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15 Jan 2004 : Column 857W—continued

Security Passes

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many security passes have been reported (a) lost and (b) stolen by staff in departmental agencies in the last 12 months. [147906]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave to the hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Mr. Burstow) on 12 January 2004, Official Report, column 622W.

Staff Costs

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list salaries and wages costs for (a) general

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and senior managers, (b) nurses and midwives and (c) administrative and clerical staff for (i) 2002–03 and (ii) 2003–04, broken down by NHS trust. [146053]

Mr. Hutton: Provisional information for 2002–03, which remains subject to standard checks, has been placed in the Library.

Information for 2003–04 will not be available until after the financial year has ended.

Voluntary Euthanasia Society

Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many times the Government have consulted the Voluntary Euthanasia Society on end of life decision making since 1997, and on what issues. [146480]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We are not aware of any formal consultation with the Voluntary Euthanasia Society regarding end of life decision-making since 1997. The Government have been in dialogue with a range of groups, including the Voluntary Euthanasia Society, particularly during the preparation of a series of leaflets on making decisions on behalf of mentally incapacitated adults and continue to listen carefully to arguments put forward by all sides.



Norman Lamb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much income has been raised by the Crown Estates from dredging licences issued in respect of (a) all dredging offshore and (b) dredging of sites off the Norfolk coast, broken down by individual dredging licence, in (i) 2002 and (ii) 2003; and if he will make a statement. [147546]

Keith Hill: While my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is responsible for determining the environmental consents which are needed to support marine dredging licences issued by the Crown Estate, he has no responsibility for the Crown Estate itself or for its royalty revenues from marine minerals dredging.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 30 October 2003, Official Report, column 334W, which included information from the Crown Estate that stated that its royalty income for 2002 from marine minerals dredging off the Norfolk coast was £5.29 million. The Crown Estate has now informed me that its total royalty income for 2002 from all offshore marine minerals dredging was £13.02 million. Comparable figures for 2003 are not yet available. The Crown Estate has also advised me that its policy is to release financial details of individual licences or leases only with the agreement of the companies involved because the information can be commercially sensitive.

Information about marine dredging licences and licensees can be obtained from the Crown Estate website at

Failed House Sales

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister by what percentage he estimates the number of failed

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housing market transactions will fall as a consequence of the proposed introduction of homebuyers packs. [148302]

Yvette Cooper: Research carried out on behalf of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has indicated that under the present home buying and selling process 28 per cent. of transactions fail after terms have been agreed, and that this costs consumers some £350 million each year in wasted expenditure.

It is not possible to estimate accurately at this time by how much this failure rate will reduce following the introduction of home information packs. In evidence to the Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Committee an estate agent who has operated home information packs since 1996 said that in her agency the failure rate where homes are marketed with a pack is 3 per cent. compared to 26 per cent. where homes are marketed without a pack.

This reduction is due to information that could threaten or delay the transaction (e.g. a survey that both seller and buyer can rely on) being made available at the beginning of the process.


Mr. Gummer: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what estimate he has made of the job losses in (a) Suffolk and (b) East Anglia which will result from the regionalisation of the Fire Service; [146522]

Mr. Raynsford: The Government are not proposing to regionalise the fire and rescue service in the East of England. Suffolk county council will continue to be responsible for the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. The White Paper (Cm 5808) made clear that only where

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voters choose to have an Elected Regional Assembly will there be a change to the democratic accountability of the service.

The Government's overriding objective is to save lives by doing more to prevent fires occurring in the first place. The White Paper also set out the government's expectation that existing fire authorities, including those in the East of England, would develop robust regional management arrangements to deliver the functions which are most efficiently and effectively performed at a regional level. Under these arrangements staff numbers in the East of England will continue to be a matter for the individual Fire and Rescue Authority employers concerned.

Operationally, the benefits of the regional approach will be improved resilience to terrorism and to major incidents such as flooding, integrated modern control rooms with the latest technology and improved specialist fire investigation.

Financially, procurement, training and human resource functions will all benefit from standardisation and pooling of resources and expertise. It is not possible to provide a meaningful breakdown of the respective benefits these savings will bring to central Government, individual citizens and localities, but all will benefit from a reduction in the £6.63 billion annual cost of fire to the economy in England and Wales.

The Government are currently consulting on their draft National Framework for the Fire and Rescue Service. Those to whom the document has been sent include the Chairs of individual Fire Authorities, the Local Government Association and a wide range of bodies representing both retained and full time staff. Police authorities have not been specifically consulted, but comments from all stakeholders are invited by 12 March 2004.

In addition, all aspects of fire modernisation are discussed when we meet interested parties from time-to-time in the course of our Ministerial duties. The Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk attended the Fire and Rescue Service seminar on 3 December 2003 addressed by the right hon. Nick Raynsford MP and Phil Hope MP, and officials from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister expect to visit the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service shortly.

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister under what powers he would implement the regionalisation of the Fire Service without the consent of Suffolk county council. [146524]

Mr. Raynsford: It is expected that the voluntary arrangements proposed in the White Paper "Our Fire and Rescue Service" will succeed. However, the Fire and Rescue Services Bill will strengthen and streamline the existing power in Section 6 of the Fire Services Act 1947 to combine Fire and Rescue Authorities, after consultation with the existing authorities and other persons affected.

Mr. Gummer: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what evidence he has received to support his proposal that the fire station in Orford would provide a swifter and more efficient service if controlled by the same centralised system as Rickmansworth; [146529]

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Mr. Raynsford: The Government's conclusions about the benefits of a regional approach are set out in the White Paper "Our Fire and Rescue Service" (Cm 5808), and are informed by, a number of reviews of the service, culminating in the report of the Independent Review of the Fire Service published in December 2002. These reports are listed in the White Paper.

The Mott MacDonald report on the "Future of Fire and Rescue Service Control Rooms in England and Wales", published in December 2003, concluded that the optimum solution to secure efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of fire and rescue service control rooms would be nine control rooms in England one matched to the areas of the Government Offices for the Regions. The Government accepts the conclusions of the Mott MacDonald report, and is consulting on implementation. Copies of the report and a related one by Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate are available in the Library of the House.

A recent report by Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate concluded that local purchasing arrangements based on individual preferences are not the most efficient means of obtaining goods, services and equipment. I am placing copies in the Library. These documents, while not specific to East Anglia, are applicable to the area.

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