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22. Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the local government finance settlement for the metropolitan authorities. 
Mr. Spellar: We have introduced powers under the Transport Act 2000 to enable local authorities to implement enforceable Quality Partnerships and Quality Contract schemes. The Act also empowers authorities to require operators to participate in joint ticketing schemes, and enables them to step in to provide proper passenger information, at the operators' expense, if existing arrangements are inadequate.
24. John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on progress towards the implementation of recommendations made by Lord Cullen on rail safety. 
The HSC published an action plan in November 2001 on how each of the recommendations in part 1 of Lord Cullen's report would be taken forward. The HSC hope to publish before Easter a detailed progress report on the implementation of these recommendations in the six-month period to 20 December 2001.
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on gauge corner cracking; and what international representations Railtrack has received about its solutions to this problem. 
25. Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proposals he has to give local government greater independence from central Government; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Raynsford: The Government set out their radical new vision for local government in the recently published White Paper, Strong Local Leadership-Quality Public Services. It contains a wide range of proposals to give local councils greater freedom to innovate and respond to local needs and aspirations of their communities. This Government believe in real local government which is truly in touch with the people it serves.
27. Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the projected level of investment is in the railway system in Wales as included in the Strategic Rail Authority's 10 year plan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Spellar: Each individual rail project and improvements negotiated through franchise agreements will usually benefit more than one part of Britain. The SRA has therefore not attempted to break down its planned expenditure on a regional basis.
28. Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what funding will be made available for the northern distributor scheme in Sittingbourne; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Spellar: The Sittingbourne northern distributor road proposal is a local road scheme for which developer funding is being sought. Kent county council, the highway authority concerned, have not identified this scheme in their local transport plan as one which requires public money, consequently no public funds have been made available for this scheme via the local transport plan settlement process.
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29. Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the strategic importance of the Newhaven-Dieppe ferry connection for UK transport links. 
Mr. Spellar: There are several important cross-channel ferry connections, of which the link between Newhaven and Dieppe is one. It is a matter of commercial judgment for shipping companies as to what services they choose to provide.
Mr. Spellar: We have introduced the tonnage tax. Together with reforms at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, this has helped bring about a significant increase in UK ship registration. We have improved funding for the Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme. We are committed to safe and environmentally friendly shipping.
31. Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on progress with the first schemes funded under the 10-Year Transport Plan to encourage local transport improvements. 
Mr. Spellar: Progress in introducing local transport improvements is contained in authorities' Local Transport Plan annual progress reports. The first such reports, covering the achievements made in 200001 indicate that authorities are starting to lay the foundations for a modern, integrated, local transport system. We expect the next reports, covering the first year in which the increased funding from the 10-Year Plan was available, to show further evidence of progress with local transport schemes.
Mr. Spellar: Train operating companies carry out works to improve station facilities at railway stations for their own commercial reasons as part of their plans to improve the service for passengers and attract greater patronage. Such improvements may also be required by the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) under a train operating company's franchise agreement, or as a passenger benefit negotiated by the authority where there has been a breach of a franchise agreement, or a change of control. An additional source of funding is provided by the SRA's Rail Passenger Partnership scheme. Up to the end of 2001, a total of £45 million had been awarded to 38 projects, including improvements to railway station facilities.
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Mr. Spellar: The Strategic Rail Authority's Strategic Plan sets out in detail the various policies and projects which are being taken forward across the network to deliver the rail targets, which include reducing overcrowding, in the Government's 10-Year Plan.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions from which previous budget the additional £4.5 billion of rail investment referred to in the SRA Strategic Plan has been drawn. 
Mr. Byers: The additional provision comes from a £2.3 billion transfer of funds from the previously unallocated budget within the Transport 10-Year Plan and, in relation to the 2 April 2001 agreement between the Government and Railtrack, from funds which are additional to those in the Transport 10-Year Plan. This means that the total Transport 10-Year Plan public expenditure and private investment envelope has been increased from £179.7 billion to £181.9 billion.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether the SRA has sought his Department's consent to reduce the passenger growth target in the strategic plan to 30 per cent. 
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will give a schedule, broken down by financial year, of the projected allocation of the private sector contribution to the SRA strategic plan; and if he will indicate the purpose to which that contribution is expected to be put in each of those years. 
Mr. Jamieson: The SRA strategic plan envisages private sector investment of a very similar level to that envisaged in the 10-Year Plan. An indicative profile of this investment was outlined in Table A3 of the 10-Year
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Plan. Private investment will work in partnership with £33.5 billion of public investment and support to deliver the Government's 10-Year Plan objectives for rail.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assumption has been made about the rate of return required by private sector investors in framing the financial models that underlie (a) the Government's 10-Year Plan and (b) the SRA strategic plan. 
Mr. Jamieson: The rates of return required by the private sector investors will vary with the nature of particular investments and the risks that are borne. Assumptions used in the 10-Year Plan and the SRA strategic plan modelling will not be published as they could have an adverse effect on commercial negotiations for particular mechanisms to deliver private investment.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what the projected annual allocations of the public sector contribution to the SRA Strategic Plan are, broken down by spending type; 
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he last met the Chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority to discuss the 10-year strategic plan. 
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what is the total amount of public and private sector investment in the railways over the next 10 years assumed in (a) the transport 10-year plan assessed, and (b) the strategic plan published by the SRA. 
The SRA strategic plan anticipates a very similar level of private investment to that estimated in the 10-Year Plan. The enhanced level of public investment funding included in the strategic plan was outlined in a written answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) on 23 January 2002, Official Report, columns 87172W.
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