Previous Section Index Home Page

13 Dec 2005 : Column 1946W—continued

Urban Taskforce Reports

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps his Department is taking to implement the recommendations of Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force reports of 1998 and 2005. [33119]

Yvette Cooper: In 1998 Government asked Lord Rogers of Riverside to set up the Urban Task Force to examine causes of urban decline and recommend practical solutions to identified problems. The task force's report Towards an Urban Renaissance" was published in June 1999. The Government endorsed the principles behind all of the 105 recommendations, which were fed in to the development of the Government's Urban White Paper. This White Paper, Our Towns and Cities: the future—Delivering an Urban Renaissance", was published in November 2000 and incorporated the majority of the task force's recommendations. An annex to the White Papers lists specific responses to each Urban Task Force's recommendation.

Significant progress has been made in implementing all of the measures in the White Paper. An implementation plan reporting on progress made between 2000 and 2003 is available on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website.

These achievements have since been built on by the Government's Sustainable Communities Plan, launched in February 2003. This plan sets out a clear set of objectives and actions for the long term development of sustainable communities. It takes forward ideas developed in the Urban Task Force's report and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's subsequent White Paper, creating a robust framework and action plan for delivery.

More recently, Lord Rogers reconvened the task force and prepared an independent follow-up report, Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance", published on 22 November 2005. As he acknowledges in his foreword to this report,

Lord Rogers highlighted how this Government's urban policies have resulted in English cities becoming the powerhouses" of the UK economy and have become centres for cultural innovation that stand confidently on the international stage.

Government welcome the contribution that Towards a Strong Urban Renaissance" makes to the continuing and evolving debate on how best to sustain this success. We are currently considering the report and its 53 recommendations, and are exploring how these can best inform our existing and substantive agenda of work already under way to develop world-class, well-designed and sustainable towns and cities that satisfy the demands of residents, workers and visitors alike. The vitality of our
13 Dec 2005 : Column 1947W
towns and cities is an important priority for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and the work under way includes the State of the Cities Report. This is a report to Government from a group of city experts led by Professor Michael Parkinson, due to be published in January 2006 alongside other research and analysis undertaken by the Department such as the findings of the first eight City Summits and research findings from the Framework for City Regions study.

Valuation Office Agency

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the presence of an (a) orchard, (b) vegetable patch, (c) fish pond and (d) attractive flower arrangement influence the Valuation Office Agency's assessment of value significant codes GG, GN, NA, PS and PL when conducting a council tax valuation. [30837]

Mr. Woolas: The valuation of a domestic property is based on the valuer's estimate of what the capital value of the property is.

Water Supplies (Northamptonshire)

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made as part of the growth area agenda of the need for new reservoir capacity to supply Northamptonshire with water to 2031. [29181]

Yvette Cooper: There is a statutory duty on water companies to provide sufficient water for domestic purposes and the Water Act 2003 made it mandatory for water companies to produce water resource plans for the next 25 years to meet water demand.

Water companies submit their plans as part of the periodic review of prices regulated by Ofwat. In December 2004, the Director General of Water Services determined water and sewerage charges for 2005 to 2010. These allowed for substantial new investment to increase capacity for water supplies to meet predicted need and work to help assess likely need over the full 25 years of water resource plans. The Environment Agency has been engaged with all the local supply companies in producing their water resources plans. These were completed in April 2004, and are subject to regular review.

Anglian Water Services have stated that proposed levels of development over this period will require advancing plans to import water into the Anglian region from the west of the UK by a major increase in the transfer of water from the River Trent and the construction of one or more raw water storage reservoirs.


African Peace Facility

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the African Peace Facility will continue beyond 2007; and how it is proposed to be funded. [35747]

Ian Pearson: The African Peace Facility (APF) has been an effective mechanism for delivering peace support in Africa, and critical to providing support for
13 Dec 2005 : Column 1948W
the African Union mission in Sudan. EU member states agree that the APF should continue beyond 2007. EU member states are now working to ensure a long-term, sustainable and flexible funding arrangement for the APF. Discussions are ongoing on the options for funding the APF.

African Union

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what proposals the Government are putting forward within the EU to support the African Union and Regional Economic Communities in strengthening their capacity to (a) prevent conflict and (b) respond to violent conflict. [35754]

Ian Pearson: As presidency, we are proposing an EU Strategy for Africa including proposals to increase the EU's commitment to help the African Union (AU) and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) predict, prevent, mediate and manage conflict, which we hope partners will agree at the European Council later this month. We are seeking to safeguard a significant capacity building element for the AU and the RECs within the EU Africa Peace Facility, and to boost efforts under the European Security and Defence Policy, including support for the African Standby Force, the provision of technical advice and enhanced co-ordination of EU member states assistance to the AU and RECs.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to promote non-conditional annual joint funding to the African Union's Peace Fund during the UK presidency of the EU. [35748]

Ian Pearson: As presidency of the European Union, we are proposing an EU Strategy for Africa including the important principle of providing flexible funding to support African Union (AU) peace support operations and build capacity within the organisation. We hope that partners will agree to the Strategy at the European Council later this month. One of our main priorities is to secure continuing substantial EU assistance to the AU, which is currently given through the Africa Peace Facility.

In addition, the AU have proposed establishing a complementary peace fund to allow contributions from a wider donor pool. They have invited the UK and others to take part in consultations on the modalities of such a fund. We will be able to assess possible contributions following these discussions.

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken to assist the African Union to have greater control over the disbursal of the African peace facility's funds. [35751]

Ian Pearson: The EU's current contribution agreement with the African Union (AU) already provides for the swift transfer of funds and gives the AU significant responsibility in determining how peace facility money is utilised. The procedures for the African peace facility (APF) also require a request by the AU for APF support before any proposal for expenditure is made. By way of further improving AU control, the APF includes an allocation for capacity building
13 Dec 2005 : Column 1949W
assistance, which is being used to enhance the AU's management of peace support operations. EU member states are also working to ensure a long term funding arrangement for the APF, that safeguards AU control over the disbursal of funds.

Next Section Index Home Page