12. Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the National Assembly for Wales Government on the effects of tax credits on the take-up of childcare in Wales. 
Over the last year, 12 new major hospital development schemes have begun in Wales. These include the building of a number of new hospitals and the renovation and modernisation of a significant proportion of existing hospitals.
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Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on measures to improve digital signals in the South Wales valley communities. 
Mr. Hain: Current levels of digital terrestrial coverage are not indicative of the situation post-switchover. Coverage is, at present, limited to only nine of the 200 transmitters in Wales to prevent interference being caused to viewers of analogue television services. At the time of switchover, these restrictions can be removed and the power and coverage of digital services will increase to match that currently achieved by analogue. Planning for switchover is making provision for all of the existing transmitters to broadcast digital services.
We are committed to achieving digital switchover between 2008 and 2012 ensuring universal access to high quality digital television through a mix of terrestrial, cable and satellite services. This will happen region by region, and we will make sure that the interests of elderly people and other vulnerable groups are protected.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many laptop computers have been used by (a) Ministers, (b) special advisers and (c) officials in his Department in each year since 1995; how many have been (i) lost and (ii) stolen in that period; what the cost was of the use of laptops in that period; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hain: The Wales Office was established July 1999, and during this time there have been no losses or thefts of laptops. The Wales Office is currently issued with two laptops, one allocated to the Minister and an official. The laptops are provided to the Wales Office under the DCA PFI Contract since April 2004 at an annual cost of £4,055.
Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with Network Rail on the inclusion of Newport as a through destination on the planned Cardiff to Ebbw Vale passenger railway. 
Mr. Hain: The Ebbw Vale railway project is being delivered in two phases. Phase 1 comprises an hourly service from Ebbw Vale to Cardiff starting in 2007; phase 2 will be an hourly service from Ebbw Vale to Newport.
The Strategic Rail Authority has recently invited detailed bids for the Greater Western Franchise. One of the authority's objectives is to improve operational performance and sustain a level of service quality consistent with meeting customer needs. The
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authority has also launched a public consultation on the specification for the franchise. Where appropriate, revised instructions can be given to bidders in the light of consultees' responses.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the regenerative potential for towns in the South Wales valleys of a scheme similar to the Market Towns Initiative. 
Mr. Hain: Regenerating the South Wales valleys is a major priority for this Government. We secured Objective 1 funding for West Wales and the valleys, and this successful programme is having a huge impact on towns and communities across the valleys. In the South Wales valleys, £154.9 million of Objective 1 grant has been committed to 313 local projects, representing more than £308 million of total project investment.
As part of its sustainable communities agenda, the Assembly also runs the Communities First programme, which is a comprehensive approach to area-based regeneration. The programme applies to many of the most deprived areas in the South Wales valleys. It was launched on 31 March 2000 and has a budget of £150 million until 2006.
CADW also operate the Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme, which is a Heritage Lottery Fund run scheme aimed to promote urban regeneration but biased towards heritage conservation by improving town centres, through the restoration of historic architecture.
In addition, the Assembly operate a range of measures to assist rural towns, for example the £1.8 million a year Rural Community Action programme which covers nine local authority areas and is benefiting rural towns in places such as Flintshire, Wrexham and the Vale of Glamorgan. Over 100 projects are also being supported under a £8.7 million programme in rural areas to support basic services, renovation of villages and supporting local tourism and craft sectors. A Rural Retail Scheme is also in operation designed to help encourage the retention of retail facilities in rural areas.
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Michael Fabricant: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will meet the directors of Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust Limited to discuss the route that the restored canal will take with respect to Planning Policy Guidance 13, and its progress to date. 
Yvette Cooper: This is a local issue for Staffordshire county council, Lichfield district council and the Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust. Outline Planning Permission for the development including the Lichfield Southern Bypass has already been granted by Lichfield district council and a legal agreement entered into with the developers. It is therefore inappropriate for my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and other Ministers to enter into discussion about these matters.
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