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18 Mar 2009 : Column 1182W—continued

Repossession Orders

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Jarrow of 16 June 2008, Official Report, column 710W, on repossession orders, if she will make it her policy to collect information on the number of home repossessions. [263926]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Department does not collect data on repossessions. Repossessions data at the national level are available from the Council of Mortgage Lenders and Financial Services Authority.

The only sub-national figures relating to repossessions are for possession orders. Statistics on mortgage and landlord possession orders for the county courts are available via the Ministry of Justice website at:

Right to Buy Scheme

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will bring forward proposals to allow individual councils to retain the capital receipts from right-to-buy sales. [263826]


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Mr. Iain Wright: The current position is that housing capital receipts are recycled to central Government for investment, since the level of receipts received in a local authority area does not always match the authority’s need to spend. For receipts arising from right to buy (RTB) sales and other sales of dwellings, the proportion that is recycled is 75 per cent.; Local authorities are free to use the remaining 25 per cent. for any capital purpose they choose.

The Review of Council Housing Finance is examining the issue of capital receipts and its interaction with the overall system. The aim of the review is to find a fair, affordable, long-term solution which enables councils to exercise greater freedom and local control but which also supports wider housing policy such as increasing supply.

We are consulting now on the implementation of changes to the revenue and capital rules which currently redistribute rent and capital receipts from new council housing. We are proposing that councils keep the full revenue from new homes they build and the full capital receipts if those homes are sold.

Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Great Grimsby of 30 October 2008, Official Report, column 1257W, on council housing, if she will estimate how much has been raised in capital receipts from right to buy sales in each year since the scheme’s inception. [263929]

Mr. Iain Wright: As I said in my answer to which the hon. Gentleman refers, the Department does not hold information on capital receipts from right to buy (RTB) and preserved right to buy sales before 1998, nor is it possible to estimate their level. Information on total receipts arising from local authority RTB sales since 1998-99 are available from the following webpage:

Information on total receipts arising from preserved RTB sales from registered social landlords (RSLs) is shown in the following table:

Total receipts arising from preserved RTB sales from registered social landlords (RSL s)
Financial year £ million

1998-99

116

1999-2000

199

2000-01

198

2001-02

226

2002-03

350

2003-04

483

2004-05

326

2005-06

286

2006-07

260

2007-08

197


Sustainable Development

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representation her Department had at the Ecobuild Conference at Earl’s Court between 3 and 5 March 2009; and if she
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will place in the Library copies of material distributed and speeches made by representatives of her Department at the Conference. [263397]

Margaret Beckett: The Department had a corporate stand at the EcoBuild conference, which was manned by officials from a number of relevant policy areas to ensure the provision of expert advice to delegates to the conference.

The speech that I made at the conference can be downloaded from the Communities website:

The publications that were distributed at the conference can be downloaded from the Communities website:

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

British Overseas Territories: Investment

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department holds on the monetary value of financial deposits in each UK overseas territory. [264012]

Gillian Merron: The information requested by my hon. Friend is not held by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), but by the regulatory authorities in each Overseas Territory.

FCO officials are in contact with these authorities and I will write to my hon. Friend with the information, when it has been received.

Colombia: Armed Conflict

Anne Moffat: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the accuracy of the comments of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that the Colombian security forces are engaged in widespread and systematic killings of civilians. [264044]

Gillian Merron [holding answer 16 March 2009]: We share the concerns of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the ongoing problem of abuses committed by members of the Colombian armed forces. I stressed this in a statement on 30 October 2008, in which I said that

I have discussed our concerns with the Colombian vice-president, foreign minister and ambassador to the UK, and officials in our embassy in Bogota have taken a number of opportunities to remind representatives of the Colombian government and armed forces of these concerns.


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Democratic Republic of Congo: Armed Conflict

Mr. Newmark: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of allegations of the activities of Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda rebels in villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo. [262743]

Gillian Merron: We are encouraged by the success of the recent joint military operations conducted by the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda against the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR) militia. The numbers of rebel fighters leaving the FDLR have increased in recent weeks.

Nonetheless, the group remains a serious threat to stability in eastern DRC. We understand that during the operations, members of the militia carried out reprisal attacks against members of the civilian population.

Since the end of the joint operations, the FDLR have regrouped in some locations. The DRC army is continuing its efforts to apply pressure to the FDLR, with support from UN peacekeepers. This includes the process of persuading FDLR members to give up their struggle, disarm and integrate into civilian life.

