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10 Sep 2007 : Column 1941W—continued


Communities and Local Government

Council Tax Levy

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 18 July 2007, to question 150937, on council tax levy, whether she has considered the merits of directing local authorities to use more than 50 per cent. of the council tax generated from second homes to fund more affordable housing; and whether there are any unitary or two-tiered local authorities with such a policy. [154931]


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Mr. Iain Wright: It is up to local authorities to determine how to use the income generated through council tax on second homes. Communities and Local Government has no plans to direct them on this, and neither does it hold information on how the income is used.

Departments: Contracts

Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how her Department monitors contracts issued by public bodies reporting to her Department on the terms and conditions applied to their workforce. [154893]

Mr. Iain Wright: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 24 July 2007, Official Report, column 956W.

Kelvin Hopkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 25 June 2007, Official Report, columns 152-53W, on Departments: contracts, (1) how much was spent by her Department on contracts awarded to external suppliers by public bodies it sponsors in each year since 2001; [154896]

(2) if she will make data compiled for the European Commission available to hon. Members. [154981]

Mr. Iain Wright: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 26 July 2007, Official Report, columns 1422-24W.

Housing: Low Incomes

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what measures her Department has implemented to ensure that affordable housing is available to those living in coastal towns and villages. [155037]

Mr. Iain Wright: Coastal towns and villages will benefit from the Government’s plans, announced in the Housing Green Paper ‘Homes for the future: more affordable, more sustainable’. We are providing at least £8 billion over the next three years to invest in the supply of housing, including an increase in affordable housing, initially through the Housing Corporation and then through the new homes agency. This is an increase of £3 billion compared to the previous three years and will help to deliver at least 70,000 more affordable homes a year by 2010-11. All areas, urban, rural and coastal will benefit from these resources.

Planning Policy Statement (PPS)3 for Housing encourages local and regional planning bodies to take more account of affordability when determining how many new homes are needed in their area. PPS3 includes stronger policies on affordable housing. The new definition of affordable housing will concentrate public funding and planning contributions on genuinely affordable housing. In addition, local authorities will be able to require developer contributions to affordable housing on smaller sites where it is viable.

Planning and housing policies at the local level should be based upon an up-to-date housing needs assessment for a particular area. The findings of the assessment will inform decisions on the level of
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housing provision and its distribution in local development frameworks and policies on affordable housing and housing mix. It will also allow local authorities to consider the housing demands and needs of specific groups of people including families with children, older people and disabled people, as well as the precise nature and location of the area, such as coastal towns and villages.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the central Government’s grant was per capita for the (a) Sedgefield and (b) Sevenoaks districts in (i) 1997-98 and (ii) 2007-08. [155047]

John Healey: The information requested is tabled as follows.

Central Government revenue grant( 1) per head in Sedgefield and Sevenoaks
£ per head
Sedgefield Sevenoaks

1997-98(2)

66

60

2005-06(3)

134

56

2006-07(4)

135

61

(1) Central Government grant is defined here as the sum of Formula grant (Revenue Support Grant and redistributed non-domestic rates) and Specific grants inside Aggregate External Finance (AEF), ie revenue grants paid for council’s core services. Figures exclude grants outside AEF (ie where funding is not for authorities’ core services, but is passed to a third party, for example, rent allowances and rebates), capital grants, funding for the local authorities’ housing management responsibilities and those grant programmes (such as European funding) where authorities are simply one of the recipients of funding paid towards an area.
(2) Specific grants within AEF to Sedgefield and Sevenoaks include Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit administration.
(3) Specific grants within AEF to Sedgefield include General Sure Start grant (£18 per head), Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (£13 per head), Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Administration, Community Empowerment Funding, Local Authority Business Growth Incentives scheme, Planning Delivery, Performance Standards Fund, Homelessness Strategies, Supporting People Programme—Housing, Local Enterprise Growth Initiative and Waste Minimisation Recycling Fund. Specific grants within AEF to Sevenoaks include Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Administration and Planning Delivery.
(4) Data for 2006-07 are provisional. Final outturn figures for 2006-07 will be available later this year.
Note:
Comparisons across years are not valid due to changes in funding and function.
Source:
Communities and Local Government Revenue Summary Return

Minister for the South West

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what visits the Minister for the South West has made in that capacity since her appointment. [154878]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Minister for the South West has embarked on an ongoing series of visits in the region. Details of the visits undertaken so far are tabulated as follows:


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Visit undertaken

13 July 2007

Regional Development Agency, Exeter

16 July 2007

Swindon

25 July 2007

Tewkesbury and Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

30 July 2007

St. Austell and Truro, Cornwall

1 August 2007

Bristol (and wider West of England visit)

21 August 2007

Tewkesbury, Gloucester and Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

23 August 2007

Poole

24 August 2007

Shepton Mallet and Taunton, Somerset


Mr. Robert Adewunmi

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment has been made of the reasons for Mr. Robert Adewunmi being able to circumvent the restraint order placed upon him following his conviction for fraud relating to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. [153635]

The Solicitor-General: I have been asked to reply.

