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Illegal Building (Enforcement)

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the time limit is after which illegal building is out of time for enforcement; and if she will make a statement. [100867]

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Angela E. Smith: In relation to contraventions of the building regulations, under the Building Act 1984, local authorities have from the completion of works:

The ability of local authorities, the Attorney General or other persons to apply for an injunction under section 36 (6) for the removal or alteration of non compliant work is not subject to a statutory time limit.


Class A Drugs

Robert Key: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment has been made of the relationship between the price of class ‘A’ drugs across the UK and changes in the border control regime since the implementation of the HM Revenue and Customs Law Enforcement Business Plan in 2003. [101819]

Dawn Primarolo: HMRC are an intelligence-led, risk-based organization and deploy their resources accordingly. The price of drugs is factored into the Home Office overarching strategy to which HMRC contributes. Price in itself is one factor in the way we design our border control regime.

Changes in the price of class ‘A’ drugs in the UK are due to a number of factors, for example availability, purity, level of use and social trends. To attempt to isolate an individual factor would not produce an accurate reflection of the reasons behind a change in drugs prices.

Credit Unions

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has to promote credit unions in the East of England; and if he will make a statement. [101638]

Ed Balls: The Government are supporting credit unions and other third sector, not-for-profit, lenders across England, Wales and Scotland through a £36 million Growth Fund. Ipswich and Suffolk credit union, Essex Savers credit union and Liberty credit union in Romford are among around 80 third sector lenders being supported to expand their lending service through this funding. In addition, on the advice of the Financial Inclusion Taskforce, the Government are launching a campaign to promote demand for financial products and services including sources of affordable credit, such as credit union loans. The Department for Work and Pensions is managing the campaign delivery unit, in partnership with secondees from stakeholder organisations. Nine stakeholder managers have so far been appointed, including one for the East of England region.

Healthy Living

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the merits of using fiscal incentives to promote healthy living. [101691]

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Dawn Primarolo: Successive UK Governments have pursued a policy of establishing and maintaining high levels of tax on cigarettes, which has been proven to reduce smoking prevalence. Smoking is the single largest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK. The Government also offer a wide-ranging VAT exemption for the provision of sport and physical education when supplied by non-profit making bodies.

Long-term Public Finance Report

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he will publish the next volume of the Long-Term Public Finance Report; and if he will make a statement. [101283]

Mr. Timms: The next ‘Long-term public finance report’ will be published alongside the pre-Budget report on 6 December 2006. The report will present an updated assessment of the sustainability of the public finances over the long term.

Mortality Rates

Barbara Keeley: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the mortality rate was of (a) men and (b) women in Worsley in each year since 1991. [101182]

John Healey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 21 November 2006:

Age-standardised mortality rates( 1) , Worsley parliamentary constituency, 2001-04( 2,3)
Deaths per 100,000
Year Males Females













(1) Age-standardised mortality rates per 100,000 population, standardised to the European Standard Population. Age-standardised rates are used to allow comparison between populations which may contain different proportions of people of different ages.
(2) Using local authority ward boundaries as of 2005 for deaths for all years shown.
(3) The ward population estimates used to calculate the ward mortality rates are experimental statistics, and are consistent with the published local authority mid-year estimates for the relevant year.

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Schools (VAT)

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to ensure that value added tax is not recovered from Building Schools for the Future funding where this money is being used to refurbish voluntary aided schools. [101708]

Dawn Primarolo: While the construction of certain new charitable buildings is VAT zero rated, VAT is always chargeable on the refurbishment of existing buildings—including schools. Where VAT costs for the refurbishment of voluntary aided schools are not reclaimable by the school under the normal VAT rules, I understand from DfES that they will be funded through the Building Schools for the Future allocations for the refurbishment project.

EU VAT agreements mean that it is not possible to introduce a new VAT zero rate for the refurbishment of voluntary aided school buildings.

Stamp Duty

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will increase the threshold for stamp duty in English regions which have seen large increases in the price of housing over the last five years. [101894]

Ed Balls: Stamp duty rates and thresholds, like all other taxes, are kept under constant review as part of the Budget process.

No previous administration has ever linked tax thresholds—including stamp duty thresholds—to price movements of any asset, such as housing, and the practice of this Government is no different. Tax rates and thresholds apply equally to the whole of the UK and have never been set on a regional basis.

Tax Credits

Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was spent in Northern Ireland on advertising working tax credits in each of the last five years. [101816]

Dawn Primarolo: This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Education and Skills

Children's Homes

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether he plans to carry out research into the effects of clustering of independent children's homes. [101804]

Beverley Hughes: The Department is not currently planning any research into the effects of the clustering of independent children's homes.

High quality local authority commissioning is key to the effective management of the children's homes market. It is essential for local authorities to have
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effective commissioning strategies, which are based on a thorough analysis of the current and future anticipated needs of their local population of children, strong partnerships with providers, and a multi-agency approach to ensure that health and education services are closely linked to placements.

We want to support local authorities who are experiencing difficulties with commissioning to improve the value for money they secure; to ensure that a choice of suitable placements is offered for each child in care; and to reduce their dependence on out of authority placements.

“Care Matters”, the Green Paper we issued for public consultation on 9 October 2006, proposes the piloting of new regional commissioning units to undertake commissioning functions on behalf of groups of local authorities. These units would bring together procurement expertise and sector knowledge, and be able to work much more effectively with providers in planning local services.

Common Assessment Framework

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what methods will be used to ensure that only those parts of the common assessment framework which the parent or young person in question has consented to being shared will be distributed. [101837]

Beverley Hughes: The practitioner undertaking a common assessment will record on the common assessment framework form the details of consent from the parent or young person. This will show what information can be shared with which agencies. The practitioner then has the responsibility to ensure that any information shared is limited to that agreed with the parent or young person. Each local area is required to ensure that there are robust systems and procedures so that information is stored and shared securely, in line with DfES guidance and the Data Protection Act.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills where the completed form will be held when a practitioner has carried out a common assessment framework assessment; and whether the form will be available to other practitioners. [101838]

Beverley Hughes: A completed common assessment framework form will be held and shared, if appropriate, in line with locally determined procedures and according to whether consent has been given by the parent or young person as part of the assessment. Local areas must have systems for co-ordinating assessments that comply with the Data Protection Act. Many areas are operating manual systems, though some are developing electronic processes. All systems must have appropriate security measures to ensure that only practitioners who have been given consent to access common assessment information will be able to do so. The only exceptions will be circumstances, described in guidance, such as a threat of serious harm to the child.

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Inter-country Adoption

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the average length of time to complete an inter-country adoption for a child coming to the UK was in (a) 2005 and (b) January to June 2006. [101777]

Beverley Hughes: There is no centrally held information on the average length of time it takes to complete an inter-country adoption from the initial approach of the prospective adopters to their adoption agency until the legal recognition of the adoption in the UK.

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Students (Drop-out Rates)

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many and what percentage of students dropped out of (a) apprenticeships, (b) advanced apprenticeships, (c) other NVQ learning, (d) entry to employment, (e) train-to-gain, (f) foundation degrees and (g) workstep programmes in each year since 1997. [101855]

Phil Hope: Figures relating to drop-out or retention have only been published with respect to NVQ learning in the further education (FE) sector and are reproduced in the following table:

NVQ aims (starts in 000s) Retention rate (percentage)
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4/5 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4/5















































Note: The number of starts (relating to the cohort of people expected to complete in each year) is shown to give an indication of the relative weightings between cohorts; it does not show the complete number of starts for that year.

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