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John McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many incidents involving flooding the Fire and Rescue Service attended in each year since 2000; and how many people the Fire and Rescue Service rescued from flooding in each such year. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will provide resources to local authorities to assess the flood risk for those properties built in high flood risk areas; and if she will make a statement. 
The Environment Agency undertakes risk assessments of river and coastal flooding at a variety of scales, and routinely shares these with local authorities. Under Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25), local planning authorities should prepare Strategic Flood Risk Assessments, primarily to inform land use planning and the location of new developments. In many cases, these assessments will provide information on the risk of flooding for areas in which there are existing properties.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she plans to review existing flood defences in respect of (a) homes in high flood risk areas and (b) homes planned for construction in high flood risk areas; and if she will make a statement. 
The Environment Agency is responsible for the maintenance of the majority of flood defences in England. The Agency plans and carries out an annual programme of maintenance which is geared to allowing assets to perform as designed and is focused on those assets that contribute most to reduction in flood risk.
The Environment Agency has classified which assets and activities contribute most to flood risk reduction, particularly around the number of properties protected, and use this to target investment. It takes into account the current actual condition of assets through a programme of visual inspection and channel condition and also known seasonal changes such as reed and other vegetation growth. The Agency uses this information to establish the required work and its relative priority. Funding is allocated on this basis, thereby ensuring the best possible condition of assets is provided with the funding available.
Where planning applications are submitted for new homes in areas of flood risk these must be considered in line with policy set out in Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS35) on development and flood risk, published in December 2006. PPS25 seeks to direct development away from areas of highest risk and ensure that all developments are safe and do not increased flood risk elsewhere.
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers will be available to her under the provisions of the Housing and Regeneration Bill (a) to compel housing associations to carry out Government policy mandated
to housing via a new regulator and (b) to impose regulations on community services provided by housing associations; and whether she plans under any circumstances to reclassify housing associations as public bodies. 
Under the Bill the Secretary of State's powers to direct the regulator will be limited to the regulator's role in setting standards in relation to social housing. (At present the Secretary of State can direct the Housing Corporation in relation to any of its functions including, for example, enforcement action.) It is our intention that Ministers should only use these powers to give strategic direction on key issues of direct interest to governmentincluding levels of rent, the physical quality of accommodation, and landlords' engagement with tenants. I am planning to table amendments to the Bill which make these intentions clearer. The Bill as amended will not, therefore, allow the Secretary of State to impose standards in other areas.
In addition, the regulator's powers to set standards, and to take enforcement action against providers who fail to meet standards, are bound by the regulator's fundamental objectives. In particular Objective 10 requires the regulator to
regulate in a manner which minimises interference, and is proportionate, consistent, transparent and accountable.
The classification of bodies as public or private sector is a matter for the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 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 associations.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which local authorities reported efficiency savings from street light management in (a) backward-look and (b) forward-look efficiency statements made to her Department in each year since the statements' inception. 
Mr. Dhanda: Local authorities report their efficiency gains to the Department for Communities and Local Government through annual efficiency statements, which are published on the Department's website at:
Councils that referenced street lighting in their efficiency statements may have made these gains from improvements to any aspect of their street lighting service, and not simply through more efficient management of street lighting.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she has issued to local authorities on efficiency savings to be achieved from the management of street lighting. 
Mr. Dhanda: We have issued no specific guidance on measuring efficiency from management of street lighting. General guidance to councils on the completion of annual efficiency statements is available at:
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her timetable is for the production of guidance on the scrutiny of local area agreements; and what the reasons are for the time taken. 
John Healey: Building on earlier discussions with stakeholders, our priority is to establish the new local area agreements and our current timetable for guidance on overview and scrutiny, including guidance on the scrutiny of local area agreements, is to consult on draft guidance before the summer.
Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for Wycombe of 6 February 2008 about the Medical Middle Way roadshow and Kemal Helbawy. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government from what budget the fine levied on the UK by the European Commission for irregularities in the auditing of European Regional Development Fund Objective 2 and 3 monies in the north-west of England will be paid; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey [holding answer 17 March 2008]: The financial correction levied by the European Commission in respect of the Objective 2 and Urban II programmes in the north-west of England will be deducted from the amounts claimed from the EC. Appreciation of the value of the Euro during the period of suspended payments means that the original value of the claim will be more than covered by the ERDF payments made by the Commission. The Objective 3 programme in the north-west was not included in any audit inquiries.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many press, marketing, media and communications staff are employed by the (a) Standards Board for England and (b) the Adjudication Panel for England. 
John Healey: The Standards Board's communications unit comprises nine staff employed for all or part of their time on such activities. The Adjudication Panel does not employ dedicated staff on these matters.
Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if she will assess (a) the procedures adopted by London Midland to acknowledge and respond to correspondence from (i) hon. Members and (ii) members of the public and (b) the steps being taken by the company to make it easier for telephone calls to be made to its offices. 
Mr. Tom Harris: The chapter entitled Answering your enquiries on page 25 of London Midlands Passengers Charter, outlines how the company can be contacted by post, telephone, fax and e-mail. London Midland report their performance against these criteria every four weeks to both the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) and the Department for Transport.
Copies of the Passengers Charter can be obtained from the ticket offices at London Midlands staffed stations or at other selected stations served by their trains. The document can also be downloaded from London Midlands website at:
Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate she has made of the percentage of passengers departing from airports in Scotland flying to the United States who flew (a) directly, (b) via another UK airport and (c) via another airport in Europe in the latest period for which figures are available. 
|Passengers from airports in Scotland (Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Prestwick), 2005|
Civil Aviation Authority.
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Departments published guidance sets out the available times for statutory concessionary bus travel which are defined in the Transport Act 2000. The statutory minimum concession is available from 9.30 am to 11 pm Monday to Friday and at all times at weekends and on bank holidays. Local authorities retain the flexibility to offer concessionary travel beyond the statutory times, taking account of local circumstances, at their own expense.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the answer of 6 March 2008, Official Report, column 2753W, on concessions: mentally ill, what the evidential basis is for determining which groups of disabled people should be entitled to concessionary bus fares. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Transport Act 2000 (or for those resident in London, the Greater London Authority Act 1999) set out the eligibility criteria for statutory concessionary bus travel, covering any person who is blind or partially sighted; is profoundly or severely deaf; is without speech; has a disability, or has suffered an injury, which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his or her ability to walk; does not have arms or has long-term loss of the use of both arms; has a learning disability that is a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning; or would, if he or she applied for a grant of a licence to drive a motor vehicle under Part III of the Road Traffic Act 1988, have his or her application refused pursuant to section 92 of the Act (physical fitness) otherwise than on the ground of persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol.
The Secretary of State issued guidance to local authorities which sets out the statutory minimum requirement which they must observe to satisfy the law, and to which they must have regard in reaching a decision on eligibility.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what public funding has been allocated to
the Fastrack bus transport system operating in Dartford and Gravesham to date. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: So far a total of £40.6 million has been allocated from public funds to stage 1 of the Fastrack project, covering the period from its commencement in 2003-04 to the scheduled completion date in 2010-11. This includes £28.4 million from the Department for Transport.
Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many drivers of public buses were fined for breaking the speed limit when driving a bus in each of the last five years; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Holloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how much pre-payment income was received from (a) light or medium goods vehicle category and (b) heavy goods vehicle or special type vehicle DART tag holders at the Dartford River Crossing in each of the last 12 months; and how many crossings were made by such customers in the last 12 months; 
(2) how much pre-payment income was received from motor car category DART tag holders at the Dartford River Crossing in each of the last 12 months; and how many crossings were made by such customers in the last 12 months. 
|Vehicle class||Number of crossings in last 12 months||Revenue in last 12 months (£)|
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