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Mr. Burns: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the date of the public inquiry into the compulsory purchase order relating to the development of the Anglia Polytechnic University site in Victoria Road South, Chelmsford will be announced. 
Keith Hill: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not have the power to carry out investigations of companies that own and/or manage residential leasehold properties. Investigations into companies under company law are the responsibility of the Companies Investigations Branch at the Department of Trade and Industry, who are able to consider applications for, and carry out investigations.
However, through the wide-ranging leasehold provisions in the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has significantly improved the rights of long leaseholders. These provisions include the right to ask a leasehold valuation tribunal to determine the liability to pay, and the reasonableness of, administration charges.
On 16 November the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also made the 5th Commencement Order which will bring into force the latest phase of provisions to protect leaseholders and improve their rights. These will include the requirement for landlords to demand ground rent in a prescribed manner before being able to take any action or imposing penalties for late payment, and will prevent landlords from forfeiting leases as a result of trivial debts consisting of ground rent, service charges and administration charges (or a combination of them) where the debt does not exceed £350, unless all or any part of the sum has been outstanding for more than three years. These provisions will come into effect from 28 February 2005.
Jon Trickett: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the estimates of the number and proportion of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) with three or more storeys contained in section 3 of the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions 1999 report on HMOs in the private rented sector. 
Keith Hill: The "English House Condition Survey 1996: Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in the private rented sector" report, published in 1999, estimated that around 40 per cent. of private rented sector HMOs (excluding converted flats) had three or more storeys. This suggests that of the 447,000 private rented sector HMOs (excluding converted flats), about 179,000 were of three or more storeys. This figure covers traditional HMOs, shared houses and households with lodgers. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will take these estimates into account in deciding where to draw the threshold for mandatory licensing as provided by the Housing Act 2004.
Michael Fabricant: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average length of time was between the date of invoices issued to his Department from a supplier and payment by the Department of the invoice in the last 12 months for which figures are available; what percentage of these invoices were paid within 30 days of the date of issue of the invoice; what percentage of these invoices remained unpaid after 90 days; and if he will make a statement on the Department's policy on the payment of invoices issued to it. 
Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was formed in May 2002. During the period 1 November 2003 to 31 October 2004 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister paid supplier invoices, on average, within 4.93 days. During this period, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister paid 98.87 per cent. of undisputed invoices within 30 days or the agreed credit terms. The percentage of invoices that remained unpaid after 90 days in this period is 0.1 per cent.
The policy in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is that all valid invoices not in dispute should be paid within 30 days from receipt. The target in the Office of
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the Deputy Prime Minister for 200405 is to pay 98 per cent. of valid invoices within 30 days of receipt. This target and progress on achieving it is monitored every month.
prevent landlords from forfeiting leases as a result of trivial debts consisting of ground rent, service charges and administration charges (or a combination of them) where the debt does not exceed £350, unless all or any part of the sum has been outstanding for more than three years.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the planning regulations which permit motor racing events on farms or other land holdings; and what restrictions apply, with particular reference to the ability to control similar events on other holdings in an area. 
Keith Hill: Part 4 of the "Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995" (the GPDO) grants a general planning permission for the temporary use of land for up to 28 days in any calendar year, subject to a number of restrictions and conditions. The general permission for motor sports, however, is limited to not more than 14 days in total, in recognition that they may, in some locations, cause problems such as parking, environmental damage, and noise. The use of land for motor sports for greater than 14 days would generally require an application for planning permission.
Unless a planning condition or other legal obstacle (such as a restrictive covenant) affects the situation, development permitted by the GPDO cannot be prevented except by the local authority using its powers under Article 4 of the GPDO to withdraw permitted development rights.
However, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's guidance to authorities emphasises that these powers should be used only in exceptional circumstances. They are intended for use where there is a real and specific threat to the proper planning or amenities of a limited area.
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Whether to make a direction is entirely a decision for the local planning authority, though in the case of directions made under Article 4(1), approval by the Secretary of State is necessary for the direction to take effect.
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