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Mr. Woolas: Best value performance indicator 225, which was introduced in 2005-06, measures the overall provision and effectiveness of local authority services
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to help victims of domestic violence. We are not currently monitoring local authority performance against best value performance indicator 225, although we expect that subsequent time series data will help us identify those areas that need our support. The Audit Commission is considering whether data from this performance indicator should be taken into account in the next comprehensive performance assessment round.

Electoral Process

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and local government what plans her Department has to review the electoral process for local government in England. [111688]

Mr. Woolas: We are proposing certain changes to the electoral processes for local government in England in our Local Government White Paper ‘Strong and Prosperous Communities’, and in the Local Government and Involvement in Public Health Bill currently before Parliament. These include simplifying arrangements by devolving power to local authorities to opt for all-out elections—every four years—and single-member wards.

In addition, the Committee on Standards in Public Life, in its 11(th) report ‘Review of The Electoral Commission’, makes recommendations to reform the Electoral Commission, including recommendations about the processes for setting local electoral boundaries. The Government have welcomed the Committee’s report and are carefully considering its recommendations.

Equality Act Regulations

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she plans to publish the Equality Act regulations for Great Britain; and whether local authority-commissioned adoption agencies run by religious bodies will be subject to the regulations. [115804]

Mr. Woolas: The Government published a consultation paper in March setting out proposals for regulations that will prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services. The Government will publish a response to consultation shortly, with the intention that the regulations should come into force next April, alongside part 2 of the Equality Act outlawing discrimination on grounds of religion or belief in the provision of goods and services. The hon. Member should refer to the press notices made by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women on 29 January 2007, which have been made available in the Library.

Local Polls

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she has issued on whether local polls held by a local
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authority further to the Local Government Act 2003 may be held on any day of the local authority's choosing; and if she will make a statement. [111967]

Mr. Woolas: The Department has not issued any such guidance. Decisions on how a local poll is conducted, including its timing, are matters for the council concerned.

Lyons Report

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what information she has received from Sir Michael Lyons on the likely date of publication of his report. [112105]

Mr. Woolas: The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his pre-Budget report on 6 December that Sir Michael Lyons' final report will be published around the time of the Budget 2007.

Open Source Software

Mr. Gauke: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what percentage of her Department’s computer systems use open source software; what percentage of the systems planned to be installed use such software; and whether she plans to increase the use of open source software in her Department. [111166]

Angela E. Smith: The Department does not have statistics on the use of open source software, and to date it is very limited. The Department will continue to consider open source solutions on an overall value for money basis in accordance with the Government’s policy statement. The policy (Open Source Software, Use within UK Government, Version 2.0, 28 October 2004) can be viewed at:

Religious Groups

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which (a) Muslim, (b) Hindu and (c) Sikh organisations received funding from her Department in each of the last five years; and how much has been allocated to each such organisation for 2006-07. [111995]

Mr. Woolas: The Department has a number of funding streams which enable faith-based organisations to deliver a wide range of community based projects. Some are targeted specifically at faith organisations. Some faith organisations apply for mainstream grants and are awarded money on the same basis as any other applicant.

The key source of targeted funding for faith organisations is the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund. In 2006, 96 Muslim organisations received a total of £1,447,307; 21 Hindu organisations received £225,445 and 14 Sikh organisations received £347,222. A further breakdown is available on the Community Development Foundation website www.cdf.org.uk.


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Information on which faith organisations have received mainstream funding is not held centrally, and could therefore be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Valuation Office

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government by what means the Valuation Office Agency assesses whether a domestic property has an outbuilding for the purposes of its maintenance of council tax valuation lists; and by what means it did so during the Welsh council tax revaluation. [111977]

Mr. Woolas: Whether a property has an outbuilding, or any other property attribute, was initially gathered from the Valuation Office Agency’s paper-based records as they were digitised. This information will continue to be collected, as circumstances allow, for new or altered properties as part of the on-going statutory responsibility to maintain current council tax valuation lists. For the Welsh council tax revaluation, property attribute data had not been digitised, and paper-based records were relied upon.

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 the local authority area of (a) Epping Forest district council and (b) Brentwood borough council are classified with a dwelling house code of FC. [111983]

Mr. Woolas: As at 3 January 2007 there were (a) 359 and (b) 574 domestic properties classified with a dwelling house code of FC in (a) Epping Forest district council and (b) Brentwood borough council.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, pursuant to the answer of 6 December 2006, Official Report, column 475W, on the Valuation Office Agency, how many domestic dwellings in England are recorded by the Valuation Office Agency as having the property attribute of having (a) one bathroom and (b) more than one bathroom. [111984]

Mr. Woolas: As at 3 January 2007, of the 21,849,763 dwellings in England the Valuation Office Agency has recorded (a) 19,426,111 with one bathroom and (b) 2,321,927 with two or more bathrooms. The records will, correctly, not show an entry under number of bathrooms in either of these headings in such cases as unmodernised properties where there is no separate bathroom or where facilities are shared amongst occupiers (e.g. certain types of bedsit)

Trade and Industry

Costa Viyella, Worksop

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what date the Costa Viyella site in Worksop was acquired by the East Midlands
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Development Agency; what the rationale was for its acquisition; on what date it was sold; what the rationale was for its sale; how many jobs have been created at this site since EMDA acquisition; and what has been the effect on public funds in real terms of EMDA’s acquisition. [112394]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 30 January 2007]: The Costa Viyella site was acquired by the East Midlands Development Agency on 30 March 2001. The rationale for the acquisition of the site was to ensure that suitable employment land and premises were retained in the Worksop area in the light of recent job losses.

