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6 Nov 2006 : Column 862W—continued

SCOPE Programme

Norman Baker: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the objectives are of the business change programme SCOPE; and what its (a) cost and (b) benefits have been to date. [99869]

Hilary Armstrong: SCOPE is an information systems enabled programme to improve collaboration across the intelligence community. It is not the practice to publish the costs of intelligence-related programmes. They are subject to scrutiny by the Intelligence and Security Committee, whose reports are available in the Library for the reference of Members.

Special Advisers

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 30 January 2006, Official Report, columns 63-64W, how many special advisers work within her Department; and if she will make a statement. [99956]

Hilary Armstrong: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 86WS.


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Strategy Unit

Mr. Heald: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the total expenditure by the Strategy Unit (a) was in the past 12 months and (b) has been since it was established. [99950]

Hilary Armstrong: Strategy Unit costs for 2005-06 were £3,348,000. For Strategy Unit costs in each year since its establishment up to and including 2004-05, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend, the Member for East Renfrewshire (Mr. Murphy), then Parliamentary Secretary in the Cabinet Office, on 27 February 2006, Official Report, column 43W.

Communities and Local Government

Accidents (Electrical Equipment)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many fatalities there were in each of the last five years owing to home accidents caused by use or misuse of electrical equipment and electrical installations. [98144]

Jim Fitzpatrick: I have been asked to reply.

The numbers of fatalities over the last five years are shown in the following table.

Fatalities due to home accidents in Great Britain caused by use or misuse of electrical equipment and electrical installations
Number of home accidents

2001-02 (1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002)

4

2002-03 (1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003)

5

2003-04 (1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004)

3

2004-05 (1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005)

10

2005-06 (1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006)

13


Aviation Noise

Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will assist local authorities to enforce restrictions on aviation noise from small airfields. [99222]

Gillian Merron: I have been asked to reply.

The Government consulted on this proposal in their publication “Control of Noise from Civil Aircraft” before the White Paper “The Future of Air Transport” in 2003. Our conclusion, following consultation, was that such involvement of local authorities in small airports' noise control measures would be too bureaucratic. Not all local authorities in which an airport is situated would be resourced to take a fully informed view of an airport's proposals; there might also be conflicts between the interests of the authority that played host to the airport and those of other neighbouring authorities whose residents were also affected by the presence of the airport.

However, it is possible for airports voluntarily to enter into binding agreements with local authorities.


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Back Gardens

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities have prevented building in back gardens through their local development frameworks. [98714]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 31 October 2006]: It is for local planning authorities to develop, through their local development frameworks, appropriate policies which set out the criteria against which planning applications for the development and use of land and buildings will be considered. This could include specific policies relating to where proposals involve development of existing residential areas, which could include associated land such as back gardens, but information on all the local planning authorities which have such a policy is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Building Regulations (Electrical Contractors)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many electrical contractors are registered under Part P of the building regulations; and what estimate she has made of the number of contractors who have yet to register. [98143]

Angela E. Smith: The regulatory impact assessment for Part P of the building regulations estimated that there were about 61,000 electrical contracting firms in the United Kingdom. To date about 30,000 firms have registered with a Part P competent person self-certification scheme. Part P and Part P competent person schemes cover only notifiable electrical installation work in dwellings; some of the 61,000 firms would carry out electrical installation work only in buildings other than dwellings so would not benefit from joining a Part P scheme. Electrical safety in buildings other than dwellings is controlled by the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 for which the Health and Safety Executive is the enforcing authority.

Casinos

Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when (a) Ministers and (b) officials in the Department and its predecessor have held meetings in the last 12 months with casino operators interested in securing licences under the Gambling Act 2005; where each meeting took place; and what was discussed. [83361]

Meg Munn: Under the Gambling Act 2005, local authorities acting in their capacity as licensing authorities will be responsible for issuing the one regional, eight large and eight small new casino licences permitted by the Act. Licensing authorities will be required to run the competitions for these licences in a fair and open way. These competitions are not expected to begin until mid-2007, and the identities of the bidding companies will not be known until then.

