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Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what mechanisms are in place for oversight of the work of the Local Government Ombudsman; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Through the Local Government Act 1974 Parliament has established the local government ombudsman as independent of both central Government and local government. Parliament has required the ombudsman to present an annual report to it and the ombudsman's decisions, including on individual cases, can be subject to judicial review by the courts.
Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans he has for the future oversight of the work of the Local Government Ombudsman; and what representations he has received on the creation of a body to oversee that work. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Through the Local Government Act 1974 Parliament has established the local government ombudsman as independent of both central Government and local government. Parliament has required the ombudsman to present an annual report to it and the ombudsman's decisions, including on individual cases, can be subject to judicial review by the courts. We consider this sufficient.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans he has for the future of the Local Government Pension Scheme in respect of arrangements for (a) new and (b) current local government employees; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The affordability, viability and the fairness of the Local Government Pension Scheme to taxpayers is kept under regular review. The triennial actuarial valuation exercise of all 89 Scheme pension funds ensures that their pension liabilities can be met, sets affordable employer contribution rates and maintains on-going stability and discipline in overall funding. Regulatory changes to ensure an equitable balance between employers' and members' contributions towards the cost of providing pensions are already in place. If further amendments to the Scheme became necessary, a consultation with Scheme stakeholders will take place, as required by the Superannuation Act 1972.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if he will make it his policy to extend Small Business Rate Relief to cover enterprises with an annual turnover of less than £500,000; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government have no plans to make such a change. The Small Business Rate Relief scheme is based on the rateable value of premises and is targeted at small businesses occupying premises with low rateable values. Billing authorities do not hold the data on businesses occupying property liable for business rates which would be necessary to base eligibility for Small Business Rate Relief on business turnover rather than the rateable value of their property.
Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether he has plans to (a) extend the closing date of his Department's consultation on transitional arrangements for the non-domestic rating revaluation 2010 in England and (b) bring forward the publication date of the 2010 ratings list, in order to make available to companies details of their updated rateable values before such companies make submissions to that consultation. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: We have no plans to extend the closing date for the consultation on the transitional arrangements or to bring forward the publication of the draft 2010 rating lists. The closing date for the consultation of 23 September is required to ensure regulations implementing the transitional arrangements can be made by the end of December 2009 as required by statute. The draft rating lists and summary valuations will not be ready for publication before 30 September.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Standards Board for England has incurred expenditure on external public relations companies in the last 18 months. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Out of their budget of £8.2 million for 2008-09 and £7.4 million for 2009-10, which we have provided for the Standards Board for England, the Board spent £416,000 in 2008-09 and plans to spend £325,000 in 2009-10 on external public relations, including outsourcing the production of guidance and training materials for local authorities and the organisation of its Annual Assembly of Standards Committees.
Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of sustainable procurement policies in each region; and what account he expects to be taken of such policies in the setting of annual carbon budgets. 
John Healey: Regional Development Agencies and local authorities are autonomous bodies responsible for taking their own procurement decisions, subject to the requirements of domestic and European legislation and to the ELV UK regulatory framework. Ministers have no ability to intervene in individual procurement decisions. Existing guidance to local authorities recommends that they take account of sustainability and quality when considering both service delivery options and service suppliers.
Regional Development Agencies are working closely with Government to improve the basis for sustainable procurement, and the RDA Sustainable Procurement Working Group is working to align policies and practices in a consistent fashion across all RDAs.
In November 2007, the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) in conjunction with the Local Government Association (LGA) and the North East Centre of Excellence, published a 'Sustainable Procurement Strategy for Local Government' which included a route map of actions for local authorities to ensure they are compatible with the principles of sustainable procurement and development. The IDeA concluded that many local authorities have already attained significant progress in meeting their target to drive up standards in sustainable procurement.
There is no requirement for regions to have carbon budgets. However, we will expect regions to contribute fully to the delivery of the Low Carbon Transition Plan and the Renewable Energy Strategy, including regional targets for the delivery of renewables. The national performance framework for local authorities includes indicators on reducing carbon emissions in their areas, and from their operations, and a large number of authorities have chosen to include these indicators in their Local Area Agreement. The recent consultation document: Strengthening Local Democracy set out proposals on how local authorities could further contribute to meeting national carbon emission targets perhaps through developing their own local carbon budgets. It will be for
regional and local authorities to determine how they might meet regional and/or local targets and the role which sustainable procurement policies could play in doing so.
Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities and regional planning bodies on the conduct of and methodology for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation assessments (GTAAs); whether it is his Department's policy that GTAAs should take into account the extent to which the provision of new traveller sites is likely to attract residents from outside the (a) local authority and (b) study area; and what guidance his Department has issued on the extent to which such potential demand should be reflected in assessments of need. 
