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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) post-capping and (b) pre-capping average rate in pence of band D council tax was in each year in England since 1997-98. 
|Council tax in England: band D, two adults for area|
|(1) Pre-capping figures for 1998-98 and 1998-99 are not available.|
(2) Figures prior to 2003-04 are only available to the nearest pound.
(3) No in-year capping took place.
BR and CTB1 returns
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps (a) the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, (b) her
Department and (c) the Valuation Office Agency has undertaken since 2003 to amend the collation of local authority planning information used for the assessment of residential development. 
Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Communities and Local Government and the Valuation Office Agency have not amended the collation of local authority planning information used for the assessment of residential development since 2003.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many independent bodies existed to hear appeals on decisions made by her Department and its Executive Agencies in (a) 1997-98, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2005-06; and how many there have been in 2006-07 to date. 
The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
The Office of the Information Commissioner
The Information Tribunal
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many complaints were received by her Department and its executive agencies in (a) 1997-98, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2005-06; and how many have been received in 2006-07 to date. 
Angela E. Smith: In Communities and Local Government and its predecessor Department, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, nine complaints were received in 2005-06 and four have been received to date in 2006-07. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was set up in May 2002 and comparable information for 1997-98 and 2001-02 is therefore not available.
The planning inspectorate received 1,743 complaints in 1997-98, 2,584 in 2001-02, 2,793 in 2005-06 and 1,982 to date in 2006-07;
The Fire Service College received 40 complaints in 2001-02, 35 in 2005-06 and 27 to date in 2006-07 (data are not held for 1997-98); and
The Queen Elizabeth II conference centre received one complaint in 2005-06, and a further one to date in 2006-07 (data are not available for the earlier years).
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff worked in dedicated complaints units in her Department and its executive agencies in (a) 1997-98, (b) 2001-02 and (c) 2005-06; and how many there have been in 2006-07 to date. 
Angela E. Smith:
Communities and Local Government, and its predecessor Department, the
Office of the Deputy Prime Minister employed one member of staff as a dedicated complaints officer in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Communities and Local Government's forerunner, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was set up in May 2002 and the comparable information for 1997-98 and 2001-02 is therefore not available.
Of the Department's Executive Agencies, the planning inspectorate had eight members of staff working as dedicated complaints officers in 1997-98, nine in 2001-02 and 10 in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Neither the Fire Service college nor the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre have had dedicated complaints staff over the period in question.
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what databases are controlled by her Department and its agencies; and what percentage of the data in each database she estimates is inaccurate or out of date. 
Angela E. Smith: The Department for Communities and Local Government and its agencies maintain a range of data sets to support policy and delivery activities. These data are regularly updated and have quality assurance procedures appropriate to their use. To put an estimate on the proportion of the data held that are inaccurate or out of date could be done only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Wills: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the cost to her Department of monitoring the time spent processing requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 for the purposes of the proposed fees regulations. 
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent on (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in (i) her Department and (ii) each agency of the Department in each year since 1997-98; how much is planned to be spent for 2007-08; and if she will make a statement. 
Angela E. Smith: The Department for Communities and Local Government and its main predecessor (the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) did not run any early exit schemes during the years 2002-03 to 2004-05. In 2005-06, the former Office of the Deputy Prime Minister ran a voluntary exit scheme for the central Department and its staff in the Government offices for the regions to enable us to reduce our headcount.
In the current year (2006-07) Communities and Local Government has been running a voluntary exit scheme for central Department staff, and there was a small involuntary scheme covering the few staff for which the Department was unable to identify alternative employment following the closure of the emergency fire service facility at Marchington in Staffordshire. In addition, the Government offices for the regions have run a scheme for staff in the GOs as part of the implementation of the recommendations of the GO review. This scheme has been funded from contributions provided, by the sponsor Departments (including Communities) for the GO network.
Neither the planning inspectorate nor the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre (trading fund) have run any early exit schemes since 1997-98, and none are currently planned for 2007-08. The Fire Service college has been running its first (voluntary) exit scheme during 2006-07. Again, no scheme is currently planned for 2007-08.
|Department/agency/other||Total first year payments under scheme( 1)||Forecast total future years payments under scheme( 2)|
|(1) This comprises one-off payments to staff under the age of 50, and the first year costs of staff over 50 years of age who leave on early retirement terms.|
(2) Expenditure to be incurred under the scheme in reimbursing the principal civil service pension scheme (PCSPS) for the costs of pension payments to early retirees until they reach age 60.
(5) Subject to scheme take up.
Yvette Cooper: No. We published new Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing last November and this includes the up-to-date definition. PPS3 gives local authorities greater flexibility to decide what kinds of land are most appropriate for development in their area.
Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she made of the potential effect on Government of using internet weblogs to engage with citizens. 
Angela E. Smith: The Department has assessed the benefits of blogs and other innovative online deliberative tools through our active participation in the digital dialogues project, conducted by the Hansard society on behalf of the Department for Constitutional Affairs.
The interim report of digital dialogues contains three case studies from the Department, including the launch of David Miliband's blog at our predecessor department, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. To view the report, visit
Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of long-term empty homes in (a) the London borough of Merton, (b) south-west London and (c) London in each of the last five years. 
Figures for the private and local authority tenures are presented for those dwellings empty for more than six months as reported by local authorities. Figures for registered social landlord vacancies are based on numbers of vacancies not available for rent as a proxy for long-term vacancies.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the adequacy of fire service cover in Cornwall; what discussions she has had with the Fire Brigades Union on this matter; and if she will make a statement. 
Angela E. Smith: Fire and rescue authorities are required by the fire and rescue service national framework to have in place and maintain an integrated risk management plan, which reflects local need and sets out plans to tackle effectively both existing and potential risks to communities. The IRMP enables the authority to tailor cover to fire and other incidents to local circumstancesevaluating where risk is greatest and allocating resource accordingly.
It is not the role of Ministers to intervene in the operational proposals of an authoritys IRMP. That is for elected members of the authority concerned to determine following full consultation with the local community The local authority is best placed to act on the professional advice of principal officers and to balance the competing local demands on available resources for the benefits of the communities that it serves.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to amend planning (a) regulations, (b) guidance and (c) circulars in relation to (i) casinos and (ii) gambling. 
Statutory instrument 2006 No. 220 came into force in April 2006 and amends the use classes order to remove casinos from the D2 assembly and leisure use class. The effect is that planning permission is required for any changes from existing land uses for use as a casino.
The draft Mayor of London order provides for the Mayor to be referred any future planning applications for large or regional scale casinos because of their
strategic implications for London. This order will be subject to widespread consultation.
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