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26 Jun 2008 : Column 459W—continued

Housing: Rodents

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the background data on rodent presence in domestic properties collected as part of each of the English House Condition Survey reports since 1997. [213540]

Joan Ruddock: I have been asked to reply.

The report on the 1996 data was published in 1999 as: “MAFF (1999) Rodent infestations in domestic properties in England: a report arising from the 1996 English House Condition Survey. Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Crown Copyright 1999. PB 4822”. A copy of this was placed in the House of Commons Library at the time.

The 2001 report is available on the DEFRA website. I will arrange for a copy to be placed in the House of Commons Library.

A further report on 2002-04 will be available soon.

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Housing: Standards

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she plans to revise her targets for the decent homes standard to be met by 2010; and if she will make a statement. [212333]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Government remain committed to making all social housing decent and to increasing the proportion of private housing in decent condition occupied by vulnerable groups. Some social landlords will need to go beyond 2010 to make their stock decent, and individual dates have been agreed. But based on returns from social landlords, we are currently still expecting 95 per cent. decency by 2010. Progress towards meeting the private sector decent homes target is ahead of trajectory.

Housing: Thermal Insulation

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what research her Department has evaluated on the effect of installation of cavity wall insulation on dampness in buildings. [212602]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Government have conducted research on the subject of driving rain and damp penetration through cavity walls and this work was published within Building Research Establishment (BRE) Digest 127—‘Index of exposure to driving rain’, and the BRE booklet—‘Rain penetration of cavity walls: report of a survey of properties in England and Wales’.

This research formed part of the evidence which led to the development and revision of two relevant British Standards; BS 8208 Part 1:1985 ‘Guide to assessment of suitability of external cavity walls for filling with thermal insulation’, and BS 8104: 1992—‘Code of practice for assessing exposure of walls to wind-driven rain’. A simplified version of these British Standards is incorporated within Building Regulations Approved Document Part C—‘Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture’.

Multiple Occupation

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the (a) number and (b) proportion of homes converted to multiple occupancy in each local authority area in each year since 1997. [213482]

Mr. Iain Wright: The information requested is not held centrally.

Travelling People: Caravan Sites

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on the implications of recent High Court ruling in relation to the unauthorised Traveller camp on green belt land at Crays Hill, Essex; and whether she plans to revise planning regulation or guidance as a result. [213588]

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Mr. Iain Wright: The High Court judgment handed down on 9 May 2008 is a matter for those who were party to the claims made to the High Court. The Secretary of State is not party to the claim and does not intend to make a statement. The Independent Task Group on Site Provision and Enforcement examined the Government's planning framework for Gypsies and Travellers and found it to be essentially sound. There are currently no plans to revise it.

Travelling People: East of England

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the evidential basis is for the projection in the East of England Single Issue Revision Consultation that the Gypsy and Traveller population in the east of England will show an annual increase of 3 per cent. in the future. [213445]

Mr. Iain Wright: The East of England Regional Assembly published in February 2008 its draft Single Issue Review “Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation in the East of England.” This will be subject to an Examination in Public in October 2008.

Guidance on assessing the likely growth in household formation for the period beyond 2011 is contained in the document “Preparing Regional Spatial Strategy reviews on Gypsies and Travellers by regional planning bodies”, published in March 2007, a copy of which is available on the Department's website. This report stated that a household growth rate of 3 per cent. a year compound would provide the best indication of long-term requirements in assessing the future need for Gypsy and Traveller pitches.

Duchy of Lancaster

Leonard Cheshire Foundation: Finance

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he last met representatives of Leonard Cheshire Disability to discuss their funding. [212651]

Phil Hope: Ministers meet many people as part of the process of policy development and advice. It is not normal practice to disclose details of such meetings.

Children, Schools and Families

Children’s Centres

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what assessment he has made of the effects of children's centres to local communities. [214114]

Beverley Hughes: There is a comprehensive national level evaluation of Sure Start in place, which began in January 2001 and will run until 2010. To date 27 reports have been published, including the latest Impact Study findings in March 2008. These can be found at

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The findings of the latest Impact Study evaluation conducted when the children were three years old found that living in an area with a Children's Centre that was formerly a Sure Start Local Programme (SSLP) was associated with positive impacts on five of the 14 outcomes investigated. Children living in former SSLP areas exhibited more positive social behaviour and greater independence/self regulation, while parents made greater use of support services, exhibited less negative parenting and provided a better home learning environment. The analysis of the most recent data shows beneficial effects for almost all children and families living in SSLP areas and provides almost no evidence of adverse effects on population sub-groups such as workless or lone parent families.

Pre-School Education: Finance

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families pursuant to the answer of 19 June 2008, Official Report, column 1150W, on Pre-School Education: Finance, whether the expenditure shown in the answer includes funding awarded to increase the early years entitlement to 15 hours per week. [213954]

Beverley Hughes: Local authorities spent £246,003 on increasing the free early years entitlement to 15 hours per week in 2006-07 and were allocated in excess of £45 million in £2007-08 for the same purpose. These sums are in addition to the £3.6 billion for 2006-07 and £4.0 billion for 2007-08.

