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11 Oct 2005 : Column 442W—continued

Retained Naval Equipment

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the value of the Royal Navy equipment retained by the Iranian Government following the incident in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway in June 2004; and if he will make a statement. [16711]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan) on 21 February 2005, Official Report, column 118W.

Ships (Fitted Equipment)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which of the 65 RN and RFA vessels listed in the letter from the Minister of State (Armed Forces) dated 4 July 2005 as having donated ships' fitted equipment between 1 January 2004 and 31 March 2005 are still without the donated equipment; and what the main items of equipment donated were in each case. [14491]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 17 March 2005, Official Report, column 414W, to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Robathan).

Ships that donate equipment are either in upkeep or are dropping down the readiness state in preparation for going into upkeep or disposal.

During upkeep, any shortfalls in equipment are considered as part of the overall upkeep package.

To determine and track the aspects of the upkeep work package that are directly attributable to the ship being a donor of fitted equipment could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Whittington Barracks

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of Whittington Barracks. [15651]

11 Oct 2005 : Column 443W

Mr. Touhig: I refer my hon. Friend to the answers given to the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) on 1 November 2004, Official Report, column 110W and 4 April 2005, Official Report, column 1104W. The study into the future of Army Training Regiment Lichfield and Whittington Barracks will not now be concluded until February 2006.


Wales (Government)

Peter Law: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how he intends to implement Paragraph 3.12 of the White Paper, Better Government for Wales (Cm 6582), in respect of any bill he introduces in the current session of Parliament. [14951]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will be introducing a bill to defer council tax revaluation. This bill will apply only to England.


Building Regulations

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of respondents who expressed a view endorsed the proposals made in Question 21 of the consultation exercise conducted in 2004 under Part L of the Building Regulations. [13201]

Yvette Cooper: The response to Question 21 is set out as follows. The majority of respondents were from the construction industry. There were very few respondents from members of the public.
Q21: Do you consider the overall level of improvements proposed for existing buildings to be reasonable? (Please comment on factors affecting your view.)
Too strict41
About Right116
Too lenient62
No view60

Co-operative Dwellings

Mr. Love: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many homes have been built as co-operative dwellings in (a) England and (b) Greater London in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [16106]

Yvette Cooper: Information is available only on Co-operative Housing Associations registered with the Housing Corporation and self build housing projects that receive funding from the Housing Corporation. The numbers of completions (including new build, acquisitions and refurbishments) by registered Co-operative Housing Associations are as tabled. The numbers of self build completions with Housing Corporation funding are shown in the second table.
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Completions by registered Co-operative Housing Associations (using Approved Development Programme funding)

(a) England(b) London

Completions on Self-Build housing projects (using Approved Development Programme funding)

(b) London(a) England

Decent Homes Standard

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the likelihood of all council housing meeting the Decent Homes Standard by 2010. [16478]

Yvette Cooper: Projections indicate that work completed and plans in place will take us 90 per cent. of the way towards our target to ensure that all social homes are made decent by 2010. We are now focusing our efforts on delivering decent homes for the remaining 10 per cent.

Empty Properties

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps the Government are taking to ensure empty homes are returned to use; and if he will make a statement; [16630]

Mr. Forth: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his Department's policies are with regard to bringing into use vacant domestic properties in England. [16398]

Yvette Cooper: The number of empty homes in England has fallen by 10 percent. since 1997, although the number remaining empty for longer than six months has remained roughly constant. We will shortly provide local authorities with new powers under the Housing Act 2004 to require owners to bring such properties back into use.

We are currently consulting on the details of the secondary legislation which will be introduced next year. Once in force, local authorities will be able—as part of their plans to tackle housing shortages locally—to serve Empty Dwelling Management Orders on owners of empty properties, enabling homes to be improved and let to those needing rented
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accommodation. Properties will revert to the owners after seven years, or earlier if an authority is satisfied that the owner intends to sell or let the property himself.

In some areas it may be more appropriate to demolish empty properties rather than attempt to bring them back into use, in which case local authorities can be expected to use their existing compulsory purchase powers. This is more likely to be the case in areas of low demand, but even in the nine market pathfinder areas the number of properties to be renovated is likely to exceed the number likely to be demolished by a factor of two.

We will also continue to support the work of the Empty Homes Agency in identifying and publicising best practice on bringing empty homes back into use.
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Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many empty homes there have been in (a) the parliamentary constituency of Mid-Bedfordshire and (b) the county of Bedfordshire in each year since 1997. [16631]

Yvette Cooper: Information on empty homes is available at local authority and not parliamentary constituency level. The numbers of empty homes in Bedfordshire by district by each year since 1997 are shown in the following table. These figures come from a combination of data supplied by local authorities on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's housing strategy statistical appendix return and the Housing Corporation's regulatory and statistical return. Local authorities will shortly be able to use new powers to bring empty homes back into use.
Total vacant dwellings at 1 April by district in Bedfordshire

Local authority name19971998199920002001200220032004
Mid Bedfordshire2,2532,1911,8359351,0715931,2121,224
South Bedfordshire1,0009839519099621,3241,4811,084

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