The guidance provides advice to local authorities on carrying out assessments of the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers. It states that the exact approach will need to be adapted to local circumstances.
The responsibility for carrying out the assessment rests with individual local authorities. However, the guidance strongly recommends that local authorities work in partnership with neighbouring authorities. Such an approach will provide a better understanding of migration into, out of, and within the survey area and a better understanding of travelling patterns, particularly where they cross administrative boundaries, factors which must be understood if appropriate provision is to be made.
The guidance advises that the most accurate possible projection of future as well as current need, covering the next 5-10 years, should be made in the assessment. This would include analysis of travelling patterns within the survey area and in and out of surrounding areas; the likely rate of household formation and annual population increase and the intentions of those households planning to move.
Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department has issued to local planning authorities on whether likely effect on property values is a material consideration in assessing planning applications for Traveller sites. 
Mr. Ian Austin: Guidance on what matters may be considered as material considerations in assessing planning applications is set out in the 'The Planning System: General Principles', which is an Annex to PPS1. This confirms that material considerations must be genuine planning considerations, i.e. they must be related to the development and use of land in the public interest. The considerations must also fairly and reasonably relate to the application. Ultimately, the Courts are the arbiters of what constitutes a material consideration.
Any development may affect the value of one or more existing properties, either positively or negatively. However, in considering planning applications, including those for Traveller sites, case law, e.g. Great Portland
Estate v. Westminster City Council , has established that the impact of the proposed development on purely private interests cannot generally constitute a material consideration.
Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 9 February 2009, Official Report, column 1700W, on planning permission, what guidance has been provided to local planning authorities on equality and diversity in decisions on planning applications relating to Travellers. 
Mr. Ian Austin: Planning policy for Gypsy and Traveller sites is contained in ODPM Circular 01/06 "Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites". This confirms that Gypsies and Travellers have the same rights and responsibilities within the planning system as all other applicants for planning permission. The Circular includes guidance highlighting the general duty that local authorities have under the Race Relations Act 1976, as amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 to actively seek to eliminate unlawful discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations in all they do. This duty does not give Gypsies and Travellers a right to establish sites in contravention of planning control.
Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will bring forward proposals for the amendment of the International Criminal Court Act 2001 to allow those suspected of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity prior to 2001 to be prosecuted in UK courts. 
Mr. Straw: I refer the hon. Member to my written ministerial statement on 7 July 2009, Official Report, columns 41-42WS. The statement confirmed that we will bring forward amendments to the Coroners and Justice Bill for consideration at Report stage of the Bill. We intend, as far as is permissible under the legal principles applicable to retrospection, to cover the categories of crime of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity from 1 January 1991.
Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) how many people were (a) arrested, (b) charged with and (c) convicted of being under the influence of alcohol while in charge of a bicycle in (i) Test Valley Borough and (ii) Southampton in each of the last five years; 
(2) how many people were (a) arrested for, (b) charged with and (c) convicted of being under the influence of illegal drugs while riding a bicycle on a public road in (i) Test Valley Borough and (ii) Southampton in each of the last five years. 
The information requested on arrests is not collected centrally. The arrests collection held by the Home Office covers arrests for recorded crime (notifiable offences) only, broken down at a main offence group level, covering categories such as violence against the person and robbery.
The alcohol related offences presented in the table are not notifiable offences and do not form part of the arrests collection.
Information showing the number of persons proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for the offences "Pedal cyclist driving under the influence of drink or drugs" under section 30 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act and "Being drunk in charge of a carriage, horse, cattle or steam engine" under section 12 of the 1872 Licensing Act, in the Hampshire Police Force Area from 2003 to 2007 (latest available) can be viewed in the table.
The Ministry of Justice do not centrally collect charging data; proceeded against information has been provided in lieu. Data are not collected centrally below police force area; therefore information relating to Test Valley borough and Southampton cannot be provided.
The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
|Number of persons proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts under the offences "Pedal cyclist driving under the influence of drink or drugs"( 1) (section 30 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act) and "Being drunk while in charge on any highway or other public place of any carriage( 2) , horse, cattle or steam engine" (section 12 of the 1872 Licensing Act), in the Hampshire Police Force Area, 2003 to 2007( 3,4)|
|Section 30 1988 Road Traffic Act||Section 12 1872 Licensing Act|
|(1) The number of persons proceeded against and found guilty for driving under the influence of drinks or drugs cannot be separately identified under this statute.|
(2) A bicycle, whether ridden or pushed, is a carriage within the meaning of this offence. The number of persons proceeded against or found guilty of being drunk in charge of a carriage cannot be separated from those involving a horse, cattle or steam engine.
(3) The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.
(4) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used.
Evidence and Analysis Unit-Office for Criminal Justice Reform
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