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8 Jan 2003 : Column 270W—continued

Councillors (Liabilities)

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the legal and financial liabilities of individual councillors appointed by their local authorities to serve on outside bodies by reason of their membership of that outside body. [88927]

Mr. Leslie: The potential liabilities of councillors as members of other bodies will depend on a number of issues, notably the terms on which they were appointed and the nature of the body concerned. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister intends shortly to consult on a draft of an Order to be made under section 101 of the Local Government Act 2000 to give authorities powers to provide indemnities to their members and officers. This will include provision in respect of functions performed by such individuals in their capacity as members or officers, including on outside bodies.

Housing (Stock Transfer)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list housing allocations created as a result of stock transfer from a local authority which have since been transferred to another housing association. [88322]

Mr. McNulty: None of the housing associations created to receive stock transferred from a local authority have since transferred the stock onto another housing association. Some of these associations have undergone a name change or have become a subsidiary of a group structure, but they have remained separate legal entities with individual boards.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) the level of homelessness and (b) housing list numbers for those requiring housing were in each authority which has undergone stock transfer (i) at the time of transfer and (ii) at each year-end subsequent to unit transfers. [88323]

Mrs. Roche: A comprehensive table presenting available information since 1988/99 in respect of homelessness household accepted annually, those accommodated at 31 March, and total households on the housing register at 1 April deemed to be Xin need" has been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he has taken to ensure that there is no conflict of interest in the position of senior local authority officers promoting stock transfer. [88324]

Mr. McNulty: The current Housing Transfer Guidance includes detailed advice on how to deal with potential conflicts of interest when senior local authority officers are involved in a proposed housing

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transfer. Specific advice is addressed to those officers proposing to move to the prospective new landlord. This advice also covers consultants advising the authority and the prospective new landlord over various aspects of the transfer.

Listed Buildings (Solar Panels)

Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what advice he provides to planning authorities on applications to install solar panels on listed buildings. [89074]

Mr. McNulty: General advice to local authorities about listed building controls is contained in PPG15, Planning and the Historic Environment. Specific advice about solar panels on listed buildings is provided in the new Annex to PPG22 Renewable Energy—Annex on Photovoltaics.

New Mortgage Lending

Mr. Steve Webb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his Answer of 12th December, Official Report, column 470W, on new mortgage lending, if he will provide corresponding estimates for new mortgage lending that was not for house purchase; and if he will estimate the total amount of new mortgage lending in the last 12 months that was (a) for house purchase and (b) not for house purchase. [88931]

Mr. McNulty: Variable/Fixed rate lending. The estimated percentages of remortgages or further loans taken out in each of the past 12 months with an initial interest rate that was (a) variable and (b) fixed are shown in the table below. Also included, for comparison purposes, are the equivalent figures for new mortgages.

New mortgages for house purchase Remortgages or further loans
Month VariableFixedVariableFixed


ODPM, Survey of Mortgage Lenders

It should be noted that loans taken out at an initial fixed rate of interest are likely to revert to a variable rate of interest after a fixed period of time, unless of course the borrower then chooses to remortgage (again) at another fixed rate of interest.

New mortgage lending, December 2001—November 2002

Gross mortgage lending in each of the last 12 months is shown in the table, together with the total for the 12 month period December 2001 to November 2002.

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Month Mortgage lending for house purchase #millionOther new mortgage lending #million


Bank of England


Acute Hospital Services

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress he has made in developing indicators to reflect patient views on food and other issues in acute hospitals. [88762]

Mr. Lammy: National health service performance ratings published in July 2002 included a number of performance indicators relating to acute inpatient survey data. In addition to this, the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) and the Department have recently announced a number of additional patient survey performance indicators for the next publication in 2003.

The CHI has now assumed responsibility for future publications of the performance ratings as well as the patient survey programme.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many acute hospitals have (a) closed and (b) opened since 1997. [88768]

Mr. Hutton: Information on hospital closures ceased to be collected in 1991 following the introduction of the national health service internal market and trusts.

What is usually referred to as a hospital closure often follows reprovision with the intention of providing higher quality care, in a more suitable setting for the benefit of patients.

Since May 1997, a total of 64 such major reprovision developments under the private finance initiative have been prioritised, of which 14 involving acute settings have now opened and a further nine are under construction. In addition, four major publicly funded schemes involving acute settings have also been given the go ahead of which three are now open. These, along with a number of medium size projects, comprise the NHS plan commitment to deliver over 100 new hospital schemes between 2000 and 2010.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the recommendation by the medical Royal Colleges that an acute hospital should serve a population of 500,000 people. [88182]

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Mr. Hutton: XProvision of Acute General Hospital Services" was published in July 1998 by a joint working party of the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Surgeons of England. It suggested that the ideal unit for a fully comprehensive medicine and surgery is a hospital or integrated group of hospitals serving a population of 450,000 to 500,000. The effective size to provide most of the acute services for medicine and surgery was recommended to be one serving a population of 250,000 to 300,000. These recommendations were made some time ago now and thinking about how to organise services safely and effectively has moved on.

In particular, the NHS Plan, published in July 2000, set the direction for the future development of hospital services, and Shifting the Balance of Power sited responsibility for local health service with primary care trusts.

The Department of Health's configuring hospitals project has been examining the complex issues around configuration of acute hospitals over the past few months, and will publish a consultation document shortly. Ultimately, it is for local health services to decide, with their local populations, and in the light of relevant guidance and standards, how acute hospital services should be organised.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the implications of the whole system redesign approach for the introduction of the European Working Time Directive to acute hospitals; [88358]

Mr. Hutton: The Department is currently running 19 pilots exploring solutions to enable National Health Service trusts to implement the European working time directive (EWD) for doctors in training while protecting service delivery.

Details of the necessary changes in working practices are also set out in the HSC 2003/001 'Protecting Staff, Delivering Services—Implementing the European Working Time Directive for Doctors in Training'.

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