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Local Government Finance

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the total value is of PPP schemes launched by local authorities since 1997. [41678]

Dr. Whitehead: This information is not held on PPP schemes other than those which receive central Government support for the capital element under the Private Finance Initiative. The total capital value of PFI schemes signed by local authorities since 1997 is £2.8 billion. Schemes worth another £1.4 billion are in procurement.

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to change the system of financial credit-rating of local authorities. [41729]

Dr. Whitehead: We have never required or encouraged local authorities to seek commercial credit ratings and have no plans to do so. All local authorities are rightly regarded as highly creditworthy and do not need credit ratings to obtain loans.

Rail and Bus Passengers

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what work the Department carries out to monitor rail and bus passenger satisfaction. [41663]

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Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) commissions a bi-annual National Passenger Survey. The results are published in "On Track" in June and December. The SRA also publishes information on customer complaints about rail services, quarterly in "National Rail Trends" and six-monthly in "On Track". These documents are placed in the Library of the House each time they are published.

For local bus travel, since April 2000, the Department has carried out quarterly surveys of passenger satisfaction in England outside London. A similar survey is carried out in London by Transport for London. The results are published by DTLR each quarter in the Transport Statistics Bulletin "Bus Quality Indicators: England". Copies of each quarterly report are in the Library of the House.

DTLR also commissions more general research into public attitudes to transport issues. Questions about perceptions of local buses and of rail services, covering both users and non-users of services, were asked in the Omnibus Survey of households run by the Office for National Statistics, in January 2001. Results were published on the Department's website in an article "Attitudes to Local Transport Issues", a copy of which I am arranging to place in the Library of the House. Further questions on buses were asked in the British Social Attitudes Survey 2001, but results will not be available until autumn 2002.

Crossrail

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) whether his estimate of the impact of the delay in the construction of Crossrail on crowding levels on the London Underground takes into account forecast growth in underground usage during the period of the 10-year plan; [41651]

Mr. Jamieson: Modelling work undertaken for the 10-year plan considered the broad strategic impact on crowding on rail and tube services of a Crossrail type link which opened at the end of the 10-year plan period. A later opening date would have no direct impact on these results. The separate modelling work reported in the Background Analysis of the 10-year plan was undertaken to assess growth in passenger kilometres. This did not assume the construction of Crossrail because it is primarily intended to relieve overcrowding, and is not expected to contribute greatly to passenger growth.

South West Regional Assembly

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to vary the numbers of members at present sitting in the Shadow South West Regional Assembly; and how many members will be elected to the proposed South West Regional Assembly. [41393]

Dr. Whitehead: "South West Regional Assembly" is the name used by the regional chamber designated by the Secretary of State under s.8 of the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. It is not a "shadow" body of a

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possible future elected regional assembly for the south- west, but a voluntary body which has been recognised by Ministers for the purposes of scrutiny of the South West Regional Development Agency. The number of members of the assembly is therefore primarily a matter for the assembly.

The forthcoming Regional Governance White Paper will set out our proposals for elected regional assemblies in future, including their number of members.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what (a) salaries and (b) expenses are available to members of the Shadow South West Regional Assembly; and if he will make a statement on the remuneration of members of the proposed assembly. [41394]

Dr. Whitehead: Salaries and expenses of the existing the South West Regional Assembly are a matter for the assembly. The forthcoming Regional Government White Paper will set out our proposals for elected regional assemblies in future.

Regional Development Agencies

Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what role RDAs will play in shaping a new EU regeneration framework. [41482]

Ms Keeble: We will be consulting the RDAs and a range of other organisations working in the regeneration field about our proposals to ensure that regeneration schemes are state aid proof, including the possibility of a new framework.

Refuges

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list those local authorities which have refuges which are (a) 100 per cent. funded and (b) part-funded by his Department; and if he will list other sources of funding and limits which apply. [41671]

Ms Keeble: This Department does not fund refuge provision directly.

Refuge accommodation is mainly owned by registered social landlords (57 per cent.) and local housing authorities (32 per cent.). Most of the remainder are owned by refuge groups and the private sector.

Revenue support for refuges is provided principally through transitional housing benefit, social housing management grant, local authority funding plus a range of charitable sources.

The Department does not hold information about the funding of refuges in individual local authority areas.

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list those local authorities which (a) have refuge provision at the rate of one place per 10,000 of population and (b) do not meet this target. [41667]

Ms Keeble: There is no target for refuge provision.

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There is a best value performance indicator, (BVPI 176) which is—"the number of domestic violence refuge places per 10,000 population, which are provided or supported by the authority". Local authorities are required to set their own performance target against this indicator, which appeared in the indicator set for the first time in 2001–02 and remains in the 2002–03 set of BVPIs. No data on local authority performance against this indicator are available yet; local authorities will provide their performance data for BVPI 176 to the Audit Commission for 2001–02 after 31 March 2002. The data will then be audited and will be available in autumn 2002.

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list per (a) constituency, (b) local authority area and (c) region those areas which have refuge provision which does not meet the target of one place per 10,000 population as recommended in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. [41672]

Ms Keeble: There is no target for refuge provision contained in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

There is a best value performance indicator, (BVPI 176) which is—"the number of domestic violence refuge places per 10,000 population, which are provided or supported by the authority". Local authorities are required to set their own performance target against this indicator, which appeared in the indicator set for the first time in 2001–02 and remains in the 2002–03 set of BVPIs. No data on local authority performance against this indicator are available yet; local authorities will provide their performance data for BVPI 176 to the Audit Commission for 2001–02 after 31 March 2002. The data will then be audited and will be available in autumn 2002.

Landlords

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent discussions he has had with the British Federation of Landlords and Private Tenants groups on bringing small landlords within the same tax regime as other small businesses. [41670]

Ms Keeble: There have been no discussions recently between these bodies and Ministers of this Department on the tax regime for landlords. Tax matters are, in any event, a matter for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.


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