Mr. Adewunmi and his wife were arrested on 5 April 2005. Mr. Adewunmi pleaded guilty to offences of money laundering and fraudulent trading for which he was sentenced, on 10 March 2006, to a total of four years' imprisonment; his wife admitted an offence of money laundering for which she was sentenced to six months' imprisonment.

After sentence, confiscation proceedings were postponed to complete the necessary investigations. A restraint order had been made against their assets on 24 May 2005, which had a worldwide effect and also contained a provision for the repatriation of movable assets held abroad. The order also contained a clear warning that breach of the order would amount to contempt of court. This had been considered to be sufficient to prevent further dissipation of assets.

On discovery that Mr. Adewunmi had in fact breached the order, a money laundering investigation was begun; this showed how Mr. Adewunmi was able further to dissipate the assets. As a consequence of this behaviour, proceedings for contempt were taken against Mr. Adewunmi and, on 22 June 2007, confiscation orders were made against both Mr. and Mrs. Adewunmi; Mr. Adewunmi was also sentenced for a fraud on Slough borough council. In addition, Mr. Adewunmi admitted being in breach of the restraint order. As a result, he was committed to prison for 18 months' consecutive to the sentence which he was already serving.

It has been calculated that Mr. Adewunmi transferred abroad a total of £137,673.56 out of the £867,200 stolen by him; some of this money was repatriated but the majority is caught in the confiscation order which he has to pay.

Telecommunications Masts (Planning Control) Bill 2006-07

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on the Telecommunications Masts (Planning Control) Bill. [154827]


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Mr. Iain Wright: The Telecommunications Masts (Planning Control) Bill is due to have its Second Reading on 19 October. We are currently reviewing the permitted development rights in Part 24 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. I cannot prejudge the outcome of that review, but we will consult on any substantive proposals for change arising from it.

Thames Gateway Bridge

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on her decision to re-open the public inquiry into the Thames Gateway Bridge. [154830]

Mr. Iain Wright: The reasons for the decision to reopen the public inquiry into the Thames Gateway Bridge were fully set out in the Secretary of State’s letter of 25 July. The Secretary of State has nothing further to add in respect of that decision. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library of the House.

Travelling People: Eastern Region

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the East of England Regional Assembly’s consultation on Gypsy and Traveller pitches. [154849]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Secretary of State has not assessed the East of England regional assembly’s public consultation on the Gypsy and Traveller review, although my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has written to the East of England regional assembly on some questions raised in the review. On the basis that the East of England regional assembly submits the draft revision to the Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend would appoint an independent panel to examine and advise her on that draft revision.

Transport

A14: Kettering

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when the Highways Agency expects to announce costed final proposals for improving the A14 around Kettering. [154970]

Mr. Tom Harris: The Highways Agency is finalising an options appraisal on how to improve the capacity of the A14 around Kettering, which I expect shortly.

It is too early to give a firm indication of any announcement on proposals that might emerge from my consideration of the Highways Agency's work.

Bridges: Safety

Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment she has made of the implications of the recent road bridge collapse in the United States for the safety of road bridges in the United Kingdom; and what plans she has to investigate the safety of the (a) Severn Bridge and (b) Second Severn Crossing. [155046]


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Mr. Tom Harris: Immediately after the Minnesota bridge collapse, the Highways Agency began an investigation of the information it holds about bridges and other structures. From the information available regarding the bridge in Minnesota, the Highways Agency has concluded there are no bridges identical on the network of motorways and major A roads in England. The Highways Agency is however undertaking a review of its maintenance and inspection processes. If improvements are needed, these will be communicated to other UK bridge owners, including local highway authorities, who are responsible for the majority of other road bridges.

Severn Crossing Bridges

In April 2006, the Highways Agency announced that it will be undertaking a programme of inspection work on the main suspension cables for the M48 Severn bridge. Work is under way to monitor and address the corrosion that has been found in the suspension cables and over the next year, the Agency will be considering a long-term strategy for the bridge. The bridge remains safe for use, although as a precautionary measure, vehicles over 7.5 tonnes are restricted to lane one in each direction.

No additional investigations are currently planned for the M4 Second Severn Crossing. Severn River Crossing plc. is already required to undertake a rigorous inspection regime and the findings are regularly reviewed by the Government’s representative and the Highways Agency.

Departments: Employment Agencies

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much her Department paid in fees to recruitment agencies for (a) temporary and (b) permanent staff in each year since 1997. [151674]

Jim Fitzpatrick: The Department for Transport was established in May 2002.

Figures available for the Department for Transport are:

£
(a) Temporary (b) Permanent

2002-03

5,859,854

1,198,693

2003-04

10,364,482

4,021,132

2004-05

11,664,629

4,220,768

2005-06

9,856,964

8,272,596

2006-07

12,314,056

4,791,412


The table does not include Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA). I would refer the hon. Member to the annual report, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

This answer corrects the answer of 30 January 2007, Official Report, column 254W, which unfortunately contained some incomplete and incorrect figures.


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