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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what changes have been authorised by the Government to the planning status of (a) Delta Wharf and (b) the Victoria Deep Water Terminal in London since May 1997; and for what purpose. 
Yvette Cooper: Safeguarding of Thames wharves was introduced as part of the suite of policies in Strategic Guidance for the River Thames (RPG3b/9b) in February 1997. The safeguarding directions issued meant that development proposals unrelated to river uses had to be notified to the Secretary of State.
Responsibility for policy on safeguarding of wharves and monitoring of planning applications passed to the Mayor of London in 2000. New directions were issued requiring that applications for the development of safeguarded wharves for non-river uses must be referred to the Mayor for decision.
The power to issue safeguarding directions remains with the Secretary of State, but it is now for the Mayor to recommend to the Secretary of State which sites should be safeguarded, in the context of the London Plan. It is the responsibility of the Secretary of State to
check that, in line with Circular 1/2000, the Mayor has followed the correct procedures for instigating a change to his policy.
the Safeguarding Direction for Delta Wharf, issued by the Secretary of State on 16 June 2000, should be lifted with immediate effect; and
the Safeguarding Direction for Victoria Deep Water Terminal, issued by the Secretary of State on 16 June 2000, should also be lifted with immediate effect and simultaneously a new Safeguarding Direction should be issued for the wharf reflecting the reconfigured northern boundary of the site.
Following careful consideration of the issues raised in the Mayor of London's letter, the Secretary of State reached the decision to approve the Mayor's recommendations. On 19 May 2004, the Secretary of State therefore issued directions under Articles 10 and 27 of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995:
cancelling the June 2000 safeguarding direction applying to Delta Wharf, and
simultaneously cancelling the June 2000 direction applying to the Victoria Deep Water Terminal and issuing a revised safeguarding direction reflecting the reconfigured northern boundary.
A further modification to the safeguarded area at the Victoria Deep Water Terminal was recommended by the Mayor of London as part of his review of safeguarded wharves "Safeguarded Wharves on the River Thames: The London PlanImplementation Report". His recommendation was that the southern boundary should be redrawn to remove those areas that were part of Bay Wharf and which were not considered to be viable or capable of being made viable for cargo-handling. Following careful consideration, on 3 June 2005 the Secretary of State issued a revised safeguarding direction for the Victoria Deep Water Terminal implementing the recommendation.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what factors were taken into account when deciding which members of the public should be allowed to attend the Lyons Inquiry into Local Governments public engagement meetings in July and August. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated cost is of the 2006 National Fraud Initiative exercise to (a) her Department and (b) local authorities. 
The Audit Commission consults audited bodies before it sets its fees scale. As this is an operational matter for the Audit Commission, I will ask its Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member and the answer will be made available in the Library of the House.
Your parliamentary question on the estimated cost of the 2006 National Fraud Initiative (NFI) to local authorities has been passed to me for reply.
The NFI is run on a two year cycle, but local authorities are billed annually in order to spread the cost over both years. The cost to local authorities of the current exercise, NFI 2006/07, is set out in the table below.
|£ (excluding VAT)|
|Authority type||2006 charge||2007 charge||Total charge|
|(1) Based on number of housing benefit claimants.|
I am copying this to Angela Smith at DCLG and a copy will also be placed in the House of Commons Library.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she will
publish the results of the Audit Commission Inspection report of Northampton borough councils housing department. 
Mr. Woolas: The Audit Commission publishes inspection reports independently of my Department. As this is an operational matter for the Commission, I shall ask the chief executive to write to the hon. Member and the answer will be made available in the Library of the House.
Your parliamentary question on the results of the Audit Commissions inspection report of Northampton Borough Councils housing department has been passed to me for reply.
The Commissions recent work with Northampton Borough Councils housing department was a progress check rather than a full inspection. Therefore, the Commission will not publish its findings as a stand-alone public inspection report. It will, of course, formally report the findings to the Council.
The Commission is currently carrying out an assessment of Northampton Borough Councils progress in addressing all its key improvement priorities. A full report of the findings from this wider progress assessment will include a summary of the Councils progress in improving its housing services. The Commission will publish the full report in the New Year.
I am copying this to Phil Woolas at DCLG and a copy will also be placed in the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many decisions of the Planning Inspectorate she has overturned in each year since 1996-97; and what proportion this represents of all inspectorate decisions in each year. 
|(a) Decisions made by PINS (Number)||(b) Decisions called-in / recovered by Secretary of State (Number)||(c) Decisions where Secretary of State went against Inspector's recommendations (Number)||(d) Proportion of called-in/ recovered decisions(c/b) (Percentage)||(e) Proportion of all decisions (c/a) (Percentage)|
Yvette Cooper: The role of the Planning Inspectorate is to administer the process of planning appeals made to the Secretary of State, by determining each appeal on its own merits, including whether a section 106 agreement is necessary to make a development acceptable in planning terms.
Yvette Cooper: The discount available to housing association tenants under Social HomeBuy is funded by grant from the Housing Corporation. £15 million of funding has been allocated by the Housing Corporation for schemes in 2006 to 2008. Additional funding will be made available pending the outcome of the further bidding round being launched on 30 October.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to prevent the importation of sofas which fail to meet the requirements stipulated in the Furniture and Furnishing Regulations 1988. 
Mr. McCartney: The Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 are enforced by Trading Standards. HM Revenue and Customs liaises with Trading Standards on furniture imports as appropriate.
Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with the banking sector on opening the Link system to post offices; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: Post Office Ltd. have regular discussions with both Link and the leading banks about access to the Link system through the post office network. My officials have also had discussions with Link. However, these are commercial matters for Post Office Ltd. and I have asked Alan Cook to write directly to the hon. Member with an update on how the discussions are progressing.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make it his policy to require employers to indicate on the wage slips of their employees the rate then applying of the national minimum wage; and if he will make a statement. 
It was decided after wide public consultation on the National Minimum Wage Regulations 1999 that there should be no requirement
for employers to state the national minimum wage on payslips. The consultation concluded that the measure would be unduly burdensome on business.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment he has made of planned recruitment by National Debtline; what assessment he has made of how long it will take new staff to become fully operational; and if he will make a statement; 
DTI have given National Debtline a grant of £1 million this year to help them expand their assistance programme. We clearly value their work and note that the recent Illuminas research on National Debtline concluded that three years on 85 per cent. of people who had received advice in 2003 felt more confident about managing their money and 90 per cent. felt more knowledgeable about their finances.
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