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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many affordable housing units in (a) south Somerset, (b) Somerset and (c) the south-west region have (i) been sold under right to buy and (ii) been newly built, showing for each category the net change, in each year from 1991 to 2002. 
|Dwelling stock at start of year owned by:||Activity during year sales under right to buy||Activity during yearnew dwellings completed||Net stock change during year|
|Local authority||Registered social landlord||Total social landlords||Local authority||Registered social landlord||Local authority||Registered social landlord||Total social landlords||Local authority||Registered social landlord||Total social landlords|
1. Dwelling stock: Local authority owned dwellings include those outside the authority' geographical area.
2. RTB Sales: (Local Authority) Sales to sitting tenants under RTB legislation; other sales, transfers and disposals are reflected under "net stock change". (Registered Social Landlords) RTB data not collected prior to 199596.
3. New dwellings completed: New-build completions as reported by local authorities. Excludes acquisitions of existing stock and "off-the-shelf" purchases of private developments.
4. Net stock change: Calculated as the year-on-year change in reported dwelling stock each April. This reflects all gains and losses arising from sales, transfers and disposals (eg under LSVT arrangements), new construction, acquisitions, conversions and demolitions.
DTLR Housing Investment Programme returns (annual), P1B returns (quarterly), P2 returns (monthly), Housing Corporation CORE returns
8 May 2002 : Column 213W
Virginia Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps he is taking to ensure that district authorities have the flexibility to fund and deliver high-quality public services to local people. 
Mr. Raynsford: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Alan Whitehead) to the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole (Mrs. Brooke) on 7 May 2002, Official Report, column 26W.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) whether the Government will provide legally binding guarantees to support the finance raised by Metronet and Tube Lines; 
Mr. Jamieson: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 18 March 2002, Official Report, column 18W and to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport to the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) on 18 April 2002, Official Report, column 1107W.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many underground stations will be improved up to 2009; and how many were planned to be improved in the original PPP proposal. 
Mr. Jamieson: The PPP is designed to improve the quality, reliability and capacity of every underground line in a coordinated programme to modernise the entire tube network. Details of the contractual requirements are a
8 May 2002 : Column 214W
matter for London Underground, but I understand that more than 200 stations will be improved by 2009. This is in line with the original objectives for the PPP.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what capacity increases the PPP scheme will lead to during the first seven and a half years of operation. 
Mr. Jamieson: The PPP is designed to improve the quality, reliability and capacity of every underground line in a co-ordinated programme to modernise the entire tube network. Details of the contractual requirements are a matter for London Underground, but I understand that during the first seven and a half year contract period projects to increase the capacity of the Jubilee, Central and Waterloo and City lines will be completed.
In addition, work to increase the capacity of the Victoria, Northern, Hammersmith and City, Circle and Metropolitan lines will be well under way, including the introduction of new signalling and new trains on some lines. Further capacity increases will follow during the second seven and a half year contract period.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what rights the PPP providers have to withdraw from the contracts at the end of the first seven and a half year period. 
Mr. Jamieson: Details of the contracts are a matter for London Underground, but I understand they do not provide infrastructure companies with a unilateral right to withdraw from the contracts at the end of the first seven
8 May 2002 : Column 215W
and a half year period and that London Underground has a range of contractual rights to ensure the contract continues if it wishes.
Mr. Byers: I have been advised by the board of London Regional Transport that London Underground Ltd. has today signed public-private partnership contracts to modernise and maintain London Underground's infrastructure.
In my statement to the House on 7 February I set out why the Government supported London Transport's decision that it was minded to proceed with the tube modernisation plans. The Government have consistently set out three key tests that the plans must pass if they are to proceed: that they are not a privatisation; that they should offer value for money; and that they should be safe for both passengers and staff.
I am satisfied that the modernisation plans are not a privatisation. The ownership of the assets, and the operation of the public service, stay in the public sector. It is also likely that the assets will continue to be scored on London Underground's balance sheet, in the public sector.
I am also satisfied that the arrangements offer value for money, when judged against alternative proposals. At my request, Ernst and Young reviewed London Underground's original value for money assessment and confirmed that, overall, London Underground's methodology for assessing value for money was robust, and that London Underground's recommendation that the PPP proposals deliver value for money, while subjective, was supported by its analysis. Since then, Ernst and Young has reviewed the work done by London Underground to update the value for money assessment in respect of material changes to the contracts. They confirmed that London Underground's approach was consistent with that used for the previous report. I have placed a copy of their update in the Library of the House.
The Health and Safety Executive has still to reach a final judgment on London Underground's revised Railway Safety Case. The position therefore remains that the tube modernisation plans will only proceed if the independent regulator accepts the safety arrangements for both passengers and staff.
8 May 2002 : Column 216W
the contracts. My intention is that such comfort letters should be issued shortly before the transactions are completed.
London Regional Transport's decision has been taken in the light of an extensive consultation with Transport for London. London Regional Transport has accepted some of the points Transport for London has made, and made changes to the contracts accordingly.
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