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14 July 2008 : Column 42Wcontinued
Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 18 June 2008, Official Report, column 950W, on economic and monetary union, if she will place in the Library a copy of (a) her Departments euro changeover plan as updated in June 2007 and (b) the plans of each of the agencies and non-departmental public bodies listed in the Answer. 
Mr. Dhanda: The Communities and Local Government euro changeover plan was placed in the Library in February 2006.
There has been no change of note to Communities and Local Government and its agencies and NDPBs euro changeover plans since then.
It is therefore not proposed, for this reason, to place a copy of such plans in the Library at the present time.
Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 1 July 2008, Official Report, column 715, on eco-towns, whether the required planning consents for eco-town developments will be determined exclusively by local planning authorities. 
Caroline Flint: We would expect applications for eco-towns to be considered as a planning application by the appropriate local planning authority unless called in by the Secretary of State. In such cases these powers would be used in accordance with normal and established practice in development control.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 19 May 2008, Official Report, column 38W, on eco-towns: motor vehicles, how the composition of a New Town corporation will be determined in circumstances where her Department judges such a delivery vehicle is required; and what role in determining planning applications relating to eco-town developments such a corporation would have. 
Caroline Flint: We would only use these powers in exceptional circumstances to support delivery of complex and challenging developments, and where partner local authorities could see benefit in the exercise of these powers, for example where the task of infrastructure provision and related investment was of a scale where a statutory body would have significant advantages. We have no current plans to establish a body.
Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the proposed eco-town development at North East Elsenham on the surrounding economies in East Hertfordshire, with particular reference to the economy of Bishops Stortford; 
(2) what assessment she has made of the likely locations for employment of residents of the proposed eco-town development at North East Elsenham if the development proceeds. 
Caroline Flint: We have published the initial assessments of all the proposed locations, including Elsenham, on our website, and we are further reviewing the issues raised there, including impacts on growth and regeneration of the surrounding areas for these locations.
We have assessed Elsenham and all the eco-town proposals against a criteria relating to jobs and the outcomes we expect to see. This includes developing a clear strategy to maximise employment opportunities and enabling links to existing clusters of employment. We will also be consulting on employment and the other criteria in the draft planning policy statement on eco-towns.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the provision of (a) roads, (b) railways, (c) water and (d) sewage infrastructure serving eco-towns will be (i) governed by the general frameworks set in National Policy Statements and (ii) determined by the Infrastructure Planning Commission. 
Caroline Flint: I refer the hon. Member to my answers of 7 May 2008, Official Report, column 1037W, given to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles), and 1 July 2008, Official Report, column 788W, given to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps).
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what geographical criteria were used when selecting interviewees for the Andrew Irving Associates YouGov survey on eco-towns, published by her Department on 30 June; what information was provided to these interviewees before their interview; and if she will place in the Library a copy of (a) the commissioning brief for and (b) the results of the survey. 
Caroline Flint: With regards to the geographical criteria used in selecting interviewees for the recent YouGov survey on eco-towns, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) on Monday 7 July 2008, Official Report, column 1355W.
No information was provided to respondents beforehand as the survey sought to ascertain their current knowledge and opinions. The omnibus survey was commissioned verbally so we cannot provide a copy of the commissioning brief but the results of the survey will be placed in the Library.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which public agency will be responsible for (a) enforcing the display energy certificate requirements and (b) issuing fines for breaches of such requirements. 
Caroline Flint: Local authority trading standards officers will be responsible for compliance with the requirements and will issue civil financial penalties where appropriate.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the impact assessment for display energy certificates. 
Caroline Flint: The impact assessment for display energy certificates forms part of the Regulatory Impact Assessment Energy Performance of Buildings Directive Articles 7-10, published in March 2007. This was deposited in the Library on 23 March 2007.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has provided on compliance with the display energy certificates requirements. 
Caroline Flint: The Department produced, A guide to Display Energy Certificates and advisory reports for public buildings which was published in May. This guidance was produced in consultation with a range of stakeholders. It explains among other things what a DEC is, how it should be produced and how the requirement will be enforced.
Mr. Francois: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how much the Essex Fire and Rescue Service spent on (a) overseas training courses and (b) overseas conferences or visits in each of the last five years; 
(2) how many administrative staff from Essex Fire and Rescue Service attended the conference in Texas in June 2008 attended by the service's chief and assistant fire officers; 
(3) what the gross salaries, including bonuses and other benefits, of the chief and assistant chief fire officers of the Essex Fire and Rescue Service were in the most recent period for which figures are available; 
(4) who was in operational command of the Essex Fire and Rescue Service in the absence of the chief fire officer and assistant chief fire officer in June 2008; 
(5) how much the attendance of the chief fire officer and assistant chief fire officer of the Essex Fire and Rescue Service at the fire safety conference in Texas in June 2008 cost the public purse. 
