Previous Section Index Home Page

26 Apr 2007 : Column 1217W—continued

Phase 2 September 2006 to end October 2006





Print media


Fire Services: Manpower

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff she expects to be transferred from existing fire control centres to the regional fire control centres; what consultation she has held with staff and unions about Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) transfer; and what arrangements she plans to make for staff unable to transfer to the new regional fire control centres. [131227]

Angela E. Smith: The number of staff transferring from existing control rooms will not be known until the local authority controlled companies have formulated proposals on staff numbers and structure, and criteria have been developed that define the circumstances under which it would be unreasonable for staff to transfer.

The Department has published guidance on a wide range of issues relating to the transfer and many informal discussions with staff have been held. Formal consultation is a matter for the current employers and the regional control centre companies. For staff who are unlikely to be able to transfer, fire and rescue authorities have been encouraged to find alternative jobs, and where appropriate, to provide retraining. Costs of redeployment and retraining will be borne by the Department, within reason. The Department seeks to avoid compulsory redundancies where possible.

Government Office for London

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2007, Official Report, column 1144W, on the Government Office for London, for what reasons the information requested is not held centrally; and if she will consider the case for holding such information. [132499]

Angela E. Smith: It is not a valuable use of resources to record centrally all the items of business referred to in the earlier question. Since 2002 Government Office for London (GOL) has had a central database which records draft replies produced for Ministers in all sponsoring Departments in response to hon. Members’
26 Apr 2007 : Column 1218W
letters. This database shows that GOL has dealt with the following number of Ministerial correspondence cases each year since 2002:












There are no plans to record centrally GOL’s direct correspondence with members of the public.

HomeBuy Scheme

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many applications have been made for the (a) Open Market HomeBuy, (b) Social HomeBuy and (c) New Build HomeBuy schemes; and how many have been (i) accepted and (ii) refused in each case. [133815]

Yvette Cooper: Between April 2006 and February 2007 there were 19,268 applications for Open Market HomeBuy, of which 10,580 have been approved so far by HomeBuy agents. Only a small number are rejected—the majority of those not approved will be still going through the application process. Of those applications approved, 716 were subsequently cancelled. This can be a result of applicants formally withdrawing from the scheme or, for example, detailed financial checks revealing county court judgments. In addition a large number of approved applicants will simply not pursue their application, without formally withdrawing it.

Between April 2006 and February 2007 there were 73,556 applications for New Build HomeBuy of which 54,624 have been approved by HomeBuy Agents. Only a small number are rejected—the majority of those not approved will be still going through the application process. Information on cancelled approvals is not held for New Build HomeBuy because the applicants buy through a large number of housing association providers, and mortgages are available from all lenders.

A large number of applicants will initially apply for both Open Market and New Build HomeBuy and will therefore feature in both figures.

Between April 2006 and February 2007, 534 applicants were received by RSLs for Social HomeBuy pilots. Information on applications declined for Social HomeBuy is not recorded on a monthly basis, but will be examined as part of an extensive monitoring exercise to be undertaken on the programme later this year.

In the LA sector, between July 2006 and March 2007, 96 applications were received, of which 37 were refused.

Housing: Hartlepool

Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many households in (a) Hartlepool constituency, (b) Tees Valley sub-region and (c) North East Region are part of a Shared Home Ownership scheme. [131366]

26 Apr 2007 : Column 1219W

Yvette Cooper: The following table shows the number of new homes provided on shared ownership terms through the Housing Corporation’s Affordable Housing programme (AHP) and local authority social housing grant (LASHG) in Hartlepool, Tees Valley and North East Region for 2002-03 to 2005-06 and planned 2007-08. We do not hold figures for the numbers of households currently in shared ownership. Information is not available at constituency level.

Shared ownership completions through AHP and LASHG
Hartlepool Tees Valley North East

























(1) Provisional
(2 )Planned
Tees Valley includes the following local authorities:
Darlington, Middlesborough, Hartlepool, Stockton on Tees and Redcar and Cleveland
Housing Corporation

Local Government

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what advice and guidance she has circulated to local authority chief executives on how they should conduct themselves in respect of their public statements when contentious restructuring proposals are under debate; and if she will make a statement. [134089]

Mr. Woolas: Within the statutory framework, including the requirements under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 restricting certain officers’ party political activities, the conduct of chief executives is a matter for them and their councils.

