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2 Oct 2006 : Column 2544W—continued


Planning

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she plans to consult on reforms to Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 better to protect land threatened with division into small plots; and if she will make a statement. [86275]

Yvette Cooper: The Government issued a consultation paper on this issue on the 1 August.

Relative Need

John Hemming: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the relative need factors are; and what value they have for the financial year 2006-07. [65414]

Mr. Woolas: I have been asked to reply.

The Relative Needs Formula are, based on the demographic, physical and social characteristics of each area, used in the calculation of Formula Grant. Formula Grant comprises Revenue Support Grant, Redistributed Business Rates and principal formula Police Grant.

In 2006-07, the total of all the Relative Needs Formula is factor of 0.67811309347259. The total for each of the separate Relative Needs Formula are given in Annex E of the Local Government Finance Report (England) 2006-07.

The Relative Needs Formula for each local authority can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at:

Water Conservation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer from the then Minister for the Environment to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 4 May 2006, Official Report, columns 1732-3W, on water conservation resources, when a copy of the sustainability impacts study of additional house building scenarios in England will be placed in the Library. [85446]

Yvette Cooper: Copies of the sustainability impacts study of additional housing scenarios in England were placed in the Library on 27 April 2006. The report is also available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website at: http://www. communities.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1162086.

Treasury

Poverty

Tim Farron: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many households in (a) England and Wales, (b) Cumbria, (c) Westmorland and Lonsdale, (d) urban areas and (e) rural areas were below the poverty line in each year since 1997. [88638]

Mr. Jim Murphy: I have been asked to reply.

Reliable information is not available below Government Office Region; the available information is in the tables.


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Number of households in England and Wales living with less than 60 per cent. of the contemporary median household income, for the years 1996-97 to 2004-05
Number of households (million)
Before housing costs After housing costs

1996-97

3.8

5.5

1997-98

3.9

5.3

1998-99

3.9

5.4

1999-2000

3.9

5.3

2000-01

3.8

5.2

2000-02

3.8

4.9

2002-03

3.8

4.8

2003-04

3.8

4.7

2004-05

3.7

4.4

Note:
All results shown for England and Wales are single-year values as sample sizes for England and Wales are large enough to support a robust single-year time-series.
Source:
Family Resources Survey

Number of households falling below 60 per cent. of the contemporary median income, by urban and rural areas: England, for the years 1996-97 to 2004-05
Number of households (million)
Before housing costs Before housing costs
Urban Rural Urban Rural

1996-97

2.7

0.9

3.9

1.2

1997-98

2.7

1.0

3.8

1.2

1998-99

2.7

1.0

3.8

1.3

1999-2000

2.7

1.0

3.8

1.2

2000-01

2.6

1.0

3.6

1.2

2000-02

2.6

1.0

3.5

1.1

2002-03

2.6

0.9

3.4

1.1

2003-04

2.6

1.0

3.2

1.2

2004-05

2.5

0.9

3.1

0.9

Note:
All values presented for urban and rural areas in England are single-year estimates as sample sizes for these areas are large enough to support a robust single-year time-series.
Source:
Family Resources Survey

Scottish Transport Projects

Jo Swinson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the current arrangements are regarding the accounting for value added tax by local authorities in Scotland for (a) road and (b) rail building projects. [91064]

John Healey: Where a local authority has responsibility for building or maintaining a road, any VAT incurred can be reclaimed from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Where the statutory obligations for road building are legally delegated to a local authority by the Scottish Executive, the local authority can recover from HMRC the VAT it pays to a road builder on the cost of the construction of the road, and the local authority does not charge VAT on any funding it receives from the Executive for the project.

However, if the local authority is engaged by the Executive as a contractor to supply the road, this is a service provided by the local authority to the Executive and VAT is chargeable by the local authority to the Executive.

The same principles would apply to railway building projects insofar as these involve local authorities.

