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27 Nov 2007 : Column 406W—continued

Emergency Calls: Fire Services

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the average time taken to respond to an emergency telephone call by the fire brigade was in (a) England, (b) London and (c) each London borough in each year since 1997. [166939]

Mr. Dhanda: The following table shows the average response times taken by the fire and rescue services in London and England between 1997 to 2005, the most recent calendar year for which data are available. The table shows the time from the initial call to attendance, and the time from mobilisation to attendance (i.e. the actual driving time). Information for individual London boroughs is not available centrally.

Average response time (in minutes) to fires by brigade area and year of call, London, 1997 to 2005( 1,2,3)
Year England London
First call to attendance Mobilisation to attendance First call to attendance Mobilisation to attendance














































(1) Excluding late call and heat and smoke damage only incidents.
(2) Excluding incidents not recorded during periods of industrial action in 2002 and 2003.
(3) A small number of incidents with response time greater than an hour have been excluded so that results are not skewed by likely reporting errors.

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Equality and Human Rights Commission: Public Appointments

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what human rights expertise candidates for appointment as commissioners of the Equality and Human Rights Commission are required to demonstrate as part of the appointments process. [165818]

Barbara Follett: I have been asked to reply.

Individuals with relevant knowledge or experience to enable the EHRC to deliver successful outcomes for equality and human rights were invited to apply for the post of commissioner.

Candidates were asked to demonstrate in their application and interview:

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what factors she took into account in appointing Joel Edwards as a commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. [165828]

Barbara Follett: I have been asked to reply.

Commissioners are appointed on the basis of relevant experience or knowledge of discrimination and human rights and the desirability of the commissioners together having experience and knowledge relating to the relevant matters.

Joel Edwards was appointed as EHRC Commissioner following a comprehensive selection process consistent with the requirements of the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. This involved detailed paper assessment and interview by an expert panel. A shortlist of candidates was put to the Lord Privy Seal for her final agreement.

Equality and Human Rights Commission: Standards

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what arrangements are in place for periodic review of the work of the Equality and Human Rights Commission; and if she will make a statement. [165822]

Barbara Follett: I have been asked to reply.

Although the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is an independent body, it is required like all non departmental public bodies to operate under the terms of a Management Statement and Financial Framework document, in this case agreed with the Lord Privy Seal. In addition, the EHRC is required by statute to:

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The Commission will be held to account annually to Parliament on the use of public funds.

There is close liaison between the Government Equalities Office and the EHRC which enables Government to monitor, inform and review the EHRCs progress against the responsibilities set out in the Equality Act 2006.

Fire Services: Hoaxes and False Alarms

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government have taken to reduce the numbers of false alarms for the fire service since 1997. [166957]

Mr. Dhanda: My Department published guidance on reducing the number of false alarms from fire-detection and fire-alarms systems in 2004. Since then, the Government have introduced the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. This sets out the duties of the responsible person for fire safety in non-domestic premises, part of which includes maintenance of fire precautions. The Government expect fire and rescue services to adopt policies that allow them to respond to real fires without being distracted by false alarms.


Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the costs to local authorities arising from repair and restoration of infrastructure damaged by flooding in 2007. [167255]

Mr. Woolas: I have been asked to reply.

The Association of British Insurers Statement of Principles aims to ensure continued widespread availability of flood cover for households in flood risk areas. It does not extend to the cost implications of additional landfill tax or uninsured losses.

Government Office for London

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on the future of the Government office for London. [167568]

Mr. Dhanda: The Government office for London represents central Government in London and will continue to do so. It delivers a range of central Government functions on behalf of Ministers from 11 Whitehall Departments. These functions include negotiating local area agreements with London boroughs, undertaking Secretary of State planning casework, and co-ordinating civil emergency and resilience preparations across the capital.

Housing: Low Incomes

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government has taken to increase the availability of affordable housing in the West Midlands since 1997. [166479]

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Mr. Iain Wright: In 2003 my right hon. Friend the Member for Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), as Deputy Prime Minister, published “Sustainable Communities: building for the future”, a document setting out a programme of action to tackle key housing problems including lack of affordable housing.

The programme of actions included the establishment of Regional Housing Boards in each of the regions to develop a Regional Housing Strategy on which to base advice to Ministers about strategic housing priorities and allocation of housing capital funding from the new Regional Housing Pot.

The West Midlands Regional Housing Board (RHB), in its first West Midlands Regional Housing Strategy published 2005, identified the need for affordable housing as a key regional priority, particularly in the south and west of the region.

On that basis the RHB made recommendations to Ministers about allocations of funding for the Affordable Housing Programme (formerly Approved Development Programme—ADP), administered by the Housing Corporation, resulting in an allocation to the West Midlands of £377 million pounds over the period 2004-05 to 2007-08, to subsidise delivery of 8,500 new affordable homes.

Prior to the formation of the RHB, the ADP was allocated on an annual basis through the Housing Corporation and in 2003-04 the allocation was £84.11 million. Therefore, over the five year period 2003-04 to 2007-08 allocations to the West Midlands for the provision of new affordable housing total £460 million.

In October 2007 the Government announced their overall funding for housing capital allocations for 2008-11. The West Midlands was allocated £209 million for 2008-09 (18 per cent. higher than 2007-08); £228 million for 2009-10 (11 per cent. in-year rise), and £245 million for 2010-11 (7 per cent. in-year rise).

This additional funding comes with a higher target for delivery of affordable housing, with the West Midlands expected to achieve 10,800 new affordable homes over the period 2008-11.

Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 14 November 2007, Official Report, column 329W, on housing: low incomes, how many (a) local authority and (b) housing association socially rented houses will be built in each region in (i) 2007-08, (ii) 2008-09 and (iii) 2009-10. [167904]

Mr. Iain Wright [holding answer 26 November 2007]: We are on course to deliver 30,000 social rented homes in 2007-08. Of these we are expecting 28,000 to be provided through Housing Corporation’s Affordable Housing Programme. The remainder will be through other sources including local authorities who we estimate will provide around 300 social rented homes.

The following table shows forecast social rented completions by region through the Housing Corporation’s Affordable Housing Programme for 2007-08

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Region Forecast

North East


Yorkshire and Humberside


North West


East of England


East Midlands


West Midlands




South East


South West




The balance to 28,000 will be made up by completions through recycled capital grant fund which cannot be forecast by region.

In 2007-08 we are providing over £2.0 billion to the Housing Corporation for the provision of affordable housing. We have made available funding totalling some £2.5 billion in 2008-09 and £2.8 billion in 2009-10 to support delivery of new affordable homes. Decisions have yet to be finalised as to the distribution of this funding and the resulting homes between the regions. The funding is being made available to bids from both housing associations, developers and local authorities through the Housing Corporation’s bidding round for the National Affordable Housing Programme.

Housing: West Midlands

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Government have spent on housing in the West Midlands since 1997. [166480]

Mr. Iain Wright: In the period 1997-98 to 2007-08 the Government have allocated a total of £1.599 billion capital funding to West Midlands local housing authorities.

This total funding includes:

In addition to the funding allocated directly to local housing authorities, there is separate Government funding (the Affordable Housing Pot, formerly Approved Development Programme), administered by the Housing Corporation in each region, to deliver new affordable housing.

Since 2003-04, allocations to the West Midlands from the Affordable Housing Pot have totalled £461 million.

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