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Regional Planning and Development: Standards

Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has produced on the (a) minimum and (b) maximum length of the consultation period for each stage of regional spatial strategies. [201878]

Mr. Iain Wright: Two rounds of public consultation take place during the revision of a regional spatial strategy (RSS):

Government guidance does not set a maximum period for public consultation at the Draft RSS or at the Secretary of State's proposed changes stage.

Regional Planning and Development: Thames Gateway

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the proposed development in the Thames Gateway area entails building on green belt land. [194998]

Caroline Flint: There are no proposals in the East of England or South East Regional Spatial Strategies for amending Green Belt boundaries in the Thames Gateway area. Any planning applications for development on Green Belt land must satisfy the national planning policies on Green Belts set out in
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Planning Policy Guidance note 2. Under this policy, strict planning controls in Green Belt land are in place and there remains a general presumption against inappropriate development within Green Belts. As we reaffirmed in last year’s Planning White Paper, the Government have no intention of making fundamental changes to this policy.

I would also point out that one of the reasons land may be included in the Green Belt is to assist in the urban regeneration of urban land, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other land. The opportunities for urban regeneration in the Thames Gateway are recognised in the Government’s investment programme for the area.

Small Businesses: Tax Allowances

Alan Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what estimate she has made of the number of businesses eligible for small business rate relief in each financial year since April 2005; and how many of these claimed the relief in each year; [201472]

(2) how much was claimed in small business rate relief by (a) small businesses and (b) post offices in each financial year since April 2005; [201473]

(3) how many post offices claimed small business rate relief in each financial year since April 2005; and what the value of relief claimed by each post office branch was in each year. [201474]

John Healey: Local authorities reported there were 392,000 businesses in England in receipt of small business rate relief as at 31 December 2006, the only year for which this information is currently available. Information on the number of businesses who are eligible for small business rate relief is not available.

Details of the total relief granted since 2005-06 are given, in millions, in the following table:

£ million

2005-06

202

2006-07

237

2007-08

235


Data for 2005-06 and 2006-07 are outturn figures while the figure for 2007-08 is a forecast.

It is not possible to say how many post offices claim small business rate relief or the value of the relief granted as we do not collect data on the type of business claiming small business rate relief or the value.

Stamp Duty: Tax Allowances

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 19 March 2008, Official Report, column 1223W, on stamp duties: tax allowances, how many transactions claimed stamp duty tax relief for new zero carbon homes in March 2008. [202517]

Angela Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

Of those transactions for which a stamp duty land tax certificate was issued in March 2008, one transaction claimed the stamp duty land tax relief for new zero-carbon homes.


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The tax relief will help kick-start the market for new highly efficient technologies in homes, both for the fabric of the building and in the use of microgeneration, and sets a gold standard for green homes.

We expect the numbers of qualifying transactions to rise as more properties eligible to claim the relief go on the market. For example, in December 2007 the Government announced details of 200 new homes to be built to a zero-carbon standard in Hanham Hall, near Bristol. The media release can be found at:

The Government are committed to conducting an interim review of the relief in 2010 which will examine the effectiveness of the relief in stimulating the innovation necessary to ensure that all new homes are built to a zero-carbon standard from 2016.

Valuation Tribunal Service: Non-Domestic Rates

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the Valuation Tribunal Service’s business rates manual. [202584]

John Healey: The Valuation Tribunal Service does not have a Business Rates Manual.

International Development

Bangladesh: Climate Change

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assistance his Department has offered to Bangladesh to (a) promote the development of greener technologies, (b) counter the impact of climate change and (c) prevent flooding. [199156]

Mr. Malik: We are helping the Government of Bangladesh to develop its national climate change strategy and action plan and we provide support to the comprehensive disaster management programme, which includes disaster preparedness and climate change adaptation. On flood adaptation, we support a 50 million programme which assists poor people to cope with severe floods by raising homesteads. In response to the direct needs from last year's floods and cyclone, we have provided £15 million as disaster relief and early recovery activities to Bangladesh.

We have recently committed £30 million to climate change adaptation. The programme will protect around £10 million poor and vulnerable people against climate change related disasters such as flood, drought, tidal surges and cyclones. The climate change programme will facilitate access for Bangladesh to major global funds, such as the environmental transformation fund and the multi-billion-dollar global environmental facility. These funds support low-carbon development initiatives through adaptation of greener technologies.

Bangladesh: Energy

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment his Department has made of the potential for greener energy generation in Bangladesh. [199157]


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Mr. Malik: The Department for International Development (DFID) has not carried out any overall assessment in Bangladesh of the potential for greener energy generation.