There were no ministerial meetings with casino operators. There was one meeting with officials: Mr Brian Lemon of the Casino Operators Association of the UK attended a Stakeholder Workshop in London
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on 13 October 2005 which discussed a draft paper on Need and Impact Assessment, which will be a guidance note to accompany Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for Town Centres.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what meetings planning Ministers have had with casino operators and their associates since January 2003; and who the attendees were in each case. [84193]

Meg Munn: There have been two meetings of planning Ministers and casino operators:

In relation to meetings with associates of casino operators, there have been a number of meetings with representatives of Anschutz in connection with the Dome. Those involving the Deputy Prime Minister were set out in the letter appended to the Memorandum to the Committee of Standards. My right hon. Friend the Member for Streatham was also present at a meeting between the Deputy Prime Minister and officials and representatives of Anshutz in June 2003. In addition, my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) and officials met representatives of Anshutz in January 2003. But none of these Ministers were planning Ministers for the Dome and related developments.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Deputy Prime Minister was (a) consulted on and (b) involved in the production of the Casinos: National Policy Statement document published in December 2004. [94657]

Yvette Cooper: The statement was a Government policy statement, agreed under the terms of collective responsibility in the normal way.

Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representation she plans for the (a) Hindu and (b) Sikh community on the Commission for Equality and Human Rights. [97204]

Meg Munn: The first round of appointments of Commissioners to the Commission for Equality and Human Rights will be made shortly. Ministers expect the Commission to take an inclusive approach and reach out to all faith communities in the UK. The recruitment process for Commissioners has always been built on the premise that Commissioners will work in a collegiate manner, and that the body as a whole should have understanding of the functions of the Commission and especially of human rights and discrimination matters, including discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief. It has never been the intention for individual Commissioners to represent particular groups.


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Correspondence

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Chelmsford of 24 July on behalf of Mr Peter Lawrence; what the reasons are for the delay in replying; and if she will make a statement. [98875]

Yvette Cooper: The letter to which the hon. Member refers to was replied to on 2 November. I agree that we have taken longer than I would have wished to respond and apologise to both the hon. Member and Mr. Lawrence for this.

Council Rents

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average total rent paid by council tenants was in 2004-05; and what estimate he has made of the average amount spent per council tenant on repairs and services in that year. [61735]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

Subsidy expenditure in relation to council homes includes major repairs and capital charges (e.g. interest and repayments on borrowing for previous housing investment and building), as well as ongoing management and maintenance.

The overall assumed in-year totals used for subsidy purposes are as follows:

£ million

Assumed rental income

5,722

Less:

Management and maintenance

3,082

Major repairs

1,389

Capital charges

1,205

ALMO allowance

86

Other allowances

82

Deficit funded by Exchequer

122


Average rent per household reported by councils for 2004-05 was £2,868.13. This is an unaudited figure. Average expenditure per house on repairs and maintenance reported by councils was £805.28. This does not include management, major repairs or decent homes refurbishments. Nor does it include the capital charges against debt or borrowing that may have been used to fund the building of the homes in the first place.

Council Tax

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 23 October 2006, Official Report, column 1658W, on council tax rebates, whether such rebates referred to are only available to householders who purchase their gas or electricity from a Centrica-owned energy company. [99420]

Mr. Woolas: The operation of any council rebate scheme for householders taking energy efficiency measures is entirely a matter for the local authority
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concerned. The Department for Communities and Local Government does not hold information about the basis on which individual schemes operate.

Crown/Duchy of Lancaster Property

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether Empty Dwelling Management Orders can be used to seize (a) Crown property and (b) property of the Duchy of Lancaster. [95880]

Yvette Cooper: Empty Dwelling Management Orders cannot be made against dwellings owned by the Crown. A dwelling owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, or any other property owner, could only be subject to an Empty Dwelling Management Order if the local authority proposing the order sought and received authorisation from a Residential Property Tribunal.

Departmental Expenditure

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the (a) Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and (b) private office of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister spent on alcohol and hospitality in 2005-06. [83104]

Angela E. Smith: The following table sets out the expenditure on hospitality for the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) and ODPM Private Offices in 2005-06.

Amount (£)

(a) Total ODPM hospitality spend

54,932

of which:

(b) ODPM Private Offices

20,646


The totals include £8,563 spent on hospitality by the Deputy Prime Minister's Private Office.

Hospitality expenditure in the former ODPM was incurred when officials had provided meals/refreshments for ODPM stakeholders.

The Department's finance system did not identify expenditure on alcohol separately. This information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

All expenditure on official entertainment was made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on principles set out in Government Accounting.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the cost to the public purse was of the Deputy Prime Minister’s 2005 Sustainable Communities Summit. [94818]

Yvette Cooper: The net cost to the Department was £331,252. The total cost of holding the Sustainable Communities Summit 2005 was just over £2.8 million, while revenues from delegate fees and sponsorship were approximately £2.5 million.


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