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Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what is the estimated difference, in cash terms, between the build cost of a family home meeting level 6 on the Code for Sustainable Homes and that of one meeting the minimum requirement under building regulations. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The cost analysis carried out on the Code for Sustainable Homes by Cyril Sweett in November 2007 examined a variety of different housing and development types. Information from this analysis formed part of a full cost-benefit analysis on implementing mandatory ratings against the code that was included in the impact assessment of the Housing and Regeneration Bill. The analysis contains estimated additional build costs for 2008 and for 2016 to take into account of factors such as improvements within industrial processes and technological developments. I have placed a copy of this analysis in the Library of the House.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in what circumstances a local authority (a) could and (b) should award an additional pension under the new Local Government Pension Scheme provisions. 
An additional pension is awarded automatically to eligible members of the Local Government Pension Scheme on grounds of ill health. The actual amount is dependent on an eligible members capacity to undertake future employment. In other instances, a pension can be enhanced either by the awarding of an extra period of membership or by payment of a fixed
amount up to a maximum of £5,000 per year. The actual amount paid is at the discretion of the employing authority and must be in line with its published policy statement, supported by a business case to demonstrate the reasonableness of the decision.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 16 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1798-99W, on Local Government: Pensions, what assessment she has made of the reasons for the increase in the cost of the Local Government Pension Scheme to local authorities between 1996-97 and 2006-07. 
John Healey: Every three years the regulations governing the Local Government Pension Scheme in England and Wales require each local authority pension fund to conduct an actuarial valuation exercise to establish the rate at which employers will need to contribute to their fund to ensure its ongoing solvency.
Over the period identified, the single most important influence on employer contributions has been the increase in scheme membership. In 1997, membership of the LGPS totalled 2.3 million, including active, pensioner and deferred members. By 2007, this had increased to 3.6 million. Other important factors identified as part of each actuarial valuation exercise which will also influence the level of employer contributions to the scheme include assumptions about improving longevity, pay and pay progression, price inflation, the incidence of ill-health early retirements, commutation of pensions, investment returns and prevailing economic circumstances generally.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 16 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1798-99W, on Local Government: Pensions, what the estimated (a) total cost and (b) total cost excluding non-local authority employer costs are for (i) 2007-08 and (ii) 2008-09. 
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will estimate the revenue which would accrue from a 2p business rate supplement on businesses with a rateable value of over £50,000 if such a supplement were levied in each local authority in 2008-09. 
Business Rate Supplements will allow authorities to invest in much-needed projects aimed at boosting the economic development of local areas, which otherwise would not be able to go ahead. Business will be consulted in all cases, and will be given a vote on projects where supplements will fund more than a third of the total cost. Authorities may decide to set the supplement lower than the maximum of 2p per £1 of rateable value; offset the Business Rate Supplement against any contributions for Business Improvement
Districts; raise the rateable value threshold above £50,000; and/or introduce a taper above the £50,000 threshold. Table 3.4 of Business rate supplements: A White Paper, published in October 2007, sets out the potential supplement revenue. According to this table the maximum revenue raised in England would be £597.1 million, based on 2007 rateable values, the most recent year for which data are available.
Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons regional Ministers do not answer parliamentary questions; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Dhanda: Regional Ministers do not have executive powers, and it is for departmental Ministers to answer parliamentary questions on issues pertaining to their Departments' responsibilities. The Government believe, however, that regional Ministers should be accountable to Parliament in fulfilling their roles set out in the Green Paper The Governance of Britain and parliamentary questions on their work in this capacity are answered by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. The Modernisation Committee of the House is currently conducting an inquiry into how regional accountability could be improved, which may make recommendations on how parliamentary questions on the work of regional Ministers are answered in future. The Committee is finalising its report and Government will respond to its recommendations once it is published.
Your Parliamentary Question on what assessment the Audit Commission has made of the reasons for recent trends in levels of benefit fraud has been passed to me for reply.
As you will know, on 20 May 2008 the Commission published its biannual report on the National Fraud Initiative. I am enclosing a further copy for information. The report shows that public bodies are getting better at identifying fraudthe issue for us is to encourage them to display a zero tolerance to fraud, and to prosecute wherever practicable. The Commission has also recently taken over responsibility for the inspection and assessment of housing and council tax benefits. We are developing a comprehensive framework to deal with benefit fraud that recognises the vital contribution that benefit services make to the social and economic wellbeing of local areas, as well as how this fits in with local authority strategies to address poverty, deprivation, homelessness and unemployment.
However, the Commission does not have an overview of benefit fraud, and so cannot make any assessment of general trends, either in relation to take-up or fraud. The Department for Work and Pensions remains responsible for welfare benefits, and any queries about fraud in relation to, for example, disability benefits, would have to be addressed to DWP directly.
A copy of this letter will be placed in the House of Commons Library.
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take to safeguard the environmental benefits of set-aside, with reference to the Common Agricultural Policy health check. 
Jonathan Shaw: The Government agree with the European Commissions proposal to abolish set-aside under the health check. We and the Commission both recognise the importance of retaining the key environmental benefits, and we will continue to encourage the introduction of appropriate EU-wide measures. We have also asked Sir Don Curry to continue working with key stakeholders to advise further on domestic policy options.
DEFRA supports the industry-led Fresh Start initiative, which aims to encourage and support new entrants into farming. The Fresh Start Academies provide 12 to 18 months of business-focused training, as well as business mentoring and identifying opportunities for new entrants to farming.
DEFRA provides funding to support the activities of the National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs, which works with young people aged 10 to 26 with an interest in rural issues. The clubs offer young people a range of activities and experiences with a rural flavour, including training in agricultural and countryside skills and competitive activities.
DEFRA also supports the Year of Food and Farming, an industry-led campaign, one of the objectives of which is to encourage children to learn about what happens on a farm, what life is like in the countryside and what employment opportunities it offers.
Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to table 3, page 200 of his Departments Annual Report 2008, Cm 7399, for what reason no departmental expenditure limit expenditure on animal welfare is planned in (a) 2008-09, (b) 2009-10 and (c) 2010-11. 
Jonathan Shaw: The planned Capital Departmental Expenditure Limit expenditure on Animal Welfare for 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 is now included within Departmental Operations Other Activities line. The planned expenditure is £600,000 for each of the three years.
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 15 May 2008, Official Report, columns 1742-43W, on Beekeeping: Research, what the results of project HH0819SHB on fungal control of Varroa jacobsoni were. 
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in how many parishes in England and Wales incidences of bovine tuberculosis were confirmed in each year since 1997. 
|Number of confirmed parishes in England||Number of confirmed parishes in Wales|
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether it is his Departments policy to release the home addresses of (a) senior and (b) middle-ranking officials if requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and what assessment he has made of the implications for personal security resulting from the release of such data. 
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department met the civil service diversity targets set out on page 51 of Cabinet Office Annual Report 2007 by April 2008. 
|Diversity strand||31 March 2008||Civil service target 31 March 2008|
Anne Milton: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the Answer of 25 April 2008, Official Report, column 2328W, on Tree Preservation Orders: Guildford, what assessment he has made of progress on disposal of the site against the stated timetable; and who the preferred bidder is. 
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