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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 6 July 2005


English Wine

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Leader of the House if he will ensure that English wine is made available at dinners, receptions and parties he hosts at which hospitality involving wine is appropriate (a) during the EU presidency and (b) generally; and if he will make a statement. [9153]

Mr. Hoon: I have no plans to host any dinners, receptions or parties specifically for the EU presidency, but—subject to value for money and where possible—British products are used.

Special Advisers

Bob Spink: To ask the Leader of the House 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. [8828]

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


First-time Buyers

9. Ian Lucas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the recent proposals announced to help first-time buyers. [9721]

Mr. David Miliband: The Government want to offer everyone the opportunity of a decent home at a price they can afford. We set out our overarching proposals earlier this year in Sustainable Communities: Homes for All." We published a consultation document, HomeBuy—Expanding the Opportunity to Own," in April. We are currently considering the responses received. Copies of both of these documents can be found in the Library of the House.

House Building Targets

10. Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what mechanisms he will use to test the East of England Regional Spatial Strategy house building targets. [9722]

Yvette Cooper: An examination in public, before an independent panel, will test the proposed house building targets contained in the draft Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England.
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Milton Keynes (Grid Road System)

11. Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Transport regarding the future of Milton Keynes's grid road system in relation to his sustainable communities plan for the city. [9723]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Both the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Department for Transport are aware of the local debate in Milton Keynes about whether to extend the grid road system in the city, although my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has not met my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport to discuss it. I look forward to the local partners resolving this matter.

Telecommunications Masts

13. Annette Brooke: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to review planning policy relating to telecommunications masts; and if he will make a statement. [9725]

Yvette Cooper: The Government's will be commissioning further research to identify the future direction of mobile phone technology and the need for mast developments. This forms part of a wider review the Government is undertaking of all the planning arrangements for telecommunication masts.

Regional Fire Control Rooms

14. Mike Penning: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the timetable is for the establishment of regional fire control rooms. [9726]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The timetable for the control centre project is contingent upon a final decision being made on how best to take forward plans for modernisation of control centres.

We expect to make an announcement about locations shortly. Once this has been made we will then have a clearer view on what the overall timetable will be for their completion.

Tony Baldry: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to announce the location of the regional control centre for the fire service in the south-east of England. [9281]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Discussions with developers in the south-east are taking slightly longer than in other regions. I expect to make an announcement on the location for the south-east regional control centre shortly after the announcements for the other centres.

Planning Gain

15. Keith Vaz: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to review the law on planning gain. [9727]

Yvette Cooper: As set out in the March 2005 Budget report, the Government will respond to the recommendations in the Barker Review of Housing Supply, including a proposed Planning-gain Supplement, later this year.
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The Government are also shortly due to publish a new circular on planning obligations which seeks to improve the operation of the system under the current legislative framework.

Best Value

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many Best Value performance indicators each tier of local council were required to compile, (a) in each year since the introduction of Best Value and (b) in 2005–06. [9535]

Mr. Woolas: The information is set out in the following table:
Met. boroughs
County councils13410576757659
District councils916551535157

(1)Includes Audit Commission Performance Indicators which were replaced entirely in 2001–02 by Best Value Performance Indicators.


Mr. Grieve: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Beaconsfield of 15 June. [10100]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I replied to the hon. Member on 5 July.

Doorways (Height)

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will take steps to raise the required height of doorways in new buildings from 6 ft 8 in to 7 ft. [9724]

Yvette Cooper: There are no proposals, nor has there been any consideration of proposals, to amend the Building Regulations to require doors to be built to any specific height.

e-Government Regional Partnership Group

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the role of his Department in the proposed e-Government Regional Partnership Group. [9532]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) currently funds nine local e-Government Partnerships representing each of the English regions to the tune of £300,000 for the period April 2004 to March 2006 to develop local e-Gov solutions that can then be made available to all authorities in each region as well as throughout the country.

The local e-Gov programme is to conclude on 31 March 2006. This is as originally planned and reflects the support necessary to deliver my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's pledge that 100 per cent. of services would be available on-line by December 2005. We are migrating the outputs from the programme to
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ownership largely within the local authority community. The Regional e-Government Network—consisting of the nine regionally based partnerships, is part of that community. The network has come together as a way to collaborate and share knowledge and experience and reduce duplication of effort. The ODPM continues to be responsible for leading on local e-Government and related issues and has no plans to transfer this responsibility to any other body.

Emergency Calls

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) genuine and (b) malicious false alarm fire emergency calls have been received in Hampshire in each year since 1997. [9797]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The number of false fire alarms attended by Hampshire fire and rescue service since 1997 is set out in the following table. Genuine false alarms are those generated by automatic equipment (due to apparatus) and by people believing that there was a fire (good intent).
False fire alarms, by type, attended by Hampshire FRS, 1997–2004

Total false fire alarmsGood intent callsMalicious callsDue to apparatus

(2)Includes estimates for incidents not recorded during periods of industrial action in 2002 and 2003.
Fire and Rescue Service FDR3 returns to ODPM.

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