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Members: Correspondence

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to reply to the letters from the hon. Member for Northavon dated (a) 2 October 2006, (b) 14 November 2006 and (c) 26 January 2007 on home information packs. [128607]

Yvette Cooper: I have now replied to the hon. Member’s correspondence. I apologise for the delay.

Non-Domestic Rates: Broadband

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) whether her Department plans to conduct a regulatory impact assessment as part of its forthcoming consultation on non-domestic rates for unbundled local loops; and if she will make a statement; [128060]

(2) what steps she plans to take to ensure that her Department takes into account the principles of good regulatory practice in her forthcoming consultation on non-domestic rates for unbundled local loops; and if she will make a statement; [128061]

(3) what account her forthcoming consultation on non-domestic rates for unbundled loops will take of the potential impact on the wider broadband market; and if she will make a statement. [128074]

Mr. Woolas: The forthcoming consultation on non-domestic rates and local loop unbundling will be in line with the Government's code of practice on consultations. This includes following better regulation best practice and carrying out a regulatory impact assessment which will cover the factors relevant to delivering the best solution for administering the future rating of unbundled local loops.

Social Rented Housing

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) who maintains the National Register of Social Housing; [128489]

(2) how many homes in England are on the National Register of Social Housing. [128490]

Yvette Cooper: The National Register of Social Housing is under development and contained records of 1,026,338 units of social housing stock as at 9 March 2007. The database is maintained by the Analytical Services Directorate in Communities and Local Government.

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to ensure that letting agencies receive the information necessary to implement the tenancy deposit scheme. [127420]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 14 March 2007]: Communities and Local Government have an information programme for landlords, letting agents and tenants. The campaign includes information packs for landlords, letting agents, tenants’ advisers and the media, including “frequently asked questions”; organising round-table and networking events with local and regional stakeholders;
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and accepting invitations from stakeholders to attend their forums. In addition an advertising campaign started on 26 February which will run to late May using national press, regional press, trade press, foreign traveller press, online and radio. Communities and Local Government posters and leaflets are available to order free from the direct.gov website at

Duchy of Lancaster

Departments: Trade Unions

Mrs. May: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many meetings (a) she and (b) her Department's Ministers held with trade union representatives in 2006. [128759]

Hilary Armstrong: Ministers and civil servants meet many people as part of the process of policy development and advice. It is not normal practice to disclose details of such meetings.

National Youth Volunteering Organisation

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much funding has been provided for the vcashpoint scheme organised by the National Youth Volunteering Organisation; and how many community projects have participated in the scheme. [128876]

Edward Miliband: ‘vcashpoint’ was launched on 28 February 2007. It is a match funded project which is supported equally by HSBC and the independent charity v, combining to provide a £1 million youth fund. The closing date for receipt for the first round of applications is 24 April 2007.

Policy Review

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) which members of the Government attended the policy review event on 3 March; [128833]

(2) what the cost was to the public purse of hosting the policy review event on 3 March. [128834]

Hilary Armstrong: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 8 March 2007, Official Report, column 2198W.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate she has made of the total cost of the Government's policy review process to date; and how much of the sum is accounted for by (a) the IPSOS-MORI contracts, (b) seminars, meetings and consultations, (c) online and website projects, including contracts with external firms, (d) commissioning, producing and distributing reports and (e) civil servants' time. [128910]

Hilary Armstrong: There is no single cost centre for the Government's policy review process. However, the process has accounted for a substantial amount of activity across a number of Government Departments.
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Smith Institute

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether any (a) people and (b) organisations have been served with orders for disclosure under section 8(3) of the Charities Act 1993 and associated legislation by the Charity Commission in pursuit of its investigation into compliance issues at the Smith Institute; and if she will make a statement. [128156]

Edward Miliband: This is a matter for the Charity Commission as the non-ministerial Government Department responsible for the regulation of charities in England and Wales. The chief executive of the Charity Commission will write to the hon. Member and a copy of his reply will be placed in the Library.

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 5 March 2007, Official Report, column 1633W, on the Smith Institute, what the title was of each publication purchased; and how many volumes of each were purchased. [128888]

Hilary Armstrong: It is not possible to identify from the Department's accounting system the title and volume of each publication purchased. This information is therefore available only at disproportionate cost.

Deputy Prime Minister

Departments: Appeals

Mr. Laws: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what independent body exists to hear appeals on decisions made by his Department. [121708]

The Deputy Prime Minister: The parliamentary ombudsman investigates complaints that injustice may have been caused by maladministration on the part of Government Departments and other public bodies. The parliamentary ombudsman is an independent statutory office-holder.

Departments: Publicity

Mike Penning: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the Department's total spending was on advertising and promotional campaigns in each year since its inception; and what the cost of each campaign was, broken down by costs relating to (a) television, (b) radio and (c) print media. [128071]

The Deputy Prime Minister: Nil.

