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15 Jan 2007 : Column 862W—continued

Right to Buy

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Government have received in capital receipts for the sale of council houses sold in East Sussex under the Right to Buy legislation (a) since the Right to Buy legislation was introduced and (b) since 1997. [110387]

Yvette Cooper: Central Government only began receiving housing receipts in 2004-05. Before then, with-debt local authorities were required instead to set aside a proportion of their housing receipts. The receipts set aside could only be used for the repayment of the authority's debt. From 2004-05 set-aside no longer applied to most housing receipts as the “pooling” regime was introduced, whereby local authorities paid over or “pooled” a proportion of those receipts to the Secretary of State to support housing investment across the country.

The proportion of the capital receipt set aside or pooled is 75 per cent. for a dwelling and 50 per cent. for a non-dwelling asset. The local authority is free to use the remaining 25 per cent. or 50 per cent. respectively for any capital purpose they see fit.

Data formerly collected about amounts set aside and data collected about the value of receipts pooled by the Secretary of State do not separately identify the value of pooled capital receipts derived from houses. The data cover all housing pooled receipts. These include receipts arising from the sales of vacant housing land, shops, community centres, and garages that are on estates owned by local authorities.

The total housing receipts pooled for the geographical county which includes Brighton and Hove city council since the introduction of pooling on 1 April 2004 is £22,654,183.36, and the total housing receipts pooled for the administrative county which excludes the city council £8,953,484.02.

Secure Letter Boxes

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what requirement is made by (a) planning legislation and
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(b) building regulations for developers to provide secure letter boxes for communal blocks of residential accommodation; and if she will make a statement. [114552]

Yvette Cooper: There is no such requirement made in either planning legislation or through building regulations. However, s.17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 places a statutory duty on a local authority when exercising its functions to have regard to the need to do all it reasonably can to prevent crime and disorder in its area.

For planning purposes, guidance has been issued ‘Safer Places: The Planning System and Crime Prevention’, that includes advice on making it more difficult for criminals to commit offences. While letter boxes are not a planning matter, the guidance is still relevant as it talks about complementary measures that can be taken.

Planning Policy Statement 3 Housing advises how local planning authorities should draw on a range of guidance and standards to facilitate efficient delivery of high quality development, including the guidance mentioned.

Security Passes

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) staff, (b) contractor and (c) consultant new and replacement permanent building passes were issued by her Department and its predecessor for London HQ buildings in 2005-06. [114513]

Angela E. Smith: The Department for Communities and Local Government was formed on 5 May 2006 and this reply therefore also relates to its predecessor, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. In the year April 2005 to March 2006 a total of 1,312 new and replacement permanent building passes were issued to staff and a total of 185 new and replacement passes were issued to contractors/consultants in the London HQ buildings. We do not have separate figures for contractors and consultants.

Severalls Hospital

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects the sale of the former Severalls Hospital in Colchester to be completed. [114596]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 11 January 2007]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 8 January 2007, Official Report, columns 351-52W.

Social Housing

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with local authorities on planned new social housing in Milton Keynes. [109057]

Yvette Cooper: Officials within the Department have discussed with Milton Keynes Council its future housing and planning policies, including those related to social housing. Subsequently, Milton Keynes
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Council has published a draft Supplementary Planning Document on Affordable Housing based on a new housing needs study. Officials have also given evidence to the South East Regional Spatial Strategy Examination in Public on matters relating to affordable housing. Milton Keynes Council attended this session, which included discussions on the relative need for social housing at a regional level and also in Milton Keynes.

Tablighi Jamaat Mosque

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with (a) the Mayor of London and (b) Newham council on the proposed Tablighi Jamaat Mosque in East London. [113920]

Mr. Woolas: None. There is no planning application before Newham council for such a mosque.

Unitary Authorities

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities have made formal bids to become a unitary authority in the last six months. [114556]

Mr. Woolas: None. On 26 October we invited councils to submit proposals for future unitary structures by 25 January 2007.

Vacant Dwellings

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many vacant dwellings there were in the eastern region in the latest period for which figures are available, broken down by (a) local authority and (b) local authority ward; and if she will make a statement. [114670]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 11 January 2007]: For the number of vacant properties in each local authority in the eastern region I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Rogerson) on 25 July 2006, Official Report, column 1604W. The most recent information is reported at 10 October 2005.

A table showing the number of vacant dwellings by ward in the East of England, as reported by local authorities through a survey of vacant homes, has been placed in the Library of the House. The figures presented are for all vacancies at 31 March 2005, including those that have been empty for less than six months. Some figures are absent due to missing survey returns from local authorities.

