10 Jul 2001 : Column: 435W
Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representations he has received proposing local authority boundary changes in Merseyside; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Whitehead: We are not aware of any such representations. Boundaries in Merseyside were last looked at in 1997 when the Local Government Boundary Commission for England was directed to carry out a review of Sefton. No changes to boundaries were recommended at that time. Under the current programme of periodic electoral reviews being carried out by the Local Government Commission, a change to local authority boundaries cannot be considered.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what factors underlay his Department's inspector's recent decision to allow an appeal to build eight houses at Harbourside, Tewkesbury. 
Ms Keeble [holding answer 3 July 2001]: The decision to grant planning permission was made by a Planning Inspector. I have therefore asked the Planning Inspectorate's Chief Executive, Mr. Chris Shepley, to write to the hon. Member.
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Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects the North Circular Road improvement programme to be completed; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the impact of the rules which apply to bus and coach operators over the payment of fuel duty and the eligibility for the fuel duty rebate system. 
Ms Keeble: Under the current rules, fuel duty rebate may be claimed for bus services which are registered with the Traffic Commissioner as a local bus service and which are available to the general public.
We shall be replying shortly to a recent recommendation from the Commission for Integrated Transport that the rebate should also be available for the operators of long-distance scheduled coach services in return for the provision of half-fare concessionary fares for elderly and disabled passengers.
Mr. Coleman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans his Department has to introduce new target rents for newly built or procured properties on first lettings; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many staff from his Department and its predecessor were seconded to private sector companies in (a) May 1999 to April 2000 and (b) May 2000 to the latest date for which figures are available; and if he will list in each case
10 Jul 2001 : Column: 437W
10 Jul 2001 : Column: 438W
|1 X Pay Band 6(G7)||To Capita RAS||February 2001 to November 2001|
|1 X Pay Band 6 (G7)||To Shell International||August 2000 to October 2002|
|1 X Pay Band 4 (HEO)||To Arthur Andersen||January 2001 to January 2002|
|1 X Pay Band 4 (HEO)||To Carillion Ltd.||March 2001 to June 2001|
|1 X SCS (Grade 5)||To Carbon Trust||April 2001 to October 2001|
|2 X Pay Band 6(G 7)||To Carbon Trust||April 2001 to October 2001|
|1 X Pay Band 5 (SEO)||To Carbon Trust||April 2001 to July 2001|
|1 X Pay Band 2 (AO)||To Carbon Trust||May 2001 to November 2001|
Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 4 July 2001, Official Report, columns 15859W, what his definition is of "surplus to requirements" in the context of building on open space; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Keeble: The consultation draft of PPG17 (paragraph 15) lists the range of valuable functions that open space can perform within urban areas. If individual areas of open space no longer fulfil any of these functions, then they may be "surplus to requirements" and local authorities may consider whether they should be made available for development. Development may also be allowed on areas of open space where an exchange of land takes place to compensate for the lost open space. In particular, this may be appropriate where it will allow the release of a site for development needed to meet other economic and social objectives identified locally.
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 9 July 2001]: The Government have given local authorities the power to introduce 20 mph zones. Our Road Safety Strategy encourages their use in the areas where the most vulnerable are present, like the areas around schools. Where 20 mph zones would not be appropriate, local authorities are encouraged to look for alternative measures to ensure child safety.
Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to introduce legislation to regulate the passenger seating capacity of commercial airlines. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Civil Aviation Authority has had mandatory minimum standards for seat spacing on UK registered aircraft since 1989. These are contained in Airworthiness Notice No. 64 and were introduced to ensure the safe evacuation of an aircraft during an emergency. There is also a limit on the number of seats in each row, which determines the minimum width of the seats.
In its response to the House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry into Air Travel and Health, the Government referred to some research which is being funded by the Civil Aviation Authority to look into the relationship between aircraft seat dimension and passenger size. This study, which is being carried out on behalf of the Joint Aviation Authorities, looks at the changing size of air passengers, but also includes a review of recent research into deep vein thrombosis, and indicates additional areas where further research may be necessary. The study (and any subsequent follow-on study) will provide the Government with the information necessary to review the current regulations on seat spacing. It is due to be presented to the Joint Aviation Authorities shortly.
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