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21 Jul 2005 : Column 2086W—continued

Wine Tasting Clubs

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has received on the applications of the Licensing Act 2003 to wine tasting clubs; and if she will make a statement. [12957]

James Purnell: Some correspondence has been received from the organisers of wine tasting sessions. Their main concern is whether or not wine tasting requires a licence under the Licensing Act 2003. Generally this would not be the case. Normally a wine tasting club would buy wine collectively for each wine tasting session and at the session the wine would be provided free of charge. As such, in most cases, this would be similar to a private party where one or more people club together to purchase the refreshments to be consumed. This would not be licensable. However, if a club admits non-members for a charge which entitles them to consume a certain amount of alcohol, the event would be licensable. Furthermore, if the club sells or supplies alcohol to its members for a charge, it may be necessary for the club to take advice as to whether a club premises certificate is required.


Business/Domestic Rates

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much revenue has been raised in each business improvement district (BID) from the additional levy on business rates in each year since the operation of each BID; and what the estimated figures are for 2005–06 for each BID. [13108]

Mr. Woolas: Billing authorities reported the following estimates of BID levy income in 2005–06 for BIDs within their area:
Billing authority£000

BID revenue accounts transactions 2005-06 returns to ODPM

No other billing authority reported any estimates BID levy income for 2005–06, and figures are not collected centrally for each separate BID, where there is more than one within a single billing authority area.
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The powers under the Local Government Act 2003 that set up BIDs came into effect when the BIDs regulations came into operation on 17 September 2004. No figures have been collected centrally for BID levy income between that date and the end of 2004–05.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what average domestic rate poundage was levied in England in each year from 1979 until the abolition of domestic rates. [13225]

Mr. Woolas: Details of the average domestic rate poundage levied in England in each year from 1979 until the abolition of domestic rates are published in table 18 in Local Government Financial Statistics England No. l and this is available in the Library of the House.

Council Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what were the (a) average (i) B and (ii) D council tax in England and (b) average council tax per dwelling in England were, (A) before capping and (B) after the introduction of in-year capping, in (1) 2004–05 and (2)2005–06. [13110]

Mr. Woolas: The information requested for England is shown in the table.

Average band B council taxAverage band D council taxAverage council tax
per dwelling

In-year capping makes no difference to the figures at a national level for 2004–05 when rounded to the nearest pound. Assuming that capped authorities reduce their budgets in 2005–06 to the maximum permitted budget requirement, the same would be true for this year.

Capping remains an effective means of bringing down council tax increases as authorities would otherwise go on to set higher increases. In 2003–04, the last year in which capping powers were not exercised, the average council tax increase in England was 12.9 per cent. This reduced to 5.9 per cent. in 2004–05 and fell again to 4.1per cent. in 2005–06—in both these years, the Government made clear that they were prepared to use their powers to cap excessive council tax increases.

Councillors (Code of Conduct)

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the Standards Board for England will publish a revised code of conduct for councillors. [13120]

Mr. Woolas: The Standards Board for England is currently reviewing the code of conduct for local authority members. The board expects to conclude this review in the autumn. We will consider carefully any recommendations for amendments to the code of conduct which the board may wish to propose arising from this review.
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Electronic Government Targets

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many Implementing Electronic Government targets local authorities must meet in (a) 2004–05 and (b)2005–06. [4357]

Mr. Woolas: Councils do not need to meet any IEG targets in 2004–05. By December 2005 councils are expected to be 100 per cent. e-enabled as per the Office's PSA4 target SR2002. Achievement will be measured through BVPI157 and against the local e-Government Priority Service Outcomes (published April 2004)

According to last December's IEG returns, authorities expect to deliver £1.2 billion in efficiency savings by 200–08 as a direct result of e-Government investment.

The average council is now 79 per cent. e-enabled and is expected to meet the December 2005 target.

English Partnerships (Milton Keynes)

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much land English Partnerships owns in the constituency of North East Milton Keynes. [13237]

Yvette Cooper: Currently English Partnerships owns 937 acres (379 hectares) in the Milton Keynes North East constituency. The majority of the land holding are located in grid squares of central Milton Keynes, Campbell Park, Oakgrove, Monkston Park, Broughton.