Valuation Office Agency

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the Valuation Office Agency’s definition is of a dwellinghouse. [114363]

Mr. Woolas: A “dwelling” is defined for council tax purposes in Section 3 of the Local Government
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Finance Act 1992. The Valuation Office Agency has no separate definition of dwellinghouse.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether provisions in the contract between Cole Layer Trumble and her Department prevent discussion in public by the company on its (a) Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal and (b) Automated Valuation Model products and assistance. [114471]

Mr. Woolas: No contract exists between Cole Layer Trumble and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 6 December 2006, Official Report, column 474W, on the Valuation Office Agency, how many domestic properties in (a) Solihull and (b) Birmingham are classified with the FC code. [114575]


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Mr. Woolas: As at 3 January 2007 there were (a) 448 and (b) 12,685 domestic properties with the FC code in (a) Solihull and (b) Birmingham.

Westfield

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what meetings (a) she and (b) Ministers in her Department have had with representatives of developers Westfield in the last 24 months; [104091]

(2) what meetings her predecessor had with representatives of Westfield while Secretary of State responsible for planning policy. [104092]

Yvette Cooper: Since Communities and Local Government was formed on 5 May 2006, there have been no meetings between Ministers and representatives of Westfield. We have no record of any such meetings before then.

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 15 January 2007

Constitutional Affairs

Advertising

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how much her Department spent on advertising with The Guardian newspaper, including online, advertorials and advertising features, in the latest year for which figures are available. [113994]

Ms Harman: For the period April 2005-March 2006 my Department has placed five recruitment advertisements within The Guardian, costs are broken down in the following table.

Project Expenditure on advertising (£)

2005

Public Appointment

7,752

2005

Magistrates recruitment

7,150

2006

Job recruitment (DCA)

4,612

2006

Job recruitment (PGO)

4,500

2006

Judicial appointment

6,953

Total

30,967


Clementi Report

Mr. Drew: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when she intends to respond to the recommendations in the Clementi Report; and what measures she plans to put in place to promote the work of smaller firms of solicitors. [114175]

Bridget Prentice: Sir David Clementi published his final report in December 2004. At that time, the Government confirmed that they broadly accepted Sir David’s recommendations. In October 2005, the Government published their White Paper “The Future of Legal Services: Putting Consumers First”, which was essentially a substantive response to Sir David’s final report. The Government subsequently introduced the Legal Services Bill to Parliament on 23 November 2006. While the Bill contains much more detail when compared with Sir David’s original report, the proposals for the most part are based on his blueprint for reform.

As part of reforming the regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales, the Bill will make it possible for lawyers to provide their services in new ways. This will include lawyers forming partnerships or other business structures with other types of lawyers (eg solicitors and barristers) and with non-lawyers. External investment will also be possible. This will provide an opportunity for all firms to change their business structures to enable them to draw more effectively on non-legal expertise and external financing to modernise and improve their business
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systems and infrastructure. It could also provide smaller firms with new ways of reaching a wider consumer base, which could act as a means for those operating at the margins to become more efficient and compete more effectively with larger or more well established firms.

Correspondence

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) how many letters to her Department sent from hon. Members during Session 2005-06 remain unanswered, broken down by those which are (a) one, (b) two, (c) three, (d) four and (e) over six months old; [114599]

(2) how many letters were received by her Department from hon. Members in each of the last 12 months; how many such letters were responded to within (a) 10 and (b) 20 days of receipt; how many were answered after 20 days from the date of receipt; and if she will make a statement. [114663]

Bridget Prentice: The information is not readily available in the format requested. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to the correspondence of Members/Peers. The report for 2005 was published on 30 March 2006, Official Report, columns 75-78ws. Information relating to 2006 is currently being collated and will be published as soon as it is ready.

Court Televisions

Philip Davies: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many courts have television displays available in the courtroom for video imagery and evidence to be used; and if she will make a statement. [114226]

Ms Harman: The information available to my Department on the number of courts that have television displays available in the courtrooms for video imagery and evidence to be viewed is a follows:

Departmental Hospitality

Mr. Heald: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (1) how much the Lord Chancellor's Department spent on hospitality and entertainment in 1996 to 1997; [114016]

(2) what her Department's expenditure was on hospitality and entertainment in 2005-06. [114018]


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Ms Harman: For figures for ministerial expenditure on hospitality and entertainment in 1996-97, I refer the hon. Member to the Prime Minister's answer of 9 February 1998 to my right hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham, (Mr. MacShane) Official Report, column 17W, which provides the global figure for Government expenditure on ministerial entertaining and hospitality for official purposes in 1996-97.

Information is not readily available for civil servants for 1996-97 as the Department updated its accounting system in the summer of 1998 and the cost of retrieval from archive would be at disproportionate cost.

Total expenditure (ministerial and civil servants) on hospitality and entertainment for the Department (formerly known as Lord Chancellor's Department), which covers costs for Her Majesty's Courts Service, the Public Guardianship Office and DCA headquarters in 2005-06 is £113,972.

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


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