However, the Government of Bangladesh, through support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has made assessments on solar, wind, biogas and micro-hydro potentials.

The World Bank has also carried out assessments on renewable energy and currently supports solar panels in several thousand villages through Grameen Bank's "Shakti" branch. Germany, Japan and France are also funding various renewable energy and technology transfer projects in Bangladesh.

Burma: Ethnic Groups

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps he is taking to (a) provide humanitarian assistance to internally-displaced people and (b) alleviate the humanitarian situation in Karenni state. [200344]

Mr. Malik: The Department for International Development (DFID) funds humanitarian assistance to people in Karenni state through:

DFID funding for TBBC is also used to provide assistance for people from Karenni state who are living as refugees in Thailand.

Departmental Pensions

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what his most recent estimate is of the unfunded liability in present value terms of each public sector pension scheme for which his Department is responsible; and on what assumptions for (a) discount and (b) longevity the estimate is based. [200706]

Gillian Merron: Staff employed by the Department for International Development (DFID) are members of one of the five principal civil service pensions schemes and as such DFID cannot identify its share of the underlying assets and liabilities of these schemes.

Information on unfunded liabilities can be found in the resource accounts of the Cabinet Office: Civil Superannuation:

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the unfunded liability in present value terms was of each public sector pension scheme for which his Department is responsible in each year since 1990-91. [200707]


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Gillian Merron: Information on unfunded liabilities in present value terms of the Civil Service pensions schemes can be found in the resource accounts of the Cabinet Office: Civil Superannuation at

This information is only available since 2000-01 and has been produced under differing sets of assumptions (e.g. on longevity) since 1990 and as such is not comparable during the period in question.

Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the effect on his Department's expenditure would be from increasing the employee contribution to each pension scheme for which his Department is responsible by one per cent.; and if he will make a statement. [200709]

Gillian Merron: Staff employed by the Department for International Development (DFID) are members of one of the five principal civil service pension schemes. Only the Partnership scheme offers the possibility of DFID increasing its expenditure as a result of an increase in employee contributions. In the Partnership scheme DFID matches member contributions up to 3 per cent. of pensionable earnings. Currently 25 DFID staff are members of the Partnership scheme and have varying contribution levels. A 1 per cent. increase will have a very minimal increase to DFID's overall expenditure.

Departmental Public Opinion

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) surveys, (b) questionnaires and (c) other services were provided by polling companies for his Department in financial year 2007-08, broken down by company. [200009]

Gillian Merron: The various services provided by polling companies in financial year 2007-08 were as follows:


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Company Piece of work Date

Solutions Strategy Research

Qualitative research into ethical shopping

April to June 2007

Taylor Nelson Sofres RSGB

Questions on omnibus survey to provide interim measure on concern about global poverty among UK adults

June 2007

Taylor Nelson Sofres

Annual attitudinal tracking survey into public perceptions of global poverty

July 2007

ICM

Quantitative research to measure UK adults’ interest in shopping ethically.

November 2007

Creative Research

Qualitative stage of audience segmentation research

January to February 2008

Taylor Nelson Sofres RSGB

Quantitative research (questions on omnibus survey) to measure UK adults interest in shopping ethically for Valentines Day

February 2008

Ipsos MORI

Quantitative stage of audience segmentation research

March to May 2008

GfK NOP

Annual survey of young people's attitudes towards global poverty and development issues

March to June 2008


Developing Countries: HIV Infection

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development whether his Department plans to ask other countries to increase funding to combat HIV/AIDS in developing countries. [201943]

Gillian Merron: The UK Government are pushing G8 colleagues to ensure that fulfilling and implementing previous summit commitments is a priority at the G8 Leaders' Summit in July this year. In 2007, the G8 committed to scale up their efforts to achieve Universal Access to comprehensive HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, including providing with other donors a projected $60 billion over the coming years. The UK will be pressing G8 and other colleagues to contribute their share towards the goal of Universal Access.

The UK Government announced an unprecedented long-term commitment of £1 billion for the Global Fund for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (GFATM) to 2015 at the GFATM replenishment conference in September 2007 and encouraged other governments and agencies to consider committing long-term, predictable financing. At this conference, international donors pledged a total of around $6.3 billion for the three-year period to 2010. The Global Fund Secretariat estimates that a further $3.4 billion has been pledged since then, making a total of $9.7 billion.

Diplomatic Service

Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development in which countries the head of his Department's field office acts as the senior UK representative for diplomatic purposes. [200904]

Gillian Merron: None of the Department for International Development's (DFID) heads of overseas offices act as the senior UK representative for diplomatic purposes in their respective countries.


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