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Improving the toolkit of powers and guidance available to local authorities will help them tackle local environmental quality issues more effectively. In addition, ENCAMS (Environmental Campaigns), which is grant-funded by DEFRA, runs the Keep Britain Tidy campaign and carries out a number of public awareness campaigns aimed at changing behaviour. Recent campaigns have focused on youth littering and smoking-related litter.
In addition to increasing the range and flexibility of enforcement options for local authorities, work is being taken forward on improving the provision of skills in relation to street cleansing and related services. A Local Environmental Management training and skills framework is being developed which will ensure that specific, tailored training and qualifications are available to the industry from operational level to senior management and play a key role in enabling local authorities to increase the effectiveness of their litter clearance, as well as other services they provide.
Mr. Bradshaw: The Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 (as amended) regulate the disposal of waste in landfill sites. The Regulations transpose the requirements of the Landfill Directive, reducing the negative effects of landfilling on the environment and any resultant risk to human health. A copy of the 2002 Regulations (SI No. 1559) and its subsequent amendment Regulations (SI Nos.1375 and 1640) can be obtained from the Office of Public Sector Information at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/.
Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what guidance he has issued to the water companies on the categories of public sector vehicles to be exempt from the provisions of any hosepipe ban. 
Ian Pearson: Hosepipe bans are imposed by water companies using the powers available to them under section 76 of the Water Industry Act 1991. In line with the definitions within the Act, these powers will apply to private motor cars but exclude public service vehicles and goods vehicles. No additional guidance has been given.
Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with Thames Water on the seeking of a drought order by the company; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: I met with representatives of Thames Water on 25 May to discuss a range of water issues, including the companys water resource position in light of the Environment Agencys report Drought prospects 2006spring update.
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the projected change in mains water usage over the next (a) five, (b) 10 and (c) 20 years. 
Ian Pearson: The Environment Agency is the statutory body with a duty to manage water resources in England and Wales. As part of the agencys management role, it has both national and regional water resource strategies which set out the pressures over the next 25 years. Information about these strategies is available on the Environment Agencys website: www.environment-agency.gov.uk.
Water companies have statutory duties to maintain adequate supplies of water. They have 25-year water resource plans which complement the agency strategies and seek to reconcile supply with anticipated demand. This forward planning framework exists to take account of factors such as the water supply and disposal infrastructure required to service significant new housing developments and the implications of climate change.
Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans are in place in (a) London and (b) England to provide (i) bottled and (ii) other sources of water to (A) schools, (B) hospitals, (C) nursing homes and (D) elderly and disabled people during a water shortage or drought; and if he will make a statement. 
Ian Pearson: Any projected shortage in supply this year will be addressed through the relevant water companys drought plan. These plans set out how the company will continue to meet its duties to supply adequate quantities of wholesome water during drought periods with as little recourse as possible to drought orders and permits.
No water company is expecting to rely on bottled water supplies, which would require authorisation under an emergency drought order. Water companies would deploy their existing emergency plans to provide alternative supplies of water to customers in vulnerable sectors in the event of emergency drought order measures being put in place.
26. Martin Linton: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, what progress has been made in implementing the Modernisation Committees recommendation for Saturday opening of the Line of Route. 
Nick Harvey: Further studies of the practicalities of implementing this recommendation are being carried out by the Visitor Route Steering Group with a view to presenting detailed proposals to the Administration Committee later this year. If the proposals are in due course approved by the authorities of both Houses, Saturday opening could start from the autumn of 2007.
Nick Harvey: A planned expansion of the Educational Visits Programme is under way, with the aim of increasing the annual number of students involved from 8,000 to 25,000 over the next two years. The Parliamentary Education Unit (PEU) now has the use of a room in 1 Parliament Street for educational visits as well as the MacMillan Room, and consideration is being given to how the House might make more effective provision for school students with special educational needs. Plans are also in place to improve the provision of specific educational content for young people who visit the House through routes other than the educational programme, including the summer opening and tours organised by individual Members. The development of new content for the educational website www.explore-parliament.uk continues.
In the longer term, plans for a Parliamentary Visitor and Information Centre, currently being considered by the Administration Committee in conjunction with the House of Lords Information Committee, would aim to provide purpose-built facilities for educational visits as part of a major improvement to Parliaments engagement with the public.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the honourable Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission, pursuant to his answer of 17 May 2006, Official Report, column 967W, on postage costs, if the Commission will issue guidance to House departments that second class mail should be routinely used for non-urgent items; and if he will make a statement. 
