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11 May 2009 : Column 505W—continued

Departmental Assets

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when his Department last reviewed its assets and land and property holdings with a view to identifying and disposing of surpluses. [269860]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Departmental Asset Management Strategy 2008-09 to 2010-11 published on our website at:

sets out the management approach to wider assets, including identification and disposal.

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The Department has not commissioned an independent property review in recent years. However, its estates team, working in conjunction with retained property consultants, keeps its land and property assets under constant review, working with business and policy areas, to identify and seek the disposal of surplus property assets.

Departmental ICT

Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to address the effect on levels of carbon dioxide emissions from his Department of its ICT purchases since the publication of the Greening Government ICT Strategy; and if he will make a statement. [269561]

Jane Kennedy: Since the publication of the Greening Government Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy, the Department has commissioned a Green ICT Feasibility Study by IBM to establish a Roadmap for the core Department and its Executive Agencies to not only meet the 2012 target for carbon neutrality for ICT in use across its estate, but also to include its out-sourced IT estate; primarily the appropriate portions of two large IBM data centres that support the provision of our IT services.

For core DEFRA and those agencies taking all their IT services from IBM (some 4,500 staff), IBM currently uses a catalogue of assets that conform with the Quick Wins criteria set out in the Government’s Green IT strategy for laptops, desktops and monitors. 96 per cent. of the current deployed IBM desktop and laptop assets are compliant with the Quick Wins criteria.

10 months after the launch of the Greening Government ICT Strategy DEFRA has already delivered eight of the original 18 Chief Information Officer top tips set out in the HMG Greening ICT Strategy and submitted an initial draft Roadmap for addressing the remaining 10 tips, based on interim findings from the Feasibility Study. The top tips and Strategy can be viewed at:

Departmental Public Expenditure

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 16 March 2009, Official Report, columns 826-7W, on the economic situation, what expenditure under what budgetary heading his Department incurred in relation to its seminar with delivery bodies held in November 2008. [268171]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The seminar with DEFRA delivery bodies on 10 November 2008 was held at the offices of WRAP in Banbury. The only costs to DEFRA were the time and rail travel of seven departmental representatives. Attendees from the other delivery bodies would have incurred similar costs.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether his Department held discussions with HM Treasury before the recent decision to make reductions in his Department’s budget. [273343]

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Huw Irranca-Davies: DEFRA’s contribution to the Government’s £5 billion value for money savings in 2010-11 was agreed with the Treasury based upon what we believe is deliverable through the Operational Efficiency Programme and other efficiency measures.

Farmers: Income

Mr. Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the likely effects on the income of hill farmers of European Commission proposals to modify the criteria which define less favoured areas; if he will make it his policy to seek amendment of those proposals to ensure that the income of hill farmers is not reduced by modification of those criteria; and if he will make a statement. [273411]

Jane Kennedy: The European Commission's proposal for new criteria to identify less favoured areas (LFA) will not impact on current upland policies in England. The current English LFA scheme—the hill farm allowance (HFA)—is being replaced with an agri-environment scheme, uplands entry level stewardship (Uplands ELS). Eligibility for Uplands ELS, as well as the make-up of the single payment scheme regions, is determined by domestic classifications, principally severely disadvantaged areas (SDA), rather than the LFA classification, so would not be directly affected by the Commission's proposals, which are unlikely to be implemented in the current rural development programming period.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also have LFA support schemes—the less favoured area support scheme (LFASS), the Tyr Mynydd scheme, and the less favoured areas compensatory allowance scheme (LFACA) respectively. Any redesignation of the LFA would impact on the number of farmers eligible for LFA support therefore, and we are liaising accordingly with the devolved administrations on this.

We are continuing to work with the Commission and other member states on the proposals outlined by the Commission.

Flood Control

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on the use of kitemarked products for the purposes of (a) flood defences and (b) household (i) repairs after flooding and (ii) flood resilience. [273133]

Huw Irranca-Davies: The Environment Agency is the lead delivery body for Government flood risk management policy. It always specifies materials for its flood defences that meet the relevant British and European standards for quality.

The Environment Agency policy on temporary defences states that only suitably accredited temporary defences such as BSI Kitemark or similarly accredited products should be used.

The Environment Agency is developing a policy on property protection products in addition to existing policies on demountable and temporary flood protection products. It encourages the use of quality products for the reduction of flood risk and actively supports the use
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of the BSI Kitemark scheme through sponsorship of publicly available specification (PAS) 1188.

The Environment Agency is working with representatives of flood product manufacturers, the Flood Protection Association, the Association of British Insurers, insurance companies, DEFRA and HR Wallingford to develop PAS 1188 flood protection products.

For repairs after flooding, the Government encourage the use of materials that meet the appropriate British Standards and codes of practice and recommends that properties are made resilient to future floods. DEFRA is working with the Association of British Insurers to improve the development of flood resilience when making repairs after flooding.

Food: Waste Disposal

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his latest estimate is of the amount of food waste not sent to landfill in the last 12 months. [273241]

Jane Kennedy: DEFRA does not hold the information requested.

Swans: Testing

Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which local authority officers have authority to authorise isotope blood tests of swans. [272938]

Jane Kennedy: Local authority officers do not authorise the isotope blood testing of swans.

Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many isotope blood tests of swans have been authorised in each of the last 12 years; and where the swans tested were treated. [272939]

Jane Kennedy: We are not aware of any isotope blood tests that have been performed on swans in the last 12 years.

Communities and Local Government

Building Regulations

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of likely levels of compliance with the requirements of (a) part L and (b) part F of the Building Regulations following their revision. [273189]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Department is presently engaged in a joint project with the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes (EEPfH) looking at levels of compliance for new homes with the requirements of Part L (2006) of the Building Regulations. The first part of this study has been published on the EEPfH website at:

The second part of the study will be published shortly.

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The Department is also currently evaluating Part F to help inform its proposed revision alongside Part L in 2010.

Mr. Dai Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of building control officers with the function of overseeing implementation of the Building Regulations. [273191]

Mr. Iain Wright: All local authority building control officers in England and Wales are responsible for the implementation and enforcement of the building regulations in their respective authorities. All approved inspectors are responsible for the implementation of the building regulations in England and Wales, but approved inspectors have no enforcement responsibilities.

A recent independent survey report commissioned by this Department from the Building Control Alliance (BCA) and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), covering building control officers in England and Wales, found that in 2006-07 in the 201 local authorities that sent in a return there was a total of 2,609 employees and in the 22 approved inspector Building Control bodies that sent in a return there was a total of 1,812 employees. A full copy of the survey report can be found at:

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the (a) costs and (b) benefits of changing Building Regulations to introduce photoluminescent markings as a safety precaution in public spaces. [274393]

Mr. Iain Wright: We have made no assessment of the costs or benefits of changing Building Regulations to introduce requirements for photoluminescent markings in public spaces.

Community Relations: Religion

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans her Department has to mark inter faith week; and if she will make a statement. [273196]

Mr. Khan: The Department announced on 24 March that inter faith week will take place from 15 to 21 November across England and possibly Wales. It was proposed to Government by the Inter Faith Network for the UK (the member bodies of which include the Churches and other major faith communities) in 2008 as part of the consultation for the Government’s inter faith strategy “Face to Face and Side by Side: A Framework for Partnership in our Multi Faith Society.”

We are keen to see local faith groups and communities around the country reaching out to each other to build stronger bonds of understanding and co-operation. Places of worship, inter faith bodies, schools and colleges, local authorities and other public agencies will be holding their own local events. Activities will also aim to increase public awareness of the various faith communities of the UK, focusing on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and wider society. Local,
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regional and national inter faith initiatives will be able to raise their profile. We hope the week will also increase understanding between people of religious and non-religious beliefs.

The Department is facilitating the week in partnership with the Inter Faith Network and in consultation with the Department for Children, Schools and Families, the Local Government Association and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. We are liaising with the relevant public agencies, helping facilitate publicity and developing written materials. We will also organise a launch event in the preceding week.

Council Housing: Rents

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps) of 25 March 2009, Official Report, column 470W, on council housing: rents, if she will place in the Library a copy of the consultation document. [273687]

Mr. Iain Wright: A copy of the final housing revenue account subsidy Amending Determination for 2009-10 will be placed in the Library of the House when it is issued. We aim to issue this document soon.

Council Tax

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what recent discussions she has had with leaders of local authorities on levels of council tax; [272891]

(2) what recent discussions she has had with local authority chief executives on levels of council tax. [273067]

John Healey: Ministers from Communities and Local Government regularly meet with representatives from local authorities at which various issues may be raised.

Derelict Land: Gardens

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what research her Department has commissioned on the (a) level of infill development in residential communities and (b) loss of garden space as a result of new residential development. [273216]

Mr. Iain Wright: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 2 April 2009, Official Report, columns 1503-5W.

Empty Property

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to assist local authorities in returning derelict residential properties to occupancy. [274427]

Mr. Iain Wright: We work closely with the independent Empty Homes Agency to encourage local authorities to tackle empty homes in their areas. Through the Housing Act 2004, we have introduced new powers to allow local authorities to take over the management of private sector empty homes (empty dwelling management orders) where a voluntary approach is not successful. We are
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supporting the Empty Homes Agency’s new guidance on EDMOs, which was launched on 10 March. The guidance is internet-based and interactive and takes local authorities through the EDMO process step by step. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing provided a foreword for the guidance.

I hosted an Empty Homes seminar for a number of local authorities on 23 April to provide an opportunity to discuss the obstacles facing authorities in dealing with empty homes, share examples of best practice and encourage them to take action to tackle empty homes in their area.

Empty Property: Lancashire

Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate
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her Department has made of the number of residential properties which have become vacant and derelict in West Lancashire constituency in the last (a) six months, (b) 12 months and (c) five years. [274426]

Mr. Iain Wright: Information is not held centrally on when dwellings become vacant, nor on dereliction. However, the following table shows the number of vacant dwellings as at 6 October 2008. Figures are not available at constituency level for West Lancashire. Figures are available at local authority level for Lancashire as a whole.

Local authority Number of short-term empty dwellings (empty for less than six months) Number of long-term empty dwellings (empty for more than six months) Total number of empty dwellings





























Ribble Valley








South Ribble




West Lancashire












Council Taxbase and Council Taxbase Supplementary (CTB1 and CTB1S) returns from local authorities.

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