Vocational Guidance

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what recent steps the Government have taken to improve career and further education guidance to young people. [213876]

Beverley Hughes: Connexions services were transferred to local authorities in April. This will help to clarify and reinforce shared responsibilities locally for young people's information, advice and guidance (IAG). It will also facilitate the development of better integrated services more attuned to local needs. The Education and Skills Bill will make the delivery of Connexions services a statutory duty of local authorities. It also requires schools to deliver careers education impartially and to have regard to principles of careers education and to good practice guidance linked to the principles.

In March the Secretary of State wrote to all local authorities, setting out his expectations for the Improvement of IAG, emphasising their key role within 14-19 partnerships for improving IAG to young people on learning options. Furthermore strong emphasis on IAG in the Diploma Gateway process has meant that only those consortia with effective IAG provision are able to deliver the new Diplomas.

The aforementioned measures provide a context through which the quality of provision will be raised. Further improvements are being made through

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Animal Welfare: Departmental Responsibilities

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will consider the merits of ensuring (a) the disclosure of non-commercially sensitive information and data in product records relating to animal testing of cosmetics and (b) the sharing of such data to avoid the need for repeat experiments in respect of European Council Directive 76/768. [211599]

Mr. Thomas: The seventh amendment to the cosmetics directive introduced a requirement that data on animal testing relating to cosmetic products or their ingredients, and performed by manufacturers, their agents or suppliers, be included in the product information accessible to the competent authorities (Article 7a(1)(h)). This requirement is now contained in the Cosmetic Product (Safety) Regulations 2008 Article 16(1)(i).

However, the UK has operated a voluntary ban on the testing of cosmetic products on animals since 1996. This ban was made compulsory on 11 September 2004, with the implementation of the Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/2152), which implement the seventh amendment to the EU Council directive on the safety of cosmetic products and which introduced a ban on the testing of cosmetic products in the EU.

By March 2009, cosmetic manufacturers will no longer be able to use animals to test any ingredients or combinations of ingredients for cosmetic purposes, even if alternative methods are unavailable. The same deadline sees the introduction of a marketing ban in the Union on any cosmetic product whose ingredients have been tested on animals. The only exception will be certain toxicity tests for which the deadline has been extended for four years to 2013.

At present virtually the only tests on cosmetic ingredients that are carried out in the EU relate to substances which are already in use in cosmetics and for which safety concerns have been raised, either by or to the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products. If regarded as necessary, any animal tests would normally be carried out by a test house on behalf of the pan-European industry, in collaboration with the Commission and the SCCP.

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Consumer Direct: Finance

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform pursuant to the Answer of 11 March 2008, Official Report, column 251W, on non-departmental public bodies: finance, to the hon. Member for Brent East, what the budgeted operating cost for Consumer Direct is for 2008-09. [203913]

Mr. Thomas: Consumer Direct’s allocated budget has now been agreed and will be £16.7 million for 2008-09. The budget for 2006-07 and 2007-08 was £19 million.

Consumer Direct is currently expanding its service to handle first-tier consumer advice calls in both the energy and postal sectors as of 1 October 2008. The budget stated above does not include a provision for these additional calls. Funding for these calls will be provided in the first instance by BERR and recovered from industry via a licence fee. The details are still being finalised by BERR, but there is an undertaking that Consumer Direct’s extra costs will be covered.

Direct Selling: Greater London

Joan Ryan: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which London boroughs have cold calling-free zones. [213805]

Mr. Thomas: This decision to set up a cold calling control zone is for local authorities. The Government do not collect this information centrally.


Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will make a statement on the regulations governing food and clothing labelling in the UK; and whether there is a requirement to include country of origin on clothing. [213598]

Mr. Thomas: The Textile Products (Indications of Fibre Content) (Amendment) Regulations 1986 require that all textile products bear an accurate indication of their fibre content and that the indication should consist only of permitted generic names for fibres. A textile product is a product which contains at least 80 per cent. by weight of textile fibres.

Generally speaking, there is no requirement in the law of the UK to include the origin, care or size of textile products. There is nothing to prevent voluntary labelling on those matters but this would be subject to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which require traders not to mislead consumers.

Food labelling regulations are a matter for the Department of Health.

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Overseas Trade: China

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he (a) has taken and (b) plans to take to increase trade between the United Kingdom and China; how much his Department spent on trade promotion between the United Kingdom and China in 2007-08; and if he will make a statement. [209099]

Mr. Thomas: The information is as follows.

(a) My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform joined my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister at the January 2008 UK-China Summit with Premier Wen in Beijing, where a new bilateral trade target was agreed of $60 billion trade in goods and services by 2010. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State also attended a parallel business summit, with accompanying business matching event—the first large joint initiative arising out of a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding signed in June 2007 to help promote more balanced bilateral trade between the UK and China. My right hon. Friend also visited Hong Kong and Shenzhen, China on 4-6 June to meet influential business and government leaders, and to promote the strengths of UK business.

(b) My right hon. Friend is expected to lead a business delegation to Beijing this autumn to discuss market access issues and practical initiatives to promote bilateral and more balanced trade at the next meeting of the annual bilateral Joint Economic Trade Commission.

UK Trade and Investment spent £3.213 million on trade promotion in 2007-08, including £1.7 million in grant in aid to the China-Britain Business Council.

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