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26 Feb 2004 : Column 553W—continued

Child Support Agency

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will investigate the Child Support Agency's treatment of Mrs. Christine Last of Leeds, Kent, case number YW436272D; and if he will make a statement. [156481]

Mr. Pond: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Mr. Doug Smith. He will write to the hon. Member with the information requested.

Letter from Doug Smith to Mr. Hugh Robertson, dated 26 February 2004:




Economic Inactivity

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the effects of economic inactivity on the children of economically inactive parents. [152940]

Mr. Pond: There are a number of DWP reports in this area that highlight a range of outcomes, mainly negative, for children whose parent or parents are not in employment. The reports are as follows and are available in the Library.




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External research has also substantiated the findings of DWP commissioned research.

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the relationship between economic inactivity and social exclusion. [152941]

Mr. Pond: The Government recognize that inactivity and social exclusion are closely related. An analysis of the extent and causes of inactivity and policies to address these is set out in the report "Full Employment in Every Region", produced jointly by the DWP and the Treasury and published in December 2003. The Government have made tackling poverty and social exclusion a key priority since 1997 and their strategy and progress is outlined in the DWP report "Opportunity for All; Fifth Annual Report 2003". Both reports are available in the Library.

Two other studies which show that becoming economically active and moving into work is associated with increased social inclusion, improved living standards, and self esteem are also available in the Library. These are Marsh and Rowlingson (2001), Low/Moderate-income families in Britain: Changes in 1999–2000. DWP Research Report 165 and Marsh and Perry (2003), Family Change 1999 to 2001. DWP Research Report 180.

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the status of Dupuytren's contracture is under the assessment criteria for industrial injuries disablement benefit. [155639]

Mr. Browne: Dupuytren's contracture is not a prescribed disease under the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme.

The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council (IIAC) has recently commenced a review of work-related upper limb disorders which it expects to complete by the middle of 2005.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

Brighton and Hove Local Plan

Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) whether the report of the planning inspector into the Brighton and Hove Local Plan will constitute a material consideration in respect of his determination of the called-in application proposing a football stadium at Falmer; [156368]

Keith Hill: The Inspector's report into the applications made by Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club are currently with my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister for decision. For reasons of procedural propriety the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is unable to discuss the details of the case.

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The decisions will be made on the basis of all the relevant available evidence. Representations received after the close of the public inquiry will be taken into account as far as they are relevant. In general terms the weight to be given to a material consideration will be considered as part of the decision process. It will be clear from the decision letter when issued what matters have been taken into account and the weight that has been attached to any particular matter.

Business Rate Relief

Brian Cotter: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact that his Department's proposals for business rate relief will have on businesses with a rateable value of more than £8,000. [156713]

Phil Hope: In the White Paper "Strong Local Leadership—Quality Public Services", December 2001, it stated that if relief were granted to all properties with a rateable value of under £8,000, then the funding of such relief would require an addition of 2.5 per cent. to the bills of other properties. However, as also stated in the White Paper, the relief will only be available where a property with a rateable value of under £8,000 is the only rateable property occupied by the business concerned. This will ensure that relief goes to small businesses, rather than small properties which may be owned in large number by a large business. This rule also means that the addition of 2.5 per cent. to the bills of other ratepayers may be too high an estimate. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is therefore undertaking research to determine the number of businesses that will be eligible for the relief and the addition required to the bills of other ratepayers to fund the relief. The results of this research will be available by July 2004.

Council Tax (Capping)

Mr. Chope: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he intends to exercise his capping powers in respect of the council tax increases announced by (a) Dorset Police Authority, (b) Dorset Fire Authority, (c) Christchurch borough council and (d) East Dorset district council. [156677]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will take a view on whether to exercise its capping powers once the budget information from all authorities has been considered.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

Chris Ruane: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many houses in multiple occupation there are in each ward in each principal seaside town in England, listed in descending order; and if he will make a statement on action he is taking to require landlords to improve housing standards in houses in multiple occupation. [154957]

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Keith Hill: Information about the number of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) by ward in seaside towns is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Housing Bill, introduced on 8 December 2003 is aimed at raising the standards of management and physical conditions in HMOs by requiring rented properties that represent the greatest risks to their occupants to be licensed by the local authority. Licensing will ensure that suitable managers suitably manage such properties. By identifying where they are and who their landlords are, the physical conditions in such properties can be more easily targeted under Part 1 of the Bill. Local authorities will be required to license larger HMOs of three storeys or more that are occupied by five persons. They will also have discretionary powers to license categories of smaller HMOs where there are particular problems that need to be addressed and when, following a local consultation, it is decided that alternative measures would not be entirely effective.

Planning Application (Vale of White Horse)

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the reasons were for the delay between the Government Office for the South-East informing the Vale of White Horse district council that its decision to permit the development in the case of the planning application (SUN/2963/11 or GOSE/103/3/VALE/29) for residential development on the Foxcombe Road site of the old Warnborough College on Boars Hill, near Oxford, was in breach of direction from the Secretary of State and his direction that the planning permission be referred to him. [156051]

Keith Hill: The 'decision' of the Vale of White Horse district council to 'grant' planning permission in December 1999, despite an Article 14 holding direction being in place, related to a previous application (SUN/2963/9), which was called in February 2000 but was subsequently withdrawn after the court action concerning the validity of the 'permission' was resolved in October 2000. Application SUN/2963/11 was referred to the Government Office of the South East on 13 December 2000 and called in on 19 February 2001.

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he has taken to amend his procedures following his submission to judgments in the High Court in April 2002 and September 2003 in the case of the planning application (SUN/2963/11 or GOSE/103/3/VALE/29) for residential development on the Foxcombe Road site of the old Warnborough College on Boars Hill, near Oxford. [156052]

Keith Hill: This particular case is unusual in its protracted nature. It is not considered necessary to amend the procedures and it is considered unlikely that this case would set a precedent for others. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will of course keep this under review.

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