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Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether legal guidance has been given to (a) the Audit Commission and (b) local authorities on the request by the Audit Commission to certain local authorities to use their electoral register data as part of the national fraud initiative. 
John Healey: Government have not given legal guidance on this issue either to the Audit Commission or to local authorities. However, we are aware that the Audit Commission has circulated legal advice, which it has received, to the local authorities from whom data has been requested.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 25 February 2008, Official Report, column 1220W, on fire services: buildings, what estimate she has made of the number of staff required at any one time to provide a resilient 24-hour operation. 
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Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what changes the Housing and Regeneration Bill will make to the status of housing association debt for the purpose of the Exchequers balance sheet. 
Caroline Flint: The ONS have previously judged registered social landlords to be private non-financial corporations, taking into account the existing regulatory framework. HM Treasury advise that the additional regulatory measures being introduced though the Housing and Regeneration Bill are not relevant to the sector classification of registered social landlords. They will therefore have no effect on the status of housing association debt.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the Comprehensive Performance Assessment rating, including sub-categories, was of each local authority in each year such ratings have been awarded. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities cited efficiencies in (a) parking charges and (b) parking enforcement in their submissions of (i) forward and (ii) backward look annual efficiency statements to her Department in each year since their inception. 
John Healey: Local authorities report their efficiency gains to the Department for Communities and Local Government through annual efficiency statements, which are published on the Departments website at:
This makes clear that the introduction of a new charge or fine, or an increase in an existing charge or fine does not in itself constitute an efficiency and therefore should not be included in the annual efficiency statement.
Councils that referenced parking in their most recent efficiency statements may have made these gains from improvements to any aspect of their parking service, and not simply through more efficient management of parking charges or enforcement.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much her Department plans to spend on (a) the provision of new Gypsy and Traveller sites and (b) the refurbishment of existing Gypsy and Traveller sites in (i) 2007-08, (ii) 2008-09, (iii) 2009-10 and (iv) 2010-11. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government makes Gypsy and Traveller Sites Grant available for the provision of new sites and refurbishment of existing sites. In 2007-08, £18.4 million has been approved for new sites or the extension of existing sites, £11.8 million has been approved for the refurbishment of existing sites (which in some cases may bring pitches back into use) and £3.7 million has been approved for schemes which include both refurbishment and extension. £33 million will be available for the grant in 2008-09, and £32 million in both 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 5 February 2008, Official Report, column 964W, on 1 Carlton Gardens, whether an empty property council tax discount is being claimed for the property. 
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received from his counterparts in the EU on the operation of the Emissions Trading Scheme; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: I meet regularly with EU counterparts on a range of issues, including the EU Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), as do my Ministerial and policy colleagues. Currently the UK is working with EU partners, including the Commission, to review how the EU ETS can best deliver the necessary reductions in emissions beyond 2012. The UK view is that the review should be ambitious, delivering real emissions reductions (ie 20 per cent. or 30 per cent. as part of an international negotiation) by 2020, as agreed at the spring Council 2007, greater harmonisation and long-term certainty, and maximise its potential to stimulate investment in low-carbon technology. The Commissions proposal for a revised EU ETS from 2013 was discussed by EU Environment Ministers at the Environment Council on 3 March and will also be discussed by EU leaders at the spring European Council on 13-14 March.
The Government agree with Sir Nicholas Stern that a global price for carbon is essential if we are to achieve a low carbon economy. The EU ETS and other mandatory emissions trading schemes being developed around the world are crucial stepping stones towards this. It is a major pillar of both UK and EU climate change policy and is the primary market based mechanism in the fight against climate change. It is fundamental to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by keeping emissions within agreed limits while allowing emission reductions to be made at least cost through trading of allowances.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what costs his Department expects to incur associated with the use of the Leander yacht by HRH Prince of Wales during his official visit to the Caribbean in March; and if he will make a statement. 
Meg Munn [holding answer 7 March 2008]: The Department for Transport has overall responsibility for the funding of official travel for members of The Royal Family. This is administered by The Royal Travel Office in Her Majesty The Queen's Household.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many members of the Royal Household he expects to accompany the Prince of Wales during his visit to the Caribbean in March at the expense of the public purse. 
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effect of the US missile defence shield installations in Poland and the Czech Republic on relations between the European Union and Russia. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: This is not an EU proposal. It is a bilateral arrangement between the US and the states involved. There are regular discussions at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation-Russia Council on this matter.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the implications for the European security and defence policy of the EUs border on the Black Sea following the accession of Romania and Bulgaria. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The EU considers Black sea issues through the general policy framework provided by the Black Sea Synergy Initiative. This does not include implications of an EU border on the Black Sea for European Security and Defence Policy. The EU would consider defence aspects only in the context of specific developments in the region that might require a potential EU crisis management intervention, which would be planned and conducted through the European Security and Defence Policy.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effects on the people of Gibraltar of (a) the new constitution and (b) agreement over the airport. 
Mr. Jim Murphy [holding answer 5 March 2008]: Gibraltar's new constitution came into force in January 2007. This followed a decision by the people of Gibraltar to accept it in a referendum organised by the Government of Gibraltar in 2006. The new constitution provides for a modern and mature relationship between the UK and Gibraltar.
As my noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, the right hon. Lord Malloch-Brown, set out in his answer to the noble Lord, the right hon. Lord Luce, in another place on 21 November 2007, Official Report, columns WA79-80, the airport agreement has
allowed for more connections to and from Gibraltar airport and since December 2006 direct flights between Madrid and Gibraltar have become routine. Gibraltar is also now included in new EU aviation measures.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the (a) current and (b) future relationship between NATO and the EU. 
Mr. Jim Murphy: The EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) are key organisations that have both successfully delivered stability and security to the European region. The Government place a high priority on improving EU/NATO relations, since it is important that the two organisations work effectively together, and will continue to work with partners and allies to deliver more effective co-operation in both Brussels and in operations like Kosovo and Afghanistan. As my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary stated in his recent Bruges speech
We must [also] overcome the blockages to collaboration with NATO. We welcome the signs of increased willingness on the part of key partners to do so.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he plans to take in the week beginning 10 March to monitor the (a) treatment and (b) risk of torture of Mr. Simon Mann in Black Beach Prison Equatorial Guinea. 
Our consul from the British deputy high commission in Lagos travelled to Malabo and visited Mr. Mann in prison on 12 February. Our high commissioner in Abuja presented his credentials in Equatorial Guinea
on 6 March and followed up on Mr. Mann's situation. Consular officials aim to visit Mr. Mann again very soon, when they will discuss Mr Mann's welfare with the authorities in Equatorial Guinea.
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