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Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State will reply to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire, dated 18 January (Reference: 187220). 
I am responsible for e-voting and have the policy responsibility for e-participation at central Government level. Policy for e-democracy and e-participation at the local level is the responsibility of the Department for Communities and Local Government
(CLG). The lead Minister is Parmjit Dhanda and Baroness Andrews has responsibility for digital inclusion.
Mr. Hanson: The ECL scheme was announced on 19 June 2007 and came into effect on 29 June 2007. Prisoners serving between four weeks and four years are released under temporary licence for the final 18 days of their sentence subject to meeting strict eligibility criteria and providing a release address. All prisoners released on ECL are liable to recall if they are reported to have misbehaved during the period of the licence.
Mr. Paul Murphy: Six members of Wales Office staff have laptops and related equipment which enables them to work from home. Some use this on an ad hoc basis, while others have a more regular working from home arrangement.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the cost of the press offices of (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies was in each year from 1996-97; what the cost was in each quarter since 1 April 2007; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many press office staff were employed by (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies (i) in each year since 1996-97 and (ii) at the latest date for which information is available. 
Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she intends to commence the provisions of the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002; and if she will make a statement. 
The first phase of leasehold reforms came into effect on 26 July 2002, with the second phase coming into effect in two parts on 30 September and 31 October
2003. These measures included: a relaxation of the qualifying rules to make it easier to buy the freehold or a new lease; a new no fault Right to Manage provisions for leaseholders of flats to take over management of their block where they do not wish to or cannot afford to buy the freehold; and new procedures for consultation on service charges.
A further commencement order brought into effect the provisions in Part 1 of the Act relating to Commonhold, on 27 September 2004. Commonhold is a new form of tenure for blocks of flats and other multi-unit properties, under which occupiers would own their units outright, and through a commonhold association own and mange the common parts collectively.
Another phase of the leasehold reforms was brought into effect on 28 February 2005. This provides leaseholders with better protection against forfeiture, and requires landlords to send a written demand for ground rent before it become payable. Leaseholders of houses can also now choose their own buildings insurance.
The most recent phase of leasehold reforms was brought into effect on 1 October 2007. These introduced a requirement for landlords to send a summary of a tenant's rights and obligations including information set out in Regulations, when demanding service charges. A requirement was also imposed upon landlords sending demands for administration charges to serve a notice containing prescribed information about tenants rights and obligations in relation to such charges.
The remaining provisions of the Act deal with accounting for service charge monies and provide for collective enfranchisement to be exercised through an RTE company. The accounting provisions require landlords to keep service charge monies for each group of service charge payers in separate (designated) accounts; and require landlords to provide a regular statement of account together with other relevant information.
A consultation paper dealing with the accounting provisions was published in July 2007, with a summary of the responses received published in January this year. The summary of responses set out our intentions to proceed with proposals to amend the provisions of the 2002 Act in order to ensure leaseholders are provided with appropriate information and protections without incurring a disproportionate cost. Work is ongoing on the detail of the provisions and amendments to the legislation will be made at the earliest opportunity.
In relation to the RTE company provisions, there are a number of legal and practical difficulties which still need to be resolved and work is continuing in order to determine a way forward. Therefore no timetable has yet been set to bring these provisions into force.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when her Department plans to issue revised guidance to local authorities about the strategic housing role and the preparation of housing strategies mentioned in the Government's Response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Local Government Association plan to publish the results of their review of social housing allocation, as mentioned in the Government's response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion. 
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when her Department plans to publish the results of the policy review of the private rented sector mentioned in the Government's Response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: It is anticipated that the review of the private rented sector undertaken by Julie Rugg and David Rhodes of the Centre for Housing Policy, University of York, will be published in October 2008.
Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of above-inflation council tax rises since 1997 on the income of pensioners in those areas with such rises. 
John Healey: Keeping council tax under control is in the interests of all taxpayers and remains a priority for the Government. We will not hesitate to use our capping powers as necessary to protect taxpayers from excessive increases.
As Sir Michael Lyons recognised in his report on local government last year, council tax benefit is the key to tackling the perceived unfairness of council tax towards all those on low incomes. The Government are working hard to improve take up and have done a great deal to improve pensioner incomes, spending around £11 billion more on pensioners in 2007-08 than if 1997 policies had continued.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions she has had with local authorities on the premium charged to people who pay their council tax through post offices; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey: I have regular discussions with local authorities on a wide range of issues. The collection of council tax is a matter for individual local authorities which may, if they choose, make arrangements to allow residents in their area to pay their council tax bills over the post office counter.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether domestic properties with a Class U council tax exemption will be liable to pay the new charges for the collection of household rubbish. 
The exact details of how a scheme might operate would be up to the local authorities running pilots to decide. However, the Government have stressed in their overarching framework that pilot authorities must take account of the needs of potentially disadvantaged groups in devising and running such a scheme. We would expect this group to fall under the definition of a potentially disadvantaged group. Therefore, it may well be that authorities decide to exempt it from the scheme, on the basis that people belonging to it cannot be expected to separate their waste for recycling.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what advice she gives to (a) councils and (b) householders in respect of householders wishing to dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals. 
DEFRAs website includes advice specifically for householders wanting to dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals. Normally only small quantities will be unwanted and we advise that they should be returned to the pharmacy for disposal. However, this may not be practicable where householders need to dispose of larger quantities. Where it is not possible to return pharmaceuticals to the pharmacy, we advise householders to ask their local authority (LA) to collect them. LAs are obliged to collect clinical waste from householders on request, but may make a charge for doing so.
Where LAs are asked to collect pharmaceuticals from householders, they can draw on comprehensive guidance produced by the Department of Health on health care waste for all those involved in its management. The guidance, entitled Health Technical Memorandum 07-01: Safe management of healthcare waste, was published by the Department of Health in 2006 and includes advice on the management of waste pharmaceuticals, including appropriate waste receptacles and disposal routes.
Caroline Flint: In the eco-towns prospectus we said that eco-towns must be freestanding settlements, separate and distinct from existing towns and cities, but well linked to them by high quality public transport.
Caroline Flint: As set out in the eco-towns Prospectus we have said that eco-towns should provide for a good range of facilities within the towna secondary school, a medium scale retail centre, good quality business space and leisure facilities. However, they are not expected to be entirely self-sufficient, and will be closely linked to larger towns and cities that provide for a wider range of needs.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps will be taken to ensure that eco-towns are designed to conserve water and other natural resources. 
Caroline Flint: One of the seven key criteria we set out in the eco-towns prospectus covered environmental issues and this includes ensuring that the development incorporates high standards of water efficiency, particularly in areas of the country defined as severely water stressed, and incorporates environmentally sustainable approaches. We have also asked the Town and Country Planning Association to produce worksheets on the practical application of the criteria and this includes the water cycle and green infrastructure.
Caroline Flint: As set out in the eco-towns prospectus we have said that there must be a commitment to high standards of environmental sustainability; this will include taking into consideration how the eco-town will affect the existing landscape. All shortlisted eco-towns will be subject to sustainability appraisal and landscape appraisal will be one of the many issues against which eco-towns will be considered.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how eco-towns will be required to demonstrate that the proposed settlement is the most sustainable option for housing and growth. 
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