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Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the period of time elapsed is for the oldest outstanding request for information under the Data Protection Act 1998, since receipt of the (a) original request and (b) administration fee. 
Dr. Whitehead: In respect of (a) 97 days, and in respect of (b) 46 days. The 40-day deadline for this case is not technically due to expire for a further two weeks since the further information required by the Department to respond to it was not supplied by the applicant for some time following receipt of the original request and administration fee.
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many (a) county, (b) district and (c) unitary councillors there are in England; and what the average amount they draw in allowances and expenses was in the last 12 months for which figures are available. 
The average allowances of council members of local authorities who have made the information available to the Improvement and Development Agency, by local authority type, as of 4 December 2001, are as follows:
"www.idea-knowledge.gov.uk", Member Allowance Summary Survey
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Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will ask the Strategic Rail Authority to commission a study on the (a) feasibility and (b) benefits of re-opening the Colne to Skipton railway line. 
Mr. Spellar: The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has no current plans to consider the possibility of re-opening this line. The relevant local authority could take forward such a study if they saw benefit in doing so. If funding for such a study were required it might be available through the SRA's Rail Passenger Partnership scheme, which has been extended to include the possibility of funding feasibility work.
Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) how many meetings have taken place in the last year between (a) Ministers and (b) civil servants and representatives from the aviation industry; 
Mr. Spellar: Ministers and civil servants meet many people as part of the process of policy development and analysis. All such contacts are conducted in accordance with the Ministerial Code, the Civil Service Code and Guidance for Civil Servants: Contacts with Lobbyists. Some of these discussions take place on a confidential basis, and in order to preserve confidentiality, it is not the normal practice of Governments to release details of specific meetings with private individuals or companies.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether he plans to exclude national park authorities from the proposed parliamentary procedures for major infrastructure projects. 
Mr. Byers: The 'Silkin test' for major developments in national parks forms part of the national guidance to local planning authorities set out in paragraph 4.5 of Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) note 7 on the Countryside. We have no plans to change this policy.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the arrangements for pre-planning application discussions operated by the national park authorities. 
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Mr. Byers: The Department has not carried out an assessment of these discussions, which are not a part of the statutory planning process. We encourage pre-application discussions between planning applicants and local planning authorities. These can help to guide applicants through the planning process, clarify what is required and help them to formulate their proposals.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the level of (a) on-balance sheet and (b) off-balance sheet debt for each local authority in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Byers: Local authority off-balance sheet information is not collected by DTLR. Figures for local authority outstanding debt at 31 March 1997 and 31 March 2000 have been placed today in the Libraries of the House. Outstanding debt is equivalent to on-balance sheet debt. Figures for 1998 and 1999 are not available centrally. Outstanding debt for individual authorities as at 31 March 2001 will be published shortly on the DTLR website www.dtlr.gov.uk/finance/stats.
It should be noted that authorities with high levels of debt are generally those which have undertaken capital investment and that long-term borrowing to finance capital expenditure is regulated by Government through the issue of credit approvals.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what discussions he has had with the Highways Agency regarding the de-trunking of the A40 into Cheltenham; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Spellar: The Secretary of State has asked the Highways Agency to discuss the proposed de-trunking of the A40 through Cheltenham with the relevant local authorities. These discussions are continuing.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer (ref. 33646), Official Report, column 838W, if he will estimate the cost to local authorities of implementing the Travel Concessions Bill. 
Mr. Miliband: To ask the Prime Minister if he will announce the membership of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. 
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The Prime Minister: I have appointed 13 representatives from the Parliament of the United Kingdom to act as the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. The next meeting of the Assembly will take place in Vienna on 2122 February 2002. The delegation will consist of eight members of the Labour party, three members of the Conservative party and two members of the Liberal Democrat party. I have also appointed a number of substitute delegates.
Representatives from the Government benches will be: the hon. Member for City of York (Hugh Bayley), the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Davis), the right hon. Member for Walsall, South (Mr. George) who will act as Leader, the Baroness Hilton of Eggardon, the hon. Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay), the hon. Member for Hyndburn (Mr. Pope), the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) and the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Rachel Squire).
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