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Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes have been damaged by fire resulting from (a) accidents and (b) arson in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Khan: The latest 12 months for which these figures are available are September 2006 to August 2007. In England, during this period, there were 35,400 dwellings damaged as a result of accidental fires and 7,500 dwellings damaged as a result of deliberate fires.
John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what Government funds are available to registered social landlords for the construction of new social housing in Birmingham; and by what means they can be accessed. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Through the Housing Corporation, and from 1 December the Homes and Communities Agency, the Affordable Housing Programme provides grant to registered social landlords and others, including developers and local authorities, to provide affordable housing either through new build or acquisition and refurbishment. We are providing £8 billion over the three years, 2008-11, to fund this programme. Of this around £467 million has been allocated indicatively for affordable housing in West Midlands.
Bidding for these funds is now taking place on a continuing basis. To the end of October over £69 million has been allocated for schemes in West Midlands, of which £21 million is for schemes in Birmingham.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many unsold houses have been bought by the Government for affordable housing under its recent £200 million scheme. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Developer stock units are purchased by the Housing Corporation's Affordable Housing Programme investment partners for the provision of either social rent or for sale on low cost home ownership terms. Funding is a mix of grant from the Housing Corporation and from the investment partner's own resources. As at the end of October, the Housing Corporation had allocated grant funding of £90 million for the purchase of 2,600 homes.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the proportion of existing social housing that meets current standards for new build social housing; and if she will make a statement. 
Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix.
Mr. Hurd: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will encourage local authorities to take action to ensure that no one should live more than 500 metres from a two hectare wood or four kilometres from a 20 hectare wood. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Planning Policy Guidance note 17: Planning for open space, sport and recreation (PPG17) already encourages local planning authorities to identify the specific needs for easily accessible, good quality open space, including woodland, within their areas. Authorities should use the information gained from their assessments of needs to establish an effective open space strategy which should form the basis for appropriate policies in their development plan. PPG17 requires local authorities to derive local standards for the provision of open space, as national standards cannot cater for local circumstances, such as the extent of existing built development in an area.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether consideration has been given to encouraging residents living in inner London to move to new homes to be built as part of the Thames Gateway project. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The objective of the Thames Gateway programme set out in the Delivery Plan are to provide substantial additional housing in the area: 160, 000 more new homes by 2016. New housing in the Thames Gateway will be built to a high standard of design and provided at an appropriate mix of sizes and tenures. This high quality new housing will not only benefit existing residents of the Thames Gateway, but will also be attractive to families currently living outside the Gateway. Those individuals would of course include residents of inner London, however it is not the role of Government to actively encourage residents to move from Inner London to the Thames Gateway.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new homes will be built as part of the Thames Gateway project; and what estimate she has made of the average cost of building such homes. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government's Thames Gateway programme is not directly responsible for the building of substantial quantities of new homes. Rather, through funding projects including site preparation and infrastructure provision, it facilitates the provision of new homes by the market. However, the Government have an aspiration that 160,000 additional new dwellings should be provided in the Thames Gateway from 2001 to 2016 inclusive. The Department has not made an assessment of the average cost of building new homes in the Thames Gateway, since this is largely a matter for the market.
John Healey: Local authorities are responsible for their own payment arrangements and have an excellent track record. I have invited the Local Government Association to let me know how authorities at this time are tackling this issue.
Mr. Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what requirements there are on local authorities to inform her Department of liabilities incurred in the course of their business undertakings. 
John Healey: There are no requirements for local authorities to inform Communities and Local Government specifically about liabilities incurred in the course of their business undertakings. Certain information about their liabilities is disclosed in their published statement of accounts.
Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of local authorities consistently making payment to suppliers within 30 days. 
Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will issue guidance to local authorities on the inclusion of Christian prayers during council meetings and authorities equality duties. 
John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 14 March 2008, Official Report, column 704W by my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Dhanda), that the Department has no plans to issue guidance to local authorities on prayers at council meetings. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued guidance to public authorities on compliance with statutory equality duties, and it is important that local authorities satisfy themselves that their policies and practices are consistent with their equalities responsibilities.
Damian Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will establish a register of fit and proper owners of park home sites; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Communities and Local Government intends to publish a consultation paper early in the new year setting out proposals to reform the existing site licensing system which applies to park home and other caravan sites. A key measure will be the proposal to introduce a fit and proper test for licence holders and others engaged in the management of sites.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she will publish the review of houses in multiple occupation and possible planning responses announced on 9 April 2008. 
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department has made of (a) the number of houses in multiple occupation licensed in each local authority area under mandatory licensing provisions of the Housing Act 2004 and (b) the proportion of eligible properties this number represents. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The numbers of HMO licences issued by each local authority under the provisions of the Housing Act 2004 and reported to the Government by 12 November 2008, together with the numbers of applications and of licenses refused, have been placed in the Library.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many applications have been received from local authorities to introduce additional licensing schemes for houses in multiple occupation; and how many such applications have been granted. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Department has received formal applications from Oxford city council and Breckland borough council for additional HMO licensing schemes, and officials are working with both authorities in order to progress their applications in the context of the guidance published by the Department. There have currently been no departmental approvals for additional HMO licensing schemes.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the percentage change in the number of neighbourhood wardens between 1997 and 2007 has been in (a) Crosby constituency and (b) England. 
Mr. Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will investigate the (a) liabilities incurred and (b) payments made from the public purse by the seven local authorities participating in the Newcastle International Airport Company in respect of payments to former members of its management board; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey: Matters relating to liabilities incurred and payments made are for the local authorities involved. Local authorities are under a duty to achieve best value in carrying out their functions. Any concerns that a local authority has not achieved best value should be addressed to the auditor in the first instance.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when the Planning Inspectorate is expected to start charging for appeals; and what estimate has been made of the Inspectorate's likely revenue from such charges in their first full year. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Department, in conjunction with the Planning Inspectorate, is currently formulating proposals on charging for appeals and will consult again publicly prior to introducing appeal fees. At present, we plan to introduce appeal fees from October 2009.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 27 October 2008, Official Report, column 718W, on equality and diversity partnerships, what funding the regional assemblies have given to regional equality and diversity partnerships in the last period for which figures are available. 
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent steps have been taken to ensure that the Thames Gateway project meets its target of becoming an eco-region. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Government remain committed to establishing the Thames Gateway as an eco-region. Work continues to develop the concept and next steps will be announced in a prospectus to be published shortly. This will build on the commitments made and progress signalled in the November 2007 Thames Gateway Delivery Plan, the Regional Development Agencies' September 2008 Thames Gateway Economic Development Investment Plan and the October 2008 Parklands Vision.
Mr. Iain Wright: Community recreational space in the Thames Gateway is delivered by a wide range of local delivery partners, and some projects are supported by central Government. However, central Government do not monitor how much recreational space is planned across the region overall. This information is managed at a local level and is included in the regional spatial strategies and local development frameworks.
Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to respond to the review of private rented sector housing led by Julie Rugg and David Rhodes. 
Mr. Iain Wright: We will be responding to the Julie Rugg and David Rhodes review of the private rented sector within our forthcoming housing reform Green Paper. Currently we are discussing initial views on the review with key stakeholders. Those discussions will inform our initial response to the review.
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