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Homelessness (Castle Point)

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will intervene in respect of Castle Point Borough Council to ensure that the local homelessness problem is tackled. [73307]

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Mr. Tony McNulty: The Homelessness Directorate within my Department has recently been set up to ensure that homelessness is tackled effectively and officials will be working closely with local authorities to assist them in the development of their homelessness strategies over the coming year.

Latest figures for the first quarter of 2002–03 indicate that on average 0.1 households per 1,000 in Castle Point are accepted as being in priority need for accommodation. The area currently has around 20 families with children in B and B accommodation.

Officials from the Homelessness Directorate have discussed with the authority how this number can be reduced and have encouraged Castle Point to put in a bid for a share of the £10 million available to local authorities to support their homelessness strategy. These resources will be additional to Castle Point's share of the £8 million the Government has already allocated through Revenue Support Grant to implement the Homelessness Act. Castle Point will also receive a share of £10 million which is about to be allocated to local authorities to assist in the implementation of the Priority Need Order. The Directorate will be monitoring the Authority's progress closely.

High Hedges

Mr. Love: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what powers are available to local authorities to mediate in disputes involving the problems of high hedges and rapidly growing trees; and if he will make a statement. [73015]

Mr. Nick Raynsford: Local authorities currently have no specific powers to intervene in disputes involving the problems of high hedges and rapidly growing trees. The Government is, however, committed to bringing forward new laws, which would allow local authorities to deal with complaints about high hedges, as soon as Parliamentary time can be found.

Job Locations

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many jobs under the remit of his Department in (a) the core department, (b) non-departmental public bodies, (c) executive agencies and (d) independent statutory bodies, organisations and bodies financially sponsored by his Department and other such organisations, are located in (i) Scotland, (ii) England, excluding Greater London, (iii) Greater London, (iv) Wales, (v) Northern Ireland and (vi) overseas, broken down by (A) whole-time equivalent jobs and (B) the percentage per individual department, body or organisation. [72734]

Mr. Christopher Leslie: I would refer the right hon. Lady to the table below which shows the position within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister at 1 June 2002:

Office of Deputy Prime MinisterFull Time EquivalentLocation
Core Department 1 .1,856London, South East, Midlands and the NW
Government Offices2,360English Regions which consists of:
East of England—Cambridge
East Midlands—Nottingham
North East—Newcastle-upon-Tyne
North West—Liverpool and Manchester
South East—Guildford
South West—Bristol, Plymouth and Truro
West Midlands—Birmingham
Yorkshire and The Humber—Leeds
Executive Agencies 2 .1,744 which consists of:-
Fire Service College.180Gloucestershire
The Planning Inspectorate.667Bristol and Cardiff
Queen Elizabeth 2 Conference Centre.55London
The Rent Service.842Throughout England
Grand Total5,960

1 .The core department for the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) employs approximately 1,856 staff. This figure is composed of staff working on policy areas and includes an estimate of 50 per cent. of the support staff who worked for the former Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR). This figure may change when re-structuring is complete and final decisions have been taken on how support staff are to be allocated to the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and Department for Transport (DfT).

2 . The figures for the Executive Agencies are estimates—based on their plans for year 2002–03 and are taken from the DTLR (C) Departmental Annual Report 2002.

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I will write to the hon. Member with details for non-departmental public bodies and independent statutory bodies in due course.

It has not been possible to calculate the percentage per individual department, body or organisation as we do not have a breakdown of the total figures by region.

Public Consultations

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what public consultations have been commenced by his Department since 1 April; and what the (a) closing date and (b) website address of each were. [72069]

Mr. Christopher Leslie: A list of the public consultations by the Office or its predecessors since 1 April 2002 has been placed in the Library, including the closing dates for responses and the website address of each document. The list is based on central records and reflects the public consultations undertaken within the areas for which the Office is currently responsible.

Information Campaigns

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins) of 27 February 2002, Official Report, column 1362W, if he will list the campaigns managed by the Central Office of Information in each of the last five financial years; and what the (a) costs and (b) advertising agencies that received contracts for each campaign were. [72419]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: I have been asked to reply.

Tables listing the advertising campaigns managed by the Central Office of Information in each of the last five financial years with their costs and the advertising agencies contracted have today been placed in the libraries of the House.


Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what actions his Department has taken to communicate to (a) the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers and (b) the Building Services Journal the Government's policy on the use of HFC refrigerants in air-conditioning. [71357]

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Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

The Government issued the UK Climate Change Programme in November 2000 and its publication was widely publicised. The Programme sets out the key elements of the Government's policy on HFCs to enable industry and users to make investment decisions with more certainty.

My officials are now writing to the Building Services Engineers and the Building Services Journal enclosing details of the policy on HFC use in air-conditioning systems.

Formaldehyde Emissions

Mr. George Howarth: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proposals he has to change the regulations on industrial formaldehyde emissions in the light of HSE advice on the levels of concentration at which strong odours occur. [68354]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

Risks to worker health from formaldehyde are already addressed by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH). The Health and Safety Commission has approved Maximum Exposure Limits (MELs) for formaldehyde at 2 ppm (parts per million by volume) as an 8-hour time-weighted average, and 2 ppm as a short-term limit with a 15-minute reference period. Under COSHH, exposure by inhalation to a substance with a maximum exposure limit must be reduced as far as is reasonably practicable, and in any case below the MEL.

In its documentation summarising the criteria for setting MELs, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that formaldehyde has a threshold of detection by smell at around 0.8 ppm. An earlier HSE Toxicity Review notes that the threshold for odour detection varies among individuals, with values in the range 0.05–1 ppm having been reported; it is expected that all would detect the odour at the latter value. HSE has issued no further advice relating odour to concentration; it does not normally seek to offer advice on odour problems.

Industrial formaldehyde emissions to the wider environment are currently regulated by local authorities or, where larger industrial processes are concerned, by the Environment Agency, under the provisions of the

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Environment Protection Act 1990. Each industrial process requires an authorisation from the regulator. Where formaldehyde emissions are likely to cause environmental harm, each authorisation will contain conditions designed to limit its release. The regulator may at any time vary those conditions if it considers that necessary.

The regulatory system established by the 1990 Act is gradually being replaced—from now to mid-2007—by that set out in the Pollution Prevention and Control (England and Wales) Regulations 2000. Each industrial installation will require a permit, which must contain conditions relating to formaldehyde emissions if these are likely to be significant to human health or human senses, or to impair or interfere with amenities and other legitimate uses of the environment.

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