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Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the (a) budgets and (b) administrative costs were for each of the regional chambers in England for each financial year since their establishment; and what their planned (i) budgets and (ii) administrative costs are for the next two years. 
Mr. Raynsford: The eight regional chambers have been established voluntarily by bodies representing the interests of each region. The Government proposed earlier this year to provide £15 million for the chambers over a three year period to enable them to strengthen their role in the regions. It is hoped to make a further announcement about this soon; otherwise, their costs and budgets are a matter for the chambers and their members.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the trend in the number of priority homeless acceptances in England since 1997. 
Ms Keeble: The number of households accepted by local housing authorities as unintentionally homeless and in priority need during the 12 months prior to March 2001 was 113,590. That is 2.5 per cent. higher than the number of households accepted during the 12 months prior to March 1997 110,810.
It is greatly to the credit of local housing authorities that they have been able to meet their statutory obligations to help those who are homeless and in most need of accommodation, and they are to be congratulated.
The underlying reason for the increase in acceptances is a shortage of affordable accommodation in some areas, especially London and the south-east. This shortage follows a significant cut in housing resources, when the
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199297 Government cut total capital investment in housing from £3.9 billion in 199293 to planned spending of only £1.5 billion in 199798. High property prices in a very buoyant housing market, particularly in these areas, may also have contributed to an increase in homeless acceptances by reducing the availability of low cost affordable accommodation.
The Government have substantially increased the resources available for housing investment to tackle the significant problems they inherited. The housing resources provided for the current year, of around £3.3 billion, are twice the amount made available for 199798, and further significant increases are planned for the next two years. As part of this, we have nearly doubled the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme with an additional £872 million aimed at building more affordable social housing. Our target is to provide at least 100,000 new or improved homes for low-cost renting or ownership through the Approved Development Programme and other programmes between April 2001 and March 2004.
Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the operating loss or profit of the QE2 Centre was in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will set up an investigation into the working of the new postal voting arrangements in the recent general election. 
Dr. Whitehead: The Electoral Commission, which was established by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, will publish a report shortly on various aspects of the administration of the general election, in accordance with section 5 of the Act.
Ms Keeble: My Department is monitoring eight home zone pilots in England. The schemes are in Ealing, Lambeth, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Peterborough, Plymouth and Sittingbourne. The pilots are at different stages of development, and works are planned to commence in all the schemes by the end of the year.
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Local authorities are free to take forward home zones outside of the monitoring process. We are aware that home zones have been completed in Birmingham, Tower Hamlets and Luton, and are being implemented in Hertford and Bristol. A number of local authorities included proposals for home zones in their local transport plans.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans the Government have to reform the allocation of take-off and landing slots at UK airports so as to introduce market mechanisms into allocating such slots; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Government said in their consultation document "The Future of Aviation", published in December 2000, that they believe that the establishment of a transparent market in slots would be a means of improving the use of slots at congested airports. However, the allocation of slots is subject to European regulation. The European Commission published proposals for a new regulation on 20 June. These do not include the use of market mechanisms for allocating slots, although the Commission has said that it intends to undertake research into the subject. The Government will be consulting the industry about the proposals.
Mr. Jamieson: Statistics on the main contributory factors in road accidents are not available. Research on behalf of the Department indicates that for car drivers in particular, driver fatigue may have been a principal factor in around 10 per cent. of accidents across the road network in Great Britain.
Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he proposes to publish new draft regulations regarding the siting of mobile phone masts and base stations; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Leslie: For the year 199899, the cost to all Departments for research and consultation employing the People's Panel was £459,000, for 19992000 the cost was £321,190 and for 200001 the cost was £525,865.
(15) Seasonally adjusted
These estimates are based on the results of regular sample surveys of employers which count the number of employee jobs. The data are published in Statbase on the National Statistics website www.statistics.gov.uk./statbase/tsdataset.asp?vlnk=342 under series identifier YEJL.
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