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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 7 November 2005



The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Gordon Brown): I will chair the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) on 8 November 2005. The Paymaster General, right hon. Dawn Primarolo MP, will represent the UK. Items on the agenda are as follows:


Magistrates Courts

The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton) has made the following written statement in the other place today:

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Burial Law Reform Report

The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): I intend to publish shortly a summary of the responses to the consultation paper "Burial Law and Policy in the 21st Century: The Need for a Sensitive and Sustainable Approach", which the Home Office issued last year. I am today placing pre-publication copies of that summary in the Libraries of both Houses.

We were grateful for the many detailed and thoughtful comments that were submitted. The responses indicated general support for modernisation of our burial laws, including more uniform legislation, the need to ensure adequate burial facilities, and the ability to make the best use of old burial grounds. Arrangements are now in hand to discuss with burial practitioners and others the practical details of the changes needed to give effect to law reform in this area. In doing so, we will consider sympathetically
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the case for enabling the re-use of old burial grounds, seeking a balance between the interests of relatives and descendants and the wider needs of the local community.

The further work now initiated is expected to be completed next spring. Thereafter the Government will inform the House of their plans to bring forward proposals for burial law reform.


Housing Revenue Account Subsidy

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): We have today issued for consultation the drafts of the HRA subsidy and item 8 determinations for 2006–07, which set out proposed figures for subsidy allocations for individual housing authorities. Copies of the draft determinations and supporting material have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will also be available on my office's website from 4.30pm this afternoon at the following location:


These allocations are based on the most up-to-date information available to us from authorities, and may change as that information is refined. Authorities have until 10am, 12 December to comment on the draft determinations, and 2 December to comment on the data.

For 2006–07, we will increase the average resources per dwelling available at the national level for management and maintenance allowances by 2.7 per cent. compared with 2005–06.

The Major Repairs Allowance will on average increase by 2.9 per cent. per dwelling in cash terms at the national level.

In addition, the draft determinations propose to continue the reforms in the calculation and allocation of management and maintenance allowances, which began in last year's determination round. The proposals for the management and maintenance allowances in 2006–07 take account of better and more representative data.

Data for the maintenance formula have been expanded to take account of both criminal damage to dwellings and burglary, a decision taken after consultation with stakeholders. Most local authorities will gain from the changes proposed in the draft determinations, and some will benefit substantially.

It is Government policy that social rents should be restructured and that over time tenants in social housing should pay similar rents for similar properties regardless of landlord.

We have carried out a three-year review of this policy which reported in 2004. We will introduce in full the recommendations made in this review in 2006–07, reinforcing the steps already taken to create a fair and transparent rent setting system in the social rented sector. In addition we will provide more protection for council tenants by capping at 5 per cent. the average cash increase in rents in any local authority for each of the next two years.
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