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Dr. Richard Taylor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the costs were of rebilling residents in the counties of Hereford and Worcester following the capping of the fire authority's funding; and whether this cost will have an effect on services. 
In designating Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority for capping in 200405, the Government took into account representations made by the authority, including the costs of retailing. The Office of the Deputy
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Prime Minister is confident that the authority can deliver a good service and carry out all its statutory functions within its revised budget requirement. The authority could have avoided the costs of retailing by not setting an excessive budget increase. It increased its budget requirement by 19.4 per cent. and council tax by 29.4 per cent.
Keith Hill: The inquiry into the proposed container terminal at Bathside Bay closed on 21 October. The inspector is currently preparing his report, which is expected to be submitted to the First Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Transport by the end of March. Decisions on the proposals will be issued as soon as the respective Secretaries of State have had sufficient opportunity to consider the inspector's recommendations.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) new builds, (b) demolition rebuilds and (c) private finance initiative projects in his Department in each of the last two years. 
The estimated capital cost of local authority led Private Finance Initiatives which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is supporting was £207.322 million in 2003 and £122.73 million 2004. The
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whole life cost of these Private Finance Initiative projects is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate costs.
Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister recognises the benefits of recruiting and retaining the highest calibre staff and allowing parents to make their own choices about where and what type of child care they want for their child.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister introduced a Childcare Voucher scheme on 1 November 2004 to replace the limited number of subsidised places it supported at a central London nursery. Eligible members of staff may claim a voucher valued at £23 per week. Since the scheme was introduced 58 members of staff have been placed on the scheme at an annualised cost of £69K.
The Planning Inspectorate provides five subsidised places at a local off-site crèche at a cost of £10.5K per annum. The Fire Service College provides 17 subsidised places at an on-site crèche at a cost of £39K per annum.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also participates in the Westminster Holiday Playscheme, which provides holiday care for children of school age. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister currently supports 31 staff for an average of two weeks in school holidays and subsidises 50 per cent. of the daily cost of £30.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total external spending by his Department was on public-private partnership consultants in each of the last two years; how many full-time equivalent consultants were employed over this period; how many billed consultancy days there were per year; what the implied average cost of each PPP consultant was; how many consultancy firms were used by his Department over this period; and if he will make a statement. 
Phil Hope: The total external spending by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on public private partnership consultants was £117,239.90 in 2003. There were no costs incurred in 2004. Two consultancy firms were used by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister over this period.
Mr. Syms: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the Department for Education and Skills to ensure that training courses for electricians are in place in preparation for the commencement of Part P of Building Regulations. 
None, but officials from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have talked to the Learning and Skills Council, Summit Skills, the Institution of Electrical Engineers, the Electrical Contractors
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Association, the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting and others about the provision of training for electricians.
Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many cash incentive scheme grants were made by each local authority in London in 200304; and what the total value of these grants was in each authority. 
number of grants
|Kingston upon Thames||8||159|
|Waltham Forest||9||. 265|
Keith Hill: Regular monitoring information shows that both the number and average size of Cash Incentive Scheme grants in 200304 were similar to figures before deregulation, which came into effect from 1 April 2003. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has yet to assess the specific impact of deregulation.
Phil Hope: I refer my hon. Friend to the answers given to him on 14 and 15 September 2004, Official Report, columns 1527W and 1601W respectively, which set out the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's proposed amendments to the Local Government Pension Scheme. The relevant statutory consultation and summaries of the proposed amendments are available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website at: www.xoq83.dial.pipex.com/availabledoc.htm. The statutory consultation exercise ended on 30 June, the responses have been considered and an amended SI is expected to be laid before Parliament shortly.
Phil Hope: Since 1 April 2000, 40 local authorities in England have been allowed to treat as capital expenditure the making of lump-sum payments into their pension funds most under a time limited scheme that has now expired. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is about to issue guidance on the circumstances in which we shall be willing to allow such treatment in future. The authorities in question were the following:
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