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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what consultation the Government have had with local planning authorities before potential sites for eco-towns are announced by developers; what planning procedures apply to eco-towns; what criteria she will use to ensure the sites chosen do not adversely affect the environment; and whether there will be a presumption against building eco-towns on (a) functional floodplains and (b) the green belt. 
Caroline Flint: We are contacting local authorities in areas where schemes look to have good potential as part of an initial assessment of bids and expect to publish proposals shortly. We are aware that some developers have already publicised their bids and that is a decision for them.
In relation to ensuring the environment is not adversely affected I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) on 29 February 2006, Official Report, column 1991W. This will ensure that development on floodplains and the green belt are considered in the usual way as part of the planning process.
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authority social services departments have reported evidence of female circumcision among their ethnic minority communities; and what steps she has taken to tackle the practice of female circumcision in ethnic minority communities. 
Data on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) are not collected or held centrally by the Department of Health (DH), the Department responsible for adult services, or the department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), the Department responsible for childrens services.
DH has provided grant aid to the Foundation for Womens Health Research and Development (FORWARD) for work on the prevalence of FGM, which will help local authorities plan services for the communities affected by FGM.
DCSFs publication Working Together to Safeguard Children has been issued to local agencies including local authorities. This document includes guidance on the need to identify children at risk of FGM and take action to safeguard them.
To raise awareness of the risks of FGM, and to discourage its practice, DCSF is currently providing a specialist voluntary organisation (Agency for Culture Change Management) with more than £130,000 over three years in order to: raise the profile of the dangers of FGM to girls across black and minority ethnic communities; and provide training for professionals on protection from FGM and treating those already harmed.
Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education, which came into force in January 2007, also contains guidance about FGM and signposts further sources of information available on the DCSFs teachernet website.
FGM is recognised as a form of domestic abuse highlighted in Responding to domestic abuse: A handbook for health professionals, published by DH in January 2006.
There are at least 10 specialist clinics in the NHS which treat women and girls who have been mutilated. These clinics all have trained and culturally sensitive staff who offer a range of health care services for women and girls including reversal surgery.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the cost to the public purse of leasing regional FireControl Project centres prior to them becoming fully operational; and if she will make a statement. 
The rent and other accommodation costs (excluding business rates which have yet to be set) that will be met by Communities and Local Government
before the Regional Control Centre network is fully operational is estimated to be £20,019,391. During this period EADS, the technology supplier, will install the new FireControl technology in the buildings. The buildings will also be occupied by the regional project teams overseeing the work required to prepare for cut-over to the new system.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department plans to fund research into the potential for efficiencies from mergers of fire and rescue authorities; and if she will make a statement on her plans for further restructuring of fire authorities. 
The Government have no plans for compulsory restructuring of Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs). The Government have long recognised that there are some challenges both organisational and operational for which FRAs working in isolation do not have the capacity to provide the most efficient, effective and economical response. Their approach has therefore been to encourage better joint working and co-operation between FRAs on a voluntary basis including, where there are clear efficiency and effectiveness benefits to be gained, the combination of two or more FRAs.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) target and (b) actual number of fire brigade officers recruited in England and Wales was in each of the last five years. 
|Successful firefighter applicants: England and Wales 2001-02 to 2005-06|
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the capital budget for each of the Government Offices for the Regions is for (a) 2007-08, (b) 2008-09, (c) 2009-10 and (d) 2010-11. 
|GO||Capital budget (£)|
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the total cost of the home information pack area trials has been to date, broken down by main budget heading. 
Caroline Flint: I have agreed with the chief executive designate of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and the Mayor of London that we expect London boroughs to be actively involved through participation on the sub-committee of the HCA Board and involvement in the delivery of individual schemes on the ground, reflecting their key role in delivering housing in London.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 31 January 2008, Official Report, column 583W, on housing: low incomes, what the overall APRs would be in scenarios (b) and (c) of the answer, given the effect of interest being charged at three per cent. a year after the first five years on part two of the equity loan. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government expect to see increased delivery of housing supply, particularly in terms of affordable housing, to meet needs in all parts of the country. Delivery should be based on regional and local priorities with an assessment of the need for affordable housing after taking into account household growth projections and other socio-economic factors. In the next three years, for the purpose of setting targets, we have focussed on those smaller rural settlements where delivery is the most challenging. Our new national target commits the Housing Corporation to deliver 10,300 completed affordable housing units in settlements of less than 3,000 inhabitants over the period 2008-11.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authorities she expects to have produced information packs for newcomers to the UK by the end of (a) 2008 and (b) 2009; what guidance her Department plans to provide to local authorities on the information to be included in such packs; and what steps her Department plans to take to encourage production of such packs. 
Mr. Dhanda: Communities and Local Government has worked with the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) to produce a Migrant Information Pack template which was published on the IDeA website on 4 February. Local authorities have been encouraged to use this new resource however are not obliged to do so. At the same time we published, on the Communities website, a note which explains the purpose of the template and encourages local authorities to produce information packs.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 7 February 2008, Official Report, column 1297W, on local authorities: reorganisation, whether her Department will direct the Boundary Committee to take account of (a) the views of local residents and (b) local identities when deciding whether to restructure local authority areas across (i) traditional and (ii) existing shire and county boundaries. 
The Secretary of State has no such power of direction. I announced on 6 February 2008, Official Report, column 67WS that we have requested the Boundary Committee to advise on whether there are any alternative unitary proposals for Exeter, Ipswich and Norwich and surrounding areas that would deliver the outcomes specified by the five criteria
specified in our request. The Boundary Committee is required to consult on any alternative proposals that it identifies.
Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government has taken to improve fire safety in multi-occupancy housing areas with large migrant worker populations. 
Caroline Flint: As part of the Fire Kills campaign we have run a series of fire safety advertisements in some of the main Polish newspapers in England to promote smoke alarm ownership and maintenance messages. The Government have also implemented management regulations that apply to all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The management regulations impose a variety of duties on landlords of such properties, including requirements to keep means of escape from fire free from obstruction and in repair and to maintain fire fighting equipment and alarms. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, responsible persons are required to carry out and implement a fire risk assessment for the commons and shared parts of an HMO. The Government have also introduced mandatory HMO licensing of properties of three or more storeys, housing five or more persons who form two or more households. Landlords of licensable HMOs are required to install smoke alarms and to keep them in proper working order. Landlords who fail to comply with either the management regulations or licence conditions are subject to a fine of £5,000.
Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government has taken to improve waste disposal services in multi-occupancy housing areas with large migrant worker populations. 
Caroline Flint: The Government have implemented management regulations that apply to all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The management regulations impose a variety of duties on the managers of such properties, including the duty to provide waste disposal facilities and ensure arrangements are in place for the disposal of refuse and litter from the property using the waste disposal services provided by the local authority. A breach of a management regulation is subject to a fine of £5,000.
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