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Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress has been made by Railtrack in the creation of an in-house comparator for engineering work. 
Mr. Spellar: Railtrack has acknowledged that changes are needed to its relationship with its contractors as part of its new approach to infrastructure engineering. I understand that the company is undertaking a full review of this contractual interface, to establish what changes are needed to clarify responsibilities for safe and effective delivery, which asset management activities Railtrack should continue to outsource, and which can be managed more effectively by bringing them in-house.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to maintain the A565 between Bootle and the Seaforth flyover. 
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Mr. Jamieson: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Tim Matthews, to write to my hon. Friend.
Letter from Tim Matthews to Mrs. Curtis-Thomas, dated 12 July 2001:
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on progress concerning the revision of planning rules and guidelines for mobile phone masts. 
Ms Keeble: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten) on 2 July 2001, Official Report, column 17W.
Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if (a) car boot sales, (b) the use of existing farm buildings for commercial or residential purposes and (c) the development of small-scale residential buildings on existing farmland fall within his definition of farm diversification projects. 
Ms Keeble: National planning policy for the diversification of farm business into non-agricultural activities is contained in Planning Policy Guidance note 7 (PPG7): CountrysideEnvironmental Quality and Economic and Social Development. PPG7 does not include a definition of farm diversification, although Annex C to the guidance includes a non-exclusive list of examples of potential farm diversification. PPG7 was amended on 21 March to encourage local planning
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authorities to be more supportive of well-conceived farm diversification schemes for business purposes that are consistent in their scale with their rural location. Local planning authorities should set out in their development plans the criteria to be applied to planning applications for farm diversification projects. It is a matter in the first instance for local planning authorities to consider each application on its own merits, taking into account their development plan policies and national guidance.
The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (GPDO) grants a general planning permission for the temporary use of land for up to 28 days in any calendar year, subject to a number of restrictions and conditions. From car boot sales, the permitted use is limited to 14 days.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to the answer of 3 July 2001 Official Report, column 140W, on the dome, what recommendations have been made by the Health and Safety Executive regarding public access to the dome building. 
Ms Keeble: No recommendations have been made by the Health and Safety Executive in this regard. While decommissioning works are taking place at the dome, it is covered by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1994, which relate to the execution of works and management of the site. As a result, there is currently no public access to the dome site.
Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when the preferred bidders for the London Underground will be handed operational control of their franchises. 
Mr. Jamieson: The private sector will not be handed operational control of the Underground. London Underground will continue to own and run the Underground. The successful bidders for three infrastructure contracts will work for London Underground, bringing their construction and project management expertise to achieve the modernisation and maintenance of the Underground, on time and on budget. The Government want to see London Underground complete its work to finalise the contracts as quickly as possible so that work can start soon to deliver a 21st Century Tube.
Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects to introduce the transport direct booking and information system. 
Mr. Jamieson: Transport Direct is designed for people to plan their journeys and to compare routes and prices. It will cover all types of transport within the UKair, rail, coach, bus and car.
Transport Direct will do three things:
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allow the traveller to book and pay for their journey at the time of making their inquiry, and receive their travel authority/ ticket(s); and
Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what actions his Department has taken in the past 12 months to improve bus frequencies and enhance off-peak and night bus services. 
Ms Keeble: Outside London, it is primarily for local authorities to secure any necessary bus services not provided commercially. We are assisting by providing additional funding for buses through the continuation of the rural bus grant and challenge schemeswith 20 per cent. of the former now available to support existing services rather than entirely new onesand the launch this year of the urban bus challenge scheme. These schemes help authorities to secure additional services where they are most needed. In London, responsibility rests with the Mayor.
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