Previous Section Index Home Page

5 Mar 2007 : Column 1764W—continued

Nuclear Power

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from the Mayor of London regarding the use of nuclear energy in the United Kingdom. [124521]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have held discussions with a variety of stakeholders on numerous issues since the publication of the Energy Review Report to inform the Energy White Paper. It is now likely that the White Paper will be published in early May. However, if it can be published before Easter, we will do so.

Radio: Plymouth

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will investigate the level of activity of Radio UK Holdings Limited (Diamond FM) in Plymouth since receiving their licence. [119978]

5 Mar 2007 : Column 1765W

Margaret Hodge: The matter raised is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the Chief Executive of Ofcom to reply directly to the hon. Member. Copies of the Chief Executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

Royal Mail

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he will respond to the Royal Mail request in its recent report that the Secretary of State renegotiate the universal service obligations. [125026]

Jim Fitzpatrick: Royal Mail's licensed operations and the provision of the universal service fall under the direct scrutiny of Postcomm, the independent regulator.

Solar Power

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the merits of using concentrated solar power as an alternative energy source for the future; and if he will make a statement. [121754]

Malcolm Wicks: The Government have not made any assessment into using concentrated solar power to help the UK meet its long-term energy requirements. Using concentrated solar power would require the transfer of electricity generated from hotter climates to the UK. There have been early studies into this energy source

however, there are a number of technical challenges, which would need to be addressed. The economics, in particular the amounts of energy required to justify the investment in the High Voltage Direct Current link, needs more work. There would need to be a massive source of surplus electricity to make this worthwhile and considerable investment. The Government do not consider this technology a priority for further work.

UK Trade with EC

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the UK's trade balance with the EU was in each of the last three years. [124499]

Mr. McCartney [holding answer 1 March 2007]: According to the ONS UK “Balance of Payments ‘Pink Book 2006’”, the UK's deficit with the EU25 in trade in goods and services was £28.3 billion, £30.5 billion and £37.9 billion in the three years 2003, 2004 and 2005 respectively.

Utilities: Fees and Charges

Mike Wood: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to what extent energy companies use estimated readings in generating customers’ bills; and if he will make a statement. [121803]

5 Mar 2007 : Column 1766W

Malcolm Wicks: Estimated readings are widely used by gas and electricity suppliers, although that use varies between companies. Such readings reduce costs for suppliers and customers because they avoid the need for repeated visits to properties. On average, weighted by market shares, 88 per cent. of domestic electricity customers and 83 per cent. of domestic gas customers are billed on the basis of an actual read at least once a year.

Ofgem expects suppliers’ billing performance to improve further following a number of recent measures. These are the development of billing codes of practice by all major suppliers; the establishment of an ombudsman to resolve long-running billing complaints; and the restriction to one year of a supplier’s right to claim money owed by a customer if the supplier’s billing processes have been at fault.

Communities and Local Government

Arc Manche Regional Assembly

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what public funding has been provided to the Arc Manche regional assembly from (a) central Government and (b) the EU Interreg programme. [124481]

Mr. Woolas: None. There is no such organisation. Arc Manche is a voluntary network of French regions and English local authorities along the English channel. Its aims are to co-operate on themes of common interest and to reinforce the links between both sides of the channel. This network has no implications for regional structures, or either elected or non-elected regional assemblies.

Community Development: Finance

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was allocated to the single community programme in each year since 2000-01. [124840]

Angela E. Smith: The single community programme was introduced in 2004 and brought together three existing community engagement programmes which had been operating from 2001. Total funding for these programmes for each year from 2001-02 was as follows:












From the end of March 2006 the SCP, as planned, was merged into the stronger and safer communities fund.

5 Mar 2007 : Column 1767W

Council Housing: Cannock Chase

Dr. Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many units of social housing were available in the Cannock Chase district in (a) 1997 and (b) the last 12 months. [123534]

Yvette Cooper: The stock of social housing units in Cannock Chase district is shown in the following table:

Units of social housing, Cannock Chase, as at 1 April 1997 and 2006
Registered social landlords Local authority Total social stock









Regulatory statistical return (RSR) from registered social landlords (RSL). Figures for 1997 are for self contained units only. Figures for 2006 also include bed spaces.
Housing strategy statistical appendix (HSSA) as reported by local authorities.

Council Housing: Debts

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 978W, on housing, whether her estimate of £12 billion took into account (a) the higher costs of work undertaken by registered social landlords, (b) that transfer prices assume a 30-year life of the asset and (c) gap funding; why no allowance was made for the reduction in local authority homes since 2004-05; and why it was assumed that 100 per cent. of the cost of retained homes would have to be found from additional resources rather than existing council budgets. [119217]

Yvette Cooper: The higher cost of work undertaken by registered social landlords is the basis for the calculation. Social landlords business plans are based on 30 years which will help inform the investment decisions they make. The figures used in the calculation were based on actual investment by registered social landlords. When we did the calculation we took into account the anticipated reduction in local authority homes, including where a transfer ballot was pending or where a transfer scheme was included on the transfer programme. The calculation is the additional resources needed on top of what local authorities are already spending on the delivery of decent homes, this will include not only money from Government but also money from their own resources. .Where local authorities are able to find additional resources from their own budgets they often do so, which has helped many councils meet their decent homes target. However, many councils have made it clear that they cannot find additional resources from within their existing budgets.

Council Housing: Heating

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many properties are heated by district communal heating systems in each London borough; what the annual energy in kilowatt-hours needed to heat and provide hot water is in each such system; and if she will make a statement. [122801]

5 Mar 2007 : Column 1768W

Angela E. Smith: The information requested is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will estimate (a) the number of properties in local council or housing association ownership covered by district heating schemes and (b) the difference in energy use per inhabitant of properties covered by such schemes by comparison with other housing. [123531]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 19 February 2007, Official Report, column 300W.

Council Housing: Sales

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many council houses were sold to sitting tenants in each year since 1976; and on what basis decisions are made to sell council houses to (a) tenants and (b) tenants of housing associations under the right to buy. [120864]

Yvette Cooper: The right-to-buy scheme was introduced in October 1980. The number of council homes sold to sitting tenants under the scheme in England is shown in the following table:

Local authority housing stock sold under the right-to-buy scheme: England
Number of sales























































1. Data includes estimates for non-responding authorities.
2. Information on other sales to sitting tenants (eg, under the voluntary powers in section 32 of the Housing Act 1985) is not readily available.
Statistical returns from local authorities.

5 Mar 2007 : Column 1769W

Under Part 5 of the Housing Act 1985, secure tenants of local authority landlords, and tenants of housing associations who held secure tenancies with those associations prior to 1988, have the right to buy the home they rent. A tenant who held a secure tenancy with a local authority, and subsequently became an assured tenant of a housing association following transfer of their home to the association with the authority's housing stock, has a “preserved right to buy”.

Local authorities and housing associations must sell properties to such tenants if they have been public sector tenants for at least five years before applying for the right to buy (two years if their tenancies began prior to 18 January 2005), unless:

Council Housing: Waiting Lists

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many people are on housing waiting lists in England. [121965]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 4 December 2006, Official Report, column 178W to the hon. Member for Hemsworth (Jon Trickett).

Next Section Index Home Page