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Local Government Finance

Ms Armstrong: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he last issued comprehensive guidance on the system of local authority capital finance; and if he will make it his policy to up-date this at annual intervals. [21559]

Sir Paul Beresford: Comprehensive guidance was last issued in the Department's circular 11/90, on 2 August 1990. A replacement guide is in preparation. Once issued, it will be updated as the need arises.

Ms Armstrong: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the primary and subordinate legislation affecting local authority capital finance. [21558]

Sir Paul Beresford: The primary legislation is parts IV and V of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, as amended. The main subordinate legislation is as follows:


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In addition, there are 13 sets of regulations dealing with detailed issues concerning the rate of discount, borrowing, approved investments; and two other sets of regulations dealing with capital finance implications of local government reorganisation.

Local Authority Trading Accounts

Ms Armstrong: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list by authority the surplus achieved on trading accounts for each financial year from 1992-93 to 1994-95 for (a) general highways work, (b) construction and maintenance of sewers, (c) works on new construction and (d) maintenance work, delivered by local authorities' direct labour or services organisations in England by the terms of the Local Government (Planning and Land) Act 1980 and the Local Government Act 1988. [21550]

Sir Paul Beresford: A detailed list of the surpluses achieved for these services for the years 1993-94 to 1994-95 has been placed in the Library of the House.

Similar figures for 1992-93 could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Compulsory Competitive Tendering

Ms Armstrong: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total running cost to Department for the financial years 1991-92 and 1993-94 of the local government compulsory competitive tendering enforcement team. [21553]

Sir Paul Beresford : The estimated costs of enforcing the compulsory competitive tendering provisions of the Local Government (Planning and Land Act) 1980 and the Local Government Act 1988 are £250,000 in 1991-92 and £420,000 in 1993-94.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of the additional costs likely to fall on local authorities as a result of the implementation of the Social Security (Persons from Abroad) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 1996 in respect of their statutory duties under (a) existing homelessness legislation, (b) the Children Act 1989 and (c) the NHS and Community Care Act 1990. [21705]

Mr. Clappison: Officials in my Department and the Department of Health have invited the local authority associations to provide information on the likely costs that authorities will face.

Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment for what reasons the special grants he is proposing to make available under section 88B of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to authorities which face additional costs as a result of the withdrawal of

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benefits under the Social Security (Persons from Abroad) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 1996 will be subject to a threshold. [21706]

Mr. Clappison: Because it is reasonable for authorities to meet some costs from their own resources.

Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what the minimum threshold of expenditure for each London local authority will be in respect of housing benefit subsidy for-gone and unavoidable additional social services expenditure for the special grants under section 88B of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to authorities which face additional costs from the introduction of the Social Security (Persons from Abroad) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 1996. [21595]

Mr. Clappison: The thresholds have not yet been determined.

Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to make special grants available under section 88B of the Local Government Finance act 1988 to authorities which face additional costs from the introduction of the Social Security (Persons from Abroad) Miscellaneous Amendments Regulations 1996 for the current year only; and what plans he has for similar grants in subsequent years. [21596]

Mr. Clappison: An official in my Department wrote on 26 February to chief executives of local authorities in England explaining the basis on which the Government intend to make special grants available to authorities for 1995-96 and 1996-97. I am placing a copy of that letter in the Library of the House.

Private Finance Initiative

Ms Armstrong: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the primary and subordinate legislation affecting local authorities's ability to take advantage of the private finance initiative; and what plans he has to (a) consolidate this legislation and (b) provide a guide to it for those companies wishing to enter into partnerships with local authorities. [21557]

Sir Paul Beresford: The primary legislation is parts IV and V of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989, as amended. Subordinate legislation aimed at assisting local authorities to take advantage of the private finance initiative is as follows:


Consolidation of the capital finance regulations is in hand, as in the preparation of a guide to the capital finance system. My Department will ensure that there is adequate advice, for both local authorities and potential provider companies, on the private finance initiative in local government.

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Gun Clubs

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what planning advice is given to local planning authorities concerning applications for gun clubs; and if he will make a statement. [21707]

Sir Paul Beresford: The express planning permission of the local authority is required for any development proposal to change the use of a building to use for the purposes of a gun club or to erect a new building. Other land, not in the curtilage of a building, may be used for those purposes for not more than 28 days in a calendar year without express planning permission. Planning applications must be publicised so that local views can be taken into account before decisions are taken. My Department does not issue planning advice specifically on gun clubs. Gun clubs in England and Wales are subject to a licensing regime, independent of the planning legislation, operated by my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary.

Rural White Paper

Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many display leaflets inviting people to purchase the White Paper on Rural England were distributed to post offices in Scotland. [21488]

Mr. Clappison: Post Office Counters provided my Department with details of rural post offices in England to which display material on the English rural White Paper was to be sent. To the best of my knowledge, one post office in Scotland received copies of the display material in error. Post offices were under no obligation to display the material. The leaflets informed the public how to buy a copy of "Rural England" or to obtain the free summary document.


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