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26 Feb 2008 : Column 1406W—continued

Sub-national Review

13. Gwyn Prosser: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to implement the proposals in the issues paper, “Taking Forward the Review of Sub-national Economic Development and Regeneration”. [188696]

John Healey: We intend to publish a consultation paper shortly on implementation of the new single regional strategy, the creation of a local authority economic assessment duty and possible statutory arrangements for sub-regional collaboration between local authorities.

Eco-towns

14. Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what contribution eco-towns are expected to make to the supply of housing, with particular reference to affordable homes. [188697]


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Caroline Flint: Eco-towns offer an exciting opportunity to provide desperately needed new homes for families and first time buyers, in a way that is consistent with our climate change objections. Eco-towns must have at least 30 per cent. affordable housing, but I am keen to see if we can achieve even more with some developments pushing towards 50 per cent.

18. Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to announce the location of the proposed eco-towns. [188701]

Caroline Flint: We have received almost 60 bids for EcoTowns across the country. We have been rigorously assessing these bids, particularly against tough criteria on environmental and transport standards. I will soon be publishing a shortlist of proposals. There will then be a full public consultation.

23. Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made on establishing the new eco-towns. [188706]

Caroline Flint: We have received almost 60 expressions of interest and are now carrying out an initial sift across Government and their agencies. This will give a preliminary indication of the sustainability and infrastructure aspects 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 good potential and we will then publish a shortlist for consultation. We expect to publish this shortlist in the near future for extensive consultation with the public, wider stakeholders and local authorities.

Concessionary Bus Fares

15. Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Transport on the cost to local authorities of concessionary bus fares. [188698]

Hazel Blears: My Department keeps in regular contact with the Department for Transport at ministerial and official level on the issue of the funding of local authorities’ statutory responsibilities for concessionary fares.

16. Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with Chelmsford borough council on its concessionary bus fares scheme. [188699]

John Healey: I have had no discussions with Chelmsford borough council on the issue of its concessionary fares scheme.

Sharia

17. Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the implications of Sharia law practices for community cohesion. [188700]


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20. Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the implications of Sharia law practices for community cohesion. [188703]

Mr. Dhanda: Community cohesion is about building better relationships between people from different backgrounds including those from new and settled communities. The use of religious courts, such as Sharia councils, to resolve private family and contractual disputes is well established, and we do not consider that it has an impact on community cohesion. Sharia law has no jurisdiction in England and Wales. There is no intention to change this.

Heritage Trees

Alun Michael: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she plans to take to protect heritage trees. [188702]

Mr. Dhanda: Heritage trees are already protected through a range of statutory and non-statutory mechanisms.

Proposed changes to the Tree Preservation Order system will deliver more effective protection. We intend to introduce new regulations which will limit the exemptions allowing work to protected trees without consent, and we will update departmental guidance to clarify the powers already available to local planning authorities to protect heritage trees.

Social Home Buy Scheme

22. Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many completed housing transactions there have been under the social home buy scheme. [188705]

Mr. Iain Wright: There were 156 completed Social HomeBuy sales up to January 2007, mainly by 13 of the early pilot Housing Associations most of whom joined in late 2006. Since 1997 the Government have helped over 95,000 households (including social tenants, key workers and other first time buyers) get onto the housing ladder.

Adult Education: Elderly

Dan Rogerson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authorities in England provide concessionary rates for adult education to those over 60 years of age. [187255]

Mr. Dhanda: The Department for Communities and Local Government does not collect data on how many local authorities in England provide concessionary rates for adult education to those over 60 years of age.

Caravan Sites: Licensing

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it a requirement for a licensee of a mobile home site to be a fit and proper person. [189211]


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Mr. Iain Wright: We are continuing to develop our policy on how to secure a more effective and robust licensing scheme for mobile home sites which takes account of management standards and the suitability of a person to hold a licence. I am examining the specific matter mentioned in the question.

Community Centres: Valuation

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley of 4 February 2008, Official Report, columns 839-40W, on community centres: valuation, within which larger categories village halls and community centres fall into for the purposes of the rating lists. [189410]

John Healey: The larger category is "Hall and premises".

Community Development: Expenditure

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much was spent on (a) Housing Supply and Demand, (b) Decent Places to Live, (c) Tackling Disadvantage, (d) Better Services and (e) Development of English Regions initiatives in 2006-07. [187331]

Mr. Dhanda: The following table sets out the amount that the Department spent on (a) Housing Supply and Demand, (b) Decent Places to Live, (c) Tackling Disadvantage, (d) Better Services and (e) Development of English Regions in 2006-07.

Programme £000

Housing Supply and Demand

3,353,840

Decent Places to Live

1,292,808

Tackling Disadvantage

2,334,622

Better Services

266,613

Development of English Regions

1,595,411


These figures are consistent with Note 2 on page 36 of the published Communities and Local Government Resource Accounts 2006-07 (HC 836, July 2007).


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Council Tax Benefits

Mr. Neil Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the production of a form for automatic claims of council tax and housing benefits. [188684]

Hazel Blears: I have frequent discussions with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions about a range of issues. I very much welcome the efforts of his Department to make these benefits more accessible: simplifying the claims process for pensioners is part of this drive.

Departmental Official Residences

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many ministerial residences were available to her Department's Ministers in each of the last 10 years. [183185]

Mr. Dhanda: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich, East (Mr. Watson) on 19 February 2008, Official Report, column 688W.

Departmental Property

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what property was lost or stolen from her Department and its predecessors since 1997; and what the cost of replacement was. [187474]

Mr. Dhanda: The following table contains information about items valued at £100 or more and reported as stolen or lost for the years detailed. Information for years before 2002-03 is not held. Information on items stolen or lost and valued at less than £100 is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


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26 Feb 2008 : Column 1412W
Stolen Lost
Item Total value (£) Item Total value (£)

2002-03

Two laptops

600

2003-04

Two laptops

600

One mobile phone

200

2004-05

Two laptops

500

2005-06

Seven laptops

2,100

One mac600 mobile light

800

Two mac250+ mobile lights

980

One official black leather briefcase

100

One desktop PC and monitor

350

2006-07

Seven laptops

2,100

Four desktop PCs

2,700

One iPAQ projector

800

One mobile phone

200

One PC base unit

400

2007-08

Eight laptops

5,600

Two mobile phones

200


This answer does not include property owned by the Government Offices, who carry out functions on behalf of 10 Government Departments, but does include CLG Agencies.

None of the information contained in the laptops or PCs above was classified. However, each laptop and desktop PC was password protected.


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