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Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what advice he has received from (a) the Strategic Rail Authority and (b) the Rail Regulator on the ownership of assets by special purpose vehicles in the rail industry. 
Mr. Byers [holding answer 15 March 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the answers given by the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Mr. Jamieson), to the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) on 4 February 2002, Official Report, columns 72829W. Ownership of the assets created by special purpose vehicles is one of the matters to be resolved case by case.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many meetings he has had with the Rail Regulator since 5 October 2001; and on what dates those meetings took place. 
Mr. Byers [holding answer 15 March 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Under-Secretary of State, my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Mr. Jamieson) to the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) on 11 December 2001, Official Report, column 789W.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 28 February, ref 32696, on rail passengers, if he will list those TOCs which have been required to develop action plans and indicate the type of action plans which have been undertaken. 
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will state the proportion of stations which have access to (a) customer information screens, (b) public address announcements and (c) help point buttons; and if he will list the stations which (i) have and (ii) do not have access to each; 
(3) how much has been invested by the railway industry between 25 February 1999 and April 2000 in passenger information systems in stations. 
Mr. Jamieson: In the period from 1 April 1999 until September 2001, private sector capital of £155 million was secured by train operating companies, of which around £54 million was invested in stations. The detailed information is not held centrally.
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Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the responsibilities of his (a) Rail Delivery Directorate and (b) Railways Restructuring Directorate; if he will list the projects which are (i) under way and (ii) have been completed, in each directorate since June 2001; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Rail Delivery Directorate works with the Strategic Rail Authority, other railway stakeholders and other parts of government to improve the performance of today's railway and to deliver the key 10-Year Plan targets. The Railways Restructuring Directorate is working to ensure that the successor to Railtrack, and the regulatory system within which it will operate, are fit for purpose.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list (a) the number of staff employed in each key area of the railway industry, (b) the total requirement for staff in each key area, (c) staff shortage numbers for each key area, (d) the number of individuals (i) in training and (ii) trained for each key area and (e) the number of individuals (A) retiring and (B) leaving employment in each key area for each year since 1995. 
Mr. Jamieson: The linkage between rail fares and demand was modelled for the 10-Year Plan, with the results published in the Background Analysis document. This modelling work will be reviewed and developed as part of the first review of the Plan this year, both in a rail specific context and on a multi-modal basis as part of the National Transport Model.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the improvements to the rail network in the West Midlands outlined in the 10 year plan document. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority's (SRA's) Strategic Plan sets out its priorities for the short, medium and long term and includes national schemes which will benefit the West Midlands, for example, the Train Protection & Warning System, Freight Facilities Grants, Incremental Output Statements for track, signalling and stations, and Rail Passenger Partnership and Rail Performance Funds.
The West Midlands will benefit too, from enhanced services provided under the Cross Country and West Coast franchises and from proposed freight upgradessuch as Felixstowe-Nuneaton. The SRA's Plan also identifies a number of specific projects for the West Midlands including service, performance and infrastructure improvements, as well as additional rolling stock.
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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the local authorities which lodged complaints with his Department about SSA allocations for 200203. 
Dr. Whitehead: The Department consulted local authorities on its proposals for the funding of local government revenue expenditure in 200203 on 4 December 2001. As part of that consultation the Government, as usual, received a large number of responses from councils with their view on the proposals and also correcting where necessary the data used in standard spending assessments as we had requested.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what information he has collated on the average (a) market value based on right to buy sales, (b) adjusted vacant possession values and (c) value for stock transfer purposes of council houses in Walsall (i) under direct council management and (ii) managed by a tenant management organisation. 
Ms Keeble: Walsall metropolitan borough council has provided the Department with an average market value based on right to buy sales of £35,100 for both the council houses in Walsall under direct council management and those managed by a tenant management organisation. Walsall is not required to submit information on adjusted vacant possession values of their stock. The valuations for housing transfer purposes have yet to be agreed.
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what powers the Government have to compel councils to build houses under the unitary development plan. 
Ms Keeble [holding answer 15 March 2002]: The Government have no powers in relation to unitary development plans to compel councils to build houses. However, unitary development plans are expected to provide sufficient housing land to meet the housing requirements of the whole community. Priority should be given to re-using urban brownfield sites in preference to greenfield land.
The Secretary of State can direct changes to unitary development plans which conflict with national and regional housing policies without good local justification. He can also call in planning applications where the provision of housing is at issue.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what estimate he has made of the (a) financial costs and (b) benefits to his Department of the Parental Leave Directive. 
Dr. Whitehead: It is estimated that the financial costs to the Department are minimal. There has been no significant take-up within DTLR since the directive was implemented. The Department is committed to implementing policies that help members of staff achieve a better work/life balance.
18 Mar 2002 : Column 23W
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