Previous Section Index Home Page

5 Nov 2002 : Column 216W—continued


Joan Ryan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to amend the planning legislation, regulations and guidance for (a) the building of new homes on land located within flood plains and (b) for existing buildings in areas prone to flooding; and if he will make a statement. [74609]

Mr. McNulty: There are no plans to amend planning legislation in respect of building new homes in flood plains or for existing buildings in areas prone to flooding.

5 Nov 2002 : Column 217W

The Government issued comprehensive strengthened guidance on the operation of the planning system in regard to flood risk in Planning Policy Guidance Note (PPG) 25 XDevelopment and flood risk" in July 2001. We said then that we would review this guidance in the light of experience of its implementation and effectiveness and the developing scientific knowledge on climate change three years after publication. In the meantime we are continuing to monitor how it is being applied through the Environment Agency's high-level target 12. The report for 2001–02 was recently published on the DEFRA website. It indicates that PPG 25 is already beginning to have an effect and that less than 0.5 per cent. of all new homes were subject to sustained objections on flood risk grounds. In the remaining cases, local planning authorities had considered the matter carefully before allowing development to proceed.

To complement the new, stronger planning guidance, DTLR published XPreparing for floods" in February 2002. This contains interim guidance for improving the flood resistance of domestic and small business properties. It provides practical advice for existing property owners whose properties are at risk of flooding and for all those involved with construction of new properties or renovation of existing buildings in areas of flood risk. The Environment Agency, together with the Construction Industry Research and Information Association, has also produced guidance on temporary measures to protect against flooding (such as flood boards) and on what to do after a flood.

In addition, we are working with the Environment Agency, local government, the water industry and others to produce an agreed guidance framework for the development of sustainable drainage systems. Such systems, which are encouraged in PPG 25, aim to control water as near its source as possible and thus reduce the downstream risk of flooding. They will help to reduce the potential impact on existing properties of flooding due to uncontrolled run-off from newly developed areas.


EU Green Paper

Keith Vaz: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, what representations she has received from ADRs concerning the new EU Green Paper. [78868]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Green Paper on Alternative Dispute Resolution in Civil and Commercial Law was issued by the European Commission, and responses to the consultation were to be made directly to the Commission. We did, however, draw the attention of interested parties to the Green Paper and asked them to copy their responses to the Lord Chancellor's Department, in order that the UK Government response would be fully informed. Copies of responses were received from: Advice Services Alliance; Alliance for Electronic Business; Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution; Commercial Bar Association; Finance and Leasing Association; National Association of Citizen Advice Bureaux; UK College of Family Mediators; Morley and Scott (chartered accountants); Arthur

5 Nov 2002 : Column 218W

Marriot and Henry Brown (solicitors with experience of ADR in both an international and domestic context). There may be other responses that have not been copied to us.

Fines (Prompt Payment)

Dr. Francis: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, whether it is her policy for a discount to be offered to defendants for prompt payment of fines. [78683]

Yvette Cooper: At present there is no provision enabling a discount to be offered to offenders who pay their fines promptly.

The White Paper, XJustice for All", published in July, announced new proposals aimed at improving enforcement rates. These include offering a discount for prompt payment of fines. The measures would be piloted and evaluated prior to any decision to roll them out nationally.


Accesses to Communications Data

Harry Cohen: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 17 October 2002, Official Report, column 918W, on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, how many of the accesses to communications data in relation to Customs and Excise led to (a) the recovery of VAT and (b) the prosecution of individuals; how many of the accesses to communications data in relation to the Inland Revenue led to (i) the recovery of tax and (ii) the prosecution of individuals; how much tax was recovered; and how many individuals were prosecuted. [78436]

Dawn Primarolo: The information systems of neither department record the total tax recovered nor the number of prosecutions stemming directly from access to communications data. Consequently, this information could be obtained only at wholly disproportionate cost.


Sue Doughty: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the processes the Government follows to appraise companies on its tender list for their record with respect to the code of practice on age discrimination. [79377]

Mr. Boateng: Individual Government Departments are responsible for taking decisions on the goods and services they acquire, taking account of the EC procurement rules and the Government's procurement policy of seeking value for money for the benefit of the taxpayer.

In terms of the criteria for the rejection and selection of candidates for a tender list, these are defined in the EC public procurement directives, which are implemented in the UK by the following regulations:

5 Nov 2002 : Column 219W

Barnett Formula

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the impact of New Opportunity Fund expenditure in Scotland on the operation of the Barnett Formula. [78736]

Mr. Boateng: The New Opportunities Fund is a Lottery Fund. Lottery funds are distributed by the relevant lottery distributor. They are not part of the Scottish Executive's Departmental Expenditure Limit and do not therefore fall within the Barnett formula arrangements for determining changes to the devolved administrations' budgets.

Benefit Fraud

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answers of 5 February and 19 September, Official Report, columns 845W and 207W, when he plans to publish the September 2000 to September 2001 Inland Revenue benchmarking exercise into the level of fraud in working families tax credit. [78891]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 19 September 2002, Official Report, column 207W, to the hon. Member.


Mr. Flight: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will make a statement on his borrowing plans for the remainder of the financial year; [78990]

Mr. Boateng: Consistent with the Code for Fiscal Stability, an interim update of projections for the public finances will be published in the forthcoming pre-Budget report.

Cigarette Smuggling

David Burnside: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the number and value of cigarettes smuggled into Northern Ireland and the loss of revenue to the Exchequer due to such smuggling in the last 12 months. [79192]

John Healey: Customs do not keep separate records of the number and value of cigarettes smuggled into Northern Ireland. The vast majority of smuggled cigarettes enter the UK through the major ports and are then distributed across the UK.

The Government will be publishing figures, for the UK, of the number of cigarettes seized and the latest estimate of the revenue loss from the illicit tobacco market as part of the pre-Budget report.

The most recently published information for the scale of revenue loss in the illicit tobacco market is for the year 2000–01, and is contained in XTackling Indirect Tax Fraud" published in November 2001, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House.

5 Nov 2002 : Column 220W

Departmental Initiatives

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer [pursuant to his answer of 24 October 2002], Official Report, column 441W, if he will list schemes and initiatives sponsored by his Department which are not the subject of national roll-out. [78293]

Dawn Primarolo: I have nothing to add to my earlier answer.

Next Section Index Home Page