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31 Jan 2005 : Column 641W—continued

TV Licences

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many households in Northern Ireland are estimated to have a television set for which there is no television licence. [210604]

Estelle Morris: The BBC have indicated that the data required to produce accurate estimates is not available for the nations and regions. However, as the hon. Member may be aware, the National Audit Office's 2002 report 'The BBC: Collecting the Television Licence Fee' indicated that the estimated evasion rate for Northern Ireland at the end of March 2001 was 17.6 per cent.

Working at Height

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions she has had with the (a) Royal Yachting Association and (b) Bristol Mountaineering Council about regulations involving working at heights. [211740]

Mr. Caborn: The Working at Height regulations are the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), so neither I nor the Secretary of State have conducted any discussions with either the Royal Yachting Association or the British Mountaineering Council. However, I understand that the HSE is exploring the issue and its impact upon the adventure activities sector.



Dr. Cable: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) how much was spent on e-government in each year from 2001 to 2004 (a) in total and (b) broken down by Government Department; [208648]

(2) what estimate he has made of the savings made by each Government Department in each year from 2001 to 2004 arising from the introduction of e-government services. [208519]

Mr. Miliband: The Cabinet Office does not collect information on individual Departments' spend on e-government. However, in the 2002 Spending Review, the Government committed £6 billion to the development of electronic government over a three year period.

The Spending Review 2004 (SR04) reported that significant investment in ICT in both central and local government is streamlining the delivery of services to the public, cutting transaction costs and reducing paperwork. Examples of efficiency gains can be found in the Spending Review, copies of which are available in the Library and at:

SR04 also indicated that the e-Government Unit will play a key role in accelerating and underpinning the changes necessary for the achievement of departmental efficiency gains through transactional services. The
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required outcome of this is efficient delivery of high quality public services resulting in a total of £1.3 billion in departmental efficiency gains over a three year period.

Freedom of Information

John Mann: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what categories of information are available under Freedom of Information legislation that have not been provided in written parliamentary answers by his office in the last three years. [207823]

Mr. Milburn: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 24 January 2005, Official Report, column 140W, by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Mr. Leslie).

Ministerial Cars

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the average cost of providing a car and driver to enable a Government Minister to carry out official duties was in the last year for which figures are available; and what the average cost was in that year for (a) a Cabinet Minister and (b) a Minister outside the Cabinet. [208193]

Mr. Miliband: The responsibility for the provision of ministerial cars and drivers has been delegated under the terms of the Framework Document to the Government Car Despatch Agency. I have asked its chief executive Mr. Nick Matheson to write to the hon. Member. Copies of his letter will be placed in the Library.


Building Regulations

Mr. Stringer: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what response he has received from (a) the Better Regulation Task Force and (b) the Small Business Service to (i) his proposed revision of part L of the building regulations and (ii) the proposed revised standard assessment procedure. [211586]

Phil Hope: The Government's proposals for revising the Building Regulations Part L were published for consultation last July. The consultation document which included a draft regulatory impact assessment was not referred to the Better Regulation Task Force. It was referred to the Small Business Service, which pointed to the need for the Small Firms Impact Test to be undertaken.

The Government's Standard Assessment Procedure for the Energy Rating of Dwellings is a method of calculation which is promulgated by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and it is currently under review. It is not a regulatory instrument and has not been referred to the Task Force or the Small Business Service.

Business Rates

Brian Cotter: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1)how his Department reached the assessment in the final regulatory impact assessment on the Local
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Government Act 2003—Small Business Rate Relief that over 400,000 businesses would benefit from small business rate relief; [212032]

(2) how many of the hereditaments in England with a rateable value of less than £25,000 are defined as small businesses. [212033]

Mr. Raynsford: Small Business Rate Relief is applied to qualifying properties with a rateable value under £10,000 while qualifying properties under the thresholds (£15,000 outside Greater London and £21,500 inside Greater London) pay the lower small business rate multiplier.

The scheme is aimed at businesses occupying a single small property and so is not available to larger businesses with several small hereditaments (e.g. a chain of small shops, a company with many advertising rights).

About 1,017,000 hereditaments outside London have a rateable value (RV) less than £15,000 and 196,000 hereditaments within Greater London are under £21,500 RV. Because the rating list does not distinguish between those occupied by large companies with many small hereditaments from those occupied by businesses occupying a single hereditament, the Government conducted research in early 2004 on the likely eligibility for the relief. This research indicated that around 350,000 businesses would benefit. A summary of this research is on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website.

This figure was based on a proposed threshold of £8,000 and was revised when the threshold was set at £10,000. The new estimates indicated that about 430,000 would be eligible for the relief and this was reflected in the consultation paper and RIA as over 400,000".

As a result of the feedback from the consultation, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister further extended the eligibility for the relief by allowing applicants to discount additional properties with a rateable value below £2,200. We estimate that this will further increase the eligibility for the relief.


Mr. Dawson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the occasions on which (a) Ministers and (b) officials in his Department have communicated with Canatxx Gas Storage Ltd., Canatxx Energy Ventures Ltd. or a company associated with Canatxx (i) by letter, (ii) by e-mail, (iii) by telephone and (iv) in person; and if he will publish the content of such communication on the departmental website. [209828]

Yvette Cooper: As of 31 January 2005, we are not aware of any occasions on which Ministers or officials in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have communicated with Canatxx Gas Storage Ltd., Canatxx Energy Ventures Ltd. or any company known to be associated with Canatxx.


Andrew Selous: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether casinos will remain within the D2 planning category; and if he will make a statement. [211464]

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Keith Hill: After the second report of the Joint Scrutiny Committee on the Gambling Bill my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister undertook to review the possibility of a new 'use class' for casinos.

On 1 November, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport announced that the Government had agreed in principle to require a change of use to a casino to be subject to planning control. Therefore, the Government are minded to change the use classes order but this is subject to further detailed consideration of the outcome of the review and the usual consultation.

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