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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list for 199798 and each subsequent financial year the amount spent by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies in respect of hotel and other similar privately provided accommodation (i) in the UK and (ii) abroad for (A) Ministers, (B) staff and (C) other persons; if he will list the proportion of this cost incurred in respect of (x) food and (y) alcohol in each case; and if he will list the average cost per hotel room or similar unit of accommodation provided in each case. 
Dr. Whitehead: A list showing the amounts spent by DTLR(C) and each agency has been placed in the Libraries of the House. As much information as can be readily retrieved has been set out, though this differs between agencies, some of whom could not provide all the information required without incurring disproportionate cost.
For overseas travel the Department pays flat rate per diem allowances as advised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Accordingly it is not possible to determine separate accommodation and food costs.
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It is the Department's policy not to reimburse staff directly for alcohol costs. However, where in some cases staff are paid a flat rate allowance for subsistence costs this may be spent on alcohol but information on this is not available.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list for 199798 and for each subsequent financial year, including the current year to date, the amount spent by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non- departmental public bodies on (i) food and (ii) alcohol, indicating how much was spent on guests, and how much in respect of (A) Ministers and (B) staff, broken down to show how much was provided directly by his Department and how much reclaimed. 
Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proportion of the public money going to the railways in the 10-year plan will support investment in new facilities. 
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Dr. Whitehead: The development of online voting, which we are pursuing in partnership with the Electoral Commission as part of our programme of electoral modernisation, will allow people to vote wherever they have internet access, including in any polling station. The aim of this programme is to make voting more accessible, maintaining the security and integrity of the electoral process. Through a range of projects, including research, development and the piloting of innovations, we would expect an e-enabled general election sometime after 2006.
Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what action he is taking to encourage higher turnout at elections; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Whitehead: As the Electoral Commission recognised in its reportElection 2001it is above all the quality and persuasiveness of the policies put forward by the political parties, and their ability to motivate voters, that will determine future turnout trends. For their part, the Government are committed to making voting more accessible, with arrangements more suited to today's lifestyles, while maintaining the security and integrity of the electoral process.
Accordingly, we have established a programme of electoral modernisation, working with the Electoral Commission, and other stakeholders, which includes developing electronic voting, with the expectation of an e-enabled general election sometime after 2006.
Dr. Whitehead: Measures to promote public awareness of all aspects of the electoral system are now the responsibility of the Electoral Commission, under Section 13 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. I understand that the Commission intends to run two advertising campaigns each year, in the spring to encourage rolling registration in time for local government elections and in the autumn to encourage completion and return of the annual canvass form.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what measures he intends to take to restrict the use of houses in multiple occupation for students. 
Ms Keeble: The Government have no specific plans to restrict the use of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) by students. However, the Government are committed to raising the standards that exist in this part of the private rented sector. We have already consulted on our plans to introduce a national licensing scheme for HMOs. We believe that alongside our plans to introduce a new housing fitness regime and the selective licensing of landlords in areas of low housing demand we will achieve a real improvement in the quality of the private rented sector.
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The measures we are pursuing will provide greater clarity as to what constitutes an HMO (currently a real difficulty for local authorities and landlordsparticularly as to whether student households fall within the definition). Also, licensing criteria would include the physical condition of the property, the provision of relevant safety certificates, the fitness of the licensee and their management competency. This will benefit not only the occupants of these types of properties, many of whom will be students, but also responsible landlords and other local residents.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many refuges for survivors of domestic violence have been taken back into direct management by registered social landlords in each of the last five years. 
The Department has asked local authorities to collect current information (including with regard to refuges and other supported housing schemes) as part of the mapping of all housing related support services in preparation for supporting people. Information will be available by September.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will set out his Department's policy on noise insulation for schools in respect of areas where (a) noise insulation regulations apply and (b) noise barriers are to be installed in a discretionary scheme by the Highways Agency. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Noise Insulation Regulations 1975 apply to dwellings and other buildings used for residential purposes that are affected by a new or substantially altered road. Schools do not fall within this definition of residential use. However, residential accommodation belonging to schools may qualify for insulation.
The criteria for the Highways Agency to apply in considering the need for additional noise barriers that could be provided under the discretionary powers within the Highways Act was answered to the House in a written answer on 22 March 1999, Official Report, columns 5051W.
The assessment of need in these cases has been based on the number of residential properties affected, in order to remain consistent with the application of the noise insulation regulations to highway improvement schemes.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he expects the advanced train protection system to be installed and operational on all trains. 
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protection, including their timings and their costs, and expects to report to the Health and Safety Commission in the spring. The Commission will then advise Ministers.
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