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Capital Receipts (Worcester)

Mr. Michael J. Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what was the value of capital receipts released to Worcester City Council for each financial year since May 1997. [120595]

Mr. Mullin: The table shows the capital allocations made to Worcester City Council under the Capital Receipts Initiative (CRI). Allocations were made in the form of Supplementary Credit Approvals.

£

YearAllocations
1997-98213,000
1998-99678,000
1999-2000685,000

There has been no separate allocation of resources under the CRI since 1999-2000, following the introduction of the single housing capital pot from 2000-01.

Bellwin Flood Relief Scheme (Worcestershire)

Mr. Michael J. Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much money was refunded to (a) Worcester City Council and (b) Worcestershire County Council under the Bellwin scheme of flood relief, for each financial year since May 1997. [120596]

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Ms Beverley Hughes: A "Bellwin" scheme of emergency financial assistance may be activated to help a local authority with uninsurable clear-up costs following a disaster or emergency that involves destruction of, or danger to, life or property. Grant is normally paid at a rate of 85 per cent. of an authority's qualifying expenditure above a threshold. The threshold is the provision that a prudent authority might reasonably be expected to make for contingencies and emergencies (approximately 0.2 per cent. of its revenue budget).

In the financial years 1997-98, 1998-99 and 1999-2000, Worcestershire County Council did not incur qualifying expenditure above its threshold. Grant was paid to Worcestershire City Council as follows:

£
1997-980
1998-997,164
1999-20006,874

Housing (Additional Demand)

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many extra (a) houses and (b) flats he estimates have been built in the last 30 years in order to meet additional demand created by divorce. [120671]

Mr. Mullin: The specific data requested are not available.

Rail Regulator

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is the annual budget of the Rail Regulator in the current year; and what plans he has to increase it. [120607]

Mr. Hill [holding answer 2 May 2000]: The Rail Regulator's final budget for 1999-2000 was £13.1 million, of which £9.3 million was recovered from licence fees. For 2000-01, the Rail Regulator is currently consulting on a proposed budget of £13.2 million.

Health and Safety Executive

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many inspectors there were (a) in the Field Operations Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive and (b) in each of the bands 1-4 in each of the last five years. [120389]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 2 May 2000]: The number of inspectors in the Field Operations Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive in each of the last five years is as follows:

Number
April 1996892
April 1997813
April 1998815
April 1999837
April 2000828

The number of inspectors in the Field Operations Directorate of the Health and Safety Executive in each of the last five years by band is as follows:


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Band 1Band 2Band 3Band 4
April 19964218560659
April 19973416552292
April 19983516152792
April 199935156512134
April 200034171507116

Note:

Between April 1996 and April 1997 80 staff were transferred, during an internal reorganisation, to the new Chemical and Hazardous Installations Division.

Source:

PARIS (Personnel Administration and Records Integrated System) live data as at 26 April 2000


Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what recent research his Department has commissioned on the effectiveness of unannounced preventive inspectors by the HSE in preventing accidents at work. [120387]

Mr. Meacher [holding answer 2 May 2000]: HSE has recently initiated a research project entitled "Proving Inspection Works". The aim of the project is to develop a methodology by which HSE can progressively evaluate the impact inspectors achieve in their various regulatory encounters with duty holders in order to maximise their effects.

It is hoped that "Proving Inspection Works" will demonstrate the value of unannounced preventive inspections, but it may be optimistic to say that a direct link can be proved between such an inspection and a reduction in accidents at a particular workplace. The project is looking to measure the promotion of positive risk management behaviours as well as reducing specific hazards and risks.

Traffic-free Areas

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will publish planning guidance notes for local authorities to maintain and introduce traffic-free and pedestrian-only areas for town and city centres. [120385]

Ms Beverley Hughes: The Government published a revised public consultation draft of Planning Policy Guidance Note 13 on Transport in October last year which encourages local authorities to give greater priority to walking using measures such as pedestrianisation schemes in town and local centres where vehicle access is restricted or prohibited. We intend to publish the final version of PPG13 later this year.

Family Statistics (Homelessness)

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many people classified as homeless there were in (a) 1970, (b) 1980 and (c) 1999; and how many came from (i) intact families, and (ii) broken families. [120676]

Mr. Mullin: Data on homelessness activity reported by local authorities in England include the number of households accepted as homeless and in priority need

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under the homelessness provisions of the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977, and subsequent legislation. 57,850 such households were accepted in 1980 and 104,770 in 1999. These figures are not comparable because of legislative changes since 1977.

Local authority homelessness responsibilities under earlier legislation were significantly more limited, and data for 1970 are not available.

Information is also reported about the main reasons for loss of the household's last settled home, including "Breakdown of relationship with partner". In 1980 this accounted for around 20 per cent. of all cases, and 24 per cent. in 1999.

Telecommunications Masts

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the effect on farmers of planning restrictions on mobile telephone masts. [120577]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Government policy on the development of telecommunication masts is to encourage and facilitate the roll-out of a modern national telecommunications system while protecting the environment. This is reflected in the current framework of law and guidance on planning for such development.

As we said in the Action Plan on Farming launched recently by the Prime Minister, we recognise the benefits of mobile phones for rural communities and will consider ways of fulfilling the roll-out of mobile phone networks in rural areas while keeping environmental intrusion to a minimum and taking account of the recommendations of the forthcoming report of the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones.

Redundant Building Grant Programme

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proportion of the increase in the Redundant Building Grant Programme will be dedicated to farm-based enterprise. [120575]

Mr. Mullin: We have made clear to RDAs our intention that the whole of the £4 million increase should be targeted at farm enterprises, and to that end have removed for farmers the area-based limitation and widened the employment test.

Farm-based Horse Enterprises

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how the extension of rate relief to farm-based horse enterprises will be funded; and what effect such an extension of rate relief will have on central Government funding. [120573]

Ms Beverley Hughes: Farm premises used for the breeding and rearing of horses already receive a rate concession. The Prime Minister announced on 30 March 2000 that the Government would consult on proposals to extend rate relief to other horse enterprises linked to farm premises. We are currently considering the options along with other preparatory work for the Rural White Paper and will consult on these proposals later this year.

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