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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions in what circumstances his Department does not call in planning consents granted by local authorities for green belt land. 
Ms Keeble: The Secretary of State's general approach is not to interfere with the jurisdiction of local planning authorities unless it is necessary to do so. Parliament has entrusted them with responsibility for day-to-day planning control in their areas. Local planning authorities are normally best placed to make decisions relating to their areas and it is right that, in general, they should be free to carry out their duties responsibly, with the minimum of interference.
There will be occasions, however, when the Secretary of State may consider it necessary to call in a planning application to determine himself instead of leaving it to the local planning authority. His policy is to be very selective about calling in planning applications. He will, in general, only take this step if planning issues of more than local importance are involved and if those issues need to be decided by the Secretary of State rather than at a local level. Each case is, however, considered on its own facts.
Mr. Jamieson: The Vehicle Inspectorate collects returns from all 19,000 MOT testing stations on a monthly basis which contain details of the vehicles tested, failures and passes. A 2 per cent. sample of the returns is used as
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the basis for calculating an annual fail rate. In 200001 22,775,000 cars, vans and passenger vehicles with up to 12 seats were tested, with a fail rate of 31.7 per cent. More information about failure rates and defect categories can be found in the Vehicle Inspectorate Effectiveness Report 200001, a copy of which has been placed in the House of Commons Library.
Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when his Department will consult on CCTV enforcement of bus lanes; and if he will make a statement. 
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how those conducting the count, for the latest rough sleeping head count conducted by the RSU, chose the areas of the various cities in which their counts would take place; and if he will publish the guidance issued as to how the count areas were to be chosen. 
The method used to conduct counts, including deciding which areas should be covered is clearly set out in our guidance, which was first published in 1996. This states that a working group of key local agencies should be formed and that this working group in consultation with other local agencies should:
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how it was determined whether someone on the streets during the latest rough sleeping headcount conducted by the Rough Sleepers Unit was a rough sleeper; and if he will publish the guidelines issued to those conducting the count, relating to whom should be included in the count. 
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Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 14 February 2002, Official Report, column 551W, on concessionary travel schemes, if it is his intention to publish the results of the Department's survey of concessionary travel in England before the Easter recess. 
Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what assessment he has made of the cost of extending Local Government Pension Scheme benefits to the partners of its members; 
Dr. Whitehead: I am considering a proposal from the local authorities employers' organisation and the trade unions to extend the benefits payable under the Local Government Pension Scheme to surviving spouses to include unmarried partners. Representations from scheme members have also been received supporting changes to the scheme. A full assessment of the proposal is being made in the light of the costs identified by the scheme's actuaries and advice provided by the Government Actuary's Department. A response will be sent to the employers' organisation and the trade unions shortly.
Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the work of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust with particular reference to (a) the Cynon Valley and (b) Wales. 
Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what powers there are under European legislation for an environmental assessment to be conducted into the effects on London of congestion charging. 
Mr. Spellar [holding answer 4 March 2002]: The proposed London congestion charging scheme does not fall within the scope of Directive 85/337/EEC (as amended by Directive 97/11/EC) on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment.
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Government funding in the last five years; how many of these sites are operating; what the average level is of Government financial support per park and ride scheme supported by Government; and how many such schemes have opened and subsequently been discontinued in England in the last five years. 
Ms Keeble: The information requested is not held centrally and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Funding for new park and ride schemes and extensions to existing schemes in England is provided through the annual Local Transport capital settlement and we announced on 13 December 2001 that the 200203 settlement provided for a range of small scale transport schemes including up to 50 new or extended park and ride sites. Transport authorities in England reported in Annual Progress Reports on their Local Transport Plans in August 2001 that capital funding had been used or is expected to support 24 new or extended park and ride sites in 200001 and 32 such schemes in 200102.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans his Department has to introduce measures to reduce traffic noise on the A12 by Margaretting, Chelmsford; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: In my answer of 9 July 2001, Official Report, column 327W, I said that the precise timing of measures to reduce traffic noise on the A12 between Margaretting and Boreham would be determined in the light of criteria which had then to be announced.
That priority will be given to those sites where treatment would benefit the greatest number of people;
That the works will be carried out in such a way as to minimise disruption to the general public and users of the network;
That priority will be given to roads, opened since June 1988, where actual noise levels have turned out to be significantly higher than predicted at the time of the Public Inquiry.
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