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27 Oct 2003 : Column 111W—continued

Public Services (Co-payments)

Angela Eagle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to introduce co-payments for the public services for which he is responsible. [102201]

Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister aims to deliver high quality public services in the most cost-effective way. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister currently has PFI projects that deliver investment in affordable housing, fire stations and joint service centres. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will continue to consider PPPs and PFIs where they minimise financial risk and maximise benefit to the public.

Regional Assemblies

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will include maps showing options for the proposed new local government areas with the postal ballot papers to be sent out in the referendums on regional assemblies. [134590]

Mr. Raynsford: Once decisions have been taken about the options that are to be subject to local government referendums, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will consider how best to present those options to the electorate. As required by section 3(7) of the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act, we will consult the Electoral Commission about the text of the options to be inserted in the question appearing on the ballot paper and any explanatory material, including maps, that is to be made available to voters at the time that they vote.

Revenue Support Grant

Mr. Spring: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the revenue support grant per head for 2003–04 in each English county council. [134408]

Mr. Raynsford: A table showing revenue support grant per head is available in the Library of the House.

Please note that the original mid-2001 population estimates have been used as these formed the basis of the calculations. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will in due course be making an Amending Report for 2003–04 which will take into account the revised mid-2001 population estimates.

Mr. Spring: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with Suffolk county council regarding the revenue support grant settlement in the past 12 months. [134409]

Mr. Raynsford r My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has not had formal discussions with Suffolk county council within the last 12 months about the Local Government Finance Settlement.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) which local authorities have sent out surveys to their residents as a requirement by his Department in the last 12 months; and on what issues; [134815]

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Mr. Raynsford: It is important that all service providers have a clear understanding of the views of their users. Local authorities have for many years sought the views of residents on the quality and delivery of local services using a variety of different methods.

Since 2000–01, authorities have been required to conduct a survey following a common methodology and containing a fixed set of questions. However, there is scope for authorities to include some questions on specific local issues. The surveys are run at three yearly intervals, the second full round is being run during 2003–04.The surveys provide authorities with a ready means to obtain the views of local people. By adopting a common methodology and common questions a national picture can be obtained on the issues of most concern to local people.

The surveys measure the level of satisfaction with the general services provided by an authority and provide the opportunity for feedback about local community issues. In addition, specific questions are asked about residents' views on the benefits, planning, libraries and housing services.

In order to ensure that the results of the surveys are statistically valid, authorities are required to ensure that a minimum sample level is achieved.

As the surveys are conducted by local authorities, either in-house or through an external commission, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not have figures for the cost of the 2000–01 survey. However, as part of the information that is being collected on the operation of the 2003–04 survey, authorities have been asked to provide details of the cost of carrying out their survey. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have also taken steps to reduce local authority costs by setting up a dedicated website which, amongst other things, avoids the need for authorities to produce their own population sample database. It also provides guidance and templates for running the survey and carries a list of frequently asked questions.

Tenant Management

Ian Lucas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many tenant management organisations have been wound up in the last three years for which figures are available. [133979]

Keith Hill: In England there are currently in the region of 250 tenant management organisations managing around 80,000 council dwellings. To the knowledge of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister three have been wound up or have ceased to operate in the last three years. As a Welsh Member my hon. Friend will be aware that in Wales the responsibility for tenant participation and tenant management policy rests with the Welsh Assembly.


Asylum Seekers

14. Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many asylum seekers are held in detention under immigration law. [134171]

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Beverley Hughes: As at 28 June, the most recent date of which published figures are available, there were a total of 1,690 individuals detained solely under Immigration Act powers. Of these, 1,355 were asylum seekers.

17. Mr. Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what change there was in the number of asylum applications between October 2002 and September 2003. [134174]

Beverley Hughes: In June 2003, the most recent month for which published figures are available, there were 3,610 asylum applications, 59 per cent. lower than the 8,770 in October 2002 1 . Figures for July-September have not yet been finalised but we are confident that we will meet our commitment to halve intake in September 2003 compared with last October.

Special Constables

21. Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many special constables there were in each of the last three years. [134178]

Ms Blears: The latest police service strength figures for the year ending 31 March 2003 were published on 1 October 2003 in Home Office Statistical bulletin 11/03. The number of Special Constables in England and Wales was 11,037. The equivalent figures for 2002 and 2001 were 11,598 and 12,722 respectively.

Border Controls (Northern France)

22. Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will make a statement on the development of UK border controls in Northern France. [134179]

Beverley Hughes: The introduction of UK Border Controls in northern France should be viewed in the context of a wider package of measures, developed in close co-operation with the French government, aimed at reducing illegal immigration. The closure of Sangatte, for example, which 67,000 people passed through in the last three years, has also had a major impact, reducing illegal immigration into the UK and ensuring that fewer potential illegal immigrants are drawn to Northern France.

In this context we are pleased with the further steps we are taking, in co-operation with the French, in extending UK Border Controls in France. Such controls have proved effective in the past in relation to rail routes, stopping many illegal immigrants before they reach the UK. Since August 2002 we have had UK immigration officers in Calais acting in an advisory capacity to the Police Aux Frontieres, and in February we agreed a treaty which will enable these officers to exercise their full powers at Calais and Dunkerque. This treaty will be implemented shortly. Boulogne will follow when services to the UK begin in spring next year.

In addition to juxtaposed border controls we are also loaning UK personnel-detection technology to Calais port. As a result the port now has the capacity to screen

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100 per cent. of freight traffic embarking to the UK. We intend to roll out similar technology to other UK-serving ports in northern France in the New Year.

Anti-social Behaviour

23. Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will make a statement on the role of local communities in tackling antisocial behaviour. [134180]

Ms Blears: Local communities have a critical role. The Anti-Social Behaviour Plan places communities at the heart of its agenda. It seeks to shift the culture from one where people accept anti-social behaviour to one where communities are helped and supported to seek and uphold standards. Part of our work to support communities includes tackling those barriers which prevent victims and witnesses from coming forward.

Communities should also hold local agencies to account for the way they address anti-social behaviour and how they use the wide range of interventions available.

24. Mr. Tony Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what anti-social behaviour measures his Department will introduce to tackle the problem of abandoned cars. [134181]

Ms Blears: In our Anti-Social Behaviour Action Plan, launched on 14 October, we announced that we will establish trailblazers to tackle abandoned cars in London and Liverpool, in partnership with the Association of London Government and Liverpool city council respectively. From October 2004 these projects will ensure that all vehicles confirmed as untaxed or abandoned will be removed within 72 hours of reporting. This work will be shared with communities across the country.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) producing and distributing the tackling anti-social behaviour action plan booklet and (b) related promotional costs for this initiative, including employment costs. [132580]

Ms Blears: An estimate of £11,000 has been made for the production and distribution of the action plan booklet including design, printing and delivery and distribution. A total of £135,000 has been spent on the launch event and associated launch materials. This includes costs of support from the Central Office of Information (COI). Civil servants from the Home Office press office, marketing department and Anti-social Behaviour Unit produced the Action Plan and organised the event as part of their daily duties.

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