Previous Section Index Home Page


12 Feb 2004 : Column 1649W—continued

Council Tax

Mr. Byers: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the range of values would be for each council tax band at today's prices. [154879]

Mr. Raynsford: Using the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's quarterly index of house price movements, the average increase in prices in England from the second quarter (April–June) of 1991—approximately when the original council tax valuations were based—to the fourth quarter (October-December) of 2003 was 139 per cent.

If the current English council tax bands were uprated by this amount (and rounding to the nearest £5,000), the bands would be as follows:

£
Band AUp to 95,000
Band B95,000 to 125,000
Band C125,000 to 165,000
Band D165,000 to 210,000
Band E210,000 to 285,000
Band F285,000 to 385,000
Band G385,000 to 765,000
Band HOver 765,000

This index is based only on sales of property and may not fully reflect changes in the value of social housing.

Elderly People (Safety)

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what action the Government has taken to promote safety at home for elderly people. [153816]

Mr. Sutcliffe: I have been asked to reply.

The Department continues to make available a range of safety material targeted at elderly people, and to work with partner organisations.

High-rise Housing

Mr. Burns: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) central and (b) local government regulations and policy governs whether families should be housed (i) in high-rise housing accommodation and (ii) on floors higher than the second floor of an apartment block. [154193]

Keith Hill: The allocation legislation requires that housing authorities ensure that reasonable preference for an allocation of accommodation is given to certain categories of persons. These include people living in insanitary, overcrowded and unsatisfactory housing conditions. The Office of the Deputy Prime minister has issued statutory guidance that provides housing authorities with examples of indicators which might be taken into account in determining whether people are living in unsatisfactory housing conditions. These include children in flats or maisonettes above the ground floor. There is nothing to prevent housing authorities devising their own local indicators in addition, or in place of this.

12 Feb 2004 : Column 1650W

Housing

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many councils have been required to release reserve sites for housing development as a consequence of failing to meet house building targets. [154819]

Keith Hill: None.

Housing Stock Transfer

Mr. Purchase: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his oral answer of 4 February 2004, Official Report, column 748, how many of the 790,000 council homes have been transferred to arm's length management organisations; and what proportion of the extra £8 billion private investment to which he referred has been attracted to ALMOs. [154311]

Keith Hill: The figures quoted relate to transfer of homes to registered social landlords under the large scale voluntary transfer option, rather than homes managed by arm's length management organisations (ALMOs). ALMOs currently in the programme cover just under 500,000 dwellings and have been allocated nearly £900 million of public funding to bring homes up to the Decent Homes standard.

Local Authority Employees

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the proportion of local authority employees to adult population was in each (a) unitary authority, (b) metropolitan authority and (c) shire county on the latest date for which figures are available. [153601]

Mr. Raynsford: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Information on full-time and part-time employee jobs in English local authorities is held by the Employers Organisation and data on the population in each English authority are available from the 2001 census. Using these data the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has calculated the proportion of local authority employees to total population in the categories of local authority requested. A table showing these data is available in the Library of the House. It should be noted that the population figures refer to the total population of each authority rather than just the adult population.

Pathfinder Projects

Mr. Pike: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many of the housing renewal pathfinder project areas he has visited in the last 12 months. [154028]

Keith Hill: The Deputy Prime Minister has visited six of the nine housing renewal pathfinder project areas in the last 12 months.

Regional Government

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he will list the proposed powers of regional assemblies; [154394]

12 Feb 2004 : Column 1651W

Mr. Raynsford: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Under-Secretary of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Phil Hope) to my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) on 8 December 2003, Official Report, column 347W.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Burma

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on his Department's relations with the military regime in Burma. [155225]

Mr. Rammell: We have full diplomatic relations with Burma and continue to press the military regime to enter into a substantive and meaningful dialogue with all political parties and ethnic groups in Burma leading to national reconciliation, democratisation and full respect for human rights. We have repeatedly called on the regime to release Daw Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, to release all political prisoners, and to re-open NLD offices in Burma.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress his Department is making in tackling the human rights situation in Burma (a) bilaterally and (b) in the UN. [155226]

Mr. Rammell: We continue to raise our concerns on human rights in Burma bilaterally and through the UN at every opportunity. We co-sponsored the UN General Assembly Human Rights Resolution on Burma last December and will play an active role in the forthcoming UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. We strongly support the efforts of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights, Sergio Pinheiro. The EU has repeatedly condemned Burma's lack of progress on forced labour, most recently at the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) meeting in Geneva on 20 November 2003.We fully support the work of the ILO and have called upon the Burmese authorities to end permanently the use of forced labour.

China

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the human rights record of China since the killings in Tiananmen Square in 1989, with particular reference to (a) the treatment of cyber-dissidents, (b) the treatment of Uighur separatists, (c) the use of torture and the death penalty and (d) respect for political and religious freedom in Tibet. [154646]

Mr. Rammell: We monitor the human rights situation in China closely and raise our concerns both at the biannual UK/China Human Rights Dialogue and at ministerial level meetings. Most recently I raised human rights issues with Vice Minister Zhang Yesui of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 17 December 2003.

The last round of our biannual UK/China Human Rights Dialogue was held in Beijing on 10 to 11 November 2003. We raised our concerns about a wide range of issues, including:

12 Feb 2004 : Column 1652W





Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make it his policy to oppose the lifting of the European Union arms embargo on China; and if he will make a statement. [154648]

Mr. Rammell: The European Council on 12 December 2003 invited the General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) to re-examine the EU Arms Embargo on China. The GAERC met on 26 January 2004 and decided to remit the issue to the relevant working groups for detailed examination. The issue will revert to a future GAERC.

We welcome the review and are currently considering the UK's position. In the meantime, we will continue fully to implement the Arms Embargo.


Next Section Index Home Page