Fire Service

Damian Green: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance he has issued to the Fire Service on the safety implications of the use of decorative hops in public houses, in relation to fire inspections required under the Licensing Act 2003. [13320]

Jim Fitzpatrick: None. However, extant guidance is provided in the Guide to Fire Precautions in existing places of entertainment and like premises" (ISBN 0-11-340907-9) and in the Guide to fire precautions in existing places of work that require a fire certificate (Factories, Offices, Shops and Railway Premises)" (ISBN 0-11-341079).

That guidance will be replaced in due course by guidance to support the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which will also cover the usage of artificial (or dried) foliage, tree, shrubs and flowers.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether Quedegely will be one of the candidates for the new Regional Fire Centre. [14611]

Jim Fitzpatrick: No. The site was proposed but did not make the shortlist.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what studies have been undertaken on the
21 Jul 2005 : Column 2089W
number of appliances required by each fire brigade; and who will make decisions on numbers of appliances under the proposed regionalisation of fire control centres. [14618]

Jim Fitzpatrick: It is a matter for individual Fire and Rescue Authorities to decide the number of appliances they require, in accordance with their Integrated Risk Management Plans (IRMPs). This will continue to be the case, regardless of reforms to the control centre service.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) jobs will be lost and (b) new jobs will be created following the regionalisation of the fire service. [14623]

Jim Fitzpatrick: There are no plans for the regionalisation of the fire service.
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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister who will determine the numbers of reserve and professional firefighters under the proposed regionalisation of fire control centres. [14653]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The numbers of whole-time firefighters and those on the retained duty system are and will remain the responsibility of individual fire and rescue authorities.

Peter Viggers: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the incident response times were at the existing fire control centres in the latest year for which figures are available; what the evidential basis is for the statement that incident response times will be improved after a move to regional fire control centres; and if he will make a statement. [13934]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Incident response times for existing control rooms for the most recent year are listed in the following table:
Fires by response time bands from time of mobilisation to time of arrival, England, 2004(41) (time measured in minutes from time of mobilisation to time of arrival)

Attendance time
TotalUp to 5 minutes6–10 minutes11–15 minutesOver 15 minutes
England—Non-Met counties83,16636,81435,6258,2642,463
East Sussex2,3071,21386419337
Hereford and Worcester1,53035989222454
Isle of Wight2371131001213
North Yorkshire1,637441745288163
West Sussex1,75372377422432
Isles of Scilly(42)10010
England—Met counties62,18943,00117,5961,186406
Greater Manchester12,0268,6323,12122845
South Yorkshire5,1302,9731,95615645
Tyne and Wear4,8923,5591,271584
West Midlands9,0305,4303,33219573
West Yorkshire7,7934,4142,99029891
Greater London16,57013,3882,90720076

(42)Isles of Scilly control room is in Cornwall.
Figures exclude late call and heat and smoke damage only incidents.
FDR1 returns to ODPM

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The figures are only for primary fires—information is not collected centrally on response times to other incident types.

Incident response times as used for the former national standards were calculated from the point of mobilisation from the fire station to the time of arrival at the incident. They did not include the time taken to handle the call.

Under the FiReControl proposals control staff will have the most modern technology which shows on their screens the availability of the most suitable available appliance nearest to the incident, whether it is in the station or not, and will mobilise direct to that appliance. In most fire and rescue services in England, appliances are currently assumed to be at the fire station when mobilised. The new arrangements will take into account the disposition of appliances under an authority's Integrated Risk Management Plan, and optimise the response. The information transmitted direct to the appliance will enable better, faster route planning, and will include water supply information and premises risk data to ensure crews are better-prepared to deal with the incident on arrival.

The location of callers will be identified automatically, even if the caller is ringing from a mobile phone, and detailed information about the location of the caller will be available on screen to the operator. This will improve call-handling by enabling the control operator speedily to validate information given by the caller and focus on handling any distress. These two factors combined are expected to reduce response times from the point of call to the point of attendance at the incident.

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