Nick Harvey: All departments of the House are reminding their staff that second class mail should be routinely used for non-urgent items and monitoring of mail issued from House departments began from 1 April 2006. Results from the first quarter of the present financial year will identify those areas where further savings can be made. E-mail is used where possible to save on postage costs.
17. Mr. Bacon: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what representations he has received on the allocation of national insurance numbers to illegal workers; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Plaskitt: My Department is working closely with local authorities, and as a result the average time taken to process new housing benefit and council tax benefit claims has been cut by over two weeks. There have been further improvements in the first three quarters of 2005-06, with the national average improving to 36 days.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the take-up rate of council tax benefit was in each year since 1996-97; and how many pensioners (a) were entitled to and (b) received council tax benefit in each such year. 
Estimates of the number of pensioners entitled to council tax benefit in each year and the number of pensioner households in receipt of council tax benefit in May each year are in the following tables. As the information in the different tables is not on a consistent basis, they should not be used in conjunction to derive an estimate of the take-up of council tax benefit.
|Number of pensioners entitled to CTB in each year|
| Notes: 1. Estimates of the numbers entitled are given as ranges in order to account for possible biases inherent in estimates from data that is less than perfect. They also take account of the effects of sampling variation. 2. Estimates cover all those aged 60 and over in the private household population of Great Britain. The data source is the Family Resources Survey. 3. For the purposes of this analysis, the unit of analysis is the benefit unit. This is either a single person aged at least 60 years old or, if a couple, both will be termed pensioners if one is aged at least 60 years old. This is consistent with the definition used in Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-up publications. 4. Estimates have been rounded to the nearest 10 thousand. 5. Comparing estimates over time is not straightforward. Our estimates allow for biases, which can change from year to year; but we cannot be sure of the extent or effects of changes. Therefore, any analysis of changes over time should be made with caution.|
|Council tax benefit recipients aged 60 and over: Great Britain|
|As at May each year||Number|
| Notes: 1. The figures are based on a 1 per cent. sample and are therefore subject to a degree of sampling variation. 2. The data refers to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple. 3. Caseloads have been rounded to the nearest thousand. 4. Figures for any non-responding authorities have been estimated. 5. Housing benefit figures exclude any extended payment cases. 6. Council tax benefit totals exclude any second adult rebate cases. 7. Aged 60 and over is defined as benefit units where the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 and over. Therefore figures will contain some claimants aged under 60 where there is a partner aged over 60 years. Source: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System, Annual 1 per cent. sample, taken in May 1996 to 2003.|
|Council tax benefit recipients aged 60 and over: Great Britain|
|As at May each year||Number|
| Notes: 1. The data refers to benefit units, which may be a single person or a couple. 2. Caseloads have been rounded to the nearest ten. 3. Figures for any non-responding authorities have been estimated. 4. Housing benefit figures exclude any extended payment cases. 5. Council tax benefit totals exclude any second adult rebate cases. 6. Aged 60 and over is defined as benefit units where the claimant and/or partner are aged 60 and over. Therefore figures will contain some claimants aged under 60 where there is a partner aged over 60 years. Source: Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System Quarterly 100 per cent. caseload stock-count taken in May 2004 and 2005.|
However, Pathways to Work is an acknowledged success story. For the fourth quarter in a row, the number of people claiming incapacity benefits has shown a significant year-on-year fall-down 61,000 to stand at 2.71 million.
Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions whether there are mechanisms in place to ensure that eligible people who are close to retirement are supported efficiently through the financial assistance scheme. 
James Purnell: We have said we need to do more to ensure that eligible members who reach 65, the payment age for the financial assistance scheme, are paid as quickly as possible. That is why we are reviewing the administration of the scheme. The review will look at what we need to do to provide the best administration and management support. It will also consider how we can ensure the most cost-efficient operation and examine a full range of options for the appropriate organisational location of the operations. It will report before the summer recess.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much and what proportion of the new deal training budget was spent on those aged (a) 25 and under, (b) 26 to 40, (c) 40 to 55 and (d) 55 and over in (i) 2003-04, (ii) 2004-05 and (iii) 2005-06; and what his forecasts are for spending on these categories for the next two years. 
Information on new deal training spend is only available for: the new deal for young people (NDYP) full time education and training (FTET) option; the new deal 25 plus (ND25 plus) employment and training opportunities (ETO); training undertaken during the ND25 plus intensive activity period (IAP); and expenditure on the new deal 50 plus training grant.
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