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12. Mr. Flight: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on progress in his negotiations with the train operating companies on railway services to Hassocks, West Sussex. 
13. Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what weighting factors will be given to poverty and health factors in the new local government financing system. 
Mr. Raynsford: We are working to develop options for a fairer and more intelligible grant distribution system. We will consult on options over the summer and will consider the detailed responses when we come to take decisions.
Dr. Whitehead: We are working to develop options for a fairer and more intelligible grant distribution system. We will consult on options over the summer and will consider the responses when we come to take decisions.
37. Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he last met representatives of the F40 group of authorities to discuss the grant distribution system for 200304. 
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Dr. Whitehead: Our proposals for business rates in England are set out in the Local Government White Paper "Strong Local Leadership Quality Public Services", published on 11 December. It includes among other proposals our new schemes for rate relief for small businesses and Business Improvement Districts.
Ms Keeble: We propose to strengthen regional planning by replacing Regional Planning Guidance with Regional Spatial Strategies. These would have statutory status and focus on strategic issues. These will be more fully integrated with other regional strategies and have an important sub-regional dimension.
17. Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions to what extent the seminar in No. 10 Downing Street chaired by Ms C. Booth QC in February has assisted in the formulation of transport policy; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Spellar: The Downing Street lectures are not policy-making seminars, and Mrs. Blair does not chair them. I attended the lecture given by Jeremy Acklam (Smart Economy, Smart Transport) and welcomed his thoughts on the potential gains from better transport information and technology.
For general information on the lectures, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker) on 15 May 2002, Official Report, column 71215W.
Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) is working with a number of airport operators, and in the case of Glasgow and Edinburgh airports alongside the Scottish Executive, in the development of proposals to improve rail links to regional airports.
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33. Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what his policy is on the role of regional assemblies in respect of development policies. 
27. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what estimates he has made of the cost of introducing regional government in England; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Keeble: As I explained to the hon. Member at our meeting on 1 May, our ten-year plan reflects our commitment to light rail in major cities. Whether light rail offers the most appropriate and cost-effective response to transport needs in other circumstances is a matter, in the first instance, for the local authorities concerned to consider in formulating and reviewing their local transport plans. Thereafter, any light rail scheme or other major transport project would need to undergo rigorous appraisal and examination under any relevant statutory procedures before funding approval could be considered.
Ms Keeble: We are continuing to tackle deprivation. The National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal has gathered widespread acceptance from all key stakeholders. Even though the strategy is a long-term initiative, we are already beginning to see early wins for
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23. Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on projected growth in passenger and flight numbers in the aviation industry over the next 10 years. 
Mr. Jamieson: The Department's latest air traffic forecasts for the UK published in 2000 show the total passenger demand at UK airports increasing by 6 per cent. a year from 160 million passengers in 1998 to 276 million in 2010. The Department does not make forecasts of the number of flights.
Ms Keeble: Following consideration of the responses to the Green Paper consultation we would hope to press ahead as soon as possible with those reforms requiring legislation, subject to parliamentary time being available.
Ms Keeble: The Urban Green Spaces Taskforce, which was set up in January 2001 to provide advice on policies for improving urban parks, play areas and green spaces, published its final report: Green Spaces, Better Places on Tuesday 7 May 2002. We will respond to the conclusions and recommendations of this report in a policy statement later this summer.
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