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29 Jan 2009 : Column 777W—continued

Interreg Programme

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 29 October 2008, Official Report, column 1147W, on the Interreg Programme, what projects are being considered under the Interreg (a) IVA and (b) IVB programmes which relate to the United Kingdom. [252787]

Mr. Khan: This information is not held centrally by my Department and it could not be provided without disproportionate cost.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 29 October 2008, Official Report, column 1147W, on the Interreg Programme, what the (a) purpose and (b) remit is of each of the five Interreg IVC programmes. [252794]


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Mr. Khan: The information on each of the five projects is as follows:

1. Power

The lead partner is South East England Development Agency. The project will explore ways to move towards a low carbon economy at regional level, in particular re-formulating regional development strategies and policy instruments and identifying effective forms of sub-regional action which also contribute to regional competitiveness. The seven participating regions will work towards achieving long-term policy objectives around low carbon by finding the best way forward.

2. SEE

The lead partner is Design Wales. The project will share information on policies that have been successful in using design to boost innovation, entrepreneurship, sustainability or economic development. The project has a partnership of 11 organisations, which targets small and medium enterprises and their lack of resources for implementing design practice and innovation into their business.

3. PIMMS Transfer

The lead partner is the London borough of Bromley. The project builds on the ‘transfer methodology’ developed under Interreg IIIC, which identified the critical success factors behind best practice case studies in mobility management. It aims to stimulate modal shift towards more sustainable forms of transport by increasing the implementation of high quality mobility management techniques and policies in European regions and to extend, deepen and promote best practice in mobility management. The partnership is composed of 15 organisations from 15 countries.

4. GRaBS

The lead partner is the Town and Country Planning Association. The Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns project aims to improve the regional decision and policy making process in relation to the planning and development of new and existing urban areas in nine member states in the context of climate change. It comprises 14 partners.

5. RAPIDE

The lead partner is the South West Regional Development Agency. The project deals with the role of the public sector in stimulating innovation in regions, in particular helping mainly small businesses bring innovative products to market more quickly. By focusing on good practices already identified in partner regions, it aims to develop robust, workable action plans that each region will implement. The project includes 13 partners from 11 member states.

Liverpool Corporation Act 1902

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers she has to refer to the courts an alleged breach of the provisions of the Liverpool Corporation Act 1902. [251224]

Mr. Khan: Ministers have no power to refer to the courts an alleged breach of the provisions of the Liverpool Corporation Act 1902. Ministers' powers under the 1902 Act or the Lever Park Act 1969 which replaced certain provisions of the 1902 Act, are restricted to resolving disputes, or appointing an arbitrator to resolve disputes, between the county council and the corporation. No request has been made to resolve any dispute.


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Lloyds TSB

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of the meeting held by the Minister for the South West with the Chairman of Lloyds TSB on 14 January 2009. [252089]

Mr. Khan [holding answer 27 January 2009]: A copy of the minutes has been deposited in the Library.

Local Government

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has issued on the designation of billing authorities in areas with two executive tiers of local government. [251986]

John Healey: Section 1 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 defines a billing authority as a district or London borough council, the Common Council or the Council of the Isles of Scilly. That definition is expanded by section 19 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 and regulation 7 of the Local Government (Structural Changes) (Finance) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/3022) (“the Finance Regulations”) to include county councils to which the functions of district councils have been transferred. The Regulations also provide that, in the period to 1 April 2009, for those two tier areas undergoing restructuring on that date, the preparing or shadow council (i.e. the council responsible for implementing restructuring) will be the billing authority for the reorganised area in relation to 2009-10.

Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what requirements parish councils must meet in order to be able to use the new well-being power under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007. [251806]

John Healey: In order for a parish council to be eligible to exercise the power of well-being it must first meet all four conditions set out in the Parish Councils (Power to Promote Well-being) (Prescribed Conditions) Order 2008. A council must have:

Local Government Finance

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what advice her Department has provided to local authorities on placing money in government bonds. [251799]


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John Healey: The Department does not provide advice to local authorities on particular financial products. Under the Local Government Act 2003, local authorities are responsible for their own investment decisions. The Department’s guidance on local government investments is available at:

Local Government Finance: Coastal Areas

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent estimate she has made of the effect of inward migration on the level of funding for local authority services in each of the principal seaside towns in England. [251147]

John Healey: Formula grant is distributed to all local authorities in England taking into account the relative needs and relative resources of each local authority relative to all other authorities providing the same services. There is also a central allocation and a floor damping mechanism. For the current three-year settlement, 2008-09 to 2010-11, the floor damping mechanism ensures that all authorities receive at least the minimum percentage increase in grant year-on-year on a like-for-like basis.

