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Ms Keeble: A number of representations have been made either as formal responses to the Green Paper proposals; through letters from county councils to their Members of Parliament who have passed on the correspondence to Ministers; through meetings with Ministers; or from the preliminary views of the county councils network of the Local Government Association. All have drawn attention to the importance of the strategic planning role of the county councils. The consultation period on the Green Paper ends on 18 March.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what was the (a) percentage and number of rail journeys undertaken on first class tickets, (b) average cost of a first class journey by rail and (c) total cost of rail travel in each of the past four years broken down by grade of civil servant. 
Dr. Whitehead: The amounts spent by DTLR(C) are set out in the table. As much information as can be readily retrieved has been set out. Further detail, including a breakdown by grade of staff, is not available without incurring disproportionate cost.
|Percentage first class journeys||n/a||n/a||47||46|
|Number of first class journeys||n/a||n/a||7,101||7,051|
|Average cost of first class rail journey (£)||n/a||n/a||103||115|
|Total cost of rail travel (£000)||n/a||1,064||1,184||1,206|
25 Feb 2002 : Column 808W
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many new entrants to the civil service were employed in his Department in each of the last five years; and how many in each year were aged 50 years and over. 
Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions on what basis the Minister for Local Government cancelled his meeting with the parliamentary co-chairman of the Town and Country Finance Issues Group on 13 February; and what plans he has to rearrange it. 
Mr. Raynsford: No such meeting was arranged. We will continue to work with local government on reforming the formula grant distribution. Ministers will be ready to meet with TACFIG and other special interest groups in due course as we develop our proposals for the new grant distribution system.
Mr. Cameron: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will publish figures for the average pay of (a) council leaders and (b) the cabinet members of local authorities which operate cabinet Government in England and Wales; and if he will make a statement. 
The average special responsibility allowances in those local authorities in England which made the information available to the Improvement and Development Agency, as of 4 December 2001, are as follows:
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) to what purpose the £290 million rail provision in 200001 now allocated to the 10-Year Transport Plan was originally allocated; and for what reason it was unused in 200001; 
Mr. Jamieson: The summer and winter supplementary supply estimates transferred a total of £284.993 million to the rail budget in 200102 through the End Year Flexibility arrangements. I refer the hon. Member to the Supplementary Supply Estimates for a detailed analysis of the transfers.
25 Feb 2002 : Column 809W
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what expenditure the Government have made on the NATS PPP; on what dates; for what purpose; and what further expenditure is planned. 
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what payments have been made to the NATS employee Share Trust Ltd. to date; and when they will be completed. 
Mr. Jamieson: The allocation of the first tranche of shares to staff was completed on 21 September 2001. The second allocation, which has been triggered by the successful introduction into service of the Swanwick Centre, will proceed once a further valuation of the shares has been completed and Inland Revenue approval obtained.
Mr. Jamieson: The price cap for en route air navigation services provided by NATS is a matter for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). I understand that NATS applied to the CAA on 4 February seeking a relaxation of the price cap over the period 200305.
Mr. Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the consequences for National Air Traffic Services arising from the terrorist acts of 11 September 2001 have been; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Byers: The terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September led to a downturn in air traffic which has had a serious impact on NATS' revenues. Since that time, NATS' financial position has been regularly discussed by NATS, the Airline Group, the Government as the other main shareholder, the Civil Aviation Authority as regulator and the banks. All these parties are making a contribution to ensuring that NATS has a robust financial structure for the foreseeable future.
The banks and Government are being asked to make a contribution through the provision of short-term financial support, likely to be in the form of commercial loans. The terms of the Airline Group's contribution are being discussed. This needs to be settled before the terms of the loan are finalised.
25 Feb 2002 : Column 810W
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representations he has received regarding the operability of the Sony air traffic control screens at the new en route centre at Swanwick; how many employees have expressed difficulties in reading these screens; what steps he has taken to ensure that these screens are not compromising air navigational safety; and if health and safety concerns expressed by staff are being addressed. 
Mr. Jamieson: Just prior to the opening of the Swanwick centre on 27 January, a few air traffic control officers (ATCOs) expressed concern about the legibility of the screens which they would be using. I understand one ATCO wrote to the NATS Board on the subject and as a result, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was asked to make an inspection.
The findings were presented to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), who as the independent aviation safety regulator had to take a view on the air safety implications. On 22 January the CAA gave National Air Traffic Services (NATS) its full and final approval to take Swanwick into operation.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what stage discussions on building the new scottish centre for air traffic at Prestwick have reached; and when he expects this centre to be built. 
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