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Mr. Woolas: The Valuation Office Agency started preliminary work on council tax revaluation in England in December 2002. As reported to the House on 10 October 2005, Official Report, column 5WS, in the written statement by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Miliband), the Government announced on 20 September 2005 that it intended to legislate to postpone the revaluation and that preparatory work was being stood down.
Mr. Woolas: Staff in three posts in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister were working principally on matters related to council tax revaluation in England until the Government's announcement of 20 September that preparatory work was being stood down. A number of others contributed to a lesser degree.
The terms of reference for Sir Michael Lyons' independent inquiry require him to make recommendations on how best to reform council tax, taking into account revaluation of domestic property. My right hon. Friends the Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer have agreed with Sir Michael that he will extend his work so that he can consider issues relating to the functions of local government and its future role, as well as, and prior to, making recommendations on local government funding. The Government have introduced into the House the Council Tax (New Valuation List for England) Bill which provides for the postponement of council tax revaluation. This will enable revaluation to
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take account of the Lyons Inquiry's extended work which will inform the Comprehensive Spending Review 2007.
Mr. Woolas: Work completed and local programmes already in place take us 90 per cent. of the way to meeting our target of bringing all social homes up to the decent homes standard by 2010. We are now focusing our efforts on dealing with the remaining 10 per cent.
|Weather corrected energy use (KWh)|
|QEII Conference Centre||11,286,795||271,529|
|QEII Conference Centre||12,493,963||392,903|
|QEII Conference Centre||13,287,478||490,739|
The ODPM figure includes Fire Service College and Planning Inspectorate, while for historical reasons QEII is recorded and reported separately. The answer does not include figures for 26 Whitehall which is managed by the Cabinet Office, and for which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister pays an agreed proportion of the cost of all services supplied by the Cabinet Office.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not keep records of the educational qualifications of its recruited staff and to determine this would be at disproportionate cost. All our recruitment is based on applicants meeting competences and it is possible that recruitment to some grades does not require candidates to have specific qualifications.
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not spent any money on the purchase of works of art in 200405. Any work of art displayed in our buildings is provided by the Government Art Collection on a loan basis.
Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) of 17 October 2005, Official Report, column 817W. Figures for Government grant to East of England Regional Assembly for the next two years are not yet available.
Distribution of English Partnerships investment nationally and including that in Milton Keynes is a matter for English Partnerships' Board, and is set out in English Partnerships' annual Corporate Plan once Ministers have agreed it. English Partnerships expenditure in Milton Keynes in 200506 is forecast to be in the order of £57 million. We are discussing English Partnerships' future national programme and priorities as part of their current corporate planning round for the years 200506 to 200809.
7 Nov 2005 : Column 180W
Jim Fitzpatrick: The available information covers attendance at primary fires. The following table shows the average response time to primary fires attended by West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service each month during 200405. This is measured in minutes from time of first call to the fire and rescue service to time of arrival at the scene.
Mike Penning: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average time taken by Hertfordshire Fire Service to arrive on the scene of an incident in response to a 999 call has been in each year since 1997. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The available information covers attendance at primary fires only. The following table shows the average response time to primary fires attended by Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service each year since 1997. This is measured in minutes from time of first call to the fire and rescue service to time of arrival at the scene.
|Response time (minutes)|
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the effect on the number of jobs in (a) the parliamentary constituency of Gravesham (b) the county of Kent and (c) the South East region of establishing a regional fire control room for the South East region. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Following the establishment of regional fire control centres the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister expects fewer people to be employed in delivering control room services, both nationally and in individual regions. Work is in hand to define the precise number of staff that will be required to run the new control centres in each region, though final decisions on staff numbers will ultimately be a matter for the employers, not for ODPM. No detailed assessment has been made on the effect on the number of jobs in Gravesham or in Kent.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact on Fire and Rescue Service average response times in Gravesham of establishing a regional fire control room for the South East region. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister expects that the establishment of the new national network of control centres will result in response times under normal operating conditions that are as good as or better than now. We expect a significant improvement however during surges in demand or when dealing with particularly large incidents. It is not possible to assess the impact on response times in Gravesham.
The competition for the Firelink system for the Fire and Rescue Service has followed EU procurement rules. The specification for the wide area radio communications system was output based to ensure that current functions required by the Fire and Rescue Service could be met, in addition to ensuring a high level of resilience and interoperability both within the Fire and Rescue Service and with the other emergency services. The evaluation of final bids from suppliers has been based on four key areas: technical issues, project management, procurement and whole life costs. The outcome of the competition will be based on the balance of these factors. all of which will enable the Firelink system to be migrated into the regional control rooms.
7 Nov 2005 : Column 182W
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