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Fire Deaths (Cigarettes)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many people died in the United Kingdom in 2000 in fires caused by cigarettes. [11863]

Dr. Whitehead: The total number of people estimated to have died in fires caused by smokers' materials (ie cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco etc.) in the United Kingdom in 2000 was 140. Of these, 135 occurred in accidental fires in dwellings.

It is not possible separately to identify those fires that were caused by cigarettes.

Flood Defences (Yorkshire)

David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will increase the provision for flood defences in future SSA calculations for the East Riding of Yorkshire. [11962]

Dr. Whitehead: The Government will increase SSA provision for authorities collectively up to the aggregate 4.2 per cent. increase for 2002–03 provided for in spending review 2000. To do more would mean unfairly limiting the increase in other parts of the environment, cultural and protective services SSA block. Of course, a local authority is able to increase spending on flood defence by more than this if it judges flood defence a high priority within its budget.

The Government are just completing a review of the funding arrangements for flood and coastal defence and a report will be published later this year.

Railway Assets

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress has been made in compiling a register of the assets of the railway system infrastructure. [12048]

Mr. Jamieson: The compilation of a robust asset register is a complicated task and Railtrack has agreed a two-year rolling plan with the rail regulator for the continued development of asset management and decision support systems. The new licence condition requiring Railtrack to establish and maintain a register of the condition, capacity and capability of its assets came into force on 18 April, and the first two reporting dates have been met:



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Railtrack will continue to produce six-monthly progress reports, which will be used to monitor and review implementation of the asset register.

Railway Safety

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many instances there have been of trains falling between rails that have spread apart in (a) 2000 and (b) 2001. [12047]

Mr. Jamieson: Figures provided by the Health and Safety Executive's railway inspectorate show that during the period 1 April 2000 to 31 March 2001 there were 29 derailments due to gauge spread. Figures for this type of incident were not collected prior to 1 April 2000. Figures for the current financial year, from 1 April 2001, will not be collated until next year.

Private Leisure Craft (Accidents)

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many accidents involving private leisure craft were caused by the consumption of alcohol in the last five years. [12262]

Mr. Spellar: No specific records are currently kept of accidents involving private leisure craft caused by the consumption of alcohol, but it is estimated that some 47 such incidents occurred in the last five years.

Council Houses

Mr. Cash: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many council houses for rent were held on 21 April 1991 in (a) Cannock Chase, (b) East Staffordshire, (c) Lichfield, (d) Newcastle Under Lyme, (e) South Staffordshire, (f) Stafford, (g) Staffordshire Moorlands, (h) Stoke on Trent and (i) Tamworth; and what the current equivalent figures are. [12567]

Ms Keeble: Council houses for rent held on 21 April 1991 and the current equivalent figures.

Council houses for rent
1 April 19911 April 2001
(a) Cannock Chase7,7436,675
(b) East Staffordshire6,2260
(c) Lichfield5,6860
(d) Newcastle under Lyme10,6210
(e) South Staffordshire5,7320
(f) Stafford7,4416,361
(g) Staffordshire Moorlands3,6740
(h) Stoke on Trent25,41222,329
(i) Tamworth6,3995,522

Mr. Cash: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many council houses for rent for each of (a) Cannock Chase, (b) East Staffordshire, (c) Lichfield, (d) Newcastle under Lyme, (e) South Staffordshire, (f) Stafford, (g) Staffordshire Moorlands, (h) Stoke on Trent and (i) Tamworth local authorities were transferred by a large scale voluntary transfer in each authority between 1 May 1997 and 31 August 2001. [12443]

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Ms Keeble: Council houses for rent transferred by a large scale voluntary transfer in each of the following authorities between 1 May 1997 and 31 August 2001:

Transferred
(a) Cannock Chase0
(b) East Staffordshire5.637
(c) Lichfield0
(d) Newcastle under Lyme9,887
(e) South Staffordshire0
(f) Stafford0
(g) Staffordshire Moorlands3,132
(h) Stoke on Trent(5)917

(5) Partial transfer only


Building Inspectors

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many recent complaints he has received about the work of approved building inspectors. [12646]

Dr. Whitehead: I receive a small number of complaints about the work of approved inspectors. If my hon. Friend has concerns about any particular aspects of their work, I hope he will write to me.

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the quality of work carried out by the National House Building Council as approved building inspectors. [12643]

Dr. Whitehead: NHBC Building Control Services Ltd. carries out building control on about half the new homes built for sale in England and Wales and on a substantial number of new homes built by registered social landlords. Local authorities carry out building control on the other new homes. I have no evidence that the quality of building control service provided by NHBC Building Control Services Ltd. is in general different from that provided in the new homes sector by local authorities.

Building Act

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to bring into force section 38 of the Building Act 1984; and if he will make a statement. [12644]

Dr. Whitehead: I have no immediate plans to bring into force section 38 of the Building Act 1984. I keep all parts of the Building Act 1984 under review, and should a clear need to implement this section arise, I will do so.

Rail Services (London—North Kent)

Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on how capacity on rail services between London and north Kent can be increased; how the electricity supply for rail lines between London and north Kent can be improved; and how the length of trains can be increased to 12 carriages on rail services between London and north Kent. [12551]

Mr. Jamieson: Twelve car operation from London to Dartford possibly through to Gillingham could be achieved by a combination of the implementation of Thameslink 2000, and as part of possible negotiations to

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extend the current Connex South Eastern franchise. This would increase capacity between London and north Kent. The parties concerned are aware of the need to improve the electricity supply on these rail lines and will work together in devising a suitable solution.

Private Rail Tracks

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will take steps to ensure that private rail tracks are marked by signs placed at the border between the public rail network and private lines. [12325]

Mr. Jamieson: I understand from Railtrack that the public rail network is separated from private lines by fencing and barrier systems as appropriate. Where private lines cross over the public network, notification is provided of the type of barrier and signal process in place.


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