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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer from the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-East (Mr. McFadden) to the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Marsden) of 4 December 2006, Official Report, columns 189-90W, on the retirement age, what his Departments policy is for the setting of retirement ages for staff below the Senior Civil Service under the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992. 
Gillian Merron: The Department for Transport has a default retirement age of 65 for staff below the senior civil service level. Employees have the right to request to work beyond the default retirement age.
Gillian Merron: The Department provides funding for rural transport through the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant (RBSG) paid to local authorities in England based on numbers living in rural areas. The cost in 2007-08 will be £55.6 million.
Bus services in rural areas also benefit from the Departments Bus Service Operators Grant, paid to operators of local bus services in both urban and rural areas. The proportion of this grant going to operators in rural areas is not separately recorded.
The Department allocates about £1.6 billion per year to urban and rural authorities to deliver their local transport plans. Depending on local priorities, an element of this will be spent on rural areas.
Gillian Merron: There is no definition of the term statistics relating to the work of the Department and no centrally held information on either the volume or costs of statistics published each year on this basis.
Estimates for the annual costs of National Statistics are contained in the relevant National Statistics annual report and accounts, which are available on the National Statistics website at http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=1051
Gillian Merron: It is for local highway authorities to decide whether or not to use light-emitting diode (LED) traffic signals. A number of LED products meeting UK requirements for traffic signals, as described in British Standard BS EN 12368, are available for highway authorities to install.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the (a) carbon dioxide emissions, (b) operational costs and (c) maintenance costs of a (i) light-emitting diode traffic light and (ii) normal traffic light. 
Gillian Merron: The Department for Transport has estimated the amount of energy used by conventional traffic signals to be of the order of 17-24 MW/hr. Changing to light-emitting diode traffic signals could potentially save 50-60 per cent. of this. Carbon dioxide emission reductions, operational costs and maintenance costs have not been estimated. Some of these depend on local energy agreements and maintenance practices and are for the local highway authority to determine.
Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was (a) allocated and (b) approved by his Department for transport projects in (i) the Greater Manchester sub-region and (ii) the Merseyside sub-region in each of the last two years. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans there are to change the (a) rolling stock and (b) engines on the Waterloo to
Reading railway line; and whether older trains are to be re-introduced on this line. 
Mr. Tom Harris: Stagecoach, the successful bidder for the South Western franchise, will determine the rolling stock to be used on their routes. The Reading-Waterloo line is currently served by a mix of Class 450 Desiros, of which 17 more 4-car units have recently been purchased, and Class 458 Juniper trains. Both are modern, air-conditioned stock and there is no plan to introduce older stock onto this route. The older, but recently refurbished Class 455 units, are expected to run on more inner suburban services. Stagecoach will confirm arrangements to the public in due course.
Jon Cruddas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many 16 and 17-year-olds were placed in bed and breakfast accommodation in 2005-06, broken down by local authority. 
Yvette Cooper: This information is not currently held centrally, as figures reported by local housing authorities about households in temporary accommodation (including bed and breakfast) do not distinguish the applicant's age. We plan to start collecting specific data next year, following consultation with local authorities, on the numbers of 16 and 17-year-olds placed in bed and breakfast accommodation.
In 2005-06, 8 per cent. of all households accepted as homeless were in priority need because the applicant was 16 or 17-years-old. This group makes up 23 per cent. of all acceptances where the household did not include dependent children and/or an expectant mother.
At the end of March 2006, a total of 5,150 households were in bed and breakfast accommodation. This is a 60 per cent. reduction since 2002. Just over 4,000 of these did not include dependent children and/or an expectant mother, and some of these may include 16 or 17-year-old applicants.
Dr. Francis: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of care responsibilities on women in work; whether she has made an assessment of the merits of an employer supported care voucher scheme, similar to that in operation for childcare, to enable carers better to manage work and caring; and if she will make a statement. 
We know from the 2001 Census that women are more likely than men to provide unpaid care, and that women with caring responsibilities who are in employment are more likely to be in part-time work compared to men who provide unpaid care. Officials in my department are examining whether and
how carers issues can be addressed within our policies and practices. As part of this work, initial discussions are taking place between officials in my department and the Department of Health on how we can support the commitment, set out in the White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say to update and extend the Prime Ministers strategy for carers. We are also in contact with relevant officials in the Department for Work and Pensions.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many members of staff from her Department who are seconded to the Deputy Prime Ministers Office were awarded a bonus for their work in the most recent year for which figures are available. 
Angela E. Smith: Given the small number of staff seconded to the Deputy Prime Ministers Office and that performance related bonuses are personal information, on the grounds of staff confidentiality it would be inappropriate to answer.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to provide grant assistance to those undertaking courses to achieve the National Occupational Standards for Domestic Energy Assessors. 
Yvette Cooper: The National Occupational Standards for Domestic Energy Assessors have been developed by Asset Skills, the relevant sector skills council, and are currently going through the approval process by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). Once approved, they will be available on the QCA's website www.qca.gov.uk. Awarding bodies are also awaiting approval from the QCA for the qualifications they have designed, which are expected to be available early next year.
Currently, there are two key statutory mechanisms for protecting the public: Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), and Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs). The former
are concerned with managing offenders living in the community who pose a risk to public safety, while the latter focus on children who are in need of care or at risk.
Recently, a new body has been developed: the MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference). MARACs focus on the adult victims of domestic violence, and seek to intervene with victims at high risk of repeat victimisation, serious injury or homicide.
While not statutory, MARACs are proving to be highly effective at preventing homicides, and in dramatically reducing repeat attacks. In Cardiff, for example, 42 per cent. of victims experienced no repeat incidents.
We are rolling out MARACs to more Specialist Domestic Violence Court areas, and will be monitoring their effectiveness. Targets in reductions for repeat victimisation following the introduction of MARACs are also increasingly being included in local area agreements.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average response time of the fire brigade in Tamworth constituency was in the last period for which figures are available. 
Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent by her Department and its predecessors on furniture made by British firms in each year since 2000. 
Angela E. Smith: The Department of Communities and Local Government furniture procurement strategy is to use the Office of Government Commerce Buying Solutions framework contracts. There is no mechanism within the framework to capture the country of origin of these goods. The extraction of this information would be at disproportionate cost.
Yvette Cooper: The information available on housing is from Land Use Change Statistics set out in the following table. The Green Belt includes both greenfield and brownfield land. The proportion of new dwellings built on greenfield land in Green Belts has fallen from 1.5 per cent. in 1997 to 1.0 per cent. in 2004.
|Number and proportions of new dwellings built in the Green Belt, by previous use, 1997 to 2004|
|Dwellings||Proportions by previous use|
|New dwellings on previously developed land in the Green Belt||New dwellings on greenfield land in the Green Belt||New dwellings on previously developed land in the Green Belt as a proportion of all new dwellings||New dwellings on greenfield land in the Green Belt as a proportion of all new dwellings|
Communities and Local Government completions data (2006), LUCS data (LUCS 21 A, October 2006)
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