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4 Feb 2009 : Column 1291W—continued

The first-ever three-year settlement has given authorities the flexibility and stability they need to manage their budgets effectively.

Local Government: Conditions of Employment

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what requirements there are on local authorities to give time for local authority staff to undertake work for their trade union which is (a) unpaid and (b) paid for by the local authority. [252725]

John Healey: Local government employers are required to follow Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) guidance, under section 199 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

More information can be found at:

Local Government: Cornwall

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for what reasons local elections in Cornwall will take place in October 2009; what the estimated additional cost is of not holding them at the same time as the June 2009 elections; and who will pay that cost. [252793]

John Healey: Following the coming into force of the Local Elections (Ordinary Day of Elections in 2009) Order, the 2009 local elections in Cornwall are scheduled to be held on 4 June. However, as explained in my answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) on 20 November 2008, Official Record, column 771W, I was minded to defer the Cornwall local elections to the end of October 2009 as the Boundary Committee had failed to complete their review of electoral arrangements in Cornwall, and that before taking any decision to defer I would take soundings and consult those in Cornwall. That soundings exercise ended on 30 January and having regard to comments and representations received, I shall shortly decide whether to defer the Cornwall local elections.

Local Government: Mortgages

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authorities offer mortgage facilities for home buyers. [253221]

Margaret Beckett: We do not directly hold all such information. It is for local authorities to decide whether to exercise the power to provide mortgages.


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Local Government: Reorganisation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of the compatibility of the introduction of unitary local government without local referendums with Article 5 of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. [252728]

John Healey: We are satisfied that the introduction of the new unitary councils, following proposals from locally accountable councils, stakeholder consultations, and parliamentary approval, is compatible with Article 5 of the European Charter of Local Self-Government which contains no requirements about local referendums.

Local Government: Translation Services

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions she has had with local authorities on the provision of local authority documents and other publications in translation. [253704]

Mr. Khan: Since publishing Guidance for Local Authorities on Translation of Publications, the Secretary of State has had no discussions with local authorities about the translation of their publications.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether (a) she and (b) her officials have received any representations from Lord Taylor of Blackburn in the last 12 months. [253444]

Mr. Khan: After the Secretary of State issued her decision to refuse planning permission for development of a natural gas storage facility at Preesall Saltfield, Fleetwood, Lancashire on 16 October 2007, Lord Taylor of Blackburn asked my noble Friend Baroness Andrews whether representatives of Canatxx Ltd could meet officials. Representatives of Canatxx met policy officials on 6 December 2007 to discuss general policy on gas storage facilities.

In the summer of 2008 Lord Taylor of Blackburn requested information from my noble Friend Baroness Andrews about Newark as a growth point and related planning cases.

Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber: Lloyds TSB

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) if she will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of the meeting the Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber had on ( a) 4 November 2008 with the Chairman of Lloyds TSB and (b) 17 November 2008 with the Yorkshire and Humber Economic Delivery Group; [248890]

(2) if she will place in the Library a copy of the minutes of the meetings between the Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber of (a) 8 December 2008 with the Yorkshire and Humber Delivery Development Group and (b) 15 December 2008 with Lloyds TSB. [250410]


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Mr. Khan [holding answers 19 and 22 January 2009]: Ministers and civil servants meet many people as part of the process of policy development and advice. It is not normal practice to disclose minutes of such meetings.

Minutes of the Yorkshire and Humber Economic Delivery Group can be found on the Government office website at:

Mortgages: Government Assistance

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate her Department has made of the (a) maximum and (b) average number of households which will receive support each year from the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme in each of the next three years. [251772]

Margaret Beckett: The Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme is a consumer and lender-led scheme, supported by a Government guarantee. The Government want to see this scheme provide incentives for lenders to help as many struggling homeowners as possible. We will publish a full impact assessment when the scheme description has been finalised.

As part of a wider package of real help for homeowners, this scheme should enable ordinary hard-working households that experience a redundancy or significant loss of income to reduce their monthly payments to a more manageable level, by deferring a proportion of the interest payments on their mortgage for up to two years.

Homeowners remain responsible for repaying the mortgage in the long term but the scheme will result in more affordable monthly payments. This will give them the breathing space they need to get their finances back on track, and help ensure they can stay in their homes.

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which banks and building societies have agreed to participate in the Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme; and on what dates each agreed to do so. [253879]

Margaret Beckett: The country’s eight largest lenders—HBOS, Nationwide, Abbey, Lloyds TSB, Northern Rock, Barclays, RBS and HSBC—representing 70 per cent. of mortgage lending, agreed in principle to support the new Homeowner Mortgage Support Scheme prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement on 3 December.

The scheme should enable ordinary hard-working households that experience a redundancy or significant loss of income to reduce their monthly payments to a more manageable level, by deferring a proportion of the interest payments on their mortgage for up to two years.

Government are now working with a wider group of lenders to finalise the scheme design and agree implementation plans.

