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21 Feb 2005 : Column 326W—continued


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy min Minister what plans the Government have to continue funding for e-government after the completion of IEG4. [216648]

Phil Hope: Following the Office of the Deputy min Minister's notification of a satisfactory IEG4 return, local authorities in England will be eligible to apply for further IEG capital grant of £150,000 towards achieving e-government covering the period 1 April 2005–31 March 2006. The equivalent IEG capital grant for National Park Authorities in 2005–06 is £100,000.

Empty Dwellings

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy min Minister how many empty homes there have been in each Government Office Region in England in each year since 1997. [216037]

Keith Hill: The available information on empty residential dwellings in England by Government Office region is tabled as follows:
Vacant dwelling stock at 1 April, 1997 to 2004

North East41,00044,00049,00050,00046,00047,00044,00040,000
North West125,000126,000127,000138,000141,000136,000135,000128,000
Yorkshire and the Humber81,00086,000100,000100,000100,00094,00088,00085,000
East Midlands67,00067,00067,00068,00063,00058,00059,00059,000
West Midlands73,00078,00077,00080,00079,00077,00073,00076,000
East of England81,00073,00070,00070,00063,00064,00063,00060,000
South East101,00096,00095,00087,00086,00085,00081,00084,000
South West78,00070,00067,00064,00068,00071,00076,00063,000

The Office of the Deputy min Minister's Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix return and Housing Corporation's Regulatory and Statistical Return.

Exchange Flags

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Deputy min Minister what progress has been made in reinvesting in Liverpool the sum repaid by the Walton Group in respect of Exchange Flags, as promised by his Department on 4 April 2003. [216461]

Yvette Cooper: English Partnerships (EP), the Government's national regeneration agency, is currently working on a number of schemes in Liverpool including one to significantly enhance the Lime Street Gateway. This will include new public space, improved accessibility and potentially a new landmark building. English Partnerships will seek to allocate the Exchange Buildings windfall to a scheme including environmental improvements, in line with the intention behind the original grant. One option is the proposed investment in the Lime Street scheme where EP is working with Liverpool Vision, Liverpool city council, Network Rail, Merseytravel and the private sector.

Detailed design work and financial analysis is ongoing with a view to obtaining the necessary approvals for this scheme by the summer.

Fire Authority (Lancashire)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy min Minister if he will make provision for district council representation on the Fire Authority in Lancashire. [216212]

Mr. Raynsford: The Lancashire Combined Fire Authority comprises of 25 councillors representing Lancashire County and the Unitary Authorities of Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool. There are no proposals to alter the composition of the Authority.

Fire Deaths (Leicester, South)

Mr. Gill: To ask the Deputy min Minister how many fire-related deaths in dwellings in Leicester, South there were in each year since 1997. [216937]

21 Feb 2005 : Column 327W

Phil Hope: This information is not published at constituency level. Fire statistics are compiled by the Office of the Deputy min Minister for each fire and rescue authority. In this case, Leicester, South's fires and casualties are reported as part of the Leicestershire total.

Figures supplied by the Leicestershire fire and rescue service are tabled as follows:
Fire related deaths in dwellings: Leicester, South constituency, 1997 to date

2005 (to date)0

Fire Service

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy min Minister what his Department's estimate is of the (a) capital and (b) start-up cost of the Firelink communications system. [216614]

Mr. Raynsford: This information is commercially sensitive. The Office of the Deputy min Minister is conducting an open competition under EU procurement procedures for the Firelink contract, with a view to letting a contract by mid 2005. The imperative is to run a fair and open competition in order to deliver best value for money for the public purse.

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy min Minister what advice he has given to fire and rescue authorities regarding retention of skilled fire control staff in the period up to the introduction of regional fire control centres in 2007–08. [216618]

Mr. Raynsford: Fire and Rescue Authorities are the employers of control staff and are best placed to understand what is required to retain them. The Office of the Deputy min Minister has provided draft guidance to the Employers' Organisation, which they may wish to use. It has also indicated a willingness to fund sensible retention programmes devised by local Fire and Rescue Authorities taking into account the proximity of the location of existing controls to the RCC, the local employment market and other local conditions, and provided for the first element of those costs in 2005–06 under new burdens" principles.

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy min Minister what estimate his Department has made of the capital receipt that would be achieved from the sale of radio spectrum released by the fire and rescue services upon completion of the Firelink Project. [216624]

Mr. Raynsford: The sale of spectrum is a matter for Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Deputy min Minister what recent studies his Department has commissioned on fire services. [217150]

21 Feb 2005 : Column 328W

Mr. Raynsford: The following sets out recent studies (commissioned in this financial year) that were commissioned by the Office of the Deputy min Minister on fire services (or their work):

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Deputy min Minister how many firefighters were (a) wounded and (b) killed on duty in (i) 2004 and (ii) each of the previous seven years. [217151]

Mr. Raynsford: The latest available information reported to the Office of the Deputy min Minister by fire and rescue services via the FDR1 return is in the following table:
Firefighter casualties incurred while fighting fires in England, 1997–2003

Fatal casualtiesNon fatal casualties(175)

(175) Excludes precautionary checks
(176) Provisional
Fire and Rescue Service returns to ODPM

21 Feb 2005 : Column 329W

From others sources; there were two firefighter fatalities reported in 2004. Full information on non fatal injuries to firefighters in 2004 is not available at present.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Deputy min Minister what representations he has received on the impact his proposed regional reorganisation of the fire service will have on services in North Yorkshire; and if he will make a statement. [215953]

Mr. Raynsford: The North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service operates under the direction of a Fire and Rescue Authority made up of elected councillors from York and North Yorkshire. The Office of the Deputy min Minister has no plans to change these arrangements.

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