In the 2008-09 to 2010-11 settlements, the 2004-based sub-national population projections for 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively have been used as the main measure of the resident population. These projections were published by the Office for National Statistics on the 27 September 2007, and were the latest data available at the beginning of the three year settlement period. Population projections take into account trends in fertility, mortality and migration.

Local Government: Billing

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 22 January 2009, Official Report, column 1659W, on local government: billing, whether her Department has made an estimate of the number of local authorities which pay invoices within 10 days of receipt. [252596]

John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the right hon. Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight) on 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 242W.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what discussions her Department has had with the Local Government Association on the payment of supplier invoices within 10 days of receipt. [252605]

John Healey: Both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and I have discussed with the LGA how authorities could help support business by paying invoices more promptly. These discussions were in the context of wider discussions about the range of local responses authorities are putting in place to the current economic downturn.


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Local Government: Carbon Emissions

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what financial penalties local authorities may incur in circumstances where they do not meet their carbon dioxide emissions reduction targets from 1 January 2010 onwards. [251819]

Mr. Iain Wright: If targets included in local area agreements (whether targets related to carbon emissions or otherwise) are not achieved in full it can result in a lower level of performance reward grant. My Department consulted on the operation of a new reward scheme for local areas in 2008, based upon local area agreements. This will be related to targets agreed by local authorities and their partners and our intention is to judge the amount of reward payable by reference to average performance across the targets agreed within the LAA. Responses to this consultation are being considered and an announcement will be made shortly.

The Carbon Reduction Commitment is a mandatory cap and trade scheme designed to cover emissions from large business and public sector organisations which the Government intend to bring in to operation in 2010. Large local authorities are expected to qualify for the scheme. There will be no targets for individual organisations in the scheme, but an overall cap will be applied to the sector. Revenue raised from CRC will be recycled back to participants. To incentivise improved energy efficiency, the revenues repaid to participants will be subject to a bonus or penalty related to their relative performance compared to other participants. In 2010-11 the maximum bonus or penalty will be +/-10 per cent. rising to 50 per cent. in later years. However it is important to recognize that the net savings due to energy efficiency measures will outweigh any costs of the scheme.

Local Government: Pensions

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what effect she estimates the recent stock market downturn will have on the funding of the Local Government Pension Scheme. [251798]

John Healey: The scheme’s most recent actuarial valuation of the 89 pension funds in England and Wales confirmed its ongoing solvency and set the required employer contributions until 31 March 2011.

The next triennial valuation takes place on 31 March 2010 and will assess the factors influencing the stability and solvency of the scheme. New employer contribution changes will apply from 1 April 2011 until 31 March 2014.

In the meantime, scheme administrating authorities will be monitoring events carefully and in consultation with their advisers within the context of their investment strategies and funding strategy statements, both of which are published locally.

Local Government: Referendums

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance has been given to local authorities on the use of public funds to campaign in local referendums. [251731]


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John Healey: The Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity, first issued in 1988 and revised in 2001, which local authorities must have regard to, states that local authority publicity should not be capable as being perceived as seeking to influence public support for, or opposition to, the referendum proposals and should not associate support for, or opposition to, the proposals with any individual or group.

Members: Correspondence

Sir Gerald Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she plans to reply to the letter of 25 November 2008 from the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton, with regard to Belle Vue Vision. [250869]

Hazel Blears: I have now replied to my right hon. Friend's letter.

Mortgages

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of homebuyers took out mortgage payment protection insurance in respect of new mortgages in each year since 2000. [251726]

Mr. Iain Wright: Estimated numbers of households in England with mortgages that have mortgage insurance back to 2002-03 are presented in the following table. It is not possible to say if these insurance policies were taken out at the time of house purchase/remortgage or at another time.

Trend in households buying with a mortgage that have mortgage insurance( 1) , England

2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07

All buying with mortgage (thousand)

8,504

8,523

8,300

8,144

8,072

With mortgage insurance (thousand)

5,036

5,088

4,812

4,798

4,670

with mortgage insurance (percentage)

59

60

58

59

58

(1) Insurance that pays off all or part of the mortgage in case of critical illness, or accident, sickness or unemployment/redundancy
Source:
Communities and Local Government, Survey of English Housing

Non-Domestic Rates: Ports

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the most recent editions of guidance and rating manuals that the Valuation Office Agency uses for valuing ports and businesses within ports. [251723]

John Healey: The latest Rating Manuals used by the Valuation Office Agency are published on their website and are available to inspect at:

There are separate sections for different types of property, including docks and harbours. There is not a separate section for businesses within ports.


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