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30 Oct 2008 : Column 1279Wcontinued
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 of 10 September 2008, Official Report, columns 1994-95W, on local government: reorganisation, if she will provide a summary of the independent financial reports recommendations, with particular reference to those related to (a) cost overruns and (b) increasing net costs. 
John Healey: My answer of 10 September 2008, Official Report, columns 1994-95W, to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) explained that I have made clear to the House the independent financial reports conclusions on any restructuring for which we were seeking the Houses approval. We have no plans to make public any further information from these independent reports which are advice to Ministers which is not generally released.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for the coming into full operation of each new unitary council. 
John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to answer I gave him on 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1414W.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will withdraw proposals for new unitary councils in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk. 
John Healey: On 6 February we requested the Boundary Committee to advise by 31 December 2008 on certain matters relating to the unitary proposals made respectively by Exeter city council, Ipswich borough council, and Norwich city council. Any question about proposals for unitary local government in Devon, Norfolk and Suffolk is therefore at present a matter for the Boundary Committee.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which indicators in the national indicator set have associated (a) targets and (b) aspirations for local authorities to meet. 
John Healey: Targets against national indicators are set out in 150 individual local area agreements (LAAs). The indicators that have targets associated with them are therefore different to reflect the priorities in each area. Details on which national indicators have targets can be found at:
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on what evidential basis the supplementary vote was chosen as the electoral system for directly-elected mayors; and whether evidence was gathered on its use overseas. 
John Healey: The decision to introduce the supplementary vote system for the election of the London Mayor in the Greater London Act 1999, had regard to consultation responses and research commissioned from Professor Partrick Dunleavey and Dr. Helen Margetts by the Government Office for London. A copy of their reportReport to the Government Office for London: Electing the London Mayor and the London Assembly is in the House of Commons Library.
This was extended to directly elected mayors through the Local Government Act 2000.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what records her Department holds of the licensing fees charged by local authorities for registration of houses of multiple occupation; and what estimate she has made of the variance in the level of fees between local authorities. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Under section 63 of the Housing Act 2004 local authorities have the discretion to set their own HMO licence fees but these fees must reflect the actual costs to the local authority of HMO licensing. Local authorities are therefore able to recover the full cost of licensing from the licence fee, but are not allowed to use fees to raise funds for other projects.
There is no statutory requirement under the Housing Act 2004 for local authorities to provide data on the licensing fees charged. The Department has however requested local authorities to provide data on the licensing fees charged via the National Register of Licensed Houses in Multiple Occupation (ROLHMO) database. Officials are assessing the accuracy of the data provided. The Building Research Establishment (BRE) has also been commissioned to review the implementation of HMO licensing which will include a consideration of fees charged.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in what circumstances (a) discretionary and (b) mandatory licensing of houses of multiple occupation may be imposed on private properties. 
Mr. Iain Wright: All houses in multiple occupation (HMO) that are of three or more storeys, housing five or more persons, forming more than one household are now subject to mandatory HMO licensing. Local authorities also have the discretion to introduce additional HMO licensing schemes to cover smaller HMOs where they have identified problems such as poor management standards and property condition. The use of this discretionary power is subject to local consultation and departmental approval.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 6 October 2008, Official Report, column 351W, on non-domestic rates: ports, if she will place in the Library a copy of the new business rate valuation lists for each of the ports, following the recent changes made by the Valuation Office Agency. 
John Healey: The 2005 non-domestic rating list is published on the web site of the Valuation Office Agency and is available to inspect at
A single rating list has been compiled for each billing authority area but the Valuation Office Agency do not hold separate lists of properties attributable to smaller locations.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 6 October 2008, Official Report, column 351W, on non-domestic rates: ports, what the business names and addresses are of each of the ports or shipping firms that the Valuation Office Agency has retrospectively revalued. 
John Healey: The provisions of Sections 17 to 19 of the Commissioners for Revenue and Customs Act 2005 require the Agency not to disclose ratepayers' names even where they are known.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 1 September 2008, Official Report, columns 1427-28W, on non-domestic rates: valuation, what the average size of a sub-location is; and how many sub-locations there are in England. 
