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12 Jun 2003 : Column 1049W—continued

Salisbury Courts

Mr. Key: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will make a statement on the future of the magistrates courts and Crown courts in Salisbury. [117328]

Yvette Cooper : It is planned that a new combined courthouse in Salisbury will be opened in 2005/06. My officials are currently working with the Wiltshire magistrates courts committee and Wiltshire county council to develop plans for a 4 court centre. This new court will bring together magistrates Crown and county court facilities under one roof for the first time in Salisbury. The new courthouse will provide modern facilities for all users. In particular it will consider the needs of vulnerable witnesses and the Disabled.


Business Rates

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he intends to publish details of his proposals to allow local authorities to retain a proportion of increases in business rates attributable to new commercial developments within their area. [118956]

Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister intends to consult on this proposal later in the summer.

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Community Equipment Services

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much funding in total has been disbursed under the local authority promoting independence grant for community equipment services. [118209]

Jacqui Smith: I have been asked to reply.

In the years 2001 to 2003, while the promoting independence grant was available, some councils may have chosen to use it to help support the modernisation and integration of community equipment services. However, information on such amounts has not been collected centrally. The Department of Health continues to support the development of these services through additions to baseline national health service and social services allocations. In addition, £7.4 million has been made available to councils for community equipment as part of the access and systems grant in 2003–04.

Counselling Services

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what arrangements are made in his Department to allow staff to access counselling services. [111938]

Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's counselling and support service is available to all its staff, including those in its agencies. Staff are able to access the service direct during office hours about any issue, personal or work related.

Departmental Expenditure (Training)

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the (a) cash and (b) real terms training budget has been each year for his Department; and how much in each year in (i) cash and (ii) real terms was directed to the training of young people. [106821]

Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was established in May 2002. From May 2002 to the end of March 2003 expenditure on training totalled £3.2 million. There is no specific budget for the training of young people. In accordance with Government-wide resource accounting and budgeting guidelines, expenditure on training and other services is recorded on an accruals basis; there is therefore no record of expenditure on a cash basis.

Regional Assemblies

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what analysis he has made of the responses received to his consultation exercise on level of interest in a referendum in respect of elected regional assemblies. [118287]

Mr. Raynsford: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is considering views, information and evidence that has been received about the level of interest in holding referendums on elected regional assemblies. Decisions will be announced shortly as to which region(s) should proceed towards referendums and a summary of responses to the soundings exercise will be published at the same time.

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Advocacy Services

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to reform funding for citizens advocacy groups to improve the co-ordination of advocacy work by volunteers. [118294]

Jacqui Smith: I have been asked to reply.

The Government attaches great importance to the development of advocacy services as one of the means that enable the views of patients to be represented.

Our policies for improving services for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers are set out in the White Paper "Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century" (Cm 5086) published in March 2001. The importance of advocacy is a theme running throughout the White Paper: effective advocacy services can make a real difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families by helping them to put forward their views and play an active part in planning and designing services.

"Valuing People" announced the creation of two new funds, the Implementation Support Fund and the Learning Disability Development Fund, to provide central support for key aspects of the strategy. Money from the Implementation Support Fund is being used to support and develop self and citizen advocacy projects across the country. Two voluntary organisations, the British Institute of Learning Disabilities (BILD) and Values into Action (VIA) are running separate schemes to develop and fund citizen advocacy and self advocacy respectively on the Department of Health's behalf. Both organisations have steering groups to oversee the projects and to ensure fairness in the way the funds are allocated.

£900,000 from the Implementation Support Fund was allocated to advocacy projects in 2001–02 and £1 million in 2002–03; £1 million is being allocated in 2003–04. A further £300,000 was allocated in 2001–02 to administer the funding schemes and support development workers to work with and strengthen existing advocacy schemes and help set up new ones: this amount increased to £400,000 in both 2002–03 and 2003–04.

We announced in our report on learning disability, "Making Change Happen" (HC514–11), published in April 2003, that the Implementation Support Fund would continue until March 2006. The fund will support the same areas of work as at present. The learning disability task force, which has members drawn from both the self and citizen advocacy movements, will be involved in discussions about the detailed use of the Support Fund.

Mental health policies pay equal importance to the use of advocacy. The draft Mental Health Bill, published on 25 June 2002, provides for the first time that specialist mental health advocacy must be available for all patients being treated under compulsory powers and their nominated persons. This new duty ensures that patients can have the help of specialist advocacy when it is most needed. There are also proposals in the draft Bill for safeguards, including access to advocacy,

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for some adult patients who have a long-term incapacity to consent and who are in a hospital or nursing home receiving treatment for a serious mental disorder.


Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce a register of dealers for sales of airguns. [118055]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: We do not believe that a register of dealers would of itself help in tackling the problems caused by the misuse of air weapons.

Instead as part of the Anti-social Behaviour Bill, we are increasing from fourteen to seventeen the age at which a young person can own an air weapon and introducing further controls on unsupervised use. We are also introducing a new offence of having an air weapon in a public place without lawful authority or reasonable excuse.

Antisocial Behaviour

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the extension of powers to be made available under the provisions of the Anti-social Behaviour Bill to (a) community support officers and (b) accredited persons. [117890]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Subject to Parliamentary approval the Anti-social Behaviour Bill will extend the following powers to community support officers (CSOs) and accredited persons:

CSOs only

Both CSOs and accredited persons

Accredited persons only

Accredited persons will also be given the power to issue penalty notices for disorder (CSOs already have this power). As they do not have the power to detain, accredited persons will not be able to issue penalty notices for the offences of disorderly behaviour while drunk in a public place and being drunk in a highway, other public place or licensed premises. They will, though, be able to issue penalty notices for the following offences:

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ensure that (a) the police, (b) housing associations and (c) local councils are informed of (i) the powers available to them

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to tackle anti-social behaviour and (ii) the powers to be made available to them under the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill. [117892]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: The National Director of the Anti-Social Behaviour Unit and members of her team visited many Local Authority areas where they have met with local councils, police, residents, attended public meetings and spoken at conferences to highlight both current and new powers available for tackling anti-social behaviour.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Unit is now considering a range of options, to look how to ensure all relevant people and organisations are aware of the powers available to them.

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