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Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what
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recent assessment he has made of the financial health of the consortium which will take over the National Air Traffic Services; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: The role of the Government's strategic partner in the public private partnership for National Air Traffic Services was awarded to the Airline Group, a consortium of seven airlines, on 26 July 2001. We maintain regular contact with the Airline Group over a range of issues including their financial situation.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will table a motion to call for a sitting of the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs. 
Dr. Whitehead: A motion was tabled on the 3 December calling for the Committee to meet on 18 December to discuss 'Regional Governance in England'.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what percentage of funding for urban regeneration schemes has been spent buying out right-to-buy occupiers in the past three years. 
Ms Keeble: The information is not available centrally and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make it his policy that acceptance of an offer to purchase a property be a binding legal contract. 
Ms Keeble: There is nothing to prevent buyers and sellers agreeing to building contracts when offers are accepted, but we do not believe it would be right to require this by law. Our 1998 consultation exercise showed widespread support for this stance.
As set out in our manifesto, we are committed to making it easier for people buying and selling homes through a new seller's pack. The seller's pack will provide, at the very start of the process, most of the documents and information needed to enable the transaction to proceed speedily and successfully. It will provide prospective buyers with most of the information they need to make an informed offer. The disclosure of this information at the outset will greatly improve transparency and reduce the risk of the transaction failing or the parties having to renegotiate terms due to problems being revealed later on. The necessary legislation will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.
Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on his policy towards gazumping and gazundering in house purchases. 
Ms Keeble: We believe the answer to the problems caused by gazumping and gazundering lie in increasing transparency and speeding up the home buying and selling process. That is what our proposals for seller's packs will achieve. Seller's packs will bring about earlier certainty and reduce the period of time during which gazumping
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and gazundering can occur. The necessary legislation for this will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.
Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he has been advised of a request for a financial subsidy towards the cost of a site survey of Edinburgh Waverley Station in connection with its proposed redevelopment; 
Mr. Jamieson: We are not aware of any request for a financial subsidy towards the redevelopment work at Edinburgh Waverley station. This is a major redevelopment scheme, including retail development and the Strategic Rail Authority are considering a number of proposals put forward by Railtrack.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proportion of the increase in the departmental expenditure limit from 200102 to 200203 will be accounted for by wage costs. 
Dr. Whitehead: The Department's main programmes departmental expenditure limit (DEL) is planned to increase by £2.2 billion between 200102 and 200203. Based upon expenditure forecasts for 200102 and 200203, we estimate the increase in departmental pay costs to be £15.5 million which is equivalent to 0.7 per cent. of this increase.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the local authorities which have expressed an interest to his Department in participating in (a) workplace parking taxes pilot schemes and (b) congestion tax pilot schemes. 
Mr. Byers: Outside London, road user charging schemes are being developed by Durham county council, Derbyshire county council and Bristol city council. Nottingham city council is developing a workplace parking levy scheme.
Other authorities which have indicated in their local transport plans that road user charging or a workplace parking levy might play a part in local congestion management are:
Cambridgeshire county council
Cheshire county council
Cumbria county council
Derby city council
Hampshire county council
Isle of Wight council
Leeds city council
Leicester city council
Greater Manchester (10 authorities)
Milton Keynes council
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Southampton city council
Staffordshire county council
Surrey county council
Warwickshire county council
West Midlands (excluding Coventry, Solihull and Walsall)
City of York council.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what measures he has in place for determining the impact of the Statutory Off Road Notification Scheme. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) scheme was one of a number of measures introduced to enhance the accuracy of the vehicle register maintained by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). It is designed to keep DVLA's unlicensed vehicle keeper records up to date. Since introduction over 2.5 million SORN declarations have been made recovering revenue of £6 million. The number of SORN declarations received is constantly monitored and DVLA is carrying out an in depth review of the accuracy of the vehicle register.
SORN prevents unlicensed vehicles from "dropping off" the vehicle register and measuring vehicle excise duty (VED) evasion is a useful way to assess impact. At the last full survey in 1999, evasion rates showed a fall from 4.1 per cent. to 3.9 per cent., a saving of £17 million a year.
Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what has been the cost of enforcing the Statutory Off Road Notification scheme since inception. 
Mr. Jamieson: The cost of enforcing the Statutory Off Road Notification scheme is approximately £1 million a year. Since enforcement commenced in April 2000, enforcement action has raised over £6 million in fines and penalties.
Linda Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will give fire services powers to claim from car insurers the cost of road accident rescue work. 
Dr. Whitehead: In common with other local authority services, the fire service is funded primarily through the revenue support grant system. Local authorities secure most of their funding from Government grants, supplemented by council tax. Levies on the insurance industry contribute to the central Government funds from which revenue support grant is paid.
The Government raised the general question of charging policies for discretionary services provided by local authorities in the Green Paper "Modernising Local Government Finance" which was published in September 2000. Our conclusions, in the light of the consultation responses, will be set out in the Local Government White Paper which is due to be published shortly.
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Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the safety of people from Bromsgrove travelling to Gibraltar following the failure of Gibraltar to be included in the European single skies agreement. 
Mr. Jamieson: The people of Bromsgrove can be assured that when travelling to Gibraltar their safety will not be impaired by the proposed treatment of Gibraltar under the European single sky proposals.
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