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Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what funding is available for the provision of urban search and rescue teams; and if she will make a statement. 
Angela E. Smith: Communities and Local Government (CLG) has already provided fire and rescue authorities (FRAs) with over £32 million in funding under section 31 of the Local Government Act 2003 to support urban search and rescue (USAR) teams. For a summary of this funding, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given today. CLG has also paid over £8.7 million directly to the Fire Service College for the provision of USAR training facilities and over £6.8 million for USAR technicians on training courses.
We would expect to announce funding to support USAR teams in financial year 2007-08 around half way through the year, after discussion with the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) and the Local Government Association (LGA).
Mr. Woolas [holding answer 15 June 2007]: Communities and Local Government does not hold a record of representations received about the use of receipts from the local taxation of second homes. Since 1 April 2004, billing authorities have had the freedom to reduce the council tax discount on second homes from 50 per cent. to 10 per cent. In 2005-06 authorities raised an additional £92 million from the reduced second homes discount. The use of that revenue is a matter for individual authorities to decide in light of local priorities.
Mr. Iain Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers are available to (a) local authorities, (b) the police and (c) other agencies to evict tenants causing antisocial behaviour when the landlord refuses to co-operate. 
Powers are available to the police, through an order of the court, to enable the temporary closure of properties taken over by drug dealers and users of class A drugs, which cause disorder or serious nuisance to the local community. These orders are called crack house closure orders.
In addition, both antisocial behaviour orders (available to range of agencies including the police and local authorities) and antisocial behaviour injunctions (available to social landlords) can carry powers to exclude persons from their place of residence for a specified period under certain circumstances.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to require all local planning authorities to report biannually to her Department on (a) the details of all applications for planning permission for Gypsy and Traveller sites, (b) the outcome of those applications, (c) details of planning appeals and enforcement appeals and (d) the outcomes of appeals. 
From October 2007 local planning authorities will be required to provide information on the number of planning applications for Gypsy and Traveller sites and their outcome as part of their PS1
and PS2 (planning statistics) returns. This information is published on a quarterly basis. Details of planning and enforcement appeals and their outcomes are maintained by the Planning Inspectorate.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to (a) monitor and (b) publish the details of progress by local planning authorities in fulfilling, through pitch allocation and site provision, the needs identified by Gypsy and Traveller accommodation assessments. 
Meg Munn: Local authorities must allocate sufficient sites for Gypsies and Travellers in site allocation development plan documents. Section 35 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act requires every local authority to make an annual report to the Secretary of State containing information on the implementation of the local development scheme, which includes development plan documents, and the extent to which policies set out in local development documents are being achieved.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she has given to local planning authorities on the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites ahead of the adoption of regional spatial strategies. 
Meg Munn: Advice to local planning authorities on the provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites is provided in ODPM Circular 01/2006 Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites. The circular advises that where there is a clear and immediate need, local authorities should bring forward development plan documents containing site allocations in advance of any regional consideration of pitch numbers, in a regional spatial strategy.
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many civic amenity sites have had to amend planning permission as a result of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive; and what the estimated cost was of such amendments. 
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what research her Department and its agencies has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into the operation of joint waste authorities; 
No research has been commissioned or evaluated by my Department, or its agencies, specifically relating to joint waste authorities (JWA). I am not aware of any similar research undertaken by the Audit Commission on JWAs or on alternate weekly collection.
However, AEA Technology has carried out work on DEFRAs behalf to examine potential economies of scale in waste management and barriers to achieving them. This highlighted the importance of authorities sharing waste disposal facilities if we are to meet our environmental objectives. The final report, Economies of scale: waste management optimisation study, is available from DEFRAs website. This gives examples of a number of joint working models that could be used by local authorities, including JWAs.
In addition, a report on Joint working on wastes management, published by the Innovation Forum, highlights the benefits of joint working in two tier areas, citing possible efficiency savings of around £150 million nationally. The report identified the limited legal basis for joint working as one of the key barriers to joint working on waste. In response to this report, the Government have introduced clauses in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill to allow the establishment of JWAs to enable local authorities to put their waste partnerships on a statutory basis if they wish to do so.
The Audit Commission has published a number of guidance documents containing advice to local councils on how they can meet their statutory requirements with regards to waste by improving their waste management and adopting best practice. The Audit Commission also examines the performance of councils and the services they provide, including waste, through the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, and provides recommendations for improvement.
The new powers and freedoms, announced earlier this year as part of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill, were requested by local authorities and will allow authorities that wish to put joint working on a statutory footing to create stronger partnerships in delivering their waste services.
Joint working between local authorities is becoming increasingly important as a means of delivering quality services to residents and meeting the UKs environmental objectives. Joint working is particularly important in two-tier areas, where responsibilities for waste collection and waste disposal are split between different authorities.
Partnership working and integrating collection and disposal services also have the potential to generate efficiency savings.
Mr. Plaskitt: The Department for Work and Pensions is keen to ensure that people claim their full entitlement to state benefits. The Bereavement Benefit Scheme is well known and has been in operation for some time with a high public profile. We are, therefore, confident that the Departments publicity of the scheme is sufficient to alert individuals who have been bereaved.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the number of people in contracted-out defined benefit schemes in each year from 2001-02 to 2015-16; and if he will make a statement. 
|Membership of contracted-out defined benefit schemes|
|Tax year||Estimates of number of people contracted out (million)|
(i) Source: Actual figures from Second Tier Pension Provision Statistics for 2001-02 2003-04 and then estimates.
(ii) Figures are for UK.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the cost of contracted-out rebates for (a) defined benefit and (b) defined contribution pension schemes in each year from 1997 to 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. 
|Estimated cost of contracted out rebates|
|Tax year||Defined Benefit||Defined Contribution|
| Notes: 1. Rebate expenditure is estimated in all years. 2. Figures are for UK and expressed in cash terms.|
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what his latest estimate is of the average pension value for individuals in defined benefit schemes of the contracted out rebates for each year from 2007-08 to 2050-51. 
James Purnell: Due to the way the funding of contracted-out defined benefit schemes works, the value of the rebate does not necessarily equate to a pension value. The information requested is not, therefore, available.
Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what advice he has received about the prospects for removing legal obstacles to the use of automatic enrolment in group personal pensions and group stakeholder pensions. 
James Purnell: European law prohibits inertia selling of financial products, including personal pensions. This means that it is not possible to automatically enrol individuals into workplace personal pension arrangements, such as group personal pensions and group stakeholder pensions.
The DWP is consulting on how best to ensure that such arrangements can continue in the run-up to 2012 and beyond, when our reforms to the UK private pensions system come into effect. DWP officials continue to work closely with industry representatives to understand the issues involved and to devise pragmatic solutions.
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