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12 Dec 2005 : Column 1728W—continued

Regional Policy

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what research he has evaluated on whether regional (a) economic and (b) social differences have changed since 1997. [31855]

Yvette Cooper: To support the 2004 PSA target to make sustainable improvements in the economic performance of the English regions, independent research to summarise the economic base was commissioned in 2004. The report of this work Regional Growth Report" was published in September 2004 and is available from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website at: http://www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=l139483.

Statutory Instruments

Mr. Amess: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what training is given to (a) policy officials and (b) lawyers in his Department responsible for drafting statutory instruments; and if he will make a statement. [34314]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Statutory instruments are drafted by departmental lawyers based on instructions from policy divisions. Where SIs amend primary legislation, parliamentary counsel are consulted.

As members of the Government Legal Service (GLS), departmental lawyers receive extensive training on the preparation and drafting of statutory instruments. This consists of a combination of lectures and practical exercises run by experienced practitioners in the GLS, coupled with training given by legal advisers who advise the parliamentary scrutiny committees. In addition, senior managers in the GLS take a close interest in the quality of SIs and provide frequent feedback and on the job training to those with lead responsibility for drafting. This is an on-going process and part of the continuing education of government legal advisers.

Tax Revenue

Chris Huhne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the annual tax revenue from applying business rates to the land holdings of development and property companies. [36032]

Mr. Woolas: None.

Thames Gateway

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 17 October 2005, Official Report, column 820W, on Thames Gateway, if he will place in the Library copies of the strategic flood risk assessments held by (a) his Department and (b) the relevant Government office for the regions. [22296]

Yvette Cooper: Copies of the Strategic Flood Risk Assessments for the Thames Gateway will be publicly available on the internet. The document requested is an external publication produced by the Thames Gateway London Partnership. At the present time, Strategic Flood Risk Assessments have been completed for the London area of the Thames Gateway. This is available on the Thames Gateway London Partnership website at http://www.thames-gateway.org.uk/social-inc-content.
 
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asp?id:=16. Copies of the Strategic Flood Risk Assessments for North Kent and South Essex will be publicly available when the final reports are produced.

Town and Parish Councils

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of town and parish councillors gained office as a result of a contested election. [35381]

Mr. Woolas: Information about the proportion of town and parish councillors that have gained office as a result of a contested election is not collected centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many town and parish councils in England have achieved Quality Parish Council status. [35382]

Mr. Woolas: There are currently 230 town and parish councils in England which have achieved Quality Parish status.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many town and parish councils there are in England, broken down by district or unitary level local authority area; and how many levy their own precept in each case. [35383]


 
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Mr. Woolas: There are about 8,700 parish and town councils in England. Volume 2 of the latest edition of the Municipal Year Book lists parishes under the relevant county and district council area. Information about how many parish and town councils levy their own precept is not collected centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many town and parish councillors there are in England. [35384]

Mr. Woolas: There are approximately 70,000 town and parish councillors in England.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the main local services funded through the levy of town and parish council precepts are. [35388]

Mr. Woolas: Town and parish councils have powers to provide various services which are funded by precept. A list of their main statutory functions is as tabled. Principal authorities have powers to delegate services to town and parish councils. Central Government do not hold centrally a breakdown of spending by town and parish councils.
Powers and duties of parish councils

