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Planning Appeals (Listed Buildings)

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make it his policy to refer planning appeals involving listed buildings to a panel of inspectors for determination when a single inspector has made a ruling contrary to the view of English Heritage; and if he will make a statement. [25967]

Ms Keeble: Listed building appeals involving Grade I and II* listed buildings are already decided by the Secretary of State rather than by planning inspectors. Other appeals involving listed buildings may also be recovered for decision by the Secretary of State at his discretion. Where appeals are determined by individual planning inspectors, however, I am satisfied that they are equipped to consider all relevant aspects of the case. It is for them to decide the weight that should be attached to the views of English Heritage and other consultees and to other material considerations in the light of all the circumstances of the particular case. We have no plans to change the current arrangements.


Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many people are estimated to be homeless in the UK; and what proportion are aged (a) over 50 and (b) under 18. [26629]

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Ms Keeble: The Department collects information about action by local authorities in England under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 and 1996 Housing Acts. In the third quarter of 2001, 30,910 households were accepted by local authorities as being eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in a priority need category. The latest Statutory Homelessness Statistical Release, issued on 11 December 2001, presents these and other related figures up to the end of September 2001, and copies are available in the Library.

An analysis by the age of the household head is not collected and so precise information about the proportion aged over 50 or under 18 is not available centrally. However, the priority need categories include those where one or more household members are considered vulnerable due to old age, typically, of pensionable age or youth, typically, a non-dependant aged 16–18. Estimates of cases where authorities regarded one of these categories to be the most crucial in determining priority need are given in the table.

Homeless households accepted by local authorities in England by priority need category—July to September 2001

NumberAs percentage of all acceptances
Household member vulnerable due to:
Old age1,1103.6
Young person1,5003.8


Households containing vulnerable member(s) but accepted under another priority need category (such as with dependent children or with a pregnant woman) cannot be separately identified and are not included in these figures.


DTLR Statutory Homelessness: England Third Quarter 2001 Statistical Release

For information about other parts of the United Kingdom, I refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland, for Wales and for Northern Ireland.

Electrically Powered Vehicles

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps the Government have taken to assist the introduction of electrically powered vehicles and other alternatives to the petrol fuelled motor vehicle. [25934]

Mr. Spellar: The Government are encouraging the introduction of cleaner vehicles, such as those powered by electricity and gas, through targeted grants and fiscal incentives.

The Energy Saving Trust's PowerShift programme, which is funded by my Department, provides grants towards the additional cost of vehicles running on electricity and gas. The programme started in 1996 and has proved very successful to date in helping to generate a significant increase in demand for alternative fuel vehicles, in particular for LPG cars. PowerShift has a total budget of £10 million for this financial year with £20 million over the next two years and is aiming to support the purchase and conversion of up to 35,000 cleaner fuel vehicles in this period.

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From 1 March 2001, vehicle excise duty for new cars has been graduated on the basis of CO 2 emissions. Under the new scheme, gas-powered cars benefit from a modest discount and electric vehicles are exempt from the tax altogether. In addition, there is a low rate of duty on road gas fuels—around 6p per litre, compared with 45.82p per litre on petrol and diesel.

Looking beyond existing clean vehicle options, the Government recently issued a discussion document entitled "Powering Future Vehicles" which sets out and has invited comment on the UK's draft strategy for supporting the shift to low carbon road transport. This paper sets out the UK strategy for promoting the development, introduction and take-up of fuel cell and other new technologies—and for ensuring that the UK automotive industry is fully engaged in the technology.

Departmental Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will commission and publish an independent report on the reasons for the level of sickness absence in his Department. [26996]

Dr. Whitehead: The Cabinet Office already commissions and publishes an independent annual report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service". This report includes details of the causes of absenteeism. The report for the year 2000 will be published shortly. We are committed to managing sickness absence effectively and are seeking to reduce the incidence within the Department.

Newspaper Advertising

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what has been the expenditure of his (a) Department, (b) agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies on newspaper advertising by title in each year since 1997. [26979]

Dr. Whitehead: For details of my Department's advertising spend since 1997 (covering DETR and DTLR) by media, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Twickenham (Dr. Cable) on 9 November 2001 Official Report, column 453W.

Each campaign may use national and regional media. For national, a mix of broadsheets and tabloids have been used frequently. For regional advertising, space has been taken in many prominent regional newspapers as well as hundreds of more local papers. The target audience/ message to be conveyed influence our choice of media and details of advertising by title could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

For details of total expenditure by the Department's agencies and NDPBs, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Beverly Hughes) to the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) on 23 April 2001, Official Report, column 58W. A breakdown of agency/ NDPB expenditure on newspaper advertising by title could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

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Central Railway

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether the references to Central Railway in the documentation for the M1 multi-modal study reflect his policy on the proposal. [26733]

Mr. Spellar: The Government are considering carefully Central Railway's proposals for a hybrid Bill as a means of authorising its scheme. We will take a view on the issues raised by proposals and respond to Central Railway in due course.

Multi-modal studies are considering the contribution all modes of transport can make to solving transport problems around the country. The M1 (North South Movements in the East Midlands) Multi-Modal Study has yet to make any specific recommendations.

Buses (Essex)

Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much was paid under the rural bus subsidy grant to schemes affecting the county of Essex in (a) 1998, (b) 1999, (c) 2000 and (d) 2001. [26850]

Ms Keeble: The Rural Bus Subsidy Grant scheme was introduced in 1998–99. RBSG is paid direct to the local authority for the support of scheduled local bus services, it is for the local authority to decide which services to support using this funding. The grant payments for the county of Essex are given in the table:

Grant (£)

(20) Allocation


Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps he will take to ensure that the proposed system of local authority funding for 2003–04 will be fair; and whether the new system will be fully implemented by 2003–04. [26908]

Dr. Whitehead: We are working with local government and other stakeholders to make the grant distribution system fairer and more intelligible. The changes will take effect from April 2003.

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