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6 Jan 2004 : Column 342W—continued

Fire Authority Grant

Helen Jackson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister by how much in total fire authorities have exceeded their grant increase over each of the past five years. [143971]

Mr. Raynsford: The amount by which the increase in fire authority precepts has exceeded the increase in grant for the years 1998–99 to 2003–04 is tabled as follows.

PeriodAmount by which increase in precepts exceeds grants to the nearest whole £ million
1998–99 to 1999–20000
1999–2000 to 2000–010
2000–01 to 2001–02-3
2001–02 to 2002–03-1
2002–03 to 2003–048

This table covers the six Metropolitan County Fire authorities. These were the only single-service fire authorities which received grants and which were in existence throughout the period from 1998–99 to 2003–04. In each year, grants have been compared with previous years' grants on a like-for-like basis, taking into account adjustments for changes in function and funding.

The data for the years 1998–99 to 2002–03 is outturn data taken from the RS forms. The data for 2003–04 is budget data taken from the RA forms as outturn data is not yet available. These forms are completed each year by individual local authorities.

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The grants included are redistributed business rates and Revenue Support Grant. Amounts received under the SSA Reduction Grant (SSA Review) and Central Support Protection Grant have also been included, where appropriate.

Fire Service College

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister in relation to the Fire Service College, Moreton-in-Marsh, what the total Government grant was in the last financial year; for what purposes it was given; for what reason the college made a loss in the last financial year; and why the annual accounts for the year ended March 2003 state that the college is unlikely to do better than break-even in the year to 31 March 2004. [145789]

Phil Hope: Grant totalling £625,000 was paid to the Fire Service College in 2002–03, for the Brigade Command Course. The College's ability to trade in both the latter part of 2002–03 and the first quarter of 2003–04 was adversely affected by the fire dispute, which resulted in the cancellation of courses. Overseas trading by the College was also constrained by the international situation. The introduction of the Integrated Personal Development System (IPDS) in the UK Fire and Rescue Service from November 2003 is requiring the development of a new suite of IPDS-compliant training courses by the College to replace traditional courses. This has caused some disruption in business as fire and rescue services adapted to the new requirements and delayed the take-up of some College training capacity this year.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps are being taken to integrate the Fire Service College, Moreton-in-Marsh, training facilities with regional fire service training facilities; what steps are being taken to encourage foreign fire service training business to the college; what investigations are being undertaken into the feasibility of privatising or other alternative trading methods for the college; and what other trading opportunities the college is investigating. [145790]

Phil Hope: The White Paper "Our Fire and Rescue Service" published in June 2003 sets out a vision for the Fire Service College as a national Centre of Excellence for the UK Fire and Rescue Service (UKFRS), and further details on the College's role are provided in the Draft Fire and Rescue National Framework published in December 2003. The Framework trails a national workforce development strategy that will set out the respective roles for training providers at national, regional and local level. There are no specific proposals to integrate the College's facilities with regional fire service training facilities.

The College is working to develop other markets both in the UK fire industry and with overseas fire and rescue services. It is developing an enhanced training portfolio, with increased emphasis on outreach training, and distance and e-learning capabilities. Options for involving private sector partners in aspects of the College's trading are being actively explored.

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Simon Hughes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how many people were homeless in (a) London and (b) England in each year since 1997; [143993]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 5 January 2004, Official Report, column 142W.


Mr. Hayes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the housing industry on the relationship between mortgage ineligibility of young people and access to affordable housing. [144095]

Keith Hill: None, but wider issues about affordable housing are discussed with the housing industry on many occasions.

Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what impact the Inland Revenue's ruling of 24 October will have on the standard of housing in Peterborough; [145740]

Keith Hill: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 15 December 2003, Official Report, columns 745–46W.

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many new or additional homes he expects to be provided in (a) the South East and (b) the South West by the end of 2006; and how many of these homes he expects to be available at affordable prices for households on average income. [145752]

Keith Hill: Regional Planning Guidance 9 for the South East and 10 for the South West each require, over the six year period to the end of 2006 for approximately 234,000 and 121,000 additional dwellings to be provided in the wider South East (including Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire) and the South West respectively. Of these the indicative targets in the two RPGs indicate that at least 108,000 and 36,000 additional dwellings should be provided over this period at affordable prices for households on or below average income.

Nuclear Power Stations

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the minimum building distance from a nuclear power station is, for industrial structures which are not part of the plant. [145742]

Keith Hill: There is no specified minimum distance that has to be maintained between a nuclear power station and another industrial structure that is not a part of the power station plant. The decision on whether any proposed development should be permitted to take place within the vicinity of a nuclear power station is a matter for the local planning authority, taking advice from the Health and Safety Executive on the suitability of the development with regard to the potential off-site risk.

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Planning Inspectorate

Denzil Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many persons applied for the recently advertised post of non-executive director to serve on the Management Board and Audit Committee of the Planning Inspectorate. [145464]

Yvette Cooper: 21 people applied for the posts, of whom 12 were male and nine female. Seven candidates were selected for interview, three male and four female. Elizabeth Peace and Jonathan Vickers were selected to take up the appointments from 1 January 2004. Both appointments will run for two years with an option to extend for another two.

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Regional Housing Boards

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the priorities of each of the regional housing boards in England. [145967]

Keith Hill: The Regional Housing Boards were asked to identify each region's priorities in line with their Regional Housing Strategies. These were drawn up by those organisations represented on the Board, in full consultation with key regional stakeholders. The priorities reflect not only regionally identified issues, but also national policies. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has allocated nearly £5 billion for next year and the year after to address the priorities set out in the Regional Housing Strategies.