Mr. Dhanda: The information requested is not held centrally and is a matter for Essex Fire and Rescue Authority.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of those compiling home information packs supplemented the required local searches with searches commissioned by home buyers since the introduction of the packs. 
Caroline Flint: Given the confidential relationship between solicitors and their clients it is not currently possible to accurately obtain data on this issue.
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of homeless households had duty discharged to them because they rejected temporary accommodation offered in (a) England, (b) each region and (c) each London local authority in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The information requested is not collected centrally.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what functions relating to the Thames Gateway undertaken by the Thames Gateway Executive she plans to transfer to the Homes and Communities Agency prior to March 2009; what the timescale for such transfers is; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement made on 10 January 2008, Official Report, columns 11-12WS, by my right hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper).
Subject to progress with the Housing and Regeneration Bill, we plan to set up the Homes and Community Agency in April 2009, and for the transfer of functions to be complete by then. However, in order to give greater certainty to staff and stakeholders, and to bring forward the benefits of the new Agency, we are exploring the scope for accelerating its establishment.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what final allocation criteria are being used for housing and planning delivery grant; what the timetable is for the first payments to be assessed and made; and what performance indicators will be collected from local authorities for the purposes of the delivery grant allocation; 
(2) how much her Department has allocated for the Housing and Planning Delivery Grant in each year of the current Spending Review period. 
Caroline Flint: The consultation paper Housing and Planning Delivery Grant (HPDG) consultation on the allocation mechanism, published in October 2007, set out proposed allocations in each year of the current spending review period as follows:
Confirmation of the final allocation mechanism and provisional allocations for the current spending period will be announced shortly. Payments will follow in autumn this year. Assessment criteria for allocations will be based on data collected as part of the local performance framework national indicator set.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the surplus in the national housing revenue account was in 2007-08; what estimate she has made of the likely account surplus in each of the next five years; and to what use the account surplus is put. 
Caroline Flint: There was no national surplus in 2007-08 arising from the housing revenue account subsidy calculations. Our current estimate of the potential surplus in 2008-09 is £195 million. It is too soon to say what the actual figure for the current financial year will be, but it will be different from estimates depending on factors such as interest rates, and the dwelling stock remaining in local authority ownership.
Beyond 2008-09, our forecasts will depend on decisions yet to be taken by Ministers on the annual housing revenue account subsidy determination, on which we aim to consult shortly with local authorities.
Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to ensure that the home-building industry adopts lifetime homes standards in new housing. 
Caroline Flint: As stated in the National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society, in the first instance Lifetime Homes Standards will be a mandatory element in the Code for Sustainable Homes at level 6 from 2008, at level 4 from 2010 and level 3 from 2013. This will have the effect of ensuring that all public sector funded housing is built to Lifetime Homes Standards from 2011.
We will also monitor how the take up of Lifetime Homes Standards is working in the new home market generally and will undertake a review of progress across all sectors in 2010. We will then consider whether further measures are necessary.
In the meantime we have established a Building Regulations Advisory Committee Working Group to look at the issue of Adaptable Housing and Lifetime Homes. We will also work with stakeholders to develop further technical guidance for designers and developers who wish to include the standards in new homes.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made in establishing a Green Homes Service in the Thames Gateway area; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: The Department is currently developing proposals for energy advice services for the Thames Gateway with the Energy Savings Trust, which will be supported by up to £1.5 million of CLG funding.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what requirements she plans to impose on local authorities to establish a tension monitoring committee; and whether such groups will monitor (a) complaints of noise nuisance and (b) high hedge disputes. 
Mr. Dhanda: Tension monitoring is not a mandatory requirement for local authorities.
The Guidance for local authorities on community cohesion contingency planning and tension monitoring, published on 6 May 2008, sets a framework which each local authority can use to monitor local issues that may lead to tension and to put plans into operation if a problem is identified. These issues could include complaints about noise nuisance or high hedge disputes. It is up to each local authority to determine the scope of their tension monitoring and contingency planning.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the functions of local authority tension monitoring groups will include monitoring the activities of local political parties. 
Mr. Dhanda: Guidance for Local Authorities on Community Cohesion Contingency Planning and Tension Monitoring published on 6 May 2008, sets a framework which local authorities can use to monitor local issues that may lead to local community tensions and to put plans into operation if a problem is identified. It is up to each local authority to determine the scope of their tension monitoring and contingency planning.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what criteria parish councils are required to meet to be eligible to use the power of well-being. 
Mr. Dhanda: The conditions which must be met for a parish council to be eligible to use the well-being powers will be prescribed by order to be made under section 1(2) of the Local Government Act 2000 (inserted by section 77 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007). It is intended to make this Order before the end of 2008.
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