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15 Mar 2007 : Column 521Wcontinued
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many work permits were applied for by (a) her Department and (b) its agencies in each of the last five years. 
Angela E. Smith: The Department for Communities and Local Government was created on 5 May 2006.
In each of the last five years no work permits have been applied for; this response includes the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Figures for the Departments agencies are not held centrally.
Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance has been issued by her Department on the eligibility of multi-tier entrants for future membership of the firefighters' pension scheme; what assessment she has made of the impact of such guidance on the multi-tier entry schemes, with particular reference to the pilot graduate entry scheme operated by the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and other fire services; what representations she has received from the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority on such issues; and if she will make a statement. [R] 
Angela E. Smith: Eligibility for membership of the New Firefighters Pension Scheme is restricted to firefighters whose role on taking up employment with a fire and rescue authority includes resolving operational incidents, or leading and supervising others in the resolution of such incidents. In consequence those who join the Fire and Rescue Service at station manager, or above, are excluded from the scheme. Guidance to this effect has been issued to the Service.
The justification for a separate pension scheme with a normal pension age of 60 is that the duties of an operational firefighter are physically onerous and require high standards of physical fitness. These particular standards do not apply for senior management posts and therefore membership of the Local Government Pension Scheme, with a normal pension age of 65, is considered more appropriate.
The issue was fully discussed by the highly representative Firefighters Pension Committee during consultation on the new pension arrangements. The provision reflects the outcome of that discussion.
Correspondence has been received from the Commissioner, London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, and a response is being given setting out our position.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the percentage of private homes in the borough of (a) Richmond-upon-Thames and (b)
Kingston-upon-Thames which have carbon monoxide levels higher than those deemed safe by the World Health Organisation. 
Angela E. Smith [holding answer 8 March 2007]: No specific data on carbon monoxide levels are available at local authority levels.
Combustion safety in buildings is covered by Part J, Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems, of the Building Regulations. Gas installation is further covered by the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations. These set out the standards and precautions that should be taken when installing combustion appliances.
General accident statistics have shown that there has been an upward trend in low level (non fatal) carbon monoxide poisoning but it is not clear whether this is due to better diagnosis or other issues. The Department of Health issues regular guidance to general practitioners on the symptoms and effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what the timetable is for ratifying the European Charter of Local Self-Government; 
(2) what discussions she has had with (a) the Local Government Association, (b) London councils and (c) other representative local government bodies on the European Charter of Local Self-Government. 
Mr. Woolas: The Government ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government on 24 April 1998.
Ratification was widely welcomed by local government as being a symbol of the Governments commitment to a new and constructive partnership with local government, a commitment that we are continuing to develop not least through the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill currently before the House.
Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to publish the Lyons Report. 
Mr. Woolas: The final report of the Lyons Inquiry will be published around the time of the Budget 2007.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she will answer the letter of 8 May 2006 from the hon. Member for Chichester on behalf of his constituent Stephen Crossley. 
Angela E. Smith: My noble Friend Baroness Andrews has now replied to the hon. Gentlemans letter. I apologise for the unacceptably long delay in replying which was unfortunately due to an administrative error.
Tom Brake: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what discussions she has had with representatives of the banking industry on the effect of bank charges on levels of social exclusion. 
Ed Balls: I have been asked to reply.
Government Ministers and officials hold discussions with the banking industry on a wide range of issues as part of the process of policy development and delivery. As was the case with previous Administrations, it is not the Governments practice to provide details of all such discussions.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the Prime Ministers response to the hon. Member for North Essex following the statement on the European Council of 12 March 2007, Official Report, columns 35-36, if she will produce an assessment of the cost to UK business of EU administrative burdens; and if she will produce quarterly figures to show how it changes in future years. 
Hilary Armstrong: 19 Government Departments and regulators undertook an exercise, supported by industry, to measure the administrative burdens that impact businesses and the third sector as a result of both domestic and international regulations (including those from the EU).
Upon the completion of these exercises, the Government set net targets to reduce administrative burdens by 2010. These were followed by publication of Simplification plans to deliver the savings. The estimated administrative burdens for each Department are available in each Departments simplification plan.
Copies of these plans are available online at:
Copies are also available in the Library for the reference of Members.
These plans will be updated annually to outline progress.
Justine Greening: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how much has been spent on (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in his Department since its formation; how much is planned to be spent in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) how much his Department spent on (a) involuntary and (b) voluntary staff exit schemes in each year since its formation; how much is planned to be spent in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. 
