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Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the incidence of harassment of town and parish council clerks by councillors. 
John Healey: The Department has no monitoring role in relation to breaches of the code of conduct for local authority members, including cases of harassment of town and parish council clerks by councillors, and therefore has no information about the numbers of such cases.
Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government who the Chairman is of the Renewable Advisory Boards subgroup on microgeneration; who appointed him or her to the Renewable Advisory Board; on what date the Chair of the Renewable Advisory Board subgroup on microgeneration was invited to join the 2016 Task Force; on what date the membership of the 2016 Zero Carbon Task Force was first established; how many meetings of the 2016 Task Force (a) have been held since it was established and (b) were held prior to the appointment of the Chair of the Renewables Advisory Board subgroup on microgeneration; and which part of the renewables and microgeneration industry the Chair of the Renewables Advisory Board subgroup on microgeneration represents, as referred to in the answer of 29 October 2007, Official Report, column 674W, on planning: renewable energy. 
Yvette Cooper: Matthew Spencer is the Chairman of the Renewable Advisory Boards subgroup on microgeneration and was appointed by the Energy Minister, following the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments regulated recruitment process in December 2005 for a three year term.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions the Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber has had with the (a) Secretary of State for Transport and (b) Chancellor of the Exchequer on funding for transport infrastructure in Yorkshire and the Humber since her appointment; and if she will make a statement. 
Although I have not held any formal meetings to date with the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funding for transport infrastructure, I have engaged with key stakeholders in the region on a wide range of issues, including transport infrastructure.
John Healey: We have assessed all the unitary proposals received against the five criteria set out in our "Invitation to Councils", issued on 26 October 2006. On 25 July we announced that we were minded to implement those proposals which we judged as reasonably likely to achieve the outcomes specified by each of the five criteria.
We intend shortly, having regard to the five criteria, to take our final decisions under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 as to which unitary proposals are to be implemented.
Yvette Cooper: As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House on 6 November we have received over 50 expressions of interest in respect of eco-towns. These have come from both local authorities and developers, and will be considered in a cross-Government strategic review. The intention is then to announce the selected schemes in February 2008.
As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister told the House on 6 November we have received over 50 expressions of interest in respect of eco-towns. These have come from both local authorities and private developers and in some cases a public-private partnership. In a number of cases
private developers are in ongoing discussion with local authorities about their involvement in proposals, so it is not possible to give a breakdown at this stage. The intention is to announce the selected schemes in February 2008.
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether new dwellings approved as part of an eco-town development by her Department will contribute to performance against the house building requirements of the revised regional spatial strategies. 
Yvette Cooper: The Housing Green Paper sets out that we expect eco-towns to help contribute to achieving the 240,000 national target. As set out in the Eco-Towns Prospectus we would expect new schemes to be additional to existing plans.
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what methodologies will be used to assess the carbon dioxide emissions of eco-towns, with particular reference to transport issues and the need for commuting to and from such towns. 
Yvette Cooper: We will look to those making proposals for development of eco-towns to set out how they expect to achieve the Governments criteria for sustainability, including transport, as set out in the Eco-towns Prospectus, launched on 23 July 2007. Eco-towns should be planned in a way that supports low carbon living, and minimises carbon emissions from transport. One of the key issues for eco-towns is the consideration of the impact on roads and congestion when siting the eco-town, and the planning of infrastructure requirements. We will want to see design that promotes sustainable transport usage and the reduction in car dependency.
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 29 November 2007]: The criteria and assessment approach for the selection of eco-town sites are set out in the Eco-towns Prospectus. This was published on 23 July 2007 as part of the Housing Green Paper and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government have taken to increase the involvement of young people in local government decisions since 1997. 
John Healey [holding answer 26 November 2007]: Under the provisions of the Children Act 2004, local authorities are required to consult children and young people as part of their strategic planning for children's services. More recently, empowering young people to shape their local services became a key theme in CLG's An Action Plan for Community Empowerment: Building on Success (October 2007) and DCSF's Aiming High for Young People: a Ten Year Strategy for Positive Activities (July 2007). Examples of current initiatives include the Young Advisers scheme which trains young people aged 15 to 21 to act as consultants to ensure the views of young people are considered in local authority decisions affecting them and the Youth Capital Fund (YCF) and Youth Opportunity Fund (YOF) where in 2006-07 over 8,000 teenagers participated in youth panels deciding on funding allocations for youth activities and facilities.
Mark Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will take steps to (a) increase the availability of and (b) improve the distribution of bereavement benefit claim forms; and if he will make a statement. 
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your questions asking what was the average time taken for Jobcentre Plus to process Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants in each year since 2002. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus.
The information requested is in the table.
|Average actual clearance timeGreat Britain|
|Social fund crisis loans clearance times||Social fund community care grants clearance times|
1. Numbers are based on applications cleared in each financial year, not on applications received during that year.
2. Numbers have been rounded to one decimal place.
DWP Social Fund Policy, Budget and Management Information System.
The clearance time for an individual application is measured in whole working days from the date of receipt of the application until the date of decision, plus if a loan offer is made, the number of whole working days between receiving the applicants reply to the offer and the recording of that reply. The minimum clearance time recorded for an individual application is one working day, even if the application is cleared immediately.
Our standard for the average actual clearance time for Crisis Loans is 2 working days and for Community Care Grants it is 9 working days. We have kept within the standard average actual clearance time for Crisis Loans in every year from 2002-03 and for Community Care Grants in every year except 2006-07.
As we have modernised Crisis Loan delivery by making our service more accessible to our customers, the number of Crisis Loan applications has risen to an unprecedented level. Jobcentre Plus received 202,000 applications in October this year compared to 132,000 in October 2006.
In order to deal with this rise and continue to keep within our 2 day standard for Crisis Loans we have temporarily diverted resources from Community Care Grants, and have been putting in extra resources. By taking this action we have kept within our 2 day standard for Crisis Loans, this has resulted in a knock on effect on time taken to clear applications for Community Care Grants. As the extra resources come on stream we expect to see improvements and move back to our usual standards.
Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many officials in (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies have private health insurance provided as part of their employment package. 
Mrs. McGuire: Private health insurance is not part of the normal employment package provided by the Department for Work and Pensions or its agencies. However four employees who transferred to the employment of DWP under the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations (TUPE) elected to retain the term of their previous employment that provided them with private health insurance.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what land surplus to his Department's requirements it is (a) selling, (b) leasing and (c) intending to (i) sell and (ii) lease; and what the size and name of each relevant site is. 
Mrs. McGuire: The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) does not own any land as DWP has outsourced estate via a private finance initiative (PFI) contract known as Prime whereby the entire DWP estate was sold (freehold, feuhold and long lease interests) or transferred (short leasehold interests) to Land Securities Trillium. The proceeds were released to HM Treasury in April 1998 (for the original DSS estate) and further in December 2003 when Prime was expanded to include the former Employment Service estate.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many reports have been made to his Departments nominated officers under paragraph 16 of the revised Civil Service Code since its publication on 6 June 2006. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many allegations of victimisation for whistleblowing have been reported to his Department by departmental staff since 6 June 2006. 
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the office costs for his Department's special advisers for 2007-08 are expected to be, including costs of support staff; and how many full-time equivalent civil servants work in support of such special advisers. 
In order to enable special advisers to work effectively, Departments may allocate permanent civil servants to provide support of a non-political nature.
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