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Yvette Cooper: In England, 77,448 affordable homes (ie those at sub-market prices or rents) were provided in the two years 2004-06. These were either new build or acquisition and refurbishment and were provided through a variety of funded programmes, including an estimate of the affordable homes provided without grant through section 106.
Yvette Cooper: The evaluation of the (then) Office of the Deputy Prime Minister choice-based lettings (CBL) pilot projects was published in May 2004(1). In October this year, we published an evaluation of the longer term impacts of CBL(2). Both reports are available on the CLG website at:
(1 )Piloting Choice Based Lettings: an Evaluation, ODPM May 2004
(2) Monitoring the Longer-Term Impacts of Choice-Based Lettings, CLG October 2006
Mr. Vara: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidelines have been issued by her Department on planning permission for (a) mobile telephone masts and (b) other communications masts. 
Meg Munn: Current planning guidance on electronic communications is set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 8: Telecommunications (PPG8), last revised in August 2001. PPG8 refers to all electronic communications apparatus, not just mobile phone masts.
PPG8 includes national policies for the protection of the countryside and residential areas, in particular our national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, conservation areas and sites of special scientific interest.
The installation of any communications mast in such areas, and of a mast of more than 15 metres in height elsewhere, requires planning permission. Any such planning application will be decided by the local planning authority (or the Secretary of State on appeal) in the light of development plan policies and any other material considerations, including any relevant representations either for or against the proposal.
Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will take steps to encourage the use of the English language in England in order to improve community cohesion. 
Mr. Woolas: Yes. A key element of the Governments strategy to increase race equality and community cohesion is development of strong and positive relationships between people from different backgrounds and circumstances in the workplace, in schools and within neighbourhoods. Ability to understand and converse in a common language is essential for all members of society, increasing educational outcomes and employment prospects and the ease with which people can carry out their day-to-day life.
The Government actively promote language proficiency in programmes of the Department for Education and Skills and the Home Office. For example, since 2001 we have invested over £1 billion in English for speakers of other languages (ESOL); over 1.8 million ESOL learning opportunities have been taken up and over 160,000 learners have achieved a first Skills for Life ESOL qualification. Also, prospective British citizens are required to show a specified level of language competence (as well as knowledge of life in the UK); it was announced on 4 December that from 2 April 2007 this will be extended to those seeking permanent settlement.
Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects the Minister of State for Housing and Planning to respond to the letters from the hon. Member for Kettering dated (a) 25 July and (b) 24 October on his constituent Mr. Michael Wilson and home information advisers. 
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the proportion of council house stock which remains empty and in need of repair. 
Yvette Cooper: At October 2003, the EHCS estimates that there were around 50,000 LA properties which were long-term vacant and/or requiring repairs and improvements to make them decent prior to being relet. Of these 50,000, around 20,000 failed the repair criterion of decent homes. Many of the latter properties will have been vacant (i.e. not relet) at the time of the survey because they were awaiting substantial and possibly disruptive work.
Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff were employed through employment agencies in (a) her Department and (b) each of its agencies in each of the last five years for which information is available; and what the (i) average and (ii) longest time was for which these temporary workers were employed in each year. 
Angela E. Smith: Communities and Local Government was created on 5 May 2006 so figures for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are included as follows. The information provided covers the period from August 2004 onwards as information on the numbers of employment agency staff was not held centrally before this.
(a) August 2004 to December 2004161
January 2005 to December 2005214
January 2006 to December 2006159
(b) Information is not held centrally for employment agency staff in CLG agencies,
(i) temporary workers are employed for around 2-3 months on average;
(ii) the longest time to date is 7 months.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many temporary employees were contracted to work for her Department in 2005-06; and what the total cost of such employees was in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 1997-98. 
At any one time the Department employs approximately 120 individuals through employment agencies. The total cost of such employees in (a) January 2005October 2006 was £3,040,746. The total cost for (b) 1997-98 is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff members in her Department were authorised to travel abroad on official business in the last financial year for which figures are available. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) destination and (b) purpose was of each overseas visit undertaken by staff in her Department in the last 12 months. 
Angela E. Smith: Of the 519 trips overseas undertaken by staff in the last 12 months (covering September 2005 to October 2006 as figures available) on official business the destinations included 479 to Europe; six trips to Africa, 26 trips to North America, one trip to South America and seven trips to Asia (including the middle east).
Communities and Local Government does not hold central records about the purpose of individual overseas trips. All overseas trips require the approval of the appropriate deputy director, and the general purpose will be to represent the Department and provide expert advice on policy/subject issues.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects the consultation paper on the findings of the review of the Disabled Facilities Grant to be published; what the reasons are for the delay; and if she will make a statement. 
Yvette Cooper: The Government's consultation paper reviewing the Disabled Facilities Grant programme will be published in the new year. This will set out our plans for improving delivery of this important programme. It has taken rather longer than planned to finalise this paper because of the complexity of some of the issues involved.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the balance struck in the syllabus for national occupational standard for domestic energy assessors between health and safety and other issues. 
The development of the national occupational standard for domestic energy assessors has involved extensive consultation with industry, where all stakeholders have had the opportunity to
comment on the content of the standard. It is now for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to ensure that the right balance has been struck before granting approval.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she has given to the fire and rescue authorities on the recording and reporting of their response times to incidents. 
Angela E. Smith: Fire and rescue services record details of incidents attended on the Departments FDRl and FDR3 returns. The data from these returns are the basis for the fire incident National Statistics collection which covers fires and false alarms attended by fire and rescue services.
Information on response times is collected on the FDR1 return, which covers primary fires attended by fire and rescue services. A primary fire covers fires in buildings, vehicles and outdoor structures; or any fire involving casualties, rescues or fires attended by five or more appliances.
Time of first call to brigadedefined as the time that the first call to the fire was received by fire control
Time mobiliseddefined as the time when the [fire control] operator finished transmitting the mobilising message (pressed send button)
Time of arrival at firedefined as the time when the first appliance arrived at the fire ground
At present, response times are not collected centrally for other incidents attended by fire and rescue services. These other incidents comprise false alarms, secondary fires and non-fire incidents such as road traffic collisions. However, a new electronic incident recording system (IRS) which is currently being piloted in nine fire and rescue areas will collect response times for these types of incident in future.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many incidents required the fire and rescue service in each fire authority area to evacuate residents for their own safety in each year since 1994. 
Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many road accidents the fire and rescue service attended in each fire authority area in each year since 1994; and how many people were rescued from their vehicles in each year. 
|Table 1: Number of road traffic incidents attended by the fire and rescue service in England, 1995-96|
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