John Healey: It is not possible to identify the average size of a sub-location, which in effect is a VOA description for a particular class of property having similar characteristics. A sub-location will define a particular group of properties, ranging in number from a single property to many over a widebut not necessarily geographically continuousarea.
In round terms there are some 90,000 differently coded sub-locations in use within England.
Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what financial targets were set for Ordnance Survey for the latest period for which figures are available; and what outcomes were achieved against those targets. 
Mr. Iain Wright: As set out in Ordnance Surveys annual report and accounts published in July 2008, Ordnance Survey was set a financial target for operating profit before interest and dividends of £14.6 million for 2007-08. Actual performance against this target was £22.5 million.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many invitations to tender Ordnance Survey has issued in the last 12 months; and for what project in each case. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Ordnance Survey issued 18 invitations to tender in the 12 months to 30 September 2008. The projects involved were in the following categories:
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what guidance her Department has provided on the procurement process by which local authorities should employ opinion research companies to undertake the new place surveys; 
(2) whether local authorities will be required to carry out place surveys; 
(3) what questions are (a) optional and (b) mandatory in a Place Survey; 
(4) what information is required to be covered in a Place Survey questionnaire. 
John Healey: The biennial Place Survey is being carried out in all local authority areas from 2008. The information requested is set out in the Place Survey Technical Manual, which is available on the Communities and Local Government website at:
A copy of the Technical Manual has been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the estimated cost is of local authorities producing and compiling place surveys over the next three years. 
John Healey: The Place Survey consultation, which is available at
shows the estimated cost of local authorities conducting the biennial Place Survey to be £15 million over three rounds.
David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many documents produced by her Department were submitted to the Plain English Campaign for approval for Crystal Mark status in each year since 2005; and how many documents achieved such status in each year. 
Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many documents produced by her Department and its predecessors were submitted to the Plain English Campaign for approval for Crystal Mark status in each year since 2005; and how many documents achieved such status in each year. 
Mr. Khan: The Department was created in May 2006. Since then the Department's Communications Directorate has produced three documents for Crystal Mark status:
Regulatory reform (Fire Safety Order 2005) - A short guide to making your premises safe from fire (Published June 2006).
Local choice, local control: Statutory guidance on tenant management for local authorities and local authority tenants (Published October 2008).
Residents' choice: Guidance on tenant management and other options supported through the Tenant Empowerment Programme (Published October 2008).
All these documents are available on our website.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the report produced by Ove Arup and Partners on the consultation responses to the Planning White Paper. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Planning White Paper, Planning for a Sustainable Future, was published on 21 May 2007. Communities and Local Government commissioned Ove Arup and Partners to summarise and analyse the formal responses to the Planning White Paper. Their report, Analysis of Responses: Background Report A, is available on the CLG website, but was not placed in the Library of the House. The Department also received a range of other comments, from a variety of sources, on the Planning White Paper proposals more generally. The report on these views, Analysis of Responses: Background Report B, is also available on the CLG website.
The Government response to the White Paper, which summarises the results of the consultation, including those analysed in the Arup report, sets out the Governments overall response on key issues emerging from the White Paper consultation and next steps in relation to the Planning Bill, is available on the CLG website and copies were placed in the Library of the House.
However, we will ensure that copies of the Arup Report are also placed in the Library of both Houses.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will bring forward legislation to repeal the Planning Gain Supplement (Preparations) Act 2007. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Prime Minister stated in July 2007 that the main Planning-gain Supplement Bill was provisional because if a better alternative was found the Government would be willing to defer it from the current legislative session. Following discussions with the development industry, the Government deferred the introduction of a Planning-gain Supplement Bill from this parliamentary session to take forward CIL in preference.
The Planning-gain Supplement (Preparations) Act 2007 is three sections long and cannot be used to introduce PGS. It does not set out the detailed policy, nature or operation of PGS. Its sole purpose is to allow certain authorities to spend money in order to prepare for the introduction of PGS, for example to develop IT systems. In the event, no expenditure has been incurred in relation to PGS which would not have been permitted in the absence of the Preparations Act.
There is no need to repeal the Preparations Act as it is a narrow preparations measure designed to ensure the regularity and probity of Government expenditure in accordance with the usual Government accounting rules.
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