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20 Nov 2002 : Column 123W—continued

Carbon Emissions

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent assessment his Department has made of the carbon-absorbing capacity of new forests and the impact this will have on the Kyoto protocols; and if he will make a statement. [80882]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

New forests reduce the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, because the trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, despite an initial loss of soil carbon due to disturbance during planting, the input of organic matter from trees via litter on the forest floor increases the amount of carbon in the soil over time. We estimate that new forests planted in the UK since 1990 will remove about 0.6 million tonnes of carbon per year (MtC/yr) during the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, contributing about 0.3 per cent. towards our 12.5 per cent. emissions reduction commitment. Taking into account the possible contribution from the Clean Development Mechanism as well as new forests planted in other developed countries, new forests could contribute the equivalent of a reduction of about 1.5 per cent. of base year emissions towards the commitments averaged over all countries which ratify the Kyoto Protocol. However the actual outcome will depend on how the countries choose to meet their commitments, on actual rates of planting, and on detailed application of the rules for sinks accounting agreed in Marakkesh.

Congestion Charging

Mr. Chope: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the estimated cost is to his Department of the central London road user charging scheme for (a) 17 February 2003 to 31 March 2003, and (b) 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004. [81878]

Mr. Leslie: The information requested is not held centrally, and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Any additional costs to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister as a result of the congestion charging scheme will be just one element within wider costs which have to be met from budgets for official travelling and other costs.

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Council Tax

Mr. Spring: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average Band council tax was in (a) Norfolk, (b) Essex and (c) Cambridgeshire in (i) 1997–98 and (ii) 2002–03. [81111]

Mr. Raynsford: The average area Band D council tax in Norfolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire in 1997–98 and 2002–03 was:

#

1997–982002–03
Norfolk620983
Essex(1)645995
Cambridgeshire(2)590948

(1)1997–98 figures for Essex include Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock. These authorities became unitary authorities on 1 April 1998.

(2)1997–98 figures for Cambridgeshire include Peterborough. Peterborough became a unitary authority on 1 April 1998.


In 1997–98 and 2002–03 the median council tax band in Norfolk was Band B, and in Essex and Cambridgeshire the median council tax band was Band C. The average area council tax for these bands was:

#

Band1997–982002–03
NorfolkB483 765
Essex(3)C573884
Cambridgeshire(4)C525843

(3)1997–98 figures for Essex include Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock. These authorities became unitary authorities on 1 April 1998.

(4)1997–98 figures for Cambridgeshire include Peterborough. Peterborough became a unitary authority on 1 April 1998.


Development Land

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the efficacy of his definition of (a) previously developed land and (b) brownfield sites; and what plans he has to alter that definition. [81936]

Mr. McNulty: There are a number of definitions in use. The technical agreement for the Department of Environment, Transport and Regions public service agreement 2001- 04 defined previously-developed land (PDL) by reference to the definition of PDL in planning policy guidance note 3 housing (PPG3) and brownfield land as all land included in the National Land Use database (NLUD-PDL). The practical application of the definition of PDL is kept under review by the NLUD Board and has been considered in the course of ongoing research on the implementation of PPG3. There are no plans to alter the definition.

Fire Station Flooding (York)

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister for how many days parts of York's Tower Street fire station were flooded during November 2000; for how long these parts of the fire station were out of use thereafter; how much it cost to repair the building; whether these costs were covered by insurance; how much it cost the North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service in revenue terms to deal with the disruption of their use of the premises; and

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what assessment he has made of the economic cost to the wider community of the disruption to the use of parts of the fire station. [80998]

Mr. Leslie: This information requested is not held centrally, and could only be provided at disroportionalte cost. The matters raised are for the North Yorkshire fire and Rescue Authority.

Compulsory Purchase

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many homes have been compulsorily purchased using central Government funding in the last two years. [81935]

Mr. McNulty: The information requested is not held centrally, and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Homelessness

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how many persons were homeless in (a) December 2001 and (b) January 2002; [81708]

Mrs. Roche: The precise information requested is not collected centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Summary information on local authorities activity under statutory homelessness provisions is reported to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on a quarterly, rather than monthly, basis, and it relates to households rather than persons. This includes the number of households accepted under the homelessness provisions of the 1985 and 1996 Housing Acts as being eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, and the number of these households resident in various types of temporary accommodation at the end of each quarter.

National and some regional information on local authorities activity is provided in a quarterly statistical release published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. This includes information for recent quarters and years on the number of households accepted as homeless (Table 2), as well as those in various types of temporary accommodation, including bed and breakfast and hostels (Table 6). Copies are available in

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the House Library, and also via the ODPM website. The latest edition, which was published on 11 September 2002, presents statistics up to the end of June 2002.

Local Government Finance

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what responses relating to the local government finance consultation have been received from (a) Chiltern District Council and (b) Buckinghamshire County Council; [81172]

Mr. Raynsford: Responses to the consultation (including views on education funding) were received from both Buckinghamshire county council and Chiltern district council. Both were received by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 30 September.

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what responses relating to the local government finance consultation have been received from (a) South Buckinghamshire district council and (b) Wycombe district council. [82383]

Mr. Raynsford: Detailed responses to the Formula Grant Distribution consultation were received from both South Buckinghamshire and Wycombe district councils before the formal close of the consultation on 30 September 2002.

Mr. Grieve: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what impact changes in the local government formula grant will have on public services delivered by (a) South Buckinghamshire district council, (b) Wycombe district council and (c) Buckinghamshire county council; [82384]

Mr. Raynsford: We will announce the new system for distributing Formula Grant, including detailed grant allocations for individual authorities, at the time of the provisional local government finance settlement which we expect to be around the start of December. Once the Government has allocated its grant, decisions about budgets and services are primarily for local councils to make. However, we have already guaranteed that no authority will face a cut in grant next year on a like for like basis, and we hope to do better than that when we announce the actual floors and ceilings scheme as part of the provisional settlement.


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