The site was sold on 25 April 2006 to a buyer who would generate employment at the site in line with the original rationale for the site’s acquisition.

The buyer has accepted a Selective Finance for Industry in England (SFIE) grant of £205,000 which requires the creation of 58 jobs at the site, but EMDA is not yet aware of any job creation to date.

Since the acquisition of the site by EMDA, it has spent £359,000 on site security, maintenance and advertising.

Electronic Networks

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on how to secure UK electronic networks against disruption from (i) attack and (ii) natural hazards; and if he will make a statement. [112389]

Margaret Hodge: The integrity of electronic communications networks and services is a matter for communications services providers.

My Department contributes to the Cabinet Office’s annual national risk assessment that considers both threats and hazards to the UK’s electronic communications networks. The assessment is part of a comprehensive programme to ensure that the nation’s ICT is properly safeguarded and is undertaken in conjunction with the communications services providers, Departments and agencies with the relevant expertise in these areas.

Non-departmental Public Bodies

Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which non-departmental public bodies are sponsored by his Department; what the function is of each body; and what the budget was of each body in the most recent year for which figures are available. [116767]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Details of the remit, Government funding and gross expenditure of public bodies sponsored by DTI can be found in the Cabinet Office publication, “Public Bodies 2006”, copies of which are in the Library and which is also available online at:


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Post Boxes

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many post boxes were (a) removed and (b) not replaced after damage or theft by the Royal Mail in each of the last 10 years; and how many of these were at sites located in Wealden constituency. [117699]

Jim Fitzpatrick: This is an operational matter for which the Royal Mail has direct responsibility. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive of Royal Mail, Adam Crozier, to provide a direct reply to the hon. Member.

Post Office

Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to make a statement giving details of post office closures following the consultation. [112502]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Government's consultation on the Post Office network runs to 8 March 2007. Government will then consider responses with a view to making an announcement by the end of March 2007. It will then be for Post Office Ltd to develop local area implementation plans within the framework set by Government.

Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what criteria will be used to determine which post offices should close following the current consultation. [112503]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Government are currently seeking views on proposals which set out the broad framework for maintaining a national Post Office network. A final implementation process will not be established until the Government's public consultation has ended.

Government's proposals include the introduction of access criteria and the requirement that, in restructuring the network, Post Office Ltd takes into account local factors affecting ease of access, such as rivers, mountains, valleys and sea crossings. Following Government's decisions after national consultation, Post Office Ltd will be tasked to develop area restructuring plans which will then be put to local consultation.

Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what payment will be offered to postmasters where post offices will be closed following the review. [112504]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Discussions between Post Office Ltd and the National Federation of Sub-Postmasters on terms are on-going. Compensation to exiting sub-postmasters is broadly expected to be based on 28 months remuneration—matching the levels awarded under the urban reinvention programme.

Royal Mail

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much postal business Royal Mail has lost to the private sector since the postal industry was opened up to competition. [112639]


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Jim Fitzpatrick: Postcomm has responsibility for the introduction of competition in the UK and monitors its development. Its latest figures show that in the period from April to December 2006, Downstream Access accounted for around 11 per cent. of Royal Mail’s total addressed letter volumes in the licensed area. This is mail carried by alternative operators and handed over to Royal Mail for final delivery. Royal Mail still delivers this mail and collects revenue for the final delivery, and is therefore delivering 99 per cent. of licensed area addressed mail.

Mail volumes carried from collection to final delivery (end-to-end) by alternative operators represents less than 1 per cent. of overall volumes.

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether Royal Mail customers posting items second class sometimes receive a first class service. [117609]

Jim Fitzpatrick: This is an operational matter for Royal Mail. I have therefore asked Adam Crozier, Chief Executive of Royal Mail, to reply direct.

Wind Microgenerators

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what support the Low Carbon Buildings programme is giving to roof-mounted wind microgenerators. [112312]

Malcolm Wicks: Under the Low Carbon Buildings programme roof-mounted wind turbines receive the following grant support:

Phase 1

Phase 2

There are also a number of organisations due to start micro-wind field trials, which are expected to provide useful data on performance in the urban environment. The Government are engaged in this work and it will feed into development of the microgeneration certification scheme, which is due to be launched in April 2007. The certification scheme has a key role to play in developing sustainable markets for microgeneration technologies, including micro wind.


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