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19 Feb 2007 : Column 481W—continued


Valuation Office Agency

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Valuation Office Agency operates an incentive scheme for staff to meet targets. [120822]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply given to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on 23 March 2006, Official Report, column 506W and the reply given to the hon. Member on 3 May 2006, Official Report, column 1725W.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what targets have been set for the Valuation Office Agency. [120863]

Dawn Primarolo: The Valuation Office Agency’s key business objectives and targets are set out in detail in the agency’s forward plan, available on its website at:

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the (a) presentation, (b) handout and (c) speech made by the Valuation Office Agency representative to the Korea Appraisal Board’s International Conference on The Present and Future of the Real Estate Tax Assessment System in October 2005. [119540]

Dawn Primarolo: A copy of the relevant presentation has been placed in the Library of the House. There was no handout provided.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the (a) presentation, (b) handout and (c) speech made by the Valuation Office Agency representative to the International Co-operative Banking Association
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Commercial Forum in London on 4 October 2006. [119543]

Dawn Primarolo: It is assumed the reference is to the Institution of Commercial and Business Agents Forum (ICBA). A copy of the presentation has been placed in the Library. There was no handout provided.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the meetings the Valuation Office Agency has had with representatives of Scottish Assessors in the last 24 months. [119544]

Dawn Primarolo: The Valuation Office Agency met representatives from the Scottish Assessors Association on 17 May, 8 November 2005, 8 May, 8 November 2006 and 27 January 2007.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 30 November 2006, Official Report, column 845W, on the Valuation Office Agency, what the cost was of each foreign visit made by Valuation Office Agency staff in the last 12 months; how many staff attended each; what the purposes was of each visit; and what the name was of each conference attended. [119794]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 26 January 2007, Official Report, column 2134W.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what payments the Valuation Office Agency is making to the firm CLT to finance research and development of applying an automated valuation model for business rate valuations. [120814]

Dawn Primarolo: The Valuation Office Agency is not making payments to the firm CLT.

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer for how long the Valuation Office Agency has published an in-house staff magazine; how often the magazine is published; and what the cost of the publication was in each year since its inception. [120847]

Dawn Primarolo: The Valuation Office Agency has published an in-house staff magazine since October 1992. On average it has appeared three times a year. Publication costs prior to August 2005 can be obtained only at a disproportionate cost. Costs for the production of the magazine based on year of publication since August 2005 are:

VAT: Housing

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what consideration he has given to extending the scope of the 5 per cent. VAT reduction on the installation of energy saving materials in residential accommodation to include A, B and C-rated windows; what discussions he has had with representatives of the glazing industry on this issue; and if he will make a statement; [121033]


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(2) what estimate his Department has made of the effect on (a) energy use, (b) carbon emissions and (c) the size of householders’ energy bills of extending the scope of the 5 per cent. VAT reduction on the installation of energy saving materials in residential accommodation to include A, B and C-rated windows; [121034]

(3) what estimate his Department has made of the cost of extending the scope of the 5 per cent. VAT reduction on the installation of energy saving materials in residential accommodation to include A, B and C-rated windows. [121035]

Dawn Primarolo: The Government carefully consider all representations for changes to the VAT system. All taxes are kept under review and any changes are announced by the Chancellor as part of the Budget process.

To date, VAT reduced rates have been applied only in respect of goods and services where we consider that a reduction in the rate of VAT is consistent with our EU VAT agreements, and provides the best-targeted and most efficient support for our social objectives, when considered against alternative policy instruments.

At this early stage in the development and use of the British Fenestration Rating Council’s (BFRC’s) window energy rating system, neither HMRC nor HMT hold detailed estimates of the impact of a VAT reduction for the installation of A, B and C-rated windows. This impact will depend upon a variety of factors, including the number of manufacturers using the BFRC’s window energy rating system, the number of A, B and C-rated windows in the market, the design and price of these windows, and the sales that they achieved.

Ministers and officials meet a wide variety of individuals and organisations in the public and private sector to discuss a variety of issues as part of the normal process of policy analysis and development. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Government’s normal practice to provide details of all such meetings.

Welfare Tax Credits: Complaints

Mr. Francois: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many complaints from HM Revenue and Customs staff about the tax credits system have been recorded in the last 12 months. [120697]

Dawn Primarolo: The information is not available.

Communities and Local Government

Adoption: Religion

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received from (a) Jewish and (b) Muslim community representatives on the effect of the implementation of the Equality Act 2006 on Jewish and Muslim adoption agencies; and if she will make a statement. [118641]


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Mr. Woolas [holding answer 5 February 2007]: Representations received by the Secretary of State from Jewish and Muslim community representatives on the effect of commencing the Religion or Belief provisions contained in Part 2 of the Equality Act 2006, and of introducing Sexual Orientation Regulations under Part 3 of the Equality Act 2006, did not refer to the impact of these provisions on faith-based adoption agencies.

