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24. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what representations he has received with regard to the proposed code of conduct for parish councillors. 
25. Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent representations he has received from (a) Transport for London, (b) Mr. Bob Kiley and (c) the Mayor of London about future funding and management arrangements for the London Underground; and if he will make a statement. 
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26. Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent discussions he has had to ensure that a coherent planning system is implemented across the United Kingdom. 
Ms Keeble: Ministers and officials in DTLR have had discussions with colleagues in other Departments and in the devolved administrations about the Green Paper "PlanningDelivering a Fundamental Change". Although responsibility for most aspects of the planning system outside England is for the devolved administrations, similar reform consultation exercises are being undertaken in those areas. The planning system is, and is likely to remain, fundamentally similar across the United Kingdom.
Mr. Jamieson: The Transport Act 2000 gives local authorities new powers to promote better bus services, including powers for joint ticketing schemes and for quality contracts. If necessary my Department is willing to consider further regulatory changes to improve services and value for money.
28. Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps he is taking to ensure that local authorities are able to deal effectively with antisocial behaviour. 
Ms Keeble: The Department has recently issued a consultation paper, "Tackling Anti-Social Tenants", which is directed towards enabling social landlords to tackle anti-social behaviour more effectively. The proposals and guidance in the consultation paper cover the fundamental areas of enforcement, prevention and rehabilitation. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
33. Ms Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps he is taking to give local authorities additional powers to deal with antisocial behaviour. 
Ms Keeble: The Department has recently issued a consultation paper, Tackling Anti-Social Tenants, which is directed towards enabling social landlords to tackle anti-social behaviour more effectively. The paper includes proposed new powers for social landlords. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Mr. Jamieson: We decided to turn down Somerset county council's bid because the scheme had not been considered sufficiently in a wider strategic context, including SWARMMS; it is inconsistent with Regional Planning Guidance and the County Structure Plan; and
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30. Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the response he has had from local government regarding the local government White Paper, with special reference to local government finance. 
Dr. Whitehead: We have received a number of responses to the White Paper from local government on both finance and non-finance proposals. We are taking these into account in taking forward the commitments in the White Paper. Our White Paper implementation plan has been published on the DTLR website.
Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Railway Authority's review of fares policy is timely, as from January 2003 the current regime can be varied to reflect changes since privatisation. The industry cannot proceed on a blind assumption that existing policies in areas such as fares which are key to the further development of the railways can continue indefinitely. The review will consider the advantages and disadvantages of change.
Dr. Whitehead: The Government's rural White Paper "Our Countryside: The FutureA Fair Deal for Rural England" sets out our proposals for strengthening the future role of town and parish councils in England.
35. Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement about his plans to improve Connex train services in south-east London. 
Mr. Jamieson: We encourage the SRA to ensure that all train operating companies, including Connex, comply with the terms of their franchise agreements. The new directions and guidance, issued to the authority by the Secretary of State on 11 April, include an objective to secure progressive improvements in the performance of franchised rail services.
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Ms Keeble: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 25 February 2002, Official Report, column 824W, in which I said that I have no plans to extend the provisions of The Town and Country Planning (Playing Fields) (England) Direction 1998 to cover all playing fields.
Mr. Jamieson: The South Coast Multi-Modal study is consulting on a preferred strategy in May/June 2002 and will be looking to produce a consultant's report in July. This should be in a position to pass to the Regional Assembly in August 2002 for consideration in their November plenary session.
38. Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what recent representations he has received from local authorities about local government finance reform. 
Dr. Whitehead: We have received a number of responses to last December's White Paper from local government on both finance and non-finance proposals. We are taking these into account in taking forward the commitments in the White Paper. Our White Paper implementation plan has been published on the DTLR website.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if he will list those organisations consulted regarding S.I. 2001, No. 3335 introducing self-certification under the Building Regulations; 
(3) what effect the self-certification of building firms, allowed under the Building Regulations S.I. 2001, No. 3335, will have on building firms. 
Dr. Whitehead: S.I. 2001, No. 3335, did not introduce self-certification. Self-certification was introduced into the Building Regulations through S.I. 2002, No. 440. This recognises schemes for the self-certification of the installation of combustion appliances, replacement glazing and plumbing work.
Moving towards self-certification and non-notification by identified competent firms will significantly enhance compliance with the procedural and technical requirements of the regulations; it will reduce costs for firms joining recognised schemes; promote training and
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competence within the industry; help tackle the problem of 'cowboy builders' by identifying reputable firms to consumers; and will start to assist local authorities with enforcement, as they can devote more resource to tackling those, who either wilfully or in ignorance, fail to comply with the Building Regulations.
The regulatory impact assessment we undertook prior to laying the regulations, identified that the financial benefit to firms of introducing self-certification would be £104,685,000, taking into account the cost of joining the recognised schemes. These savings arise from firms not having to pay building control fees. Other savings, such as those that would arise from relief from the internal administrative expense and delay in complying with the procedural requirements of the Building Regulations, were not calculated. I understand that the schemes involved have experienced very considerable interest from potential members, and the savings are likely to be higher than the earlier conservative estimate.
Prior to laying these regulations we undertook extensive consultation. Proposals for self-certification were first consulted on in 1997, with the consultation document 'Proposals for reducing the administrative burden with the prospect at the same time of enhancing health and safety'. The results of the consultation were favourable. We consulted again in 1999 with the document 'Taking Forward Self-Certification Under the Building Regulations'. The consultation went to 250 organisations and a list of these has been placed in the Libraries of the House.
I believe that self-certification is a very significant step forward for promoting competence in the construction industry, and providing rewards for those who voluntarily subscribe to schemes which are designed to protect society from the adverse effects of poor building work.
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