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Department of the Environment

Planning Inspectorate IT Project Management

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Department of Health

Operation and redevelopment of Hospital Episodes Statistics System

Office and Building Service London

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HMSO

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Home Office

Waste Disposal (Forensic Science Service)

Estate Management (Forensic Science Service)

Escort Services

HM Prison Blakenhurst

Prison Education

Inland Revenue

Writing Training Material

Reprographic

IT Services

Intervention Board

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HM Land Registry

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Department of National Heritage

Hampton Court Garden Maintenance

Department of National Savings

Catering Services, Durham

Press Cuttings

Northern Ireland Civil Service

Property Certificate Service

Date Preparation

Operating Mainframe Computer

Office of Public Service and Science

Reprographics (Chessington Computer Centre)

Press Relations (Civil Service College)

Catering and Related (Civil Service College)

Distribution (Civil Service College)

London Centre Relocation (Civil Service College)

Building and Grounds Maintenance (Civil Service College) Catering (RAS)

Reprographics (RAS)


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Ordnance Survey

Hardware Maintenance

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Scottish Office

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Department of Social Security

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Audit (ITSA)

Department of Trade and Industry

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HM Treasury

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Security

ENVIRONMENT

Retailers (Planning Permission)

Mr. Thomason: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to make it easier for retailers to get planning permission for new sites in or near town centres.

Mr. Gummer: As part of their strategy to revitalise their town centres I have encouraged local authorities to assess the capacity of their town centre for further retail development and to promote retail development in or on the edge of town centres through their development plan.

Home Renovation Grants

Mr. O'Hara: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many home renovation grants were made in 1984, 1989 and the last year for which figures are available.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: In 1984 and 1989 local authorities awarded 229,000 and 98,000 home improvement grants respectively. In 1993 90, 000 grants were given under the new provisions of part VIII of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.

Town Centres

Mr. Barry Field: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what assessment he has made of the extent to which modern supermarkets in the right place can improve local services and attract new investment to the town centre economy.

Mr. Gummer: Retail developments in town centres increase the choice, widen the opportunities available, and add to the attraction of those centres. Supermarkets located in the right place, in or next to town centres, can provide the anchor for other types of retailing, and thus help ensure the viability of town centres.

Mr. Spring: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps are being undertaken to encourage the revitalisation of town centres.


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Mr. Gummer: I have taken a number of measures, including: -

issuing guidance to local planning authorities to focus retail development in or next to town centres through policies and proposals in their development plans;

advising on good practice for local authorities to help them implement this guidance; and

encouraging positive promotion of town centres and town centre management.

I intend to consider this matter further, among other issues, at a symposium on quality in town and country which I am hosting on 12 December.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to issue new guidance on change of use of buildings in town centres.

Sir Paul Beresford: Current planning policy guidance on the change of use of buildings in town centres is contained in planning policy guidance note No. 6, "Town Centres and Retail Developments", issued in July 1993. There are no current proposals to issue new guidance. There are, however, proposals to extend permitted development rights so that the use of space above shops can be changed to a single flat or back again without a planning application, provided there is no material alteration to the outside of the building.

Homelessness

Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many homeless families there are (a) nationally, (b) in Greater London and (c) in Redbridge; how many there were in 1979; and what plans he has to reduce the numbers.

Mr. Curry: During the 12 months ending June this year 128,062 households were accepted as statutorily homeless by local authorities in England, 30,920 by the London boroughs and 586 by the London borough of Redbridge. The equivalent figures for 1979 were 55,530, 16,400 and 311. The number of acceptances over the previous 12 months has now fallen for nine successive quarters.

Mr. Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the most recent homelessness figures.

Mr. Curry: The most recent figures show that for nine quarters in succession English local authorities have accepted fewer households as statutorily homeless than in the same period 12 months previously. Moreover, the number of households in temporary accommodation fell 13 per cent. and the number in bed-and-breakfast hotels went down 27 per cent., compared with 12 months earlier. I find these figures encouraging.

Mr. Khabra: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will make a statement about the Government's plans in respect of homelessness legislation.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: As my right hon. Friend the then Minister for Housing, Inner Cities and Construction told the House on 18 July 1994, Official Report , columns 21-23 , we intend to introduce legislation when parliamentary time permits.


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Food Retailers

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to encourage genuine competition between different food retailers.

Mr. Gummer: My policy is to locate retail development in or near town centres where the proximity of competing businesses facilitates competition from which consumers can benefit.

The market place remains the main stimulus to competition. Through planning policy guidance notes Nos. 6 and 13, competition is being encouraged to take place in a way that reinforces rather than undermines the vitality and viability of existing town centres.

Environmental Protection

Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made in environmental protection in the last year.

Mr. Atkins: Significant progress has been made over the last twelve months. This will be extensively reported both in my Department's annual report early next year and in the annual White Paper report on the environment which I will publish in spring.

Environmentally Friendly Transport

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what discussion he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport to encourage the use of environmentally friendly transport.

Sir Paul Beresford: My right hon. Friend regularly discusses matters concerning transport and the environment with our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. Most recently, we discussed the Government's initial response to the report on transport produced by the Royal Commission on environmental pollution.

Council House Sales

Sir David Knox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many council houses have been sold to sitting tenants in England since May 1979.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: More than 1.4 million tenants bought their homes from English local authorities and new towns between April 1979 and June 1994.

Housing Association Rents

Ms Coffey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received about the current levels of housing association rents.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: We have received 230 representations concerning the level of housing association rents since 1 January 1994.

Mrs. Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the percentage increase in rents for new housing association assured tenancies between 1989 and 1994; and what has been the changes in retail prices index over the same period.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: Average rents for new housing association assured tenancies increased by 84.5 per cent. between 1989 and the first half of 1994. Over the same period, the proportion of the total housing association stock represented by these lettings rose from 10 per cent. to 14 per cent.


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The retail prices index increased by 24.4 per cent. over the same period.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Robert Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations he has had with local authorities on this year's standard spending assessment settlement.

Mr. Curry: I have had discussions with the local authority associations in the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance. Ministers have also received delegations from individual local authorities, including one from Coventry city council on 24 November 1994.

Private Housing Renewal Programmes

Mr. Rooker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to make a statement on the outcome of his consultation on the future of private housing renewal programmes.


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