§ Mr. Geraint Davies
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he expects to publish the Planning Inspectorate's Annual Report and Accounts for 1996–97. 
§ Mr. Caborn
The Planning Inspectorate's Annual report and Accounts has been published. Copies are available in the Library of the House.
The Inspectorate have just completed the first year of a demanding three year programme to restore appeal handling times to optimum levels. They have succeeded in meeting the majority of their business targets in 1996–97 and even on those that were missed substantial progress has been made: handling times have improved; new inspectors have been appointed; and measures taken to reduce the time to arrange inquiries and hearings.
The Agency has also been able to maintain the programme of development plan inquiries and has once again met its targets for handling this work. This will help ensure that full coverage of up to date development plans is achieved as soon as possible, providing greater certainty for all involved in the planning process.