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27 Jan 2005 : Column 460W—continued

Nuclear Proliferation

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with the (a) Iranian Government and (b) North Korean Government on nuclear weapons. [210698]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 26 January 2005]: I discussed a range of issues with the Iranian Foreign Minister, Dr. Kamal Kharrazi on 22 April 2004 including Iran's nuclear programme. I have had no contact with members of the North Korean Government.


Building Regulations

Mr. Love: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he has taken to ensure that the standard assessment procedure for revised building standards accurately predicts carbon dioxide emissions; and if he will make a statement. [210887]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is working with the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Trade and Industry to ensure that the basis of the Standard Assessment Procedure and the data sets it calls for are as accurate as possible.

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the compliance of house builders with the 2002 Building Regulations standards concerning energy efficiency. [211084]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister commissioned airtightness tests on 55 new dwellings built in compliance with the 2002 requirements and it subsequently received from The Energy Saving Partnership for Homes the results of a further 99 similar tests on other new dwellings. The results of these tests were unsatisfactory and reinforced more general concerns about compliance with the Building Regulations energy efficiency requirements. These influenced the proposals for further amendments
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published last July and the ongoing work on better guidance, dissemination and training for house builders and others.

Fire Service

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what amendments have been made to the guidance contained in the Fire Service Circular No. 3/1995 since its publication. [211031]

Mr. Raynsford: No amendments have been made to the Home Office Guide To Fire Safety Planning And Management For Local Authority Fire Brigades", which accompanied Fire Service Circular No. 3/1995.
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Mr. Clapham: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) fire certificates have been (i) issued and (ii)amended and (b) exemptions from requirement to hold a fire certificate have been granted under the terms and conditions of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 by each fire and rescue authority in England and Wales in each year since 1999; and how many applications for the (A)issue and (B) amendment of a fire certificate by each fire and rescue authority were outstanding on 31 December 2004. [211032]

Mr. Raynsford: The number of fire certificates issued under the terms and conditions of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 by each fire and rescue authority in England and Wales in each year since 1999 are tabled as follows:
Number of Fire Precautions Act certificates issued in 1999–2000 to 2003–04

Fire and Rescue Service1999–20002000–012001–022002–032003–04
Bedfordshire and Luton203127167
County Durham and Darlington232515243
East Sussex2826282229
Greater Manchester187129149115113
Hereford and Worcester6129512527
Isle of Wight159236
Isles of Scilly10021
Mid and West Wales9985555531
North Wales4474292211
North Yorkshire7538435429
Royal Berkshire4856625272
South Wales8984576441
South Yorkshire5041737153
Tyne and Wear6751594657
West Midlands10787728011
West Sussex7952815829
West Yorkshire124110725550

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Records are not kept of either amended fire certificates issued or outstanding applications for amended certificates. Any amended certificates issued are counted in with fire certificates issued. In respect of outstanding applications for amended certificates, there is no statutory requirement for owners/occupiers of certificated premises to apply for amended certificates. Section 8 of the Fire Precautions Act requires the owner/occupier to inform the fire authority of any material structural changes to the building. The fire authority then has a duty, if satisfied with the proposals, either to amend the fire certificate or issue a new one. If not satisfied, the fire authority must issue a notice of steps to be taken before amending or issuing a new fire certificate.

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2004 to come into force; and what guidance he has given to fire and rescue authorities regarding the proper discharge of their statutory duties to enforce the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 in the interim period before the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2004 comes into force. [211033]

Mr. Raynsford: The decision on an appropriate date for the coming into force of the proposed Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order has not yet been taken.

The suite of guidance contained in Fire Precautions Act circulars stands good for the interim period. Supplementary advice on handling of applications for fire certificates has been issued, by the Chief Fire Officer's Association.

Five-year Plan

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to publish his Department's five-year plan. [210634]

Yvette Cooper: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, published on 24 January 2005, Official Report, columns 22–40, the Government's five-year housing plan Sustainable Communities: Homes for All".

Next week my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister will also publish a partner five-year plan Sustainable Communities: People, Places and Prosperity".

Freedom of Information

John Mann: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what categories of information are available under Freedom of Information legislation that have not been provided in written parliamentary answers by his Department in the last three years. [207827]

Yvette Cooper: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. Leslie), on 24 January 2005, Official Report, column 140W.
27 Jan 2005 : Column 464W

Licensing Act

Ross Cranston: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on local authority street cleaning costs; what representations his Department has received on the subject; and whether new money will be provided to meet additional costs for local street cleaning services resulting from the implementation of the Act. [210687]

Mr. Raynsford: In response to concerns raised by a number of local authorities, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister undertook an assessment of the potential knock on effects of the then Licensing Bill, including additional street cleansing costs, in 2003. Despite consulting 18 local authorities, the Local Government Association and the Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government, it proved impossible to produce robust evidence of any additional street cleansing costs. The available evidence was inconclusive on whether there would be an overall cost to local government. We continue to examine and monitor the situation.

During the recent discussions about the 2005–06 Local Government Finance Settlement, of the 233 representations received from local authorities, 21 made some reference to the impact of the Licensing Act. Representations about the costs to local authorities of the Licensing Act were also made during the Department of Media Culture and Sports consultation on licensing fees.

Funding for street cleaning is provided through the local government finance settlement. Total support from Government grant and business rates in 2005–06 will be £60.1 billion. That is £3.5 billion, or 6.3 per cent., more than in 2004–05. We believe that this substantial investment in local government and the scope for efficiency gains addresses the pressures faced by local government. There is no excuse for excessive increases in council tax.

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