§ Ms Drown
To ask the Secretary of State for Health when information will be provided on the criteria and deadline for applications to the maternity services capital fund; if funds from the fund can be used to create midwifery-led birth centres in existing maternity centres; and if funding will be approved for the creation of(a) stand-alone birth centres and (b) birth centres within a community and cottage hospital. 
§ Ms Blears
Letters inviting applications for the maternity service capital funds, including the criteria, were issued to the regions on 11 July 2001, copies of
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which have been placed in the Library. The funding allocations for each unit were announced on 11 October 2001.
This capital investment of £100 million is to modernise and upgrade facilities in maternity units to improve the environment in which care is provided and not primarily for the redesigning of maternity services. Each existing maternity unit and/or trust decided their own priorities for using the capital fund after consultation with local health communities, staff and service users.
The National Health Service provides a variety of types of care for women during pregnancy and childbirth including care in midwife-led birth. We expect this variety to continue and it is important that decisions about service provision are made at a local level.