FunctionPowers and dutiesStatutory provisions
Access landPower to enforce byelaws made by another authorityCountryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, s. 17
AllotmentsDuty to provide allotments. Power to improve and adapt land for allotments, and to let grazing rightsSmall Holdings & Allotments Act 1908, ss. 23, 26, and 42
Baths and washhousesPowers relating to provision of public baths, washhouses and bathing hutsPublic Health Act 1936, ss. 221–223 and 225–227
Burial grounds, cemeteries andPower to acquire and maintainOpen Spaces Act 1906, Ss 9 and 10
crematoriaPower to provideLocal Government Act 1972, s. 214
Power to agree to maintain monuments and memorialsParish Councils and Burial Authorities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1970, s. 1
Power to contribute towards expenses of cemeteriesLocal Government Act 1972, s. 214(6)
Bus sheltersPower to provide and maintain sheltersLocal Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1953, s. 4
Bye-lawsPower to make bye-laws in regard to pleasure groundsPublic Health Act 1875, s. 164
Cycle parksRoad Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.57(7)
Baths and washhousesPublic Health Act 1936, s.223
Open spaces and burial groundsOpen Spaces Act 1906, ss.15 and 12
Mortuaries and post-mortem roomsPublic Health Act 1936, s.198
Public ConveniencesPublic Health Act 1936, s. 87
ClocksPower to provide public clocksParish Councils Act 1957, s.2
Closed churchyardsPowers as to maintenanceLocal Government Act 1972, s.2 15
CommonsPower for parish council to contribute to expense relating to scheme for the regulation and management of a commonCommons Act 1899, s.5
Common pasturesPowers in relation to providing common pastureSmallholdings and Allotments Act 1908, s.34
Conference facilitiesPower to provide and encourage the use of facilitiesLocal Government Act 1972, s.144
Community centresPower to provide and equip buildings for use of clubs having athletic, social or recreational objectivesLocal Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s.19
Crime preventionPowers to install and maintain equipment and establish and maintain a scheme for detection or prevention of crimeLocal Government and Rating Act 1997, s.31
DrainagePower to deal with ponds and ditchesPublic Health Act 1936, s.260
Entertainment and the artsProvision of entertainment and support of the artsLocal Government Act 1972, s.145
Financial assistanceDuty to require informationLocal Government Act 1972, S.137A
General powersPower to incur expenditure for certain purposesLocal Government Act 1972, s. 137
GiftsPower to acceptLocal Government Act 1972, s.139
HighwaysPower to maintain footpaths and bridle-ways
Power to light roads and public places
Provision of litter bins
Powers to provide parking places for bicycles and motor-cycles, and other vehicles
Power to enter into agreement as to dedication and widening
Power to provide roadside seats and shelters
Consent of parish council required for ending maintenance of highway at public expense, or for stopping up or diversion of highway
Power to complain to highway authority as to unlawful stopping up or obstruction of highway or unlawful encroachment on roadside wastes
Power to provide traffic signs and other objects or devices warning of danger
Power to plant trees and lay out grass verges etc. and to maintain them
Highways Act 1980, ss.43, 5
Parish Councils Act 1957, s.3;
Highways Act 1980, s.301
Litter Act 1983, ss.5,6
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, ss.57, 63
Highways Act 1980, ss.30, 72
Parish Councils Act 1957, s.1
Highways Act 1980, ss.47, 116
Highways Act 1980, s.130
Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.72
Highways Act 1980, s.96
InvestmentsPower to participate in schemes of collective investmentTrustee Investments Act 1961, s.11
LandPower to acquire by agreement, to appropriate, to dispose ofLocal Government Act 1972, ss.124, 126, 127
Power to accept gifts of landLocal Government Act 1972, s.139
LitterProvision of receptaclesLitter Act 1983, ss.5,6
LotteriesPowers to promoteLotteries and Amusements Act 1976, s.7
Mortuaries and post mortem roomsPowers to provide mortuaries and post mortem roomsPublic Health Act 1936, s.198
Open spacesPower to acquire land and maintainPublic Health Act 1875, s.1 64
Open Spaces Act 1906, ss.9 and 10
Parish documentsPowers to direct as to their custodyLocal Government Act 1972, s.226
Public buildings and village hallPower to provide buildings for public meetings and assembliesLocal Government Act 1972, s.1 33
Public conveniencesPowers relating to provision of public conveniencesPublic Health Act 1936, s.87
RecreationPower to acquire land for or to provide public walks, pleasure grounds and open spaces and to manage and control them
Power to provide gymnasiums, playing fields, holiday camps
Provision of boating pools
(see Local Government Act 1972, Sched.14para.27)
Public Health Act 1875, s.164
Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1890 s.44
Open Spaces Act 1906, ss.9 and 10
Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, s.19
Public Health Act 1961, s.54
Town and country planningRight to be notified of planning applicationsTown and Country Planning Act 1990, Sched l, para.8
TourismPower to encourage visitors and provide conference and other facilitiesLocal Government Act 1972, s.144
Traffic calmingPowers to contribute financially to traffic calming schemesHighways Act 1980, s.274A
TransportPowers in relation to car-sharing schemes, taxi fare concessions and information about transportLocal Government and Rating Act 1997, s.26, 28 and 29
Powers to make grants for bus servicesTransport Act 1985, S.106A
War memorialsPower to maintain, repair, protect and alter war memorialsWar Memorials (Local Authorities' Powers) Act 1923, s.1; as extended by Local Government Act 1948, s.133
Water supplyPower to utilise well, spring or stream and to provide facilities for obtaining water from themPublic Health Act 1936, s.1 25









 
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Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the average total combined cost of clerking, insurance and audit fees for town and parish councils in England in the last year for which figures are available. [35389]

Mr. Woolas: Information about the cost of employing parish council clerks and the cost of insuring town and parish councils in England is not collected centrally, andcould be provided only at disproportionate cost. Information provided by the Audit Commission shows that parish and town councils and parish meetings collectively paid approximately £1.9 million in audit fees for the year 2003–04.

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average precept at band D levied by town and parish councils in England was in each of the last 10 years. [35390]

Mr. Woolas: Reliable figures for the average band D council taxes set by parish and town councils in each of the last 10 years are not available. This is because—although the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister collects information on the total amounts of council tax precepted by parish and town councils—information on the taxbases (numbers of band D-equivalent dwellings) to which the precepts relate, which is needed to calculate average figures, is not collected centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

As stated in Table A2b of Local Government Financial Statistics England No. 16 2005", the average band D council tax set by parish and town councils for 2005–06 has been estimated to be £42. But this is dependent upon an estimate of the taxbase for the area to which the precepts relate which is not robust enough to give a reliable set of figures over time.

The total amount of council tax precepted by parish and town councils in England in each of the last 10 years are tabled as follows. While this gives a broad indication of the trend in average precepts, it also reflects an increase in the number of parish and town councils, with about 150 new ones having been created since 1997.
£ million


Financial year
Total amount precepted by parish and town councils
1996–97133
1997–98144
1998–99154
1999–2000165
2000–01181
2001–02193
2002–03210
2003–04226
2004–05242
2005–06260


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