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Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what guidance he gives to local authorities on the proportionality of minority party representation on committees; and what information he collates on the action taken by local authorities to observe his guidance. 
Dr. Whitehead: Section 21(11) of the Local Government Act 2000 requires that where party groups have been declared, overview and scrutiny committees, and their sub-committees, must reflect the political balance of the local authority. My Department has issued local authorities with guidance on these requirements.
The only exception to this is where the local authority approves a different arrangement for the allocation of committee seats without any member present voting against, under section 17(1)(B) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.
Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to introduce a third party right of appeal against the granting of planning permission. 
Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the availability of new rail rolling stock; and if he will make a statement. 
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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 31 October 2001, Official Report, column 682W, on European railways, which TSIs are now being drafted; what work his Department has done to contribute to the scoping of the TSI drafting; if the directive will require the upgrading of main line routes in the UK to meet continental gauges; and what representations his Department has received from the rail industry about this directive. 
Mr. Jamieson: Preparatory work has started on the first priority group of TSIs specified in article 23(1)(a) of the directive. This work is being led by the AEIF (the European Association for Railway Interoperability), which comprises representatives from the railway operating and manufacturing industries. The UK railway industry is well represented at all levels within AEIF. Member states' involvement in the TSIs at government level is through participation in the "Article 21 Committee" set up under the directive. This committee is responsible for approving the TSIs before they are adopted and can influence the contents of the TSIs throughout the drafting process.
We do not expect the TSIs to require the upgrading of UK main line routes to continental gauges. The directive provides for "specific cases" to be included in the TSIs to allow some existing national parameters, such as the loading gauge, to be retained in certain circumstances. We expect to seek appropriate specific cases in these respects. More generally, the directive provides for derogations from application of the TSIs in certain circumstances, including where their application would compromise the economic viability of the project and/or its compatibility with the existing rail system.
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 5 November 2001]: Although Government policy is generally that recreation should be self-regulating, recreational sailing or motor boats are subject to the international regulations for the prevention of collisions (COLREGS). To comply with the COLREGS vessels must be navigated in a safe and responsible manner.
However the Government intend to amend the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 when parliamentary time allows in order that specified legislation, such as the COLREGS, can be applied to jet-skis. Contravention of the COLREGS is a criminal offence.
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houses were built on flood plains in the last year; and what percentage this is of the total number of houses built. 
Ms Keeble: The latest information on new house construction and its relationship to flood-risk areas was published in "Land use Change in England: No. 16", in July 2001. This showed that in 1998 about 135,000 new dwellings were constructed, of which about 14,500 (11 per cent. of the total) were within the indicative flood plain as shown on maps published by the Environment Agency in December 2000. Many of the new houses in flood-risk areas were constructed behind adequate flood defences. For example 37 per cent. of new houses in London were in flood-risk areas that are largely defended to a very high standard as a result of the Thames Barrier.
For the 10 years from 198998, 9 per cent. of the land changing to residential use and 10 per cent. of the almost 1.4 million new dwellings built were within the indicative flood plains. This compares to the 12 per cent. of all land in England that is within the indicative flood plains.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what estimate he has made of how many houses will be built on flood plains in the next (a) two, (b) five and (c) 10 years. 
Ms Keeble: No such estimate can be made because of the wide range of factors affecting the future volume and location of house-building. However, we are continuing to monitor land-use change in relation to areas of flood-risk. Through the high-level targets published by the then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1999, we are also monitoring the responses of the Environment Agency to consultations on planning applications and whether decisions were in line with or contrary to their views. My Department is currently examining with the Environment Agency how the implementation and effectiveness of the flood-risk related policies in the new planning policy guidance note 25 issued in July 2001 on "Development and flood risk" can best be secured.
Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what action he is taking to ensure that adequate disabled access is being provided at railway stations in order to ensure compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. 
Ms Keeble [holding answer 6 November 2001]: Access to railway stations for disabled people is covered by part III of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Since October 1999, service providers have been required to take reasonable steps to change practices, policies or procedures which make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service. From 2004, service providers will have to take reasonable steps to remove, alter or provide reasonable means of avoiding physical features that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service.
My Department, with the Institution of Highways and Transportation and a number of other bodies, has commissioned guidance, which should be available early next year, on best practice in the design of public transport
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infrastructure and the pedestrian environment. This will help transport service providers to meet the duties imposed by the DDA.
In addition, the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA), which took over responsibility for protecting the interests of disabled passengers from the rail regulator earlier this year, requires that all licensed train operating companies publish a disabled people's protection policy describing their facilities and policies for passengers with disabilities. These policies are subject to approval by the SRA and must take account of the SRA's code of practice, "Train and Station Services for Disabled Passengers", a revised version of which was recently circulated for consultation.
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