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Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what estimate her Department has carried out on the number of police hours saved through the introduction of personal digital assistants for police officers. 
Mr. Coaker: The Government have recently provided £50 million to help facilitate the introduction of hand-held computers to frontline police officers. Although the roll out of these devices is still under way, feedback from frontline police officers has made us aware that the quicker (and easier) access to information has helped them to improve both their effectiveness and efficiency, thus enabling them to provide a better quality service to the public.
The National Policing Improvement Agency is working closely with individual forces on a comprehensive benefits evaluation programme with the objective to provide a robust and evidence-based evaluation of the significant investment in this technology.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how much was paid (a) by (i) employees and (ii) employers into and (b) to those receiving pensions payments from the Police Pension Scheme in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Coaker: The present system of police pensions financing, under which each police authority pays employer and officer contributions into a separate account out of which pensions are paid, was introduced in April 2006. Where the income into the police authority pensions account from contributions and other payments such as inward transfer values is insufficient to meet the cost of pensions payment, it is topped up by Home Office grant. The information for the first two completed years under this system is given in the following table.
|2006-07 (audited)||2007-08 (unaudited)|
Figures for the years before 2006-07 relate to the previous pay-as-you-go system of financing under which police pensions were paid out of forces operating accounts. Information about the level of officer contributions, and pensions expenditure net of officer contributions is included in the annual reports published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). This information is gathered independently of the Home Office.
Mr. Coaker: The latest estimate given by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, in their publication Police Estimates Statistics 2008-09 (ISSN 0144-9885), is of 121,567 police pensioners in England and Wales as at 1 April 2008.
(2) if she will consider the merits of proscribing any armed Israeli groups proven to be associated with recent acts of violence against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 
Mr. Coaker: We do not comment on organisations not on the proscribed list, or on the prospect of particular organisations being added to the list. Decisions on proscription must be based on a belief that a group is concerned in terrorism as defined in the Terrorism Act 2000 and must be reasonable and proportionate.
The following Palestinian armed groups are listed as terrorist groups or entities by the Council of the EU under Common Position 931: Abu Nidal Organisation; al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades; Hamas (including Hamas Izz al-Din al-Qassem Brigades); Palestine Liberation Front; Palestinian Islamic Jihad; and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (including PFLP General Command).
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what timetable has been established for the extension of the Public
Services Forum's Access to Skills, Trade Unions and Advice in Government contracting agreement to local authorities; and whether the agreement will extend to local authorities in Wales. 
John Healey: The Joint Statement currently applies to central Government contracts only. The impact of the statement on central Government contracts will be reviewed after six months of operation. The extension of the statement to other parts of the public sector will be subject to that evaluation and to further discussions with local government and other stakeholders.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to her Department's 2007-08 resource accounts, HC 791, what the nature of the financial irregularities in the Business Links projects funded under the Interreg programme is. 
John Healey: My Department is currently investigating to establish the extent to which there are financial irregularities in relation to the Business Links projects funded under the Interreg programme, and, should there be irregularities, the nature and amounts concerned.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will introduce proposals for third party rights of appeal in the forthcoming legislation on community enhancement. 
The introduction of a third party right of appeal would add complexities to the appeal system, which would be likely to translate into significant delays. A third party right of appeal would mean that planning permissions could not be implemented pending an appeal, resulting in delays and uncertainty for all. This would run counter to the Governments aim of increasing the efficiency of the planning system and to speed up decision making. Furthermore, the introduction of a third party right of appeal could be used perversely to veto many otherwise acceptable developments, which would bring benefits to local communities in terms of homes, jobs and regeneration of neighbourhoods.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps she is taking to promote community land trusts; and what plans she has for further legislation on the matter. 
To provide clarity as to the nature of the CLT sector, we have defined community land trusts in the Housing and Regeneration Act. This again demonstrates the Governments commitment to enabling communities to tackle the problem of affordable housing in a way that meets local need.
