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Caroline Flint: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proportion of cars on the road between 8 to 9 am are used by parents dropping children at school. 
Mr. Hill: In Great Britain during the period 1997-99, 10 per cent. of car trips being made between 8 and 9 am during term time were parents dropping children at school. At the peak times of 8.50 in the morning 18 per cent. of car trips were for this purpose.
Mr. Michael J. Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list for each fire authority in England and Wales the value of the coastline element contained in the Fire Service standard spending assessment. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: The value of the coastline element contained within the Standard Spending Assessment (SSA) for Fire, for 2001-02, for each fire authority in England, is either zero or the amount listed in the table.
These figures are on an "all other things being equal" basis and provide the amount that is allocated by the coastline element. They specifically do not indicate how much each authority benefits from the inclusion of the coastline element, since other factors would change if the coastline element were to be removed from the SSA formula.
|Fire authority||Coastline element (£)|
|Tyne and Wear||278,380|
|Isles of Scilly||293,564|
|Isle of Wight||678,235|
12 Feb 2001 : Column: 5W
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many incidents of flooding have occurred in the last three years where raw sewage was involved in the contamination of people's homes and property; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: The last year for which information is available is 1999-2000 when 7,121 properties suffered internal flooding from sewers. In 1998-99 there were 5,202 properties and in 1997-98, there were 7,169.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what is the maximum amount which water companies can be fined for failing to ensure their customers are protected from flood damage and sewage flooding; how often, and on which companies, such a fine has been imposed in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: Flood prevention generally is the responsibility of the Environment Agency. As far as sewer flooding is concerned, there are no statutory provisions in existing water and sewerage legislation which provides for the undertakers to be fined for failing to ensure their customers are protected from such flood damage. Nor does legislation provide for fines in the event of sewer flooding.
Under the Water Supply and Sewerage Services (Customer Service Standards) Regulations 2000, where effluent from sewerage undertaker's sewer enters a customer's building the customer is entitled, subject to certain exceptions, to a refund of his sewerage charges for the year, up to a maximum of £1,000, for each occasion on which it happens.
On 6 November 2000 my Department published for consultation a draft Water Bill containing proposals for legislation. These proposals include empowering the Director General of Water Services, Secretary of State and National Assembly for Wales to fine a water company up to 10 per cent. of its turnover if it fails to meet appointment conditions, standards of performance or certain statutory or other obligations. Subject to the outcome of the consultation exercise the Government propose to introduce the Bill as soon as parliamentary time allows.
12 Feb 2001 : Column: 6W
November floods on (a) council tax levels and (b) Council Tax Benefit subsidy limitation; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: We received 24 representations during consultation on the Local Government Finance Settlement 2001-02 concerned with the impact of floods on the flood defence levies and local authority budgets. Four responses were concerned with the overall impact on the authority's level of council tax. Two responses were concerned with the impact on the council tax benefit subsidy limitation scheme (CTBSL).
Local authorities affected by floods are eligible for funding under the Bellwin scheme. We have increased the grant for this from 85 per cent. to 100 per cent. of eligible costs above a threshold equivalent to 0.2 per cent. of an authority's annual budget. In addition, the Government have recently announced a package of £11.6 million to pay for the Environment Agency's emergency and repair costs, reducing the costs of flooding being passed on to council taxpayers.
Spending on flood defence is generally a relatively small component of an authority's total budget requirement. It is up to local authorities to determine their spending priorities in consultation with their taxpayers, taking account of the funding available to them. Flood defence expenditure is no different from other items of expenditure and the Government have decided not to make any allowances within the CTBSL scheme for expenditure on flood defence which is above the increase in flood defence SSA.
Ms Beverley Hughes: As part of the special measures introduced to deal with the recent adverse conditions, the Department will settle valid claims within 15 working days of receipt of an application. We have also taken steps to encourage interim unaudited claims. Again these will be paid within 15 workings days.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what representations he has received calling for an extension to the funding available under the Bellwin Scheme to parish and town councils. 
Ms Beverley Hughes: Parish and town councils can claim eligible expenditure through their local authority. The local authority can in turn claim from my Department. Two parish councils have been in touch with my Department and were given the information they required.
Mr. Hill: Local authorities are required to produce road safety plans that support the national casualty reduction targets. The full five-year local transport plans have already been assessed and allocations for 2001-02 were based on those assessments. Indicative allocations have
12 Feb 2001 : Column: 7W
been provided for subsequent years. We will be monitoring road safety performance throughout the period. If any authorities prove to be failing in their road safety performance, we will want to consider how that could be remedied.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the resources available to local authorities in East Lancashire (a) to improve below standard private sector terraced houses and (b) to declare clearance areas, where appropriate, over the period 2001 to 2004. 
Mr. Robert Ainsworth: The six East Lancashire authorities will receive a total of £9,720 million in the coming year through the Housing Investment Programme. This resource can be used by the authorities concerned as they see fit. Additionally, they will receive a total of £11,870 million via the Major Repairs Allowance in line with the Government's commitment to bring all council housing up to a decent standard by 2010.
In December 2000 measures were announced enabling authorities to support the renovation and improvement of private sector housing in a better targeted way. At the same time, we announced our intention to proceed with more fundamental reforms to the legislation to give authorities more effective powers to turn around areas of low demand and unpopular housing.
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