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13 Dec 2005 : Column 1941W—continued


Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the effects of taser use on individuals that have been fired at in England and Wales since 2003. [34661]

Hazel Blears: The Defence Scientific Advisory Council's sub-committee on the Medical Implications of Less Lethal Weapons (DOMILL) has produced three statements on the medical implications of the use of the Taser. Copies have been placed in the Library. DOMILL's view is that the risk of life-threatening or other serious injuries from Taser appears to be very low and certainly very much lower than that from conventional firearms.

A Taser deployment form is completed on each occasion that Taser is used and passed to DOMILL. DOMILL has examined these forms and the available
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medical reports and is content that the medical issues attributable directly or indirectly to Taser use were not unexpected and are addressed by their statements.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will develop a consultation process involving a wide range of stakeholders to consider proposed changes governing the deployment of Tasers by the police. [35004]

Hazel Blears: No decisions have yet been taken on any possible changes governing the deployment of Tasers by the police service. The Association of Chief Police Officers and the Police Federation have suggested extending the use of the Taser, and discussions are due to take place shortly. We will of course consider consultation with any relevant stakeholders as appropriate.
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Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the (a) title and (b) value of consultancy contracts commissioned (i) by and (ii) in respect of Tamworth borough council in each of the last five years, broken down by consultancy. [32026]

Mr. Woolas: The information requested is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Council Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether a permanent (a) shed, (b) kennel, (c) outside lavatory and (d) rabbit hutch may be classed as an outbuilding for the purpose of the assessment of (i) dwelling house code 14 (Outbuildings) and (ii) value significant codes during a council tax valuation by the Valuation Office Agency. [30833]

Mr. Woolas: The structures referred to would not be reflected in the codes.

Departmental Mobile Phones

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many mobile phones are (a) rented and (b) owned by his Department; and at what total cost in 2004–05. [35591]

Jim Fitzpatrick: During the period 19 November 2004 to 17 November 2005 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister purchased 211 phones at a total cost of £17,231.20. ODPM does not rent mobile phones.

Departmental Staff (Chronic Back Pain)

Mr. Pelling: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what initiatives are being taken in his Department to help civil servants with chronic back pain. [34980]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) supports staff with chronic back pain while they are at work, while they are absent because of their illness and during their return to work. The ODPM has a programme of work place assessments for all staff and an Occupational Health Adviser which offers support and advice. Additionally line managers and Human Resources offer support and advice to staff with chronic back pain.

Government Office for London

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of the (a) housing action trust, (b) European Structural Fund Objective 3, (c) Connexions grant, (d) Neighbourhood Renewal, (e) Housing Investment Programme and (f) London Development Agency grant funding stream from the Government office for London was made available to each London borough in each year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [36467]

Mr. Woolas: The information requested has been made available in the Library of the House.
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Local Government Finance

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what changes have been made since May 1997 to (a) dwelling house codes and (b) value significant codes used by the Valuation Office Agency for council tax liability purposes. [31804]

Mr. Woolas: Valuations for the purposes of council tax banding are based on 1991 estimated values. Dwelling house codes are used as guidance to help this process. Dwelling house codes have been used by the Valuation Office Agency to summarise property attributes since the 1970s. On initial computerisation in the 1980s the system provided for the input of three codes. Codes capable of capture electronically were expanded from three to 10 in April 2002 and from 10 to 17 in March 2003. Value significant codes (VSCs) are part of the 17 dwelling house codes. The number of alternative VSCs available for capture electronically was increased to its present level in January 2005.


Mr. Laws: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many payments for maladministration have been made by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies, (c) its non-departmental public bodies and (d) other bodies for which his Department has responsibility in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [32245]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) was established following the Machinery of Government changes on 29 May 2002. It is the policy of the ODPM, its agencies, non-departmental public bodies and, where appropriate, its sponsored organisations to make financial redress in accordance with the guidance set out in chapter 18.7 and annexes 18.1 and 18.2 of Government Accounting.

The information requested for the period since the establishment of the ODPM is set out in the following table:
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister2002–032003–042004–05
Department (including GOs)000
Bodies sponsored by Department000

Non-Christian Religious Festivals

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps his Department took to celebrate and promote non-Christian religious festivals in 2005. [35590]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Monmouth (David T.C. Davies) on 28 November 2005, Official Report, columns 201–02W.

Smoke Alarms

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps his Department is taking to support the provision of smoke alarms in the homes of elderly people. [36790]

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Jim Fitzpatrick: The £25 million Home Fire Risk Check Initiative, launched in October 2004, will provide free smoke alarms and fire safety advice to 1.25 million vulnerable households in England by spring 2008. Older people have been identified as the most important target group in guidance and in the Fire and Rescue Service National Framework. The funding is sufficient to provide a free smoke alarm for every pensioner household which does not have one. Many fire and rescue services are also taking up the challenge to work proactively with older people groups through partnership with local authority services and the voluntary sector.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister hosted a national conference on the theme of working with older people for the fire and rescue service and partners on 22 November 2005.

Street Wardens

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many street wardens are employed in each London borough. [35584]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister through the Government office for London, is funding warden schemes across 13 London boroughs over the 2005–06 financial year. The total number of wardens funded across London through this programme is 136. Brent employs seven wardens and two supervisors through their allocation.

Local boroughs also support wardens schemes through mainstream budgets and other Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's funded programmes. Based upon the information currently available, the table below provides the total number of wardens employed within each borough. This information is currently being updated as part of an ongoing national review:
BoroughsNumber of wardens
Barking and Dagenham(62)
City of London(62)
City of Westminster53
Hammersmith and Fulham(62)
Kensington and Chelsea(62)
Kingston upon Thames4
Lewis ham62
Richmond upon Thames(62)
Tower Hamlets14
Waltham Forest41

(62) No wardens employed

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