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Ms Keeble [holding answer 18 October 2001]: We recognise the importance of affordable housing in maintaining balanced and successful rural communities. We are taking a number of measures to improve the delivery of social housing in rural areas.
Last year just under 4,400 homes were approved in larger rural areas and market towns through the Housing Corporation's Approved Development programme and local authority funding. This was in addition to 1,321 homes provided by the same means in small settlements of fewer than 3,000 people.
Our overall strategy is to ensure that the housing needs of people living in rural areas are properly identified; to increase investment in new social housing; to maximum delivery of affordable housing through the planning system; and to make the best use of existing property. We expect to deliver around 9,000 affordable homes annually in rural areas by 200304 through these measures, as announced in the Rural White Paper.
We expect all local authorities to develop housing strategies that address the need for affordable housing. In addition, we want local authorities to make better use of the planning system to secure more affordable homes as
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part of mixed developments in markets towns and villages. We will issue shortly a consultation paper on the review of the planning system. The fundamental objective of the review is to improve the efficiency of the system.
Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will estimate (a) the number of council houses sold in south Gloucestershire in each of the last 10 years and (b) the number of new social rented houses built in South Gloucestershire over the same period. 
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what are the administrative costs of (a) regional development agencies, (b) Government offices for the regions and (c) regional chambers are for each region, (i) this year and (ii) projected for the next financial year. 
The Cabinet office oversees the work of the Regional Co-ordination (RCU) and the Government offices, for which the total administrative running cost budget for the financial year 200102 is £101.63 million and £98.63 million for 200203. There is an annual resource planning exercise that will allocate the sums between individual Government offices and the RCU. This has commenced and is due for completion in December. Programme budgets administered by the Government offices are the responsibility of the Secretaries of State for the relevant sponsor Departments.
The regional chambers were designated by the Secretary of State following the establishment of regional development agencies in 1999. They have been established voluntarily by bodies representing the interests of each region. Their running costs are a matter for the chambers and their members. The Government have
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however allocated £500,000 this year to each regional chamber, with an additional £1 million for chambers to use collectively, to help them establish a stronger strategic and scrutiny role within the regions.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when the consultation for Regional Air Services and the South East and East of England Air Services reviews will be published; and when he expects to issue the White Paper on Government Policy for UK Aviation. 
Responses to the major public consultation exercise outlined, along with responses received on the future of Aviation National Consultation document published last December, will inform the preparation of the Air Transport White Paper. We plan to issue the White Paper in the second half of next year.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will made a statement on the NATS investment programme and the safety of the UK air traffic management system. 
Mr. Spellar: NATS are reviewing their long-term investment plan to take account of the impact of the 11 September terrorist attacks on the aviation industry. They are due to report on the new Business Plan, which includes the long-term investment plan, in November 2001. Safety will remain paramount for NATS in producing the Business Plan and long-term investment plan.
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will made a statement on the timetable for opening the new NATS en-route centre at Swanwick; and if the project is within budget; 
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what discussions he has had with the Chief Executive of NATS about whether the Airline Group has sufficient financial resources to meet NATS' present and future investment requirements; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will ensure that subsidies paid to Bombardier in Belfast cannot be used by that company to cross-subsidise its Belfast City Airport subsidiary; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Kenneth Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will take steps to control aircraft noise at night from East Midlands airport by designating the airport under section 80 for the purposes of section 78 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 in line with the request from North West Leicestershire district council. 
Mr. Spellar: The representations received in relation to the request from North West Leicestershire district council are currently being considered and I shall announce the decision in due course, following further representations.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to amend the rules covering borrowing against public assets; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Raynsford: We announced on 21 March 2001, Official Report, column 250W, our intention to abolish the present system of local authority capital controls. The new system will permit authorities to borrow without prior Government approval. Each authority will decide how much to borrow, taking account of the revenue resources it can afford to make available to service debt, and acting in accordance with a professional code being developed by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. This increased flexibility to invest in their communities will allow authorities to deliver better value for money over the whole range of services, including housing. There is no proposal to remove the present prohibition on the mortgaging of local authority capital assets. The potential seizure of the property by a creditor would threaten the delivery of essential services. Loans are secured on all the revenues of the authority and that will remain the position. Legislation will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.
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