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House of Commons Commission

Security

Mr. Amess: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many (a) police officers of each rank and (b) civilian security staff (i) are and (ii) were employed on average in each year since 2001 in (A) the Palace of Westminster and (B) the Parliamentary estate. [261476]


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Nick Harvey: We do not disclose the exact disposition of our security operation. The security work force is regularly reviewed by the Serjeant at Arms and Black Rod in consultation with the Joint Committee on Security.

International Development

Burma: Asylum

Mr. Newmark: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what programmes his Department (a) has established and (b) funds to assist Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. [262740]

Mr. Michael Foster: The Department for International Development (DFID) has not established any programmes or provided funding specifically to assist Rohingya refugees. We do, however, provide assistance to the refugees indirectly through our contributions to the European Commission and to United Nations organisations which have programmes to support Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

We are also helping to meet the humanitarian needs of Rohingya people living in Burma's northern Rakhine State through our contributions to multi-donor programmes which operate across the country. These include a UNICEF fund for primary education and the Three Diseases Fund which was set up to fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB in Burma.

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1003-4W, on departmental manpower, whether the Department publicises staff numbers for country offices not assessed by the National Audit Office report of October 2008 as insecure; and if he will make a statement. [261435]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: The Department for International Development (DFID) no longer publicises staff numbers for country offices, irrespective of whether they were assessed by the National Audit Office in October 2008.

Overseas Aid: Finance

Mr. Newmark: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the likely effects of the recession on his Department's budgets for (a) bilateral and (b) multilateral assistance. [262741]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Plans for the Department for International Development's (DFID) bilateral and multilateral assistance over the three years 2008-09 to 2010-11 were published in May 2008 in DFID's 2008 annual report. Any revisions to those allocation plans in the light of the changed economic situation will be published in DFID's 2009 annual report.


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Communities and Local Government

Agriculture: Planning Permission

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many planning applications have been granted on farmland in England classified as (a) grade 1 (excellent), (b) grade 2 (very good), (c) grade 3a (good), (d) grade 3b (moderate), (e) grade 4 (poor) and (f) grade 5 (very poor) in each of the last 10 years. [262115]

Mr. Iain Wright: The information requested is not held centrally. Communities and Local Government collects quarterly summary statistics on development control from all local planning authorities in England. However, we do not collect information on individual planning applications.

Christmas

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether it is her Department’s policy to offer staff (a) additional leave entitlement for Christmas shopping and (b) Christmas bonus payments. [262808]

Mr. Khan: The Department does not have any policies regarding additional leave entitlement for Christmas shopping or Christmas bonus payments.

Community Relations

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer of 16 December 2008, Official Report, columns 582-83W, on community relations, (1) what steps her Department has taken in response to the observations on page 6 of the report on the learning and development exercise issued by the Audit Commission and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary; [262007]

(2) how many local authorities have selected National Indicator 35 as part of their local area agreements; and when local authorities are due to report on progress against that indicator in respect of work done under the Prevent strand of Project Contest in 2008. [262012]

Mr. Khan: In responding to the observations in the “Preventing Violent Extremism: Learning and Development Exercise” report relating to assessing success, my Department has responded by commissioning research from the Tavistock Institute and De Montfort University to investigate the national and international contributing factors to violent extremism. On 10 December 2008 the Secretary of State announced that we would be working to establish a national ‘centre of excellence’ that local areas can access for practical advice on Prevent; and we have published guidance produced jointly between Communities and Local Government, the Home Office and the Office for Public Management to assist local authorities and the police in reporting outcomes linked to National Indicator 35 (NI 35). Currently 19 local authorities have selected NI 35 as a priority indicator as part of their local area agreements. Progress against NI 35 for 2008-09 will be reported from April 2009.


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Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer of 16 December 2008, Official Report, columns 583-84W, on community relations, how many area-based grants have been made by her Department; which other departments have made area-based grants; and how much her Department has spent on area-based grants in each year since 2006. [262009]

Mr. Khan: Area Based Grant was introduced in April 2008 and is a single grant paid to local authorities. Details of all area based grant allocations made for 2008-09 and 2009-10 are available at:

Mr. Paul Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to her Department's report Preventing violent extremism: next steps for communities, how much of the £80 million for community-led work to tackle violent extremism will be allocated to (a) national projects, (b) the Community Leadership Fund and (c) local authorities in (i) 2008-09, (ii) 2009-10 and (iii) 2010-11. [262477]

Mr. Khan: Our overall budget for this Comprehensive Spending Review period (2008-11) is £84.5 million (£20.5 million/£27.5 million/£36.5 million). Over the CSR period, £45 million of this funding will be paid through the area based grant to local authorities, and £5.1 million will be allocated through the community leadership fund.

The Department has budgeted to spend £8.5 million on Prevent related projects in the financial year 2008-09. The budget allocation split for the following two years 2009-11 has not yet been finalised, but we expect to support national projects in a number of areas including: theological understanding; building community resilience; engaging and empowering young Muslims and Muslim women; local partnerships and delivery; faith institutions; campaigns; and research and evaluation.

Community Relations: Finance

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how the 79 priority local authorities provided with £12 million under the Prevent strand of Project Contest in 2008-09 were selected; how much each one received in 2008-09; and what mechanisms are in place to assess whether measures implemented by these local authorities are effective; [262122]

(2) how the priority local authorities selected to receive funding from the £33 million left to be distributed to priority local authorities under the Prevent strand of Project Contest for April 2008 to March 2011 were selected by her Department; how much each will receive; and what mechanisms are in place to assess whether measures implemented by these local authorities are effective. [262123]

Mr. Khan: Local authorities will be assessed from April 2008 using National Indicator 35 (NI35), and through the comprehensive area assessment which will
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begin in April 2009. Details of all area based grant allocations made from April 2008 to March 2011 are available at:

The local authorities provided with Prevent funding over the period 2008-11 have been selected based on the size of their Muslim population. This is to enable them to work with those most vulnerable to violent extremism and to build the resilience in those communities where it is most needed.

