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8 Dec 2003 : Column 342W—continued

Consultation

Brian Cotter: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of regulations introduced by the Department have been subject to a consultation period of less than 12 weeks since the introduction of the Code of Practice on Consultations. [142482]

Yvette Cooper: The Cabinet Office Code of Practice on Written Consultation came into effect on 1 January 2001. In the period 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2002, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (and its predecessor, the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions) published 119 consultations under the Code, of which 18 were less than

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12 weeks. Information on which consultations have led to regulation is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Council Housing

Mr. Byers: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much is held by each housing authority in receipts from the sale of council houses. [142209]

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

Defence Fire Service

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact of a decision by the Ministry of Defence to privatise the Defence Fire Service on the Government's ability to provide emergency fire cover in the event of a future strike by civilian fire-fighters. [141254]

Phil Hope: No final decision has been made in relation to the Airfield Support Services Project. In evaluating bids consideration is being given to military assistance to the civil authority and military assistance to Government Departments.

Hazardous Waste

Sue Doughty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions his Department has held with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the planning requirements for the disposal of hazardous waste required by the EU Hazardous Waste Directive. [142520]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister works closely with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to achieve sustainable waste management and has contributed to the work of the Hazardous Waste Forum. The Forum has been set up by Government to bring together key stakeholders to advise on the way forward on the management of hazardous waste and has, among a number of matters, considered the waste planning and permitting processes for new facilities.

Sue Doughty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact of delays in the implementation of the Hazardous Waste Requirements of the Landfill Directive (1999/31/EC) on the regeneration of brownfield sites required to meet housing targets. [142522]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is working to ensure that all policies affecting the re-development of brownfield land do not create unintended obstacles to regeneration. Discussions are currently taking place within Government, and with industry on the implications of the implementation of the Landfill Directive for the regeneration of brownfield sites.

Fire-fighters Pay Dispute

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his estimate is of the net cost to Fire Authority employers of meeting the fire-fighters' pay settlement in

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(a) 2003–04, (b) 2004–05 and (c) 2005-06, taking account of financial savings from modernisation under the June agreement. [141896]

Phil Hope: The Independent Review of the Fire Service estimated that the net costs and savings of its proposals would be:


The Local Government Association (LGA) has said that the fire-fighters' pay settlement will balance over the Spending Review 2002 period. The Government agrees but recognises that there may be a lag between costs and savings of modernisation. An additional £30 million transitional funding is therefore available for England and Wales, which will be released subject to satisfactory progress on on-going pay negotiations and modernisation and repaid by fire and rescue authorities over the Spending Review 2002 period.

Head of Land and Property

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the post of Head of Land and Property in his Department has been filled. [141906]

Yvette Cooper: No.

Homes (Physical Disabilities)

Miss Begg: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to increase the number of appropriate homes for people with physical disabilities. [142190]

Keith Hill: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is increasing the number of appropriate homes for people with physical disabilities through adaptations to existing homes.

Through the Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG) programme, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister continues to provide resources for local authorities to help disabled homeowners and tenants to pay for essential adaptations. Recently the level of funding has increased, giving authorities new, supplementary powers to help the disabled and issued draft guidance to local authorities to help them deliver a first class adaptations service.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is also increasing the number of appropriate homes for people with physical disabilities by ensuring newly built homes are accessible and convenient for everyone.

All newly built homes must meet the requirements of 'Part M' of the building regulations, which the Government revised in 1999 to improve the accessibility and convenience of new housing. The revised regulations include requirements to ensure that entrances, lifts, corridors, doorways and WCs are accessible, including to wheelchair users.

All new build schemes funded by the Government through the Housing Corporation must comply with the Corporation's scheme development standards which adopt criteria for accessibility and internal environments that help to make homes even more adaptable to long-term needs.

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House Construction (Timber)

Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance is given to the Housing Corporation regarding the use of timber in house construction to ensure that all timber used comes from legal and sustainable sources; and if he will make a statement. [142230]

Keith Hill: The Housing Corporation sets out requirements and recommendations for all housing projects which receive Social Housing Grant (SHG) in its Scheme Development Standards. The Government works with the Housing Corporation on reviews of the Scheme Development Standards.

The standards make clear that housing projects should endeavour to incorporate measures which aid environmental sustainability. Compliance and performance on environmental sustainability is tested using the EcoHomes assessment framework developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE). The credit requirements under the EcoHomes assessment scheme include criteria for the use of timber from sustainably managed sources, or reused timber, in both the basic building elements and the finishing elements of homes.

All new built homes funded by the Housing Corporation are required to achieve a BRE EcoHomes rating of 'Pass' as a minimum essential condition of grant and housing associations are encouraged to aim for the higher 'Good' rating. The Housing Corporation intends to increase the minimum requirement to a 'Good' rating from April 2005 with housing associations encouraged to aim for the higher 'Very Good' rating from the same date.

Housing

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the withdrawal of local authority social housing grant on the rate of completion of affordable homes by Runnymede borough council. [141907]

Keith Hill: Local Authority Social Housing Grant (LASHG) has been abolished to allow the resources to be better targeted, in particular, to achieve the objectives set out in "Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future". Transitional arrangements over the 2003–04 to 2005–06 period are expected to provide around 14,000 homes but no estimates have been made on the impact this will have on the number of social housing dwellings provided, either in total or in particular locations. That will depend on a number of factors, including on what and where the available resources should be spent following the recommendations from the new Regional Housing Boards.

Sir George Young: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many excess winter deaths he estimates could be avoided by bringing homes of vulnerable households up to minimum legislative standards; and what his estimate is of the cost of such work. [142005]

Keith Hill: In 2000–01 it was estimated that there were around 25,000 excess winter deaths. It is not possible to say how many of those were as a direct result of housing condition.

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The relationship between indoor temperatures and ill health is complex and the causes of excess winter deaths are not clear but cold weather and illnesses such as flu play an important part alongside other factors such as outside exposure and behavioural patterns.


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