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Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will increase the funding available for home improvement grants. 
Ms Keeble: From 1 April 2002, local authorities' capital programmes, including the provision of home improvement grants, will be funded from within a 'single capital pot'. Subject to that overall allocation, it will be for each authority to determine spending priorities.
For the years 200304 to 200506 the total capital funds available to local authorities will be decided as part of the Spending Review 2002, due to conclude next summer.
Ross Cranston: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he has made a cost-benefit assessment of fire services making smoke alarms available free to households in their area. 
Dr. Whitehead: No specific work has been done to assess the cost-benefit of fire services providing smoke alarms free of charge to householders.
However, we do encourage the fire service to adopt a policy of smoke alarm installation work rather than give-away initiatives when offering free smoke alarms to the public as part of community fire safety activities. This is based on part-Government funded research work undertaken by the Institute of Child Health (now known as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), which sought to determine whether door-to-door distribution of free smoke alarms to householders was effective in reducing the risk of residential fires, fire related casualties, and serious fire-related injuries.
The evaluation of the work concluded that simply giving smoke alarms to households does not increase ownership of fully operational smoke alarms, nor reduce fire-related deaths and injuries. The research suggested that, in addition, correct installation and positioning is crucial to the effectiveness of initiatives to provide free smoke alarms to householders.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will place in the Library the rankings of (a) Newcastle City council and (b) each ward of Newcastle City council on the Index of Local Deprivation for the index of multiple deprivation, and for each of the six domains of deprivation. 
Ms Keeble: Yes, the information requested has been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what research his Department has (a) conducted and (b) commissioned concerning the (i) economic, (ii) social, and (iii) environmental impact of urban regeneration projects around St. Pancras Station. 
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Ms Keeble: The various impacts of the redevelopment of the former railway lands around King's Cross/ St. Pancras are being carefully assessed as part of the master planning process being taken forward by London and Continental Railways and their development partner, a consortium of Argent St. George. My Department is very closely involved in this process, which includes extensive community liaison and consultation with business, transport and heritage interests. The process will also involve formal planning applications to the London borough of Camden as the local planning authority. They will closely scrutinise all the impacts of the proposed commercial, residential and leisure development including ease of access, community safety and the employment and housing opportunities offered.
Mr. Page: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he next plans to meet the Euston-Northampton Rail Forum. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority meets the West Coast Joint Forum on a regular basis and will be setting up a further meeting with them in the next few weeks.
Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what assessment his Department has made of the impact of inundation of the River Roding on transport in Ilford, North; what steps his Department has taken in the last 12 months to minimise the potential impact; and what assistance is available from his Department in case of further flooding; 
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 16 November 2001]: We have made no such assessments. We have received no approach from Redbridge council on these matters. In the event of further flooding it would be open to the local authority to seek assistance from DTLR under the Bellwin scheme of emergency financial assistance to local authorities.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the medical basis for the European Commission's proposed physical agents directive; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 16 November 2001]: The two proposed physical agents directives on vibration and noise are based on known health effects. There is an internationally accepted dose-response relationship between exposure to noise and the risk of hearing loss and between exposure to hand-arm vibration and the risk of hand-arm vibration syndrome. There is an association between exposure to whole body vibration and back pain, though the dose-response relationship is not clear.
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Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent representations the Government have made to the European Commission regarding the proposed physical agents directive; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 16 November 2001]: The two proposed physical agents directives on vibration and noise have already reached common position in the Council of Ministers. The European Commission attended negotiations in the Council Working Group where the Government's views have been strongly represented. UK representatives have also met Commission officials separately during the course of negotiations.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent assessment he has made of the impact of the European Commission's proposed physical agents directive on engineering premises; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 16 November 2001]: The Government have not costed the implications to individual industry sectors of the two proposed physical agents directives on vibration and noise. Regulatory impact assessments of the common position reached on both directives covering the costs to industry as a whole and the health benefits to workers have been prepared by the Health and Safety Executive. The RIA on the vibration directive has already been submitted to the European Scrutiny Committee and is available in the House of Commons Library; I will shortly submit the RIA on the noise directive and place it in the Library.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the representations his Department has received since 1 May 1997 (a) in favour of and (b) against the reopening of the Lewes-Uckfield railway line. 
Mr. Jamieson: I am aware of 244 such representations, many of which have been received from supporters of the Wealden Line Campaign which is promoting the re-opening of the line between Uckfield and Lewes.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the status of, and progress being made on, in the feasibility study being undertaken under the auspices of the SRA into the possible reopening of the Lewes-Uckfield railway line. 
Mr. Jamieson: I refer the hon. Member to the record of the Adjournment debate he secured on 31 October 2001, Official Report, columns 295303.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will ask the SRA to consider the potential for switching freight from road to rail following the development of an improved railhead at Newhaven. 
Mr. Jamieson: I am not aware of any proposal for enhancing the railway infrastructure at Newhaven. However, the SRA has a target to deliver a significant increase in rail's share of freight over the next decade and
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is keen to ensure that potential opportunities to increase rail freight are taken. The authority's first Freight Strategy published in May this year, and their soon to be published Strategic Plan, describe how its freight target will be achieved.
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