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8 Jan 2004 : Column 477W—continued

Steel Industry (Romania)

Adam Price: To ask the Prime Minister what representations his Government have made to the Romanian Government regarding the steel industry since January 2003. [146650]

The Prime Minister: The Government have made no bilateral representations to the Romanian Government regarding the steel industry since January 2003.

The Government have had contacts with the Romanian Government on steel in the context of adherence to existing trade agreements and EU accession negotiations on competition and state aid.


Brownfield Sites

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether his Department designates former mineral workings as brownfield sites; and if he will make a statement. [145388]

Keith Hill: The Government's definition of brownfield land includes land used for mineral extraction and waste disposal where provision for restoration has not been made through development control procedures. Specifically this relates to minerals and waste sites which have remained unrestored after use. All other such sites will be restored to 'greenfield' status, by virtue of the planning condition.

Community Facilities

Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much land has been acquired by (a) English Partnerships and (b) regional development agencies since January 2002 to enable the provision of (i) public transport, (ii) public open spaces, (iii) schools, (iv) hospitals and (v) other community facilities in each of the (A) four growth areas in the South East and (B) nine pathfinder areas announced in the Communities Plan. [145751]

Keith Hill: Since January 2002, English Partnerships and the regional development agencies (RDAs) have acquired land for regeneration activity within the boundaries of the four Growth areas and the nine Market Renewal Pathfinder areas, as follows:

Quantity of Land acquired (hectares)

English PartnershipsRegional development agencies
Market Renewal Pathfinder areas26.5145.2
Growth areas5.2554.3

These acquisitions include sites within urban regeneration company areas that fall within the boundaries of the Pathfinder and Growth areas. Land has not yet been directly acquired as part of the Market Renewal Pathfinder schemes.

In his statement on 30 July 2003, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister announced that we had agreed in principle to provide funding to help English Partnerships and the relevant RDAs acquire land

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for remediation and eventual release for future development in the Milton Keynes/South Midlands and Ashford Growth Areas.

Sustainable mixed use will be promoted for acquired sites but until further master planning and development agreements have been finalised, their precise use will not be known.


Mr. Betts: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress has been made in taking housing costs into account when measuring income levels in revised indices of deprivation. [146109]

Yvette Cooper: The possibility of making an adjustment for the 'cost of living' including housing costs was considered as part of the project to update the Indices of Deprivation 2000. The main source of comprehensive data on this subject is the Retail Price Index compiled by the Office for National Statistics. This Index, however, is only available at national level and would not allow adjustments to the Income domain at sub-district level. It is therefore not possible to make any adjustment for housing costs in this update.

Mr. Betts: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress has been made in publishing indices of deprivation by Super Output Area level. [146110]

Yvette Cooper: The proposal to publish the Index at Super Output Area level (SOA) was overwhelmingly supported in the recently concluded consultation on updating the Indices of Deprivation. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's ability to publish the Index at SOA Level 1 (between 1,000–3,000 population) is dependent on the provision of the SOA boundaries and testing of the data to ensure that there are no concerns over disclosure or data reliability at this level. The relevant boundaries have now been received from the Office for National Statistics and testing of the data has begun.


Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many regular firefighters were employed by the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service on 1 December 2003. [146436]

Mr. Raynsford: Information provided by the Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service shows that there were 283 wholetime firefighters employed by them on 1 December 2003.

Housing Stock Transfer

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to monitor the performance of tenants' advisers in the process of stock transfer; and which organisations will undertake this work. [146498]

Keith Hill: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no plans to monitor the performance of Independent Tenants' Advisers (ITAs) involved in the stock transfer process. Guidance published in December 2001 by the Office makes clear that an ITA is expected to provide good quality, tailored and flexible services that meet tenants' needs.

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Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many complaints have been received on the role and probity of tenants' advisers involved in discussions on transfer of council stocks. [146499]

Keith Hill: While the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister may receive comments in relation to the work of Independent Tenant Advisers, in general there have been no formal complaints received on the role and probity of tenants' advisers involved in discussions on transfer of council stock.

Local Authority Funding

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will publish the (a) calculations and (b) assumptions used to reach the revised levels he has set for grant floor and ceilings following the Chancellor's announcement in the pre-Budget Report on 10 December. [144633]

Mr. Raynsford: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 16 December 2003, Official Report, column 856W.

Local Referendums

Bob Russell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what procedures are available to residents of shire boroughs and districts to request a referendum on a major local issue. [146571]

Mr. Raynsford: Residents may make representations to their local authority about holding referendums on any matter, including finance, which relates to the services for which the local authority is responsible, or to its power to promote the well-being of its area. The decision on whether to hold the referendum is for the local authority.

Millennium Dome

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much public money has been spent on the Millennium Dome in each week in the last three months; and if he will make a statement on the total amount of public money spent on the Dome since 1 January 2001. [145811]

Keith Hill: The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) was responsible for maintaining the Dome from its closure on 31 December 2000 to end of June 2001. During this period NMEC, funded by the National Lottery and not taxpayers, incurred costs of £8.2 million; although this was partially offset by £3.9 million of income from the sale of assets during the decommissioning stage.

English Partnerships (EP) took over responsibility in July 2001. Up to end of September 2003 EP incurred, net of VAT, expenditure of £26.6 million, after deduction of income from fee-paying events of £0.9 million. This figure (before deduction of income) is broken down as follows: management and maintenance (including staff costs) £6.5 million; decommissioning and site preparation for its long-term use £6.7 million; current sale process £7.6 million; earlier competition to find a long-term use for the Dome £6.7 million.

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Weekly figures are not readily available, and final cost figures are not yet available for the last quarter of 2003, as English Partnerships is awaiting a number of outstanding invoices. EP's costs incurred for the three months up to and including September 2003 were £1.05 million, comprising £385,000 on the current sale process and £665,000 on management and maintenance. The incurred monthly breakdown is as follows:


MonthCurrent Sale ProcessManagement and Maintenance (including staff costs)(20)Total

(20) Monthly costs include rates, utilities, security and maintenance, and English Partnerships' staff costs on management and maintenance of the Dome. Costs are calculated on an accruals basis and may be subject to reassessments, by the relevant authorities, of rates or other charges included in the cost of managing and maintaining the Dome.

All costs incurred by EP since it took over financial responsibility for the Dome in July 2001 and including the costs of the sale process will be recovered from eventual sale proceeds.

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