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Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what guidance he will issue regarding the level of fire and civil defence authority precepts for 200102. 
Dr. Whitehead: None. These are matters for fire and civil defence authorities to decide in consultation with local taxpayers.
Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the progress achieved by fire and civil defence authorities in metropolitan areas towards reducing (a) fire-related deaths and (b) malicious false alarm calls. 
Dr. Whitehead: In 2000, an estimated 133 accidental fire related deaths in dwellings were recorded for the seven metropolitan brigades, out of a national total of 326. The number of accidental house fire deaths in metropolitan brigade areas had fallen in recent years from 167 in 1996 to the current estimated figure of 133 for 2000. The downward trend in dwelling fire deaths is reflected nationally for England and Wales. There were 588 dwelling fire deaths in 1996, compared with 516 for 2000.
Malicious false alarms, both for the metropolitan areas and nationally, have been falling steadily over recent years. In 1996 there were 57,100 malicious false alarm calls recorded by the metropolitan areas. In 2000, metropolitan brigades attended a total of 33,800 malicious false alarm callsa fall of 41 per cent. against the 1996 figures.
These encouraging statistics reflect the merits of the integrated approach adopted by Government, the fire service and fire authorities over the past four years to implement strategies designed to drive down the number of preventable dwelling fire deaths and to educate the public about the dangers of malicious false alarm calls.
Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representations have been received on the reform of the business rate system. 
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Dr. Whitehead: The Green Paper "Modernising Local Government Finance", published 19 September 2000, invited comments on a range of issues relating to reform of business rates. In response to that consultation we received 1,107 non-campaign responses of which the overwhelming majority included responses on business rates. A summary is available on the DTLR website at www.dtlr.gov.uk. We will set out our response to the consultation in the Local Government White Paper later this year.
On 16 February 2001 we issued a further consultation paper on extending the agricultural exemption from rates to machinery rings and share farming enterprises on which we received 34 responses. Again, we will set out next steps in the forthcoming Local Government White Paper.
My Department continuously receives correspondence on the business rates system, which includes representations on reforms to various parts of the rating system.
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will review the resources and the priority being deployed by DVLA to answer telephone inquiries from members of the public. 
Mr. Jamieson: The level of resources deployed on telephone inquiries by DVLA is under continuous review in order to meet the level of demand at any given time.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the costs have been of operations undertaken by his Department in connection with events following the 11 September terrorist attacks; and if he will list the costs relating to (a) the British Transport police, (b) the aviation industry, (c) emergency planning and (d) other areas; and if these costs will be met from his Department's budget. 
Mr. Byers [holding answer 9 November 2001]: To date my Department has not incurred any costs in connection with events following the 11 September terrorist attacks relating to the British Transport police, the aviation industry or emergency planning. Along with other Government Departments we have reviewed security at our buildings and have incurred extra costs of around £31,000 which will be met from within existing budgets.
We will give due consideration to any requests for financial assistance from those areas for which my Department is responsible.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to promote the regeneration of deprived areas in the west midlands. 
Ms Keeble [holding answer 12 October 2001]: There are a number of initiatives across the west midlands, which are promoting regeneration of deprived areas.
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Over £3 million through the "Community Empowerment Fund" to help communities get involved in local decision making. Seven areas in west midlands will benefit from this fund. These are Birmingham, Dudley, Coventry, Sandwell, Stoke, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
£1.1 million for "community chests" to support small community projects with grants they can get locally with minimum bureaucracy. Seven areas in west midlands will benefit from this fund. These are Birmingham, Dudley, Coventry, Sandwell, Stoke, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
"New Deal for Community" areas in the west midlands which will benefit from almost £2 billion over the next 10 years. These are:
A further £263.5 million for five Round 2 Partnerships in the west midlands was announced in April 2001. These are:
BirminghamKings Norton, Three Estates
WalsallNew Deal, New Horizons
WolverhamptonAll Saints and Blakenhall
Seven "Neighbourhood Warden schemes" are now operating across the west midlands. The programme is worth £1.027 million.
17 "Street Wardens programmes" have recently been announced in the west midlands. The total value of the scheme is £4.146 million which will be matched by Government funding.
"Neighbourhood Renewal Fund" will provide £121.5 million for three years from April 2001 to improve services in the most deprived neighbourhoods in the west midlands. Areas benefiting in west midlands are Birmingham, Dudley, Coventry, Sandwell, Stoke, Walsall and Wolverhampton. A Local Strategic Partnership in each area will develop a local "neighbourhood renewal strategy" to guide NRF expenditure.
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the cost was of the planning inquiry into the application to build a fifth terminal at Heathrow Airport. 
Ms Keeble [holding answer 12 November 2001]: The total costs of the Terminal 5 inquiry to all participants is estimated at over £83 million of which the private sector is estimated to have spent some £64 million with the rest borne by central and local Government.
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Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on job losses at Heathrow Airport as a result of the events of 11 September. 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 12 November 2001]: BAA plc, as owners of Heathrow Airport, advise they have not cut any jobs at the airport following the events of 11 September. However, their organisation only represents around 5.5 per cent. of the workforce at the airport. We do not yet have firm information about the extent of job losses at Heathrow in other areas of the aviation industry.
I understand that the Job Transition Service is engaging with employers to ensure that those employees adversely affected have access to the fullest possible range of help and advice.
Mr. Wilshire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions who (a) was invited to meet and (b) met the Minister of State during his visit to Heathrow Airport on 5 November. 
Mr. Spellar [holding answer 12 November 2001]: I visited Heathrow Airport on 5 November at the request of my hon. Friend the Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell), who also arranged the other attendance. The meeting was attended by local MPs and numerous representatives of the air transport industry, trades unions and local communities.
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