Community Relations: Islam

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the Answer of 5 February 2008, Official Report, columns 1425-6W, on community relations: Islam, whether the Young Muslim Advisory Group has been established for a fixed time period; and for how long she expects her Department to monitor the group’s progress. [262820]

Mr. Khan: The Young Muslim Advisory Group (YMAG) has been established for a period of two years, ending in September 2010. The YMAG’s progress will be monitored throughout this time by both the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Council Housing: Construction

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether local authorities which have transferred their housing stock to a housing association are permitted to build new council housing. [262514]

Mr. Iain Wright: Local authorities which have transferred all their housing stock could build council housing if they consider that they have the necessary skills to develop, have resources available, and can do this efficiently and provide value for money.

Council Housing: Rents

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what (a) methodology and (b) formula is used to calculate changes in (i) council house rent and (ii) housing subsidy to each local authority area. [262162]

Mr. Iain Wright: The methodology and formula used to calculate changes in council house rents, and housing subsidy for each local authority, are set out in the annual Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidy determination which is available on the Department’s website at

I have arranged for a copy of the 2009-10 determination to be placed in the Library of the House.

Council Housing: Tenants’ Rights

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect on a local authority tenants’
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risk of eviction of the practice of including utility bills in rent for the purposes of claiming rent arrears; and if she will make a statement. [262547]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Department has not made an assessment of whether the inclusion of utilities within rent payments may increase the risk of eviction. Tenancy agreements should make clear what services are included within the rent.

CLG have issued guidance which makes clear we expect social landlords to maintain and sustain tenancies wherever possible, focusing on preventative approaches rather than eviction. The basic principles underpinning effective arrears management are well established but in these difficult economic times they become even more important.

Council Tax

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to implement a council tax freeze in England. [262610]

Mr. Khan: No.

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she has issued to local authorities on the procedure to be followed in setting (a) a budget and (b) a council tax rate in circumstances where the council is unable to agree on a budget. [262683]

John Healey: The Local Government Finance Act 1992 sets out provisions under which billing authorities are legally required to set their (a) budget requirement and (b) council tax rate for the financial year. Communities and Local Government does not provide guidance in situations where a council is unable to agree a budget.

Departmental Buildings

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford North (Mr. Scott) of 26 January 2009, Official Report, column 106W, on departmental buildings, under what budgetary heading the expenditure referred to in the table was incurred in the most recent year for which audited figures are available; and in respect of which locations such expenditure was incurred. [262676]

Mr. Khan: The figures quoted in the table are in the consolidated 2007-08 Departmental Resource Accounts, published on 21 July 2008, and are included under the budgetary headings; Other Administration Costs, Other Expenditure, Accommodation shown in Note 9 (page 53) and Programme Costs, Other Expenditure, Accommodation shown in Note 10 (page 54). The expenditure was incurred in Central London, Bristol, Hemel Hempstead and Uttoxeter.

Departmental Data Protection

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what IT security strategy her Department has in place; what steps are being taken to ensure the strategy is being followed;
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what policy is in place on the use of encryption when data are sent externally; and what sanctions are in place for use should the policy not be followed. [259004]

Mr. Khan: Information is a key asset to Government and its correct handling is vital to the delivery of public services and to the integrity of HMG. The Security Policy Framework, the Data Handling Report and the National Information Assurance Strategy produced by the Cabinet Office provide a strategic framework for protecting information that Government handles and put in place a set of mandatory measures which Departments must adhere to.

The Department for Communities and Local Government is compliant with the security policies contained in the Government Security Policy Framework including those for information security and assurance.

Depending upon the circumstances, a range of sanctions are available including disciplinary or administrative action, and in extreme or persistent cases, termination of employment/services and, if appropriate, criminal proceedings.

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department uses WPA2 encryption protocol on all its wireless networks. [259705]

Mr. Khan: Communities and Local Government follows CESG guidance on the use of the Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) communications security protocols in order to protect wireless networks carrying protectively marked (up to RESTRICTED/IL3) traffic. The configuration and operation standards for WPA2 are set out in CESG’s Infosec Manual Y, Use of WPA2 Wireless Security in Government Systems.

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what auditing her Department undertakes to ensure that IT security policies are being followed; and on how many occasions (a) IT security policies have been breached by employees and (b) a member of staff has been sanctioned for a breach of such policies in the last 12 months. [259706]

Mr. Khan: Compliance arrangements are in place comprising a system of self assessment, accreditation, assurance reporting, audit and review. Additionally, any security incidents are notified to the IT security manager and departmental IT security officer; and a monthly report is compiled by the service provider, Steria Ltd. These reports show that IT security policies have been broken by CLG employees on three occasions in the past 12 months. In each case the breach was of a minor nature and staff were advised accordingly. Regular daytime security checks are also carried out, to identify unattended PCs that may not have been locked; where these are found guidance has been issued to staff.

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) if she will place in the Library a copy of her Department’s IT security hierarchy; [259707]

(2) what scanning for vulnerabilities her Department conducts of each of its IT devices; what method is used for IT device scans; and how many vulnerabilities have been detected as a result of such scans in the last 12 months. [259708]


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