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Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many days of sick leave were taken in his Department last year; how many related to employees suffering (a) stress and (b) other mental health problems; and what the cost was to his Department. 
Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 14 May 2002]: The most recent figures published in the Cabinet Office "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service" are for the calendar year 2000. For the 'Environment and Transport Group', the average working days absence per
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staff year was 9.0 days compared with a civil service average of 9.9 days. The total number of days lost was 142,853.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many consultation documents and consultative drafts of legislation have been issued by his Department since January 2001; and what proportion of these have observed criterion 5 of the Code of Practice on Written Consultation. 
Dr. Whitehead: According to central records the Department has issued 88 consultation documents since January 2001. In 10 cases the period for consultation agreed was less than the 12-week standard minimum period recommended in criterion 5 of the Code of Practice on Written Consultation, but in all cases the procedures in the code were complied with in full.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions under what mechanism the date of the local elections was moved to 8 May in 1996; whether this mechanism will be implemented in May 2003; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Whitehead: The local elections in 1996 took place as usual on the first Thursday in May. Section 37 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, as amended by section 18(2) of the Representation of the People Act 1985, provides authority for the Secretary of State to change the normal day of polling from the first Thursday in May to another day by order made no later than 1 February in the year preceding the year in which the order is to take effect. It is thus now too late to alter the date for local elections in May 2003 by this means. Postponement in any other circumstances would require primary legislation as happened for the local elections in 1986 and 2001.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many staff were employed in the Audit Commission at 1 April; and what proportion of those staff have clinical contact with NHS patients. 
Dr. Whitehead: The number of staff employed by the Audit Commission was 2,114 at 1 April. No Audit Commission staff carry out a clinical role with respect to NHS patients as part of their employment with the Commission.
John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what recent discussions he has had with representatives of BAA on safety standards at Edinburgh airport; 
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(3) what were the main findings of Government safety inspectors when they last visited Edinburgh airport with specific reference to (a) staff turnover, (b) staff working hours and (c) staff morale. 
Mr. Jamieson: My Transport Security Inspectors have regular discussions with BAA management at Edinburgh airport on security matters, and carry out regular inspections. The last inspection was earlier this month. Inspections are unannounced for maximum effect and it would be inappropriate to indicate when the next inspections will take place. Staff management issues are for BAA to address. The CAA does not have any safety concerns regarding staff at the airport.
Ms Keeble [holding answer 16 May 2002]: There is no national definition of the term key worker, although it is generally understood to be someone whose services are essential to the local community. In assessing local housing needs, it is for local authorities to decide upon those key worker groups in need of affordable housing who contribute to essential service provision.
The Starter Home Initiative is assisting key workers, particularly teachers, police, nurses and other health workers, to buy their first home. Bids for Starter Home Initiative funding were also invited to assist other key workers, and as a result social workers, fire fighters and transport workers are also being assisted.
Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has issued a Code of Practice, "Train and Station Services for Disabled Passengers", setting out the standard of facilities required to meet the travel needs of disabled passengers. The SRA has asked all station operators to identify where facilities currently fall short of these standards. In the light of this, a programme of work will be drawn up.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) if the circular 18/84 proposed development procedures require a Government Department to provide an environmental impact assessment for a development that is within Schedules 1 or 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 1999; 
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Ms Keeble: The position on environmental impact assessment in relation to Crown development is detailed in paragraph 157 of DETR Circular 02/99. Environmental impact assessment is required for all proposed development falling within Annexe I to the EIA directive, as amended, and for proposed development falling within Annexe II if it is likely to have a significant effect on the environment. A Crown body proposing such development will submit an environmental statement to the local planning authority when consulting it under the arrangements set out in Part IV of the Memorandum to Circular 18/84.
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what guidelines there are governing the minimum size and amount of living space to be provided in new housing; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Whitehead: The Building Regulations in England and Wales make no requirements with regard to the minimum size or amount of living space that should be provided in new homes. The Housing Corporation require registered social landlords (RSLs) to comply with the Scheme Development Standards as a condition of Social Housing Grant funding for new build schemes. Although the Scheme Development Standards do not specifically set a minimum size and amount of living space to be provided in new housing, they do require RSLs to adopt good space planning and room layouts.
Mr. Byers: On 22 August last year, taking into account the recommendations in the Stewart report published in May 2000 and following our public consultation, we introduced changes that significantly improved the planning procedures and guidance for telecommunications mast development. Our changes:
increased the time for an authority to deal with prior approval applications to 56 days
underlined that school governors must be consulted on all proposals for new masts on or near a school or college; and
increased fees to enable authorities to carry out full public consultation.
David Davis: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many appeals he has received from mobile phone companies to erect transmission masts in the last 12 months; and how many appeals were upheld. 
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