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Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much gap funding was provided for stock transfers in each year since 1997; how such funding has been financed; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance has been issued to Gloucestershire County Council on the account to be taken of the flooding of summer 2007 in the setting of its council tax precept for 2008-09. 
John Healey: While Government have not provided guidance to local authorities on how they should set their council tax precept we have made it clear that we expect the national average increase in council tax to be substantially below 5 per cent.
In July 2007 Communities and Local Government wrote to the chief executives of flood affected authorities to remind them of powers around council tax discounts and business rate relief that would enable them to provide financial relief to affected taxpayers.
In addition to any statutory council tax discounts that may apply to those forced out of their homes by flooding, local authorities have discretionary powers, under section 13A of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, to grant discounts of up to 100 per cent. to householders who have been affected.
Local authorities can also consider whether non-domestic properties hit by flooding should be liable for empty property rates and/or whether to exercise their discretionary powers under section 49 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 to grant hardship rate relief in respect of occupied or empty properties.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to designate the Welsh Assembly Government as a statutory consultee on national policy statements impacting on Wales. 
John Healey: As we made clear in the white paper Planning for a Sustainable Future (Cm 7120) published in May 2007, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland ministers will be statutory consultees in the development of relevant national policy statements.
Caroline Flint: We are carrying out an initial sift of eco-towns proposals across Government and its agencies. This will give a preliminary indication of the sustainability and infrastructure potential of these schemes in relation to the criteria set out in the eco-towns prospectus, including their approach to transport and the environment. We are also contacting local authorities and regional bodies, in areas where schemes look to have the potential to go forward to a shortlist for consultation. We hope to publish this shortlist in early March 2008 for consultation with the public, wider stakeholders and local authorities.
Caroline Flint [holding answer 22 February 2008]: We have received more than 50 expressions of interest from both the public and private sector for eco-town schemes. At this stage, I am not able to disclose the details of bids, in view of the Departments process and the interests of bidders, but we will be publishing a shortlist in the near future for full consultation with the public, wider stakeholders and local authorities.
Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which countries are on the white list of approved nations allowed to operate an internet gambling service in the UK. 
Tasmania and the States of Alderney and the Isle of Man are the only three jurisdictions or countries that have been added to the whitelist which allows gambling operators licensed in these jurisdictions to advertise remote gambling in the UK as if they were an EEA state.
Any operator that wishes to operate an internet gambling site from Great Britain (ie has remote gambling equipment located in Great Britain) would require an operating licence from the Gambling Commission.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 15 January 2008, Official Report, column 778W, on the Health and Safety Executive, if she will place in the Library copies of the correspondence between the Health and Safety Executive and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister relating to the water heaters of the type involved in the fatalities in 2002 and 2007. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Copies of correspondence between the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2003 and between the HSE and Communities and Local Government in 2006-07 have today been placed in the House of Commons Library.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how much has been spent on home information packs from the public purse; how much has been spent on associated (a) legal fees and (b) external advisers; and how much is budgeted to be spent in the remainder of this financial year; 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will bring forward proposals for a system by which the proposed Homes and Communities Agency will engage with hon. Members representing constituencies in the Thames Gateway area; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: The Government's response to the Public Accounts Committee report into the Thames Gateway outlined that the views of hon. Members representing constituencies in the Thames Gateway are being sought by the Department as to how this communication and dialogue can be improved and strengthened. The Department intends to meet with the Thames Gateway Parliamentary Group to discuss how the programme can most effectively engage hon. Members. We plan to continue to use this and other avenues to ensure that the Homes and Communities Agency builds on this work when it takes over responsibility for the Thames Gateway.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what gap funding payments by her Department to registered social landlords to support large scale voluntary transfers were made in respect of each local authority area in (a) 2004-05, (b) 2005-06 and (c) 2006-07; and how much is estimated to be paid in respect of each such area in 2007-08. 
Mr. Iain Wright: £182 million has been made available over the period of the 2004 Spending Review, up to 2007-08, for gap funding payments to registered social landlords taking negatively valued housing stock from local authorities under large scale voluntary transfer arrangements. These grant payment arrangements enable sufficient private finance to be levered in to enable full Decent Homes investment programmes to be undertaken by RSLs after transfer. We have currently entered into 28 gap funding arrangements with RSLs. Payments to those RSLs under these arrangements are made from the Department's Capital DEL budget.
Details of the gap funding grant payments to date and current 2007-08 forecasts by local authority area are in the following table. The table does not include possible grant payments in the current year in respect of gap funding arrangements with RSLs that have yet to be finalised.
We estimate that about £2 billion of private finance is likely to be levered in to support Decent Homes investment programmes by RSLs taking housing stock, where gap funding arrangements are in place.
|Local authority area||Gap funding ceiling||Grant payments made to RSLs||Current estimate of grant payments|
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 1 February 2008, Official Report, column 691-2W, on housing: planning, what record was taken of the views of hon. Members at the briefing held by Government Office North West in December 2001; whether a record of those views was passed to Ministers; what steps have been taken to ensure that the views of hon. Members were accurately recorded; and if she will place a copy of the record in the Library. 
[holding answer 18 February 2008]: The briefing held by Government Office North West in December 2007 was an informal briefing to provide hon. Members with an overview of Housing Growth Point Expressions of Interest, which had been submitted in the North West, and as such no formal
record of the meeting was taken. The Government Office North West did note the key issues raised by hon. Members and wrote to all relevant local authority chief executives outlining these. This letter also invited them to engage with, and consult, hon. Members, if they had not already done so. Any specific issues which hon. Members raised relating to individual local authorities were included in letters to relevant chief executives by Government Office North West.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she, other Ministers in her Department, and her officials have had with representatives of (a) the Welsh Assembly Government and (b) the Sustainability Committee of the Welsh Assembly on the creation of a new Infrastructure Planning Commission and minimisation of the number of non-departmental public bodies. 
John Healey: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of Sate and I have both had discussions about the creation of a new Infrastructure Planning Commission with the Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing in the Welsh Assembly Government. I have not had discussions with representatives of the Sustainability Committee of the Welsh Assembly but I have received a copy of their report on the Planning Bill.
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