Departments: Termination of Employment

Mr. Heald: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether his Department undertakes employee exit surveys. [119969]

The Deputy Prime Minister: Staff in my office are seconded from the Department for Communities and Local Government. As a matter of course, all staff are sent an exit questionnaire when leaving the Department.


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Slavery: Anniversaries

Ms Butler: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what legacy he expects the Government to leave at the end of the commemorations of the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. [117867]

The Deputy Prime Minister: The Government have worked with grassroots and national organisations around four main themes, which will each provide a legacy:

The Government's approach to the bicentenary complements our ongoing action to tackle contemporary issues, including race inequality and community cohesion issues in the UK, poverty and modern day slavery internationally, and improving education and access to it for all our children. Further announcements will be made throughout the year about what the Government are doing in these areas to ensure the bicentenary commemorations leave a positive and lasting legacy for the future.

Ms Butler: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will bring forward proposals for an annual remembrance day in relation to abolition of the slave trade. [125021]

The Deputy Prime Minister: The Government are committed to commemorating the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade and has a range of events and activities planned throughout 2007.

There have been calls from several quarters for a national memorial day to recognise the injustice of the slave trade and its many victims. There is already a UNESCO International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on 23 August. Some cities in the UK, such as Liverpool, already take part in this.

The Government are aware of the calls for an annual national remembrance day and we are keen, during this bicentenary year, to listen to the views of local communities about what date this should fall on and what form it might take, if such a day were to be instituted.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

West Bank: Israeli Settlements

10. Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will table a motion under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter requiring Israel not to expand its settlements in the west bank. [128297]


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Dr. Howells: Settlements are illegal under international law and settlement activity is an obstacle to peace. The Roadmap is clear that Israel should freeze all settlement construction including the “natural growth” of existing settlements, and dismantle all outposts built since 2001. We will continue to raise our concerns about settlement activity with the Israeli government.

We have no plans to table a Chapter 7 resolution in the UN Security Council onIsrael's settlement activities.

Palestine Government

11. Mr. Mahmood: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of prospects for a National Unity government in Palestine. [128298]

Dr. Howells: I welcome President Abbas' continued efforts at intra-Palestinian reconciliation, which have led to agreement on the forming of a National Unity government. This is a positive step.

We will judge the National Unity government by its actions and respond accordingly.

13. Mr. Malik: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of prospects for a National Unity government in Palestine. [128300]

Dr. Howells: I welcome President Abbas' continued efforts at intra-Palestinian reconciliation, which have led to agreement on the forming of a National Unity government. This is a positive step.

We will judge the National Unity government by its actions and respond accordingly.

Arms Sales

12. Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with the Chinese government on arms sales to Iran. [128299]

Mr. McCartney: As part of discussions on a new Security Council resolution, officials have had detailed discussions on imposing restrictions on arms exports to and from Iran with all their P5 (China, France, Russia, US) colleagues. I am pleased to say we have now reached agreement on a text, and are taking forward these discussions with non-permanent members.

We expect the measures to build on those in resolution 1737 and cover financial measures and asset freezes against Iranian entities and individuals, as well as restrictions on the arms trade with Iran.

This is a proportional and incremental response in order to increase the pressure on Iran, which is flouting its legal obligations to comply with UN Security Council requirements.

Climate Change

14. Michael Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the European Union is taking to promote the tackling of climate change internationally. [128301]


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Margaret Beckett: The EU has shown international leadership on tackling climate change by agreeing an ambitious package at the Spring Council, including a commitment to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent. by 2020.

This underlines the EU's intent to move swiftly to a competitive, low carbon economy, and paves the way for progress in the G8 and the UN. It also shows that EU governments are responding actively to their citizens' concerns.

Zimbabwe

16. Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with her South African counterpart on the security situation in Zimbabwe. [128303]

Mr. McCartney: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to her South African counterpart on 15 March about the situation in Zimbabwe. They discussed the deepening crisis and what more needs to be done to increase the pressure on Mugabe and his Government to change their policies and bring the country back from the brink. We will continue to work closely with South Africa and other members of the international community to achieve this end.

I should add that in my statement to the Human Rights Council on 13 March, I joined my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and my noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Lord Triesman of Tottenham, in utterly condemning the violent repression of the peaceful prayer meeting on 11 March. While in Geneva last week, I also discussed Zimbabwe with Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The situation in Zimbabwe remains deeply worrying. Importantly, our humanitarian assistance in the form of food and health care is continuing and this is helping to keep ordinary Zimbabweans alive.

18. Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the political situation in Zimbabwe. [128305]

Mr. McCartney: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary in her answers to questions in the House earlier today set out the Government's position on the political situation in Zimbabwe.

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations to Portugal on the unacceptability of the presence of President Mugabe and other members of the government of Zimbabwe at the EU-African Union summit during the forthcoming Portuguese presidency of the EU. [127732]


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