Departmental Audit

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with the National Audit Office on the date of publication of its report on the financial management of his Department; and if he will make a statement. [262894]

Gillian Merron: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has worked closely with the National Audit Office (NAO) throughout the Financial Management Review in agreeing milestones and delivery dates.

The first draft of the review was issued by the NAO on 18 February 2009. On 9 March 2009, the FCO finance department provided comments and an action plan, and the Audit and Risk Committee discussed the initial draft. The NAO are responsible for producing the final version which will be agreed by both Departments.

Departmental Official Hospitality

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the cost to his Department was of entertaining at each residence used by Ministers in his Department in each year since 1997. [262898]

Gillian Merron: The information requested is not held centrally in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and to obtain this would incur disproportionate cost.

Departmental Public Appointments

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information his Department holds on the number of persons appointed to executive positions in bodies for which his Department has responsibility in the last five years who previously had careers in the banking industry. [261228]


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Gillian Merron: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Wines

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidance he has received from the Government Hospitality Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine on the wines to be served in (a) overseas embassies and high commissions and (b) in his Department’s premises in London; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the guidance. [262896]

Gillian Merron: The Government Hospitality Advisory Committee for the Purchase of Wine (GHACPW) offers advice to Government Hospitality, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the department with responsibility for the management of the government cellar stock. The GHACPW’s annual report is placed in the Library of the House, but its advice is not published. Although it is not the role of the GHACPW to offer advice to UK missions overseas, the head of Government Hospitality does offer guidance to our embassies and high commissions as required.

Foreign Policy

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in which areas of the world the UK is making territorial claims. [263408]

Gillian Merron: The UK is not making any territorial claims as such. In relation to the continental shelf, where as a coastal state the UK would have limited rights to explore and exploit the natural resources of the seabed and subsoil, the UK has, to date, made two submissions to the UN Commission on the limits of the continental shelf. These relate to the continental shelf beyond 200nm in the Bay of Biscay (jointly with France, Ireland and Spain), and around Ascension Island. This has been done in accordance with Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Group of Twenty: London Summit

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of hosting the G20 Summit in London in April 2009. [258887]

Gillian Merron: The financial crisis of autumn 2008, affecting banking systems, is now a global economic crisis, impacting upon jobs and livelihoods. No one, country can resolve this crisis alone.

International co-operation and the London G20 summit is essential as it will bring together leaders of the world's major economies and key international institutions.

With the global economic situation continuing to deteriorate our goal for the London G20 summit is for Leaders to take whatever action is necessary to stabilise financial markets and enable families and business to get through the recession; reform and strengthen the global financial and economic system to restore confidence and trust; and put the global economy on track for sustainable growth.


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The London G20 summit is therefore vitally important on the global stage. The current estimate of the cost to the public purse of just below £19 million, which includes policing and contingency costs, should be considered in this context.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the number of foreign officials likely to attend the G20 summit in London in April 2009. [258928]

Gillian Merron: The financial crisis of autumn 2008, affecting banking systems, is now a global economic crisis, impacting upon jobs and livelihoods. No one country can resolve this crisis alone. International co-operation and the London G20 summit is essential as it will bring together leaders of the world's major economies and key international institutions.

With the global economic situation continuing to deteriorate our goal for the London G20 summit is for leaders to take whatever action is necessary to stabilise financial markets and enable families and business to get through the recession; reform and strengthen the global financial and economic system to restore confidence and trust; and put the global economy on track for sustainable growth.

The current estimate of foreign officials attending the London G20 summit within the Excel Centre is under 1,000. However, delegations will be supported by accompanying officials and we are currently seeking these numbers from the participating countries.

Guinea-Bissau: Assassination

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received on the alleged assassination of the President of Guinea-Bissau; and if he will make a statement. [261896]

Gillian Merron: A spokesman for the interim government of Guinea-Bissau has confirmed that President Viera was assassinated on 2 March 2009.

The Government have expressed their condolences to the people of Guinea-Bissau and have urged that those responsible be brought to justice. The UN Security Council has issued a statement which condemned the assassinations in the strongest terms. The Government support the Guinea-Bissau interim government's call for elections to take place within 60 days as specified in the constitution.

We will continue to monitor the situation.

Piracy

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to seek international agreement on mechanisms for (a) international co-operation to reduce levels of piracy on the high seas and (b) the prosecution of piracy cases in adjacent states. [260402]


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