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29 Mar 2004 : Column 1256Wcontinued
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received from mountaineering organisations in relation to the Health and Safety Executive's proposed regulation for working at height; and if he will make a statement. 
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Mr. Browne: My right hon. Friend has received 11 letters in the past year with regard to the impact of proposed Work at Height Regulations on outdoor activities, such as climbing, caving, hill walking, and mountaineering. None of these letters were sent by mountaineering organisations, although two of the letters expressed specific concern about how the proposed regulations would impact on mountaineering.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what research his Department has conducted into the impact of the Health and Safety Executive's proposed regulation for working at height upon (a) mountaineering, (b) hill walking, (c) abseiling, (d) rock climbing and (e) caving; and if he will make a statement. 
However, the regulations are expected to have little impact on these activities where the organisations concerned fully comply with the existing standards and practices laid down by their governing bodies.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the impact of the Health and Safety Executive's proposed regulations for working at height on the rural economy; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Browne: While the impact on the rural economy has not been estimated, the Regulatory Impact Assessment for the Work at Height Regulations states that 'the costs per business are only around £100 per year'. However, it is worth noting that falls from height are the second largest factor in work place fatalities in the agricultural sector, resulting in 75 fatalities in the past 10 years, and such accidents damage the viability of rural businesses.
Keith Hill: Using data from the Survey of English Housing (SEH) for the first three-quarters of the 200304, the estimated number of household reference persons 1 (HRPs) in England that have a mortgage and are (a) below retirement age was 8,196,000 (55 per cent. of HRPs in this age group), (b) above retirement age was 307,000 (5 per cent. of HRPs in this age group).
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Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment has been made as part of the current Balance of Funding Review of the conclusions of the Layfield Committee's report in 1974 concerning a combination of property tax and income tax. 
Phil Hope: The remit of the Balance of Funding Review is to review all aspects of the balance of funding, review the evidence, and look at reform options. Evidence presented by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy to the Review Steering Group on 4 March has looked at many of the practical details of a possible local income tax, including some of the effects of combining it with council tax.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what measures have been taken to ensure that the Balance of Funding Review in England and the concurrent review commissioned in Wales by the Welsh Assembly Government co-operate effectively where appropriate. 
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment has been made in the Balance of Funding Review of a local income tax on individuals differentiated by income and property value. 
Phil Hope: The Balance of Funding Review Steering Group has heard evidence on the pros and cons of a number of options for reform raised in its public consultation. It heard from the New Policy Institute on 15 January on possible reforms to council tax, and from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy on 4 March on the introduction of a local income tax.
Yvette Cooper: This research is due to be completed by the end of April. Officials in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will then make arrangements for making it publicly available. This report is intended to assist local authorities in setting appropriate standards that can deliver well-designed sustainable residential environments, in both rural and urban areas, as is required by PPG3.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also intends that key messages in this report will form part of the revised guidance on the design and layout of residential streets, which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Department for Transport will jointly produce.
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|Category 1 and 2 Voids(59)||200|
|Category 3 Voids(60)||30|
|Difficult to Let||137|
|Long Term Voids(61)||96|
(59) Minor/major repairs
(60) Major repairs
(61) Held for disposal, demolition, decant, suspended, etc.
This represents 2.66 per cent. of total stock
Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the (a) total budget, (b) funding from his Department, (c) administration budget and (d) staff cost to his Department for the review of the needs indices used in the allocation of housing capital resources to local authorities and registered social landlords were for financial years (i) 200203 and (ii) 200304; and if he will make a statement on the (A) current and (B) future work of the review. 
Keith Hill: The staff and other costs of the regular updating and periodic review of the needs indices used in the allocation of housing capital resources are not identified separately from other activity on allocation of housing capital resources. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be looking at the future role and development of these indices in the 2004 Spending Review.
Mr. Luff: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his estimate is of the effective increase in the Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority's precept for the next financial year; and if he will cap the authority. 
Mr. Raynsford: Alternative notional amounts for the 200304 budgets of authorities affected by combined fire authorities precepting for the first time in 200405 were laid in Parliament on 25 March in the "Limitation of Council Tax and Precepts (Alternative Notional Amounts) Report (England) 2004/05". The report is subject to the approval of Parliament.
In the case of the Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority, the alternative notional amount shown in the draft report equals the figure shown in "Fire Service Circular 7/2004", issued on 24 February 2004. Circular 7/2004 also stated the corresponding indicative Band D council tax for the authority for 200304 as £46.54.
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The Band D council tax set by the Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority for 200405 is £60.21. This was published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 25 March in Table 2 of "News Release 2004/0069" at: http://www.Iocal.odpm.gov.uk/finance/ctax/ctax045.htm
We need to consider the 200405 budget information that we have received from local authorities before taking decisions on capping. We aim to notify authorities that may be in line for capping by the end of April.
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