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29 Nov 2004 : Column 40W—continued

Local Government Funding (Hampshire)

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, when a grant will be allocated to Hampshire County Council on the basis of the 2001 population census; and if he will make a statement. [200232]

Mr. Raynsford: The mid-year population estimates, based on the 2001 population census, have been used in the distribution of Revenue Support Grant since 2003–04. The Local Government Finance Report (England) 2003–2004 was approved by the House on 5 February 2003.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) revised the mid-2001 population estimates on 9 September 2004. I announced the start of consultation on the Local Government Finance Report (England) 2003–2004:
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Amending Report 2005 on 18 November 2004. The Amending Report incorporates the changes to the population data.

Local Government Pension Scheme

Mr. Bill O'Brien: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what mechanism will be used to introduce the changes to retirement ages for members of the Local Government Pension Scheme; and if he will make a statement. [200499]

Phil Hope: Amendments to the Local Government Pension Scheme are made under powers in the Superannuation Act 1972, by Statutory Instrument subject to negative resolution procedure.

New Deal (Wandsworth)

Tom Cox: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, how much money from the New Deal for Communities programme has been spent in the London Borough of Wandsworth. [199671]

Keith Hill: None. There are 10 New Deal for Communities partnerships in London, but none are in the London Borough of Wandsworth.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Evans: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, to how many written questions tabled in the last parliamentary session his Department had been unable to provide a substantive answer before the end of the session. [199642]

Phil Hope: None.

Part P Registration

Mr. Gale: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, what estimate he has made of the (a) number and (b) percentage of contractors who will have registered as a Part P Competent Person by 1 January 2005. [199932]

Phil Hope: The operators report a steadily rising number of applications being received. More accurate details of Part P Competent Persons should be available in the new year when further progress has been made by scheme operators.

Mr. Gale: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, what information he has received concerning the availability of courses to enable contractors to qualify for Part P registration. [199933]

Phil Hope: Technical colleges throughout England and Wales are offering the relevant courses although many wishing to register with a Part P competent person scheme will already possess the required qualifications and will not need to attend a training course.

Mr. Gale: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, what his estimate is of the total cost to the contractor of Part P registration. [199934]

Phil Hope: The registration fees for Part P competent person schemes range from £300 to £800, depending on which scheme a contractor applies to join. There may be additional costs for electrical testing equipment or for training to acquire the necessary qualifications where a contractor does not already possess these.
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Mr. Gale: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, what provision his Department has made to increase the number of local authority inspectors to facilitate the enforcement of Part P registration; and if he will make a statement. [199935]

Phil Hope: Local authorities are not responsible for the registration of persons on Part P competent person schemes; this is done by the operators of such schemes.

Right to Buy

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans the Government have to extend the right to buy to more housing associations' tenants. [200291]

Keith Hill: Over 50 per cent. of housing association tenants already have the right to purchase their rented home through the right to buy and right to acquire schemes. The Government have no plans to extend the right to buy to more housing association tenants.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is exploring the option of offering an equity loan to social tenants, including those who do not currently have a right to buy or acquire their home, in order to meet their home ownership aspirations. This follows a recommendation of both the Home Ownership Task Force and the Barker review.

Street Properties (Battersea)

Martin Linton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, what the outcome was of the discussions that he and the Housing Corporation have had with the Peabody Trust concerning the proposed sale of street properties in Battersea. [199837]

Keith Hill: The Housing Corporation is continuing to have discussions with the Peabody Trust regarding its progress against its plan to achieve the Decent Homes Standard. The Trust's plans are underpinned by a financial strategy, which includes the sale of some older properties to fund the improvement programme. This includes selected properties in Battersea, which the Trust is considering for disposal. The Trust will ensure that the interests of residents are protected when considering these plans.

Transport Infrastructure Fund

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the (a) type and (b) location of projects to be funded from the transport infrastructure fund he announced in his oral statement of 13 July 2004, Official Report, column 1258. [200038]

Keith Hill: The Community Infrastructure Fund was announced in July 2004 as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. It comprises £50 million in 2006–07 and £150 million in 2007–08. It is designed to support the transport infrastructure costs required to enable faster housing development in the four Sustainable Communities Plan growth areas—Milton Keynes South Midlands; Thames Gateway; London-Stansted-Cambridge-Peterborough; and Ashford.

Guidance on the operation of the Fund was published on 19 November 2004. £34 million has been allocated to two bus schemes in the Thames Gateway—the East
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London and Greenwich Waterfront transits. No decisions have yet been taken on the allocation of the remainder of the money. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department for Transport will be working closely with local and regional partners to agree priorities for funding. Initial funding for successful schemes will be made available from April 2006.


Child Support Agency

Mr. John Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will ensure that the Child Support Agency informs the parent with care of all financial decisions regarding the non-resident parent; and if he will make a statement. [199415]

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. John Taylor, dated 29 November 2004:

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what criteria are used to decide whether a Child Support Agency client is to be assessed under the new or old system; and what arrangements are in place for moving cases between the two systems. [200317]

Mr. Pond: In general, new applications which take effect on or after 3 March 2003 are dealt with under the new arrangements. However if a new application is made within 13 weeks of the closure of an old scheme case, it may fall to be dealt with under the old arrangements.

Old scheme cases remain subject to the old rules. However some cases are converted early if they are linked to a new application. The circumstances in which this happens are prescribed in legislation. They include, for example, cases where a non-resident parent who already has an old scheme assessment is also the non-resident parent in relation to a new scheme application.

We will make a decision on the transfer of old scheme cases once we are sure that the new arrangements are working well and its IT is robust.

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