Non-Domestic Rates: Empty Property

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of the new empty property business rates regime on rates of conversion of empty agricultural properties into business use. [252628]


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John Healey: There has not been a specific assessment of the impact of empty property rates on the conversion of empty agricultural properties into business use. However, an impact assessment detailing the impact of the empty property reforms was published by Communities and Local Government in May 2007 accompanying the introduction of the Rating (Empty Properties) Bill and a further assessment was laid before this House on 26 February accompanying the Non-Domestic Rating (Unoccupied Property) (England) Regulations 2008—Number: 386.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) with reference to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 28 October 2008, Official Report, column 949W, on empty property, which local authorities have sent back completed forms on empty property business rates; [252714]

(2) with reference to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 29 October 2008, Official Report, columns 1142-3W, on empty property, if she will place in the Library a copy of each of the responses to the requests for information made in June and September. [252796]

John Healey: The Government are compiling information on the possible avoidance of empty property rates over the course of the first year of the reforms, and we will set out in an appropriate form our general findings in due course.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of each response to Modernising Empty Property Relief—A Consultation Paper. [252726]

John Healey: I have placed a copy in the Library of the summary of the consultation responses to Modernising Empty Property Relief—A Consultation Paper.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether transitional relief will apply in cases of non-domestic dwellings for which empty property business rates are paid following the 2010 revaluation. [252733]

John Healey: There will be a consultation on the transitional relief scheme for the 2010 revaluation later this year. We have consulted on a transitional relief scheme for the previous ratings lists.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether supplementary business rates will apply to dwellings for which empty property business rates are paid. [252734]

John Healey: Business rates are not payable on domestic dwellings, unless they are occupied for both domestic and non-domestic purposes and have been assessed by the Valuation Office Agency for both council tax and business rates purposes.

Clause 11 of the Business Rate Supplements Bill, published in December 2008, provides that the decision to levy a BRS on empty non-domestic properties will be left to the discretion of the levying authority.


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Non-Domestic Rates: Tax Allowances

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the responsibilities of local authorities are in respect of meeting the costs of hardship rate relief under section 49 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. [252752]

John Healey: A local authority has to fund 25 per cent. of any hardship relief given.

Non-Domestic Rates: Valuation

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. Pickles) of 30 October 2008, Official Report, column 1284W, on non-domestic rates: valuations, what the (a) description and (b) unique identifier given to each sub-location is in each billing authority area. [252736]

John Healey: Sub-location codes and associated descriptions are not maintained in available listings. The cost of extracting the requested data would be disproportionate.

Ordnance Survey: Publicity

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer of 14 October 2008, Official Report, column 1060W, on Ordnance Survey: databases, if she will place in the Library copies of the promotional brochures for each of the Ordnance Survey products listed. [251967]

Mr. Iain Wright: I have today arranged for promotional materials for Ordnance Survey products OS MasterMap¬(r) Topography Layer, OS MasterMap¬(r) Address Layer 2, OS MasterMap¬(r) Integrated Transport Layer, OS MasterMap¬(r) Imagery Layer, Land-Form PROFILE¬(r) Plus, Code-Point¬(r) with Polygons and Boundary-Line‚"Ę to be placed in the Library.

Ordnance Survey is not actively marketing ADDRESS-POINT¬(r) or OS MasterMap¬(r) Address Layer, and has therefore not issued promotional material for these products during 2007-08.

Ordnance Survey has not produced promotional material in the year 2007-08 for 1:10 000 Scale Raster, 1:50 000 Colour Raster or 1:250 000 Colour Raster. The current policy is to promote these products via the Ordnance Survey website:

Planning Permission: Hammersmith and Fulham

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the representation to her Department made by the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush (Mr. Slaughter) in relation to the planning application for the Gate Hotel, Olympia. [252747]

Mr. Iain Wright: There has been no written representation from my hon. Friend. The Government Office for London had a telephone representation from my hon. Friend stating that he was concerned about the application.
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The deputy leader of the Hammersmith and Fulham labour group, Councillor Cartwright subsequently wrote requesting call-in, stating that this had the support of my hon. Friend.

Planning Permission: Inland Waterways

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will issue planning guidelines relating to residential moorings; and if she will make a statement. [253074]

Mr. Iain Wright: We have no current plans to issue planning guidelines for residential moorings. Planning decisions on the provision of residential moorings are better taken locally after careful consideration of local circumstances, having regard to any relevant policies in the local development plan.

Property Development: Floods

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many new dwellings have been built in areas designated as being at high flood risk in each Government Office region in each year since 1997. [252286]

Mr. Iain Wright: Between 1997 and 2007 an estimated 151,900 dwellings were built in areas of high flood risk, less than 10 per cent. of the total number of homes completed in England in that period. The following table gives a breakdown by year and region over that time. These figures have been estimated by applying the proportion of all new dwellings built in areas of high flood risk, as recorded by Land Use Change Statistics, to the published total number of house building completions. These estimates are not precise, and have therefore been rounded to the nearest 100 dwellings.

Land Use Change Statistics Live Table 251 gives a regional breakdown of the percentage of all new dwellings that were built in areas of high flood risk. The table can be found at

Housing Live Table 217 gives the number of permanent dwellings started and completed, by region and quarter. The table can be found at


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