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Annual Leave

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the average annual leave entitlement is for staff in his Department in 2002. [64650]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 1 February 2002, Official Report, column 574W.

Staff Training

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much the Department has spent on staff training and development in each of the last five years. [61058]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave him on 26 April 2002, Official Report, column 501W.

Departmental Reports

Mr. Evans: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many Wales Office departmental reports were sold in (a) 2000, (b) 2001 and (c) 2002. [63104]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The numbers of Wales Office departmental reports sold in each of those years is:

Ministerial Salaries

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the annual cost was of ministerial salaries in his Department in (a) 1997–98 and (b) 2001–02. [60949]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The level of ministerial salaries are recommended by the Senior Salaries Review Body.

My Department came into existence on 1 July 1999. From June 2001 it has had one Cabinet Minister at an annual salary of £68,157 and one Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State, at an annual salary of £26,835.


Departmental Report

Kali Mountford: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when he will publish the Cabinet Office departmental report 2001–02. [65476]

Mr. Collins: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office when the Cabinet Office departmental report for 2002 will be published. [63579]

27 Jun 2002 : Column 1030W

Mr. Alexander: Copies of the Cabinet Office departmental report 2001–02 were yesterday laid before Parliament, copies of which are available in the Libraries of both Houses.


Temporary Land Use

Mr. Anthony D. Wright: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans the Government have to change controls for temporary use of land under Part 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. [65613]

Mr. McNulty: On 24 January 2002 a consultation paper was issued on possible options for change to the current temporary use provisions. The paper put forward six options for change as well as inviting proposals for alternative options. A preferred option was not given. The closing date for responses was 24 April 2002.

We have had a significant response to the consultation paper and those views will be given due weight when considering any possible changes. Any changes that are made will only be after further consideration and decisions will not be taken lightly. However, the Government have no intention of disturbing urban and rural communities' traditional social and sporting activities through changes in this area.

Affordable Housing

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which regional plans include estimates of the need for affordable housing in their region; and what the estimate is in each case. [63905]

Mr. McNulty: Regional planning guidance in the south-east, south-west, east midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber all have indicators for monitoring the provision of affordable housing. All regions have policies on affordable housing in regional planning guidance.

The indicators for monitoring affordable housing are 18,000–19,000 affordable homes per annum in the south-east region outside London, 6,000–10,000 per annum in the south-west, 3,400 dwellings per annum in the east midlands and 4,000 per annum in Yorkshire and the Humber.


Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, pursuant to the answer by the Under-Secretary of State for International Development, the hon. Member for Northampton, North (Ms Keeble) of 23 May 2002, Official Report, column 509W, on Groundwork, if he will indicate what the time scale is for reaching a decision on a Lancashire-wide Groundwork Trust. [64386]

Mr. McNulty: We are currently awaiting further information from Groundwork UK in respect of the relationship and implications of the proposed pilot for a Lancashire-wide Groundwork Trust and the strategic functions currently carried out by existing Groundwork Trusts in the county, and on the arrangements for monitoring and evaluating the pilot. We plan to reach a decision before the summer recess.

27 Jun 2002 : Column 1031W

Council Tax

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the percentage change in the council tax in county, district and unitary authorities in each of the past three years. [63022]

Mr. Raynsford: Decisions on council tax levels are for local authorities to take, after consulting their local electorate and taxpayers.

The table shows the percentage changes over the past three years in the average Band D (2 adults) council taxes set by shire county councils, shire district councils and unitary authorities.

Percentage increase in average Band D (2 adults) council tax

Class of authority2000–01 over 1999–20002001–02 over 2000–012002–03 over 2001–02
Shire county councils6.76.39.3
Shire district councils5.46.38.6
Unitary authorities5.76.18.2

High Hedges

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if his Department has issued a leaflet on guidelines to local authorities on dealing with high hedges complaints. [64530]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no plans to issue a leaflet on guidelines to local authorities on dealing with high hedge complaints. Until there is a change in the law, local authorities have no powers to intervene in these matters.

We are preparing a leaflet for members of the public, advising them how they might approach their neighbours to try to agree a solution to their hedge problems. The leaflet will include information on a range of factors that people might consider in settling on the right hedge height for their particular circumstances. It will cover such matters as what heights will ensure privacy; those at which a hedge can be safely maintained; and those likely to block light to neighbouring properties.

We expect to publish the leaflet later in the summer and will provide copies to all Members of Parliament.

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress is being made to introduce legislation on controlling high hedges. [64529]

Mr. McNulty: The Government supported the high hedges Bill introduced last session by the hon. Member for Solihull (John M. Taylor MP). Unfortunately, it fell due to lack of time before the election. Although it has not been possible to bring forward a high hedges Bill in the current session, we remain committed to legislation allowing local authorities to deal with complaints about high hedges as soon as parliamentary time can be found.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on recent representations he has received about fire-fighters' pay. [64268]

27 Jun 2002 : Column 1032W

Mr. Raynsford: We greatly appreciate the valuable contribution to public protection made by the fire service, and by the other emergency services. Our emergency services are rightly held in high regard for their professionalism and dedication.

The Government have no statutory role in determining fire-fighters' pay. Representatives from local government, representing the employers, and from the Fire Brigades Union, representing employees, are responsible for negotiating fire-fighters' pay and conditions of service. These groups meet in the National Joint Council for Local Authorities' Fire Brigades. We understand that the two sides are currently in discussion on the Fire Brigades Union pay claim, which was formally tabled on 28 May. It would not be appropriate for the Government to comment on the progress of these negotiations.

Neighbourhood Renewal Fund

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to extend economic support to disadvantaged and deprived areas through the neighbourhood renewal fund beyond its allocation until 2003–04. [63961]

Mr. McNulty: We are considering the future of the neighbourhood renewal fund in the context of spending review 2002, on which decisions will be announced in July.

Housing (Older People)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will publish the Choice and Quality in Housing for Older People strategy guidance that has been developed with the Department of Health. [64516]

Mr. McNulty: The Government are producing two documents relating to older people's housing and related support. These will both be published late summer.

The first document, "Quality and Choice for Older People's Housing: A Strategic Framework. The Story So Far", is the follow-up report on the actions for Government set out in the original strategic framework document published by the then Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions and the Department of Health in January 2001.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, with the Department of Health and the Housing Corporation has also co-commissioned work on guidance for local authorities and their partner organisations in preparing older people's strategies.

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