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Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Commission for Racial Equality shares her Departments interpretation of whether the (a) Welsh and (b) Irish meet the definition of racial groups under the Race Relations Act 1976. 
a group of persons defined by reference to colour, race, nationality or ethnic or national origins.
The determination of whether a particular group meets this definition is a matter for the courts, rather than the Government or the Commission for Racial Equality. However, our understanding is that the Commission for Racial Equality shares our view that the Welsh and Irish meet the definition of racial group under the Race Relations Act.
Angela E. Smith: Staffing and shift arrangements are a matter for individual fire and rescue authorities to determine. The Department for Communities and Local Government is not aware of any plans by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority to introduce retained duty system firefighters in its area.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average response time to each type of call for each fire and rescue service in the north-west was in the last period for which figures are available. 
Angela E. Smith: The average response times to primary fires(l), measured in minutes from the first call being received in the control room to the time of arrival of an appliance at the fire ground, in the north-west Government office region in the calendar year 2005 were as follows:
|Average response time (in minutes) to primary fires( 1) by FRS area, North West GOR, 2005 (provisional)|
|All locations||Dwellings||Other buildings|
|Time of first call to arrive at fire||Time of mobilisation to arrival at fire||Time of first call to arrive at fire||Time of mobilisation to arrival at fire||Time of first call to arrive at fire||Time of mobilisation to arrival at fire|
|Road vehicles||Other outdoor|
|Time of first call to arrive at fire||Time of mobilisation to arrival at fire||Time of first call to arrive at fire||Time of mobilisation to arrival at fire|
|(1) Excluding late call and heat and smoke damage only incidents|
FDR1 returns from fire and rescue services to the Department for Communities and Local Government
Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with local authority representatives on changes to the prescribed fee for personal services; what changes to the fee are planned; for what reasons; and if she will make a statement. 
I have had no discussions with local authority representatives on changes to the prescribed fee for personal searches of the local land charges register in England. The fee is £11 and is set by the Lord Chancellor, with the concurrence of HM Treasury, under the Local Land Charges Act 1975. There are no plans to change the level of this fee. However, my Department and the Department for Communities and Local Government will be reviewing the fee arrangements generally. This review will include a public consultation later this year.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many civil servants went on strike in January 2007; what assessment she has made of the effect of such strike action on the delivery of services; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. McFadden: Our estimate is that around 131,500 civil servants took part in the strike by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union on 31 January, including some working in non-departmental public bodies. However, as was the case with previous such strikes, Departments and agencies had effective contingency arrangements in place which, combined with limited support in many areas, meant that service disruption was minimised and that the strike caused minimal inconvenience to the public.
Miss Begg: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether she plans to take steps to remove compulsory retirement ages for civil servants in the Prime Ministers Office in the next 12 months. 
Mr. McFadden: The Cabinet Office, which includes the Prime Ministers Office, introduced a retirement age of 65 on 1 October 2006. The expectation is that Cabinet Office will no longer have a retirement age by year 2011, but this will be kept under review.
Anne Main: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister on how many occasions special advisers have been consulted in replying to Freedom of Information requests to his Office; and what his Offices policy is on the role of special advisers in the answering of Freedom of Information requests. 
Mr. Francois: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many vehicles belonging to his Department were (a) lost and (b) stolen in each year since its information; and what the (i) make and model and (ii) value was of each vehicle. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) pursuant to the answer of 4 December 2006, Official Report, columns 189-90W, on the retirement age, what his Departments policy is on the application of the national default retirement age to staff below the Senior Civil Service. 
The Deputy Prime Minister: My staff are seconded from the Department for Communities and Local Government; I therefore refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Angela E. Smith) on 11 December 2006, Official Report, column 903W.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much money from the public purse (a) his Department and (b) its agencies gave to (i) the Smith Institute and (ii) its subsidiary SI Events Ltd. in each year since 1997; and for what purpose each payment was made. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent on (a)
provision of childminders and (b) the expansion of the childminder network in each of the last three years. 
Beverley Hughes: For 2006-08, £3 billion has been allocated to local authorities (LAs) through the General Sure Start Grant (GSSG). LAs have the flexibility to use this funding to create, sustain and support both childminders and childminder networks, as well as other Sure Start activities.
LAs had similar flexibility in using the £1.2(1 )billion GSSG for 2004-06. Included in this allocation was a specific element of funding to support the recruitment and retention of childminders. £4.6 million was spent from this element in 2004-05 only. LAs also spent an additional £0.79 million for childminder start up costs in 2004-05. From April 2005 we increased the flexibilities LAs had in spending the GSSG, which means that data on spend specifically for childminders are not available for 2005-06.
For 2003-04, the GSSG allocation included specific funding allocations for childminder start up costs, childminder sustainability and childminder networks. LAs were not restricted to these allocations however and had the flexibility to use other elements of the grant to meet local needs. Spend reported against these activities for 2003-04 were £5 million for childminder start up costs, £1.9 million for childminder sustainability and £2.9 million for the creation of childminder networks.
(1) This figure does not include Sure Start Local Programme funding
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much his Department spent on (a) Sure Start, (b) childrens centres, (c) nursery provision and (d) childminder networks in each year between 2001 and 2004. 
1. Source Departmental Report 2006 (Cm 6812), Annex A.
2. Childrens Centres expenditure starts from 2003-04. SSLPs are included as the majority of settings are converting to Childrens Centres.
3. Source Departmental Report 2006 (Cm 6812) Table 8.3. Local authority revenue expenditure as recorded on Section 52 outturn statements, excluding under fives expenditure in Special Schools and Sure Start expenditure. Includes expenditure on under fives in nursery schools, primary schools and in the private, voluntary and independent sectors from the Local Government Finance settlement and DfES specific grants. 2004-05 figures are provisional.
4. Expenditure within General Sure Start Grant on creation of childminder networks can only be separately identified in 2003-04.
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