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Planning (North-West)

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many planning applications were considered by planning authorities in the north-west region during 2000–01 in respect of land designated by the appropriate unitary development plan as green belt which were (a) approved and (b) refused by the local authority but subsequently approved at appeal. [20738]

Ms Keeble: The DTLR does not hold information on the number of planning applications in the green belt.

The number of planning applications in the green belt, which were refused by local planning authorities and subsequently approved on appeal in the north-west in the financial year 2000–01, was 41.

Formula Rents

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions after the introduction of formula rents in spring 2002, if vacant properties will be re-let at the full formula rent or at the lower figure then applying to similar property; and if he will make a statement. [22678]

Ms Keeble: Our approach to vacant properties is set out in "Guide to Social Rent Reforms" published at the same time as the December 2000 housing policy statement "Quality and Choice: A decent home for all—the way forward for housing". Social landlords will have discretion over whether to use re-lets as a means of moving more quickly towards the target rents given by the formula, or whether to keep the rents on re-lets in line with their general progress towards target rents for similar properties.

Waterloo to Exeter Railway Line

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the (a) total investment, (b) total passenger numbers and (c) average daily number of trains were in each of the last 10 years for the Waterloo to Exeter railway line. [22242]

Mr. Jamieson: Not all of the information is available in the form requested. The annual number of passenger journeys on the Waterloo-Exeter route were 4,297,000 in 1998–99; 4,468,000 in 1999–2000 and; 4,749,000 in

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2000–01. Information on the number of services operated each year is available from the National Rail Timetable, copies of which are in the Library of the House.

Speed Cameras

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many speed cameras are positioned on roads in the United Kingdom; and which county has the most. [22227]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 12 December 2001]: This information is not collected centrally. It is for local highway authorities, in conjunction with the police, to decide where speed cameras are deployed. Guidance on deployment is available to local authorities in Circular Roads 1/92.


Picketts Lock

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to her answer of 31 October 2001, Official Report, column 757W, on Picketts Lock, if she will place the letter from Ann Roberts and her reply in the Library; and if she will make a statement. [20611]

Mr. Caborn: Ann Roberts, chair of the Lee Valley regional park authority, wrote to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 12 October. A copy of this letter and my right hon. Friend's reply is being placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Departmental Expenditure Limit

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what proportion of the increase in the departmental expenditure limit from 2001–02 to 2002–03 will be accounted for by wage costs. [21240]

Dr. Howells: The level of wage costs within my departmental budget this year and in future years will be dependent upon negotiations. My Department's departmental report to be published next spring will give retrospective costs.

Millennium Dome

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what is the (a) amount and (b) nature of debts incurred by the Millennium Dome; and what is the timetable for repayment. [21397]

Dr. Howells: The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), which built and operated the Dome, handed it over to English Partnerships on 30 June 2001. NMEC has no long-term debt. At the end of November 2001, NMEC held invoices totalling £297,000. NMEC intends to pay all these prior to or shortly after the appointment of a liquidator, expected to be by the end of the year.

New Opportunities Fund

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (1) how much money has been allocated for each of the programmes provided by the New

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Opportunities Fund (a) in total and (b) in each financial quarter since the date for which the first grant was awarded; [22262]

Mr. Caborn: It is not possible to provide the information on New Opportunities Fund spend by individual local authority district for each financial quarter. I have however placed the other information requested in the Libraries of both Houses.

Sports Clubs (Charity Status)

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate he has made of the number of sports clubs likely to be eligible for charitable status following the Charity Commission's announcement of 27 November. [21715]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 10 December 2001]: I welcome the Charity Commission's announcement of 30 November which will benefit sport and local communities. The Central Council of Physical Recreation estimates that there are over 110,000 community amateur sports clubs across the UK. Any of these clubs that are concerned with encouraging the community to participate in active sports will be able to apply for charitable status once they have made suitable minor amendments to their club constitutions and membership rules.

The Government are currently consulting on their assessment that the Charity Commission's decision on charitability would appear to offer better prospects for community amateur sports clubs than a tax relief package the Government had been considering. Responses to that consultation are requested by the Treasury by 1 February 2002.

I intend to meet representatives of the Charity Commission early in the new year to discuss the extent of applications from sport for charitable status and the fuller guidance the Commission intends to issue on this subject in due course.


Mr. Laxton: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps she will take to implement the recommendations by the Gaming Board for Great Britain to increase the monetary limits for prize bingo. [23389]

Mr. Caborn: I have considered the Board's recommendations and will shortly be laying before Parliament an Order under the Gaming Act 1968 to increase the maximum cash prize in a bingo game played in a bingo club from £15 to £25 and an Order under the Lotteries and Amusements Act 1976 which will increase the maximum cash prize that may be offered in a prize bingo game played in an amusement arcade from £15 to £25 and which will increase the maximum aggregate amount that may be taken by way of the sale of chances in any one prize bingo game played at an arcade from £60 to £90.

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Holding Answers

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what percentage of parliamentary questions replied to by her Department were the subject of a holding answer in the last three Sessions of Parliament. [22013]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 10 December 2001]: In the 1998–99 Parliamentary Session, the Department gave holding replies to 63 per cent. of the 512 named day questions received. In the 1999–2000 Session, holding replies were given to 69 per cent. of the 839 named day questions received and in the 2000–01 Session, 52 per cent. of the 289 named day questions tabled to the Department received holding replies.


Magistrates Courts (Essex)

Mr. Hurst: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many magistrates courts were operating in the (a) county of Essex and (b) unitary boroughs of Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea in (i) 1971, (ii) 1981, (iii) 1991, (iv) 1999 and (v) 2001. [21753R]

Mr. Wills: Responsibility for providing magistrates courthouses falls to local authorities in England and Wales. Neither the Home Office which had responsibility for the magistrates courts service up to 1992, nor the Lord Chancellor's Department which took responsibility over at that time has a central record of courthouses provided locally prior to 1995. I am informed that Essex magistrates courts committee has no records prior to 1995. In 1999 and 2001 there were 10 magistrates courts operating in Essex, with one in each of the unitary boroughs of Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea.

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