On 29 January, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Ruth Kelly) made statements setting out the position on adoption agencies and the proposed Sexual Orientation Regulations. Copies of those statements are available in the House Library.

Airfields

Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what level of protection is given to airfields in Planning Policy Statement—Housing; and if she will make a statement. [116160]

Yvette Cooper: National planning policy fully protects both existing and potential airfield sites from development, where it is appropriate to do so.

Policy in relation to the definition of previously developed land, including land that is either an existing or former airfield, is precisely the same in new Planning Policy Statement (PPS) 3, “Housing”, as it was under Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) note 3.

PPS3 asks local planning authorities to give priority to the development of previously developed land where such land is in a location suitable for housing development. But it states in clear terms that there is no presumption that land is suitable for housing simply because it is on previously developed land.

In addition, PPG 13, “Transport”, makes it clear that local planning authorities should consider identifying and, where appropriate, protecting existing and potential airfield sites (including disused sites) for aviation purposes, alongside any other planning considerations, when allocating sites in plans or considering proposals for development.

Antisocial Behaviour: Tenants

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many tenants in England and Wales had possession proceedings issued against them in each of the last three years in efforts to tackle antisocial behaviour. [120599]

Yvette Cooper: Communities and Local Government has asked local authority landlords in England to submit data of tenants subject to possession proceedings on antisocial behaviour grounds in England for 2005-06. While data have been returned it is not considered to be of reliable quality in this first year of data collection. We are working to address these issues and will have a clearer view for 2006-07. We do not collect equivalent data for the private rented sector.


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The Housing Corporation have asked registered social landlords in England to submit data on the numbers of evictions carried out because of antisocial behaviour since 2004-05. The following data do not include cases where landlords brought forward possession cases on more than one ground (for example because of antisocial behaviour and rent arrears) or evictions under a demoted tenancy.

Number of evictions on antisocial behaviour grounds

2004-05

1,516

2005-06

1,656

Source: Annual Housing Corporation Regulatory Statistical Returns

Information about possession proceedings obtained against tenants of social landlords in Wales is collected on an annual basis on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government by the Local Government Data Unit Wales.

Arms Length Management Organisations: Enfield

Mr. Burrowes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the reason is for the time taken for Enfield Homes to receive the grant to set up the arm’s length management organisation in the Borough of Enfield. [119533]

Yvette Cooper: We had a large number of bids for Round 6. These have to be considered to ensure value for money and that they operate within budgets, and that work is still in progress.

ATMs

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will introduce an exemption for business rates for automatic telling machines in rural areas. [111978]

Mr. Woolas: We have no such plans. Business rates are within the scope of Sir Michael Lyons’s independent inquiry into local government funding.

Bus Services: Chorley and Coventry

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what additional grant was given to Chorley borough council to cover the free local bus travel scheme. [120910]

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was provided to Coventry city council for the free local bus travel scheme. [121486]

Mr. Woolas: I refer my hon. Friends to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) on 26 January 2007, Official Report, column 2098W.

Chorley Borough Council

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was awarded to Chorley borough council in Government grants in each of the last three years. [120911]


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Mr. Woolas: The information requested is tabled as follows.

£ million

2003-04

7.6

2004-05

7.1

2005-06

7.9

Source:
Communities and Local Government Revenue Outturn Summary (RS) returns

This information is not adjusted for changes in finance or function and it is not possible to make like- for-like comparisons between years. For example, from 2004-05 onwards, local authorities were no longer required to make a contribution towards the funding of Rent Allowance Payments, Non-Housing Revenue Account Rent Rebates and Council Tax Benefit. This expenditure was funded wholly by direct subsidy from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The apparent reduction in the revenue grant allocated to Chorley borough council between 2003-04 and 2004-05 simply reflects this change in financing. The council received an increase in formula grant on a like-for-like basis of 5.0 per cent. in 2004-05 and 5.7 per cent. in 2005-06.

Revenue funding includes all grants inside Aggregate External Finance (AEF) (i.e. revenue grants for councils’ core services), and includes formula grant (revenue support grant and redistributed business rates) and all specific grants.

The figures exclude grants outside AEF (i.e. where funding is not for an authority’s core services, but is passed to a third party, for example, as in the case of mandatory student awards), capital grants, funding for local authorities’ housing management responsibilities and those grant programmes (such as European funding) where authorities are simply one of the recipients of funding paid towards an area.

Contracts

Jim Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she intends to announce the arrangements for round 6 of arm’s-length management organisations. [121524]

Yvette Cooper: We had a large number of bids for round 6. Consideration of these bids is still in progress.

Council Housing: Property Transfer

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the total amount of gap funding for housing transfers was in each of the last six years; and what estimate she has made for 2007-08. [119829]

Yvette Cooper: Gap funding payments by the Department to registered social landlords to support large-scale voluntary transfers commenced in 2004-05. In that year payments totalled £7.65 million. In 2005-06 grant payments of £3.88 million were made.

In 2006-07 we expect to make payments of up to £34 million. For 2007-08 our current estimate is £100 million.


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