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Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will provide details of the subjects discussed at meetings with the Chancellor of the Exchequer over the weekend of 26 and 27 January; and what outcomes emerged from such discussions. 
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Mr. Spellar: The Secretary of State confirmed in December 2000 that the A36/A46 route was to remain non-core, and would be detrunked in due course. Negotiations on detrunking between the Highways Agency and the local highway authorities commenced early in 2001. However, the South West Regional Assembly placed a holding objection to detrunking, pending the outcome of a further study into the management of the route and the traffic problems in Bath. This study, entitled the "Bristol/Bath to South Coast Study" is to be commissioned shortly, and is due to report at the end of 2002. Detrunking negotiations are therefore likely to be on hold until early 2003.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 30 January 2002, Official Report, column 320W, ref 30241, from which budget within the SRA these costs are being drawn; if these funds are directly or indirectly provided (a) in part or (b) in total by public funds and on what legal basis the SRA is financing the bid costs. 
Mr. Spellar [holding answer 4 February 2002]: The costs are being met by the SRA through its existing public funds. The SRA is exercising its functions in accordance with its statutory duties to secure the development of the railway network and to promote its use and will ensure a viable bid is put to the administrator.
Mr. Spellar: The Government have set up a multi-modal study to consider the transport issues of the M6 corridor. The Steering Group for the study has presented the outline recommendations to the Regional Planning Bodies for the West Midlands and North West Regions, who will consider them as part of the Regional Planning Guidance and their Regional Transport Strategy. We expect the Regional Planning Bodies to submit their recommendations to the Minister in the spring. The Secretary of State will make a statement after this date.
Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to extend the eligibility for transport action PowerShift grants for converting cars over five years old to use LPG. 
Mr. Spellar: Following the changes we announced last year on the future shape of the PowerShift programme, grants towards the cost of conversion to LPG have been made available for vehicles up to five years old for which quality LPG conversions are available. We have no plans
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to extend grants to cars over five years old, both because they provide fewer years of environmental benefits, and because the emissions improvements from gas conversions of older vehicles tend to be less certain.
Ms Keeble: Deprivation is so ingrained in some inner city areas that only long-term regeneration programmes rooted in the needs and aspirations of local people, can make a significant impact on these areas.
A New Commitment to Neighbourhood Renewal National Strategy Action Plan which was launched by the Prime Minister in January 2001 recognises this. The national strategy is a new long-term initiative which aims to deliver neighbourhood renewalthe process of delivering real change to England's most deprived areas. The Government's vision is reflected in its goal: to narrow the gap between deprived neighbourhoods and the rest, so that within 10 to 20 years, no one should be seriously disadvantaged by where they live. It aims to deliver economic prosperity, safe communities, high quality schools, decent housing, and better health to the poorest parts of the country.
This approach will focus main Government programmes explicitly on deprived areas, many of which are located in inner city areas, and will require local people and public and private sectors to work in partnership. The strategy is being spearheaded by the Neighbourhood Renewal Unit, a cross-cutting unit based in DTLR and staffed by officials from across Whitehall and the public sector, with secondees from the private and voluntary sectors.
In addition, the regional development agencies are providing support to deprived urban areas through the Single Regeneration Budget and physical regeneration programmes. In April 2002, the RDA's new single programme will include working with LSPs and other stakeholders to tackle poverty and social exclusion through promoting economic development in the most deprived areas.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many local authorities in England and Wales provide concessionary travel schemes for public transport for (a) pensioners, (b) the blind, (c) the disabled, (d) children aged under 16 years and (e) 16 to 18-year-olds in full-time education. 
Ms Keeble: The Transport Act 2000 requires that from 1 June 2001 all local authorities provide their resident pensioners, blind and disabled people with at least half-fares on local buses. Local authorities suing their discretionary powers may also provide concessionary travel for children aged under 16 years, and for 16 to 18-year-olds in full-time education.
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Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make it his policy to introduce a statutory duty on coastal local authorities to plan for and undertake shoreline clean-ups following marine pollution incidents; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Spellar: This is a subject which my Department has addressed in the context of the Cabinet Office's review of "The Future of Emergency Planning in England and Wales". One of the proposals for consideration under that review is that existing emergency planning legislation be replaced with a new statutory duty for emergency planning. The result of the review is awaited.
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representations he has received from (a) local government associations and (b) individual local authorities concerning the introduction of a statutory duty on coastal local authorities to undertake shoreline clean-ups following marine pollution incidents. 
Mr. Spellar: Since the beginning of 1998, my Department has received representations arguing for the introduction of a statutory duty on coastal local authorities to plan for or undertake shoreline clean-ups following marine pollution incidents from: (a) the Local Government Association, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and KIMO (Kommunenes Internasjonale Milj organisasjon); and (b) Aberdeenshire council, Ceredigion county council, Devon county council, Dumfries and Galloway council, Dundee city council, Fife council, Pembrokeshire county council, Purbeck district council, Shetland Islands council, South Ayrshire council and the Tyne and Wear Emergency Planning Unit.
Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment he has made of the effect on local authorities of (a) the recommendations of the "Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas" report of 1995 and (b) the Sea Empress incident in West Wales in 1996. 
Mr. Spellar: The Government's action to address the recommendations of Lord Donaldson's 1994 report "Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas" following the sinking of the oil tanker Braer off Shetland in 1993, and the further reviews following the grounding of the Sea Empress on rocks in the entrance to Milford Haven in 1996 (the report of the Sea Empress Environmental Evaluation Committee, and the report of Lord Donaldson's Review of Salvage and Intervention and their Command and Control) has necessarily involved consideration of the role of, and impacts on, local authorities. This process has culminated, after a wide-ranging review which included local authorities and local authority associations, in the publication in February 2000 of the UK's revised "National Contingency Plan for Marine Pollution from Shipping and Offshore Installations", which sets out how the relevant agencies and authorities in the UK will respond to such incidents.
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