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Mr. Woolas: The primary legislation for business rates has been amended substantively since 1997 by the Local Government Act 2003, the Rating (Former Agricultural Premises and Rural Shops) Act 2001, the Rating (Valuation) Act 1999 and the Local Government and Rating Act 1997. Minor amendments have been made by other enactments.
Chris Grayling: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what meetings (a) he and (b) Ministers in his Department have held with directors and senior executives of (i) Capita Group plc and (ii) its subsidiaries since 1st January 2004; and whether (A) Capita Group plc and (B) its subsidiaries have provided input (1) in writing and (2) in person to policy discussions in his Department since 1 January 2004. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The following table shows the value of payments made to Capita plc and its subsidiaries in the last three financial years. For completeness spend in this financial year to date has been included:
|200506 to date||1,166,965|
|Total to date||4,071,187|
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many tenders (a) Capita plc and (b) its
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subsidiaries have submitted to his Department in each of the last three years; and how many tenders were successful. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has awarded one contract to Capita Business Services Ltd. in 200506. Records are not held centrally of tenders offered and this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
James Brokenshire: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many contracts his Department holds with (a) Capita plc and (b) its subsidiaries which still have a potential duration of five years or more. 
Mr. Syms: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the cost to local government of civil resilience measures; and what funding has been provided to local government for this purpose from central funds in 200506. 
As a part of Spending Review 2004, Cabinet Office officials worked closely with the Local Government Association to build up a detailed assessment of the costs facing local authorities in fulfilling their civil protection duties.
As a result of Spending Review 2004 the Government more than doubled their contribution to the cost of English and Welsh local authorities' civil protection work to £40.7 million in each of the years covered by the review200506, 200607 and 200708. This uplift in funding levels was welcomed by the Local Government Association.
The Government are committed to ensuring that new burdens imposed on local authorities are adequately funded. In the light of this commitment, the Government have made an additional £2,913,000 available for the period 200506 to 200708 to local authorities in recognition of new responsibilities in relation to downstream oil emergency response planning.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the merits of an investment allowance as a revenue stream on which to base borrowing for council housing; and if he will introduce such an allowance to underpin the borrowing allowed under the Local Government Act 2004. 
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether a domestic property is revalued for council tax purposes on (a) the purchase of a freehold by a leaseholder, (b) the extension of the duration of the lease of a leasehold property, (c) the purchase of a
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council house under the Right to Buy and (d) the purchase of a housing association property under the Right to Acquire. 
Mr. Woolas: For the purposes of the council tax legislation, a relevant transaction means a transfer on sale of the fee simple, a grant of a lease for a term of seven years or more or a transfer on sale of such lease. The purchase of a freehold by a leaseholder, the purchase of a council house under the Right to Buy, and the purchase of a housing association property under the Right to Acquire, would all constitute a relevant transaction. The extension of the duration of the lease of a leasehold property would only constitute a relevant transaction if the extension was for seven years or more.
Where a relevant transaction has taken place, an authority may make a proposal to the listing officer for the rebanding of the property; but only if it is of the opinion that there has been a material increase in the value of a property. A material increase in relation to the value of a property means any increase which is caused (in whole or part) by any building, engineering or other operation carried out in relation to the property, whether or not constituting development for which planning permission is required.
John Hemming: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the values were for (a) the assumed national Council Tax before floors and ceilings and (b) Council Tax at standard spending in each year since 199798; and for what reason these figures have increased at a rate beyond that of inflation. 
Both of these measures were simply the calculation of the assumed national council tax used within the formula grant calculations, and depended on the total of Standard Spending Assessments or Formula Spending Shares, the amount of Revenue Support Grant and the distributable amount of business rates, and the number of band-D equivalent properties in England.
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The large increase between 200203 and 200304 reflects the change to the Formula Spending Share system. The totals for Formula Spending Shares were set at approximately the level of spending by authorities, and thus the assumed national council tax was reset to a level nearer to the actual national average band-D council tax.
Anne Main: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many incidences of financial irregularities have been discovered in his Department in each year since its creation; and if he will make a statement. 
|Financial year||Number of incidents||Value|
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