We are now consulting on the wider policy issues affecting CLTsfor instance, what the criteria for financial support might be, and how to maximise the chances of a viable and well managed sector being developed. We also wish to consider the role that CLTs might play in both the urban and rural context and how perpetuity of community benefit should be ensured.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many council houses there are in each local authority area; and what estimate she has of the cost to Government of transferring those homes to registered social landlords. 
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much each local authority has received in (a) capital receipts from right-to-buy sales, (b) management and maintenance allowance and (c) minor repairs allowance in each year since 1990; and what estimate she has made of such local government receipts in the next 30 years, using the assumptions adopted in her Department's self-financing of council housing services modelling exercise. 
It is not possible for the Department to extract in tabular form the particular data requested at (a), other than at disproportionate cost. However, it is possible to find information on capital receipts from Right To Buy sales for each local, authority in each year since 1998 from the following webpage:-
To make projections for figures for management and maintenance allowance, and major repairs allowance for the next 30 years we would need to make assumptions on stock numbers over the period. In the self financing exercise these projections were produced by local authorities themselves and it would be burdensome to ask each local authority for these figures. Similarly those involved in the self financing exercise provided their own projections of receipts and it would be burdensome to ask all authorities for similar information.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect on levels of council tax of the creation of additional parish councils and changes in parish precepts. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what her policy is on differential charging depending on payment method in relation to council tax; and what guidance has been issued to local authorities on the matter. 
John Healey: The administration of council tax is a matter for local authorities. Regulation 26 of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 (SI 1992/613) allows local billing authorities to offer a discounted council tax amount for non-cash payments. The Government have no plans to change this.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance (a) her Department and its predecessor and (b) the Audit Commission has produced for local authorities on (i) council tax collection and (ii) council tax fraud. 
John Healey: Communities and Local Government's predecessor Department, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, jointly published with the Government Operational Research Service a Council Tax Collection Good Practice Report in 2004. The report is on CLG's website at:
The report looks at ways of sharing good practice among practitioners in order to promote continuous improvement in service delivery and collection. Section 9.5 of Annex D to the report deals with fraud.
The Audit Commission published in 1995 a handbook on the collection of council tax in a publication, Collecting Local Taxes: A Management Handbook. Copies are available in the Library. The Commission also issues guidance to local authority fraud investigators on how to follow up potential frauds and other anomalies identified through the Commission's data matching exercise, the National Fraud Initiative.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has issued to local authorities on the collection of council tax payments by direct debit from bank accounts. 
Communities and Local Government's predecessor Department the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister jointly published, with the Government Operational Research Service, a Council Tax Collection Good Practice Report in 2004. The report looks at ways of sharing good practice among practitioners in order
to promote continuous improvement in service delivery and collection. Annex D of the report covers best practice on direct debits.
John Healey: Listing officers and valuation officers are respectively required by law to maintain an accurate council tax valuation list and an accurate rating list; so they must make the necessary changes when they become aware that a change to the list is needed. Liability for council tax or business rates arises from the effective date of the alteration of the relevant list. This is governed by regulation 14 of the Council Tax (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) Regulations 1993 (SI 1993/290) and regulation 14 of the Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (England) Regulations 2005 (SI 2005/659). We currently have no plans to change either of these regulations.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 10 September 2008, Official Report, column 1949W, on council tax: valuation, what the value of the total payments made to Tenet Technology by the Valuation Office Agency in the last financial year for which figures are available was. 
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) of 15 September 2008, Official Report, column 2080W, on councillors: code of practice, whether councillors who are members of an area committee that is administered by another council are required to (a) sign the code of conduct and (b) maintain a register of interests, in addition to the code and register that they have for the council to which they were directly elected; and whether her Department or the Standards Board for England has issued any advice or guidance on this issue. 
In circumstances where a councillor is serving on a joint committee established by two councils, the councillor is covered by the code of conduct of their own authority. The councillor does not have to register their interests with the other council in such a case.
If the councillor were serving on a committee of another council where the committee was not a joint committee, for instance if the councillor had been co-opted onto that committee, then the councillor would have to sign the code of conduct and register their interests with the local authority that had established the committee.
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