The Deputy Prime Minister: Staff in my Department are seconded from the Department for Communities and Local Government. My Office has not spent anything on these schemes.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his diary arrangements were during each period for which he has assumed the Prime Minister's responsibilities in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
The Deputy Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the right hon. Member for Witney (Mr. Cameron) on 12 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1384-85.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how often the (a) Prime Minister's Decision Unit and (b) Cabinet Office Impact Review Team visit each primary care trust; and whether the reports resulting from their visits are made public. 
Hilary Armstrong: I have been asked to reply.
The Prime Minister's Delivery Unit visits a sample of PCTs to gain a deeper understanding of the delivery of Government policy. The Unit has visited some PCTs more than once to track delivery issues over time. The reports resulting from these visits constitute confidential advice to Ministers and are not published. The Cabinet Office does not have an Impact Review Team.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contingency plans the Government have drawn up to implement possible international intervention in Darfur. 
Margaret Beckett: There is already substantial international intervention in Darfur. The African Union (AU) has deployed a peacekeeping force and the UN continues to mount its largest humanitarian operation in the world there. The international community is seeking to reinforce the AU force with UN elements, culminating in the creation of a much larger hybrid UN/AU force. And, the AU and UN are working for the resumption of the political process in Darfur.
The Government have been at the forefront of international action on Darfur. We have contributed £190 million to the humanitarian relief effort since April 2004 and £67 million to the AU force. We are pressing the AU and the UN for rapid movement on the political process and on the UNs military support package.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what timetable the Government have set for progress on the implementation of phase 3 of the international force in Darfur; what further steps she expects to take if deadlines are not met; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: We are pressing the UN and the African Union (AU) to agree as rapidly as possible on the details of phase 3 of the UNs support package to the AU Mission in Sudan (ie the creation of the hybrid UN/AU force), and to implement it as soon as possible thereafter. If the Government of Sudan fail to co-operate with implementation, the international community will need to consider what measures to take against them in consequence.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effects on the (a) humanitarian and (b) security situation in Darfur of the implementation of a no-fly-zone in Darfur. 
Margaret Beckett: The situation in Darfur is totally unacceptable, the overall security situation is poor, and humanitarian access is precarious. We would need to take careful account of the effects on the humanitarian and security situation in Darfur of any measure such as sanctions or a no-fly-zone that we sought to impose with respect to that territory.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what preparations the Government are making with NATO allies for the implementation of a no-fly-zone in Darfur. 
Margaret Beckett: The Government of Sudan have consistently failed to protect their citizens in Darfur. The time has come to apply tough measures against them. We are working on the extension of the UN arms embargo on Darfur to the whole of Sudan and the imposition of further sanctions against individuals in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (2005). We would consider further measures, such as a no-fly-zone, if the Government of Sudan continued to defy the will of the international community. We are discussing with close allies what we would do in this eventuality.
Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many work permits were applied for by (a) her Department and (b) its agencies in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Hoon: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has not applied for any work permits in the past five years. FCO Services applied for two work permits in 2003.
Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what funding her Department has provided to (a) the IPPR and (b) IPPR Trading Ltd in each year since May 1997; and for what purpose. 
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made 10 payments to the Institute for Public Policy and Research (IPPR), and no payments to IPPR
Trading Ltd since May 1997. The payments range in value from £9.49 to £40,000. It is not possible to establish the precise details relating to earlier payments without incurring disproportionate cost, but from the information available all payments were for goods or services received from the IPPR, rather than funding to this organisation.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what visits the British Ambassador in Beirut has made to British-owned companies in Lebanon. 
Dr. Howells: Since her arrival in Beirut in early October 2006, the British ambassador has met with representatives of a number of British-owned companies actively involved in Lebanon. The ambassador has also met with members of two outward trade missions to Beirutthese were the Middle East Association and British Expertise. In addition, the UK Trade and Investment representatives in Beirut are continuously engaged in promoting British business interests in Lebanon.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which countries will send international observers to the forthcoming elections to the Constituent Assembly in Nepal. 
Dr. Howells: Although dates for elections to a Constituent Assembly in Nepal have yet to be confirmed, a number of countries have already approached the UN team in Kathmandu to offer support. In particular, Japan has recently indicated that it is prepared to send election monitors. South Korea has also agreed to provide computer equipment to the Election Commission.
The European Commission sent an election exploratory mission to Nepal in February and is now considering the possibility of sending a team of election monitors together with other forms of assistance to ensure that the elections are free and fair.
Until Prime Minister Koirala formally announces dates for the elections, it is difficult for countries to commit to providing international observers. In advance of this decision, we are working, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Department for International Development Global Conflict Prevention Pool, with the Carter Centre and the Asia Foundation to ensure a wide deployment of both independent national observers and international monitors to the elections.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she is taking to ensure that the elections to the Constituent Assembly in Nepal are free and fair. 
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