South East Regional Assembly||96||15||--|
|North East Regional Assembly||51||11||1|
|North West Regional Assembly||64||15||1|
|Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Chamber||25||9||1|
|East Midlands Regional Assembly||88||23||--|
|West Midlands Regional Chamber||54||11||--|
|South West Regional Assembly||68||17||--|
|East of England Regional Assembly||30||11||--|
Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what the (a) budgeted running costs, (b) staff numbers and (c) expenditure were in 2000-01 for the regional offices of the Highways Agency. 
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