Previous Section Index Home Page

27 Feb 2006 : Column 188W—continued

Human Rights Act

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the Human Rights Act 1998 on planning policy and planning decisions. [48061]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not undertaken such an assessment. The European Convention on Human Rights is an international agreement which has bound the UK since 1953 and which successive Governments have sought to comply with. It's effect, therefore, will have been taken into account by the bodies responsible for planning policy and decision taking well before the Human Rights Act was enacted.

Licensed Premises

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what changes the Government have made to planning use classes for premises selling alcohol since 1997. [48057]

Yvette Cooper: In January 2005, we changed the Use Classes Order, disaggregating the former single Food and Drink use class (A3) into three separate classes: restaurants and cafes (A3); drinking establishments (A4); and hot food takeaways (A5).

Off-licences and other shops selling alcohol remain unchanged within the Al: Shops use class, and the classification for hotels remains as Cl: Hotels.

Nightclubs were removed from the Use Classes Order and are therefore sui generic (of its own kind).

Local Area Agreements

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what requests by local authorities for freedoms under local area agreements have been rejected by (a) his Department and (b) the Government offices for the regions. [51098]

Mr. Woolas: Local area agreement (LAA) freedoms and flexibilities are enabling measures to help overcome barriers to the delivery of LAA outcomes. Local areas and Government offices go through a process of informal negotiation on the possible need for such measures as part of the development of the area's LAA. Business cases for those that are to be taken forward formally are submitted to the appropriate Government Department. Information on those requests that have been agreed and denied to date is available online at http://www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1163512. This will be updated shortly to reflect developments during the negotiation of the second round of LAAs.
 
27 Feb 2006 : Column 189W
 

Anne Main: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many local authorities have requested local area agreements; and how many of these requests have been agreed to. [52261]

Mr. Woolas: In July 2004 the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister announced proposals to pilot nine Local Area Agreements; one in each of the English Regions. 74 Upper Tier authorities expressed an interest in becoming a pilot. As a result 21 pilots were launched in October 2004.

In June 2005, the ODPM announced a national roll out of Local Area Agreements to all areas in England 2007. 66 local authorities were selected from the 99 areas who wished to develop a Local Area Agreement in 2005–06.

The remaining 63 areas that have yet to develop a Local Area Agreement will be eligible to develop one in April 2006, with the agreements coming into effect in April 2007.

Local Authorities (Hertfordshire)

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on proposals to reorganise local authorities in Hertfordshire. [52294]

Mr. Woolas: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has made no proposals to reorganise local authorities in Hertfordshire. The ODPM is however engaging in a wide debate about local governance, including the future of two-tier arrangements in the shire areas.

Local Government (Greater Manchester)

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to consult on the restoration of a strategic city-wide tier of local government for Greater Manchester. [51550]

Mr. Woolas: My right hon. Friend the Minister of Communities and Local Government (Mr. Miliband) and other Ministers visited Manchester (including representatives from Association of Greater Manchester Authorities) as part of a series of Core City Summits during autumn of last year. Following these, the core cities have been developing business cases, setting out their vision and challenges alongside their case for change to address barriers and enablers to economic growth for their city-region.

The core cities are due to present their business cases to my right hon. Friend (Mr. Miliband) from late March 2006 and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will respond to these in due course.

Local Government Finance

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what changes the Valuation Office Agency has made to the valuation of wind turbines for business rates purposes since 2000. [47882]

Mr. Woolas: The Valuation Office Agency undertakes valuations of wind turbines for rating purposes in accordance with the relevant legislation. Wind turbines occupied separately from other types of property were valued in accordance with The Electricity Supply Industry (Rateable Values) (England) Order
 
27 Feb 2006 : Column 190W
 
2000 [SI 2000/947] and the Electricity Supply Industry (Rateable Values) (Wales) Order 2000 [SI 2000/1163] for the rating lists effective to 31 March 2005. From 1 April 2005 such wind turbines are valued in accordance with paragraph 2 to Schedule 6 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

There has been no change, other than the change of valuation date arising from the general Revaluation in 2005, to the valuation of wind turbines forming part only of property the primary function of which was not the generation of electricity.

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether his Department operates a mechanism by which council tax exemption thresholds are adjusted annually. [53416]

Mr. Woolas: Under the Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) Order 1992 (as amended) there are various classes of dwellings, such as dwellings where occupation is prohibited by law or dwellings occupied only by students, on which no council tax is payable because they are exempt. None of the exemptions are subject to thresholds.

A full council tax bill assumes that there are at least two adults living in a dwelling. Where there is only one adult living in the dwelling the overall bill is reduced by 25 per cent. Certain people are disregarded for the purposes of calculating the household's bill. In the case of apprentices and some carers, the disregard is in part dependent on their earning less than a prescribed level of income. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will shortly be consulting on whether these limits should be increased and, if so, by how much.

Council tax benefit, which is the responsibility of the Department for Work and Pensions, is available to those on a low income and may meet up to 100 per cent. of council tax costs.

Mr. Holloway: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much was paid in business rates in Gravesham in each year since 1996–97; and how much was received by Gravesham Borough Council from the central rate pool. [54332]

Mr. Woolas: The amounts Gravesham collected in business rates and the amounts they received back from the central pool from 1997–98 to 2004–05 are set out in the table. Unfortunately this information is not readily available for 1996–97.
National Non-Domestic Business Rates (NNDR)


Gravesham
Collected by the authority (£)Received from the NNDR pool (£)
1997–9814,992,4852,933,949
1998–9914,543,1922,940,869
1999–200015,350,0693,147,309
2000–0114,826,5153,496,203
2001–0214,657,7123,454,169
2002–0315,875,0653,868,547
2003–0415,778,1043,341,817
2004–0516,139,2762,618,788








 
27 Feb 2006 : Column 191W
 

Local Government Restructuring

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will publish the presentation made by officials in his Department to chief executives of local authorities on proposed consultations on restructuring local government. [50421]

Mr. Woolas: Copies of the presentation have been provided to all chief executives who have attended meetings. A copy of the presentation has been sent to the hon. Member. A copy has also been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when new plans for local government organisation will be published. [52790]

Mr. Woolas: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has taken no decisions about whether there should be any reorganisation of the structure of local government. The ODPM is currently engaged in a wide ranging debate about local governance, including the future of two-tier arrangements in the shire areas. We intend to finalise our position around the middle of the year at about the same time as the publication of the proposed White Paper.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his Department's policy is on retaining two-tier council areas. [53374]

Mr. Woolas: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend on 14 December 2005, Official Report, column 1961W. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has taken no decisions about whether there should be any reorganisation of the structure of local Government.


Next Section Index Home Page