Previous Section Index Home Page

5 Jul 2005 : Column 322W—continued

Telephone Boxes (London)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many public telephone boxes have been removed in each London borough in each of the last five years; and what the most recent figures are for the total numbers of public telephone boxes in each borough. [9442]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister do not hold the information requested centrally and it could be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

Tenants' Rights

Keith Vaz: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to promote methods for tenants to obtain equity stakes in their homes. [6447]

Yvette Cooper: We have set out proposals for a social homebuy scheme, which would provide new opportunities for social tenants to buy a share of their rented home, in our consultation document Homebuy—Expanding the Opportunity to Own" (a copy of which is available from the Library of the House).

Under our proposals, participating social tenants would buy at least 50 per cent. (or as large a share as they could afford) of their home's discounted value using any savings they have and/or a mortgage. We are consulting on two options for applying a monthly charge, similar to social rent, on the outstanding share: under one, this rent would apply to the entire outstanding share; under the other, this rent would only apply to outstanding shares worth more than 25 per cent. of the equity.

Consultation will close on 24 June. We intend to announce decisions in the autumn after considering responses, and to put new arrangements in place by April 2006.

Under-occupation (Brent)

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact of the London borough of Brent's policy of offering financial incentives to under-occupying tenants willing to move to smaller accommodation. [6394]

Yvette Cooper: Local authorities are responsible for developing a strategy for tackling housing issues in their area. Careful consideration needs to be given to the role provision of assistance to existing tenants to help them move to other accommodation, in either the social or private sector, might play.

In deciding their general policy on assistance, authorities need to be clear when giving financial support that it will be used in obtaining suitable
5 Jul 2005 : Column 323W
alternative long-term accommodation, that it represents good value for money and impacts on reducing housing pressures.

University Accommodation

Jim Cousins: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what decision has been made on whether accommodation (a) owned, (b) managed and (c) leased on behalf of universities and further education institutions will be exempt from the provisions of the Housing Act 2004. [6315]

Yvette Cooper: Regulations may be made specifying that certain accommodation managed by universities or other higher education establishments are not houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) for any purposes of the Housing Act 2004 (except part 1), and therefore not subject to the HMO licensing requirements. When deciding whether to exempt such accommodation from the licensing requirements, regard may be had to the extent to which the establishment is in conformity with any approved code of management practice.

Discussions with Universities UK and the Accreditation Network UK are well advanced on finalising the provisions of such a code, and compliance with it, by the end of July. This will enable any exceptions from HMO licensing to be in place when, as expected, the licensing provisions come into force in October.


Special Advisers

Bob Spink: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list (a) the special advisers in his Department, (b) their specific areas of expertise and (c) the total cost of employing them in the latest year for which figures are available. [8833]

Mr. Hutton: I refer the hon. Member to the response given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 4 July 2005, Official Report, column 36W.



Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the social and political situation in Afghanistan. [9313]

Dr. Howells: Everyday life for ordinary Afghans is continuing to improve. A nationwide development programme to support rural infrastructure has been established in over 3,500 communities across 31 provinces. 5.5 million children returned to school by March 2004 and over a third of Afghan schoolchildren are now girls. 72 hospitals, clinics and women's health care centres have been rebuilt. A vaccination campaign has almost eradicated polio and over 11 million children have been immunised against measles. A programme of water chlorination and well reconstruction is tackling water-borne diseases across the country.
5 Jul 2005 : Column 324W

Politically, the presidential election held in October 2004 was a tremendous success for the Afghan people. 70 per cent. of Afghans eligible to vote turned out, 40 per cent. of them women. Good progress is being made in preparations for the parliamentary and provincial elections scheduled for 18 September, with over 6,000 candidates and around 70 political parties registered to take part. A month-long voter registration programme launched on 25 June will update the electoral roll from the presidential election by some two million voters who were either not eligible or did not register in 2004.

Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the effectiveness of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention will next be reviewed. [8401]

Dr. Howells: States Party to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention agreed at the Fifth Review Conference that the next review of the Convention would be before the end of 2006. No specific dates have yet been agreed by States Party.


Mr. Mullin: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Sunderland, South of 13 May on behalf of a constituent, Cheryl Dennison. [9939]

Ian Pearson: I replied to my hon. Friend on 4 July.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what expenditure his Department has incurred in pursuit of its Objective 4: A strong role for the UK in a strong Europe, responsive to people's needs in each of the last five years, broken down by area of expenditure. [9041]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Annual expenditure information, broken down by objective, is published annually in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's resource accounts and departmental report. Expenditure by objective is listed in Schedule 5 of the resource accounts and in the appendices of the departmental report.

Copies of both publications are available in the Library of the House.


Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff are employed at each of the British embassies in the European Union; how many are employed at the British embassy in (a) Turkey, (b) Bulgaria and (c) Romania; and if he will make a statement. [8842]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The number of staff employed at the British embassies in the EU and in Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania are as follows:
5 Jul 2005 : Column 325W

Czech Republic70


Next Section Index Home Page