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8 Feb 2005 : Column 1434W—continued

Building Regulations

Mr. Horam: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what conclusions he has reached following the collation of issues raised by the consultation on amendments to PartL of the Building Regulations. [214153]

Phil Hope: Officials within the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister completed the collation of over 400 separate responses to the Part L consultation in
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December and are considering the issues raised in conjunction with the Building Regulations Advisory Committee. As yet no conclusions have been reached.

Mr. Horam: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whatrepresentations he has received relating to the consultation on amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations on (a) the number of surveyors required to issue annual certificates and (b) the training required to implement these amendments. [214154]

Phil Hope: The consultation included proposals for implementing the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive as well as amending Part L. It is the Directive that calls for the engagement of surveyors to issue certificates but there is no requirement for these to be annual. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister received some representations in response to the consultation on the numbers of surveyors that may be needed and the means for training them and has just received a comprehensive report from industry and others addressing the issues.

Mr. Horam: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received urging for a delay in the implementation of revised building energy standards; what main reasons were given for the need for such a delay; and if he will make a statement. [214155]

Phil Hope: During the consultation on amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations and implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive we received some representations for deferring revised building energy standards citing this would allow more time for training resulting in better levels of compliance. Mindful of the need to implement the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive by 4 January 2006 we are considering how best to handle this and are progressing a project to develop better guidance, dissemination and training to improve compliance.

Mr. Horam: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether in preparing the fuel cost data for amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations he took account of recent variations in domestic energy prices; and whether he plans to make regular future updates of such data. [214156]

Phil Hope: The fuel cost data used in the draft RIA published in July 2004 as part of the consultation on the proposed amendments of Part L of the Building Regulations were based on published data that did not take recent variations into account. The final RIA to be published when the amendments are laid will be based on 2005 data. The fuel cost data used is reviewed at intervals of between three and five years.

Business Rates

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) rateable value thresholds, (b) rate relief levels and (c) multipliers operated (i) before and (ii) after the business rate revaluation. [213573]

Mr. Raynsford: The rate relief thresholds for 2004–05 and from 1 April 2005–06 are outlined as follows.
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Former agricultural premises6,0007,000
Unoccupied property1,9002,200
Petrol filling stations and public houses9,00010,500
LAs discretionary relief12,00014,000
Stud farms3,0003,500

Transitional arrangements

For the purposes of the transitional arrangements, a small property is defined as properties with a rateable value less than £12,000 outside London and £18,000 inside London. For 20005–06 this was increased to £15,000 outside London and £21,500 inside London. The thresholds were raised in line with the overall increase in rateable values resulting from the revaluation.

Non-domestic rate multipliers/poundage

Civil Servants

Mr. Laws: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost of the enhanced early retirement scheme for civil servants in his Department and its agencies was in each year from 1997–98 to 2003–04 and what the estimated cost will be in each year from 2004–05 to 2007–08; and if he will make a statement. [211651]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister includes the cost of early departures in its published Resource Accounts. Figures for years up to and including 2003–04 are therefore accessible from these accounts. Guidance on the accounting treatment of early departure costs can be found in sections 4.6 and 15.7 of the Treasury's (published) Resource Accounting Manual. Future years budgets are currently being considered in business planning.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the discretionary activities of local authorities which require consent of central Government to proceed in 2004–05. [213578]

Mr. Raynsford: The information requested is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Disabled Facilities Grants

Mr. Pike: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what funding has been available for disabled facilities grants in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [213301]

Yvette Cooper: The Government contributes towards 60 per cent. of local authority expenditure on disabled facilities grants (DFG) up to the limit of the allocation
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made to the authority at the beginning of the financial year, with the remaining 40 per cent. being met from elsewhere in local authorities' budgets.

Total DFG payments to local authorities in England by the Government over the last three years are tabled as follows:
£ million

Fire Brigade (Lancashire)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the future of the Lancashire fire brigade. [214804]

Mr. Raynsford: The Lancashire fire and rescue service operates under the direction of a fire and rescue authority made up of elected councillors from Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool. There are no plans to change these arrangements.

Fire Service

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions have taken place in each region between fire,
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ambulance and police services on how they will co-operate in the eventuality of regional control centres being set up for the fire service. [214010]

Mr. Raynsford: Cooperation between the emergency services, both at strategic level and at operational level, will be unaffected by the introduction of regional control centres. Existing channels for communications between emergency service control rooms will continue to be used. In addition, the three emergency services, defined as category 1 responders under the Civil Contingencies Act, have duties placed on them to co-operate with each other and other local responders to enhance co-ordination and efficiency.


Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many empty residential dwellings there have been in each Greater London borough in each year since 1997. [214558]

Keith Hill: The available information on empty residential dwellings in Greater London boroughs is tabled as follows. This data has been provided from a combination of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Housing Investment Programme return and Housing Corporation's Regulatory and Statistical return.
Total vacant dwellings at 1 April in London boroughs: 1997 to 2004

Local authority19971998199920002001200220032004
Barking and Dagenham1,5091,7272,0052,1721,3291,117775656
City of London3222(28)(28)31327540
Hammersmith and Fulham4,1084,0263,7104,1384,5574,1413,1912,180
Kensington and Chelsea8,387(28)1,6551,7156,0676,0406,0255,978
Kingston upon Thames(28)(28)(28)1,152(28)(28)(28)(28)
Richmond upon Thames2,4201,7141,6001,6291,7571,9471,953687
Tower Hamlets4,8945,0715,5075,3065,4294,6204,5196,430
Waltham Forest4,8404,9392,6013,0042,7393,9691,4703,397

(28)Denotes missing data. London total includes imputation for these missing values.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's annual Housing Investment Programme (HIP) returns and the Housing Corporation's annual Regulatory and Statistical return (RSR).

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Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much previously developed land has been (a) vacant and (b) derelict in each Greater London borough, in each year since 1997. [214560]

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Keith Hill: The following table shows amounts of land from the national land use database of previously-developed land. The information was collected from local authorities in 1998 and annually from 2001. Some London boroughs did not provide information in one or more years.
Vacant and derelict land and buildings by London borough: 1998 to 2003

Vacant land and buildings
Derelict land and buildings
London borough19982001200220031998200120022003
Barking and Dagenham74645n/a198986n/a
City of London11n/a(29)11n/a(29)
City of Westminster14n/a953n/a(29)(29)
Hammersmith and Fulham31614(29)32n/a(29)(29)
Kensington and Chelsea1n/a(29)n/a4n/a4n/a
Kingston upon Thames71n/a3(29)n/an/a(29)
Richmond upon Thames7n/a30n/a1n/a2n/a
Tower Hamletsn/a209n/an/a74n/a
Waltham Forest27251613221(29)

n/a=Not available
(29)Nil or less than 0.5 hectares
Totals are as reported by the London borough

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the effect in Crosby of the changes to council tenants' rights since 1997. [214595]

Keith Hill: Council tenants enjoy a number of robust individual and collective rights which are protected through the legislative and regulatory framework. These statutory rights were introduced under the Housing Act 1980 and subsequent housing legislation. Although there has been no specific strengthening of these rights since 1997, the Human Rights Act and Freedom of Information Act do confer additional powers for all sections of society, including council tenants.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much was received by Sefton in 2003–04 to help fund housing related services for vulnerable people through the Supporting People" programme. [214596]

Yvette Cooper: In 2003–04 Sefton metropolitan borough council received £7,274,310 through the Supporting People" programme of which, £6,995,282 was programme grant and £279,028 administration grant.

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