VAT

Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will (a) reduce and (b) remove VAT on fruit drinks. [91206]


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John Healey: Most foodstuffs are VAT zero-rated, saving consumers approximately £10.6 billion in the last financial year. This zero rate does not however extend to certain beverages, including fruit drinks, which have been subject to VAT since the decision to apply the standards of VAT in 1993. Under our agreements with our European partners, we are not able to extend existing VAT zero rates or introduce any new ones. It is therefore not possible to remove VAT from fruit drinks and other beverages.

These same agreements do allow the UK to introduce a reduced rate of VAT of not less than 5 per cent. for foodstuffs that are not already VAT zero-rated. While all taxes are kept under review, to date we have been sparing in our use of VAT reduced rates and have only applied them where the tax system offers the most effective and best-targeted support for our social objectives, when compared with other policy instruments. The 2004 Wanless report on public health highlighted difficulties in principle and practice in using the tax system to promote public health. To date, the Government have therefore focused resources to encourage healthy eating choices outside the tax system. This includes action and resources to provide classroom teaching of the benefits of good nutrition and a £235 million package to transform the quality of school meals, reflecting new nutritional standards for primary and secondary schools. Under the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme all 4-6 year olds in LEA schools are entitled to a free piece of fruit or vegetable each school day. In 2007 a new telephone, online and digital television service is being introduced to support people of all ages in making healthier lifestyle choices.

International Development

Angola

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) level of UK public investment and (b) plans for support his Department has in respect of the future reconstruction of Angola. [91082]

Hilary Benn [pursuant to the reply, 13 September 2006, Official Report, c. 2358W]: DFID was quoted as contributing £3.5 million to a UNICEF £18 million Southern Africa programme. This should have read:

I apologise for this error in the original answer.

Developing Countries

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the merits of reforming the (a) World Trade Organisation and (b) International Monetary Fund to give developing countries more influence over the body's decision-making and policy formulation. [88794]

Hilary Benn: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) operates on a "one member, one vote" basis, and takes decisions by consensus. In effect, any country can veto
2 Oct 2006 : Column 2547W
any decision. Developing countries also make up the majority of the WTO membership. While this gives developing countries more influence over the WTO's decision making process, the negotiating process is more complex in an organisation of just under 150 members.

We support the need to strengthen developing country voice and participation at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). We welcome the current debate on the governance of the IMF in the context of the Managing Director's Report on the Fund's Medium Term Strategy. This recognises the importance of governance reform for the continued effectiveness and credibility of the IMF. We support the central objectives of this reform to adjust the shares of member countries to reflect global economic changes and to strengthen the participation and voice of low income countries. We believe the influence of developing countries within the IMF can be bolstered by measures including strengthening their voting rights, increasing support for their representatives at the IMF Executive Board and by increasing discussion and debate at the international and country level. We look forward to continuing discussion on these issues at the Annual Meetings in Singapore.

Education and Skills

Apprenticeships

Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many people applied for an electrical apprenticeship in the last year for which figures are available; and how many were accepted. [91119]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 18 September 2006]: Data on numbers of applications for each framework are not held centrally. The following table shows 2004/05 Apprenticeship starts for those frameworks with an electrical component in them.

Sector framework title Total (starts)

Electrical & Electronic Servicing

71

Electricity Industry

232

Electrotechnical

6,119

Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration

992

Plumbing

4,621

Grand Total

12,035

Source: WBL 2004/05 ILR, Learning & Skills Council.

Disability Equality Scheme

Mr. Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he plans to publish the disability equality scheme for his Department; and in what formats it will be published. [91185]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 18 September 2006]: The Government are committed to improving the position of disabled people in society and believes that public bodies should take the lead in promoting equality of opportunity for all. In compliance with the
2 Oct 2006 : Column 2548W
Disability Discrimination Act 2005 my Department will publish its Disability Equality Scheme on 4 December 2006. It is our intention to publish the Scheme on our departmental website. Additionally we will provide versions in a range of formats including hard copy, large print, word with minimal tables, and Easyread. We will also respond to requests to reproduce the Scheme in Braille, Audio and other formats.


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