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17 Nov 2005 : Column 1442W—continued

Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the findings of the research project into the impact of section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 to be published.

Fiona Mactaggart: At the present time it is planned to publish the findings of the research into the impact of section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 in the spring of 2006.
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Council Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the band D council tax was in 2004–05, in the billing authorities affected by the 2004–05 in-year capping designation, giving separately (a) pre-capping band D bill for the whole billing authority and (b) the post-capping band D bill for the whole billing authority; and what the average parish precepts were in each case. [26912]

Mr. Woolas: The information requested is tabled as follows:

Local authorityPre-capping band D area council taxPost-capping band D area council taxAverage parish precept band D(22)
Malvern Hills(23)1,1831,18051
Wyre Forest(23)1,2001,1969

(22) This is the aggregate amount of parish precepts within the billing authority's area divided by the tax base for the whole of the billing authority's area. Only parts of the area of some billing authorities are parished, however, although precise information on this is not held centrally. In such cases, the figure shown is understating the average parish precept for parished areas.
(23) These authorities were not themselves capped, but had their area council tax reduced due to the capping of Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority.

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 4.1 per 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.

English Partnerships

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much money has been raised by English Partnerships in each of the last four years through the sale of assets in Milton Keynes. [27510]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 15 November 2005]: English Partnerships (EP) has received the following amounts in receipts from Milton Keynes over the last four years;
Receipts £ million

Within Milton Keynes, EP is looking at mechanisms to unlock payments for key infrastructure and a new local delivery vehicle, the Milton Keynes Partnership,
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has been established. The partnership has been given planning powers to help facilitate growth in a defined urban development area. Within this area plans and costings have been drawn up to guide development and the infrastructure needed to support growth.


Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) part-time and (b) full-time firefighters serviced (i) Northamptonshire and (ii) Kettering constituency in each year since 1997. [29311]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The number of part-time and full-time firefighters in Northamptonshire in each year since 1997 was as follows:
As at 31 March:Retained (part-time)Whole-time (full-time)

ODPM annual returns.

Information on the number of firefighters at the constituency level are not available.

Gershon Review

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the total amount of money to be saved from Gershon initiative efficiency savings in local government in England; and how those savings will be treated in relation to local government financing. [26909]

Mr. Woolas: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister expects local government (including councils, schools, police, and fire authorities) to achieve at least £6.45 billion of efficiency gains by 2007–08, of which at least half should be cashable gains, releasing money that can be reallocated elsewhere. The remainder will be non-cashable, with improved performance achieved from the resources used. Councils retain the resources they release through the achievement of efficiency gains and are free to determine how to use cashable efficiency gains, whether for reinvestment in local services or to hold down council tax.

Home Improvement Packs

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans the Government have to conduct a pilot scheme for home improvement packs; and if he will make a statement. [26923]

Yvette Cooper: A dry run of the home information packs process will take place during 2006 to facilitate a smooth transition from using elements of packs on a voluntary basis to implementation of a mandatory scheme throughout England and Wales in 2007. A
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central aim of the dry run is to meet the property industry's needs for assurance that the process will operate effectively in the best interests of consumers. The form of assurance required varies between different parts of the industry, and we are in discussion with a wide range of stakeholders about their assurance requirements and how these can best be met. The outcome of these discussions will determine the final detail of the dry run.

The first phase of this assurance process is already under way, with an ever growing number of estate agents, conveyancers and others providing home information packs on a voluntary basis. We are monitoring these activities through feedback from pack providers and home buyers and sellers. We envisage that by the second half of 2006 all the components of the statutory home information pack will be available. This will provide the opportunity for systems, processes and procedures to be fully tested and fine-tuned during the period leading up to implementation. This will involve a continuous process of testing and feedback across the whole industry. Feedback from industry and consumers will be monitored and assessed continually and will inform the making of any necessary changes to the process at the earliest opportunity.

Standards Board

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what advice the Standards Board has issued to (a) councillors and (b) monitoring officers in relation to whether a ward councillor may sit on a licensing sub-committee under the Licensing Act 2003 considering an application for a premises in their ward; and if he will make a statement. [26913]

Mr. Woolas: The Standards Board has issued no specific advice to either monitoring officers or councillors of the sort referred to. The board has issued general guidance on members' responsibilities under the conduct regime for local government, including the requirements relating to the declaration of interests.

Local Government Funding

Mike Penning: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what impact he expects changes in the local government formula grant to have on public services delivered by (a) Dacorum borough council and (b) Hertfordshire county council. [29582]

Mr. Woolas: Final decisions on possible changes to the formula grant distribution system have not yet been announced.

The provision of local services is a matter for Dacorum borough council and Hertfordshire county council themselves, bearing in mind their statutory responsibilities.

Mike Penning: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what responses relating to the local government finance consultation he has received from (a) Dacorum borough council and (b) Hertfordshire county council; and when the responses were received. [29584]

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Mr. Woolas: One response to the consultation on formula grant distribution was received by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister from Hertfordshire county council. Three Members of Parliament also responded to the consultation in support of Hertfordshire county council. The representation from the county council was received on 10 October—the closing date of the consultation period.

No response to the consultation was received from Dacorum borough council.

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