Officials wrote to all chief executives in areas affected by the 16 unitary proposals under consultation, drawing their attention to the “Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity”. The code makes it clear that local authorities should not at any time use public funds to mount publicity campaigns whose primary purpose is to persuade the public to hold a particular view on a question of policy, and that authorities must take particular care when publicity is issued immediately prior to an election.

Local Government Finance

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 16 February 2006, Official Report, column 2239W, on local government finance, in which years since 1997 the Government were required to make up a shortfall on local authority housing revenue accounts between total rental income and the sources of expenditure to which the answer refers. [133352]

26 Apr 2007 : Column 1220W

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 23 April 2007]: The Housing Revenue Subsidy System has received a net contribution from the Exchequer in each financial year since 2001-02, when the Major Repairs Allowance was introduced to help councils do more to repair and refurbish council homes.

The net subsidy position for each year between 1997-98 and 2005-06 (the last year for which we have audited figures) is given in the following table, negative figures represent net surpluses for that year and positive figures show net deficits, which were paid by the Exchequer.

Net housing element



















Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her Department’s allocation was for local authorities’ allowances for management, maintenance and major repairs in (a) 2005-06 and (b) 2006-07; what they are projected to be in 2007-08; and what the total (i) service debt charges and (ii) rental income paid to local authorities were in each year. [133360]

Mr. Woolas [holding answer 23 April 2007]: Details of management, maintenance and major repairs allowances are given in the following table:

Status Financial year Management a llowance Maintenance a llowance Major repairs allowance
















Data on actual rental income and expenditure on debt charges are only available for 2005-06 as these are dependent upon audited returns from local authorities and are shown as follows.

Amount (£)

Debt charges


Rental income from dwellings


Other rental income


Audited returns for 2006-07 and 2007-08 are not due until December 2007 and December 2008 respectively.

Natural Gas: Pipelines

Mr. Binley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking to reduce the length of time taken to commission the construction of gas infrastructure
26 Apr 2007 : Column 1221W
projects following initial planning application prior to the implementation of the measures expected in the Planning White Paper. [133475]

Yvette Cooper: I refer the hon. Member to the reply recently given to him by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on 24 April 2007, Official Report, columns 1073-74.

The time taken to commission gas infrastructure projects following the initial planning application can be affected by a range of factors—including commercial or technical issues which are for developers themselves to resolve.

The Government have implemented measures to avoid unnecessary delays at the planning application stage in dealing with major infrastructure projects under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. These could, depending on individual circumstances, include gas infrastructure projects. Section 44 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 inserted new sections 76A and 76B into the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to allow the Secretary of State to designate a planning application a major infrastructure project if she thinks it is of national or regional importance. If such is done, the application would be processed via special procedures which are aimed at speeding up the decision making process.

The forthcoming Planning White Paper, to be published this spring, will set out proposals for reforming the consent regime for major infrastructure projects, including major energy projects.

Mr. Binley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received on the length of time taken for (a) planning decisions and (b) other stages of gas infrastructure projects following initial planning applications. [133533]

Yvette Cooper: Since the beginning of the year, the Department has received a parliamentary question about delays in decision making following planning inquiries for gas storage infrastructure and one about the steps being taken to ensure the timely delivery of gas infrastructure projects.

Delays in decision making in these cases can often be attributed to their extremely unusual, technical and complex nature. But the Government are committed to streamlining and simplifying the regulatory regime for approving infrastructure projects, and proposals for doing so will be contained in the forthcoming Planning White Paper, to be published in the spring.

Owner Occupation

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the level of owner occupation is in each constituency. [132249]

Yvette Cooper: Levels of owner occupation by constituency, derived from the 2001 Census, are contained in a House of Commons Research Paper 04/01 entitled “2001 Census of Population: Statistics for Parliamentary Constituencies”, published 30 January 2004.

Next Section Index Home Page