|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
However, DEFRA have recently published "Safeguarding our Soils: A Strategy for England". This announced that they will publish a new toolkit for planners in 2010 to help them to take account of soil functions, including soil carbon storage, in the planning system, and work with this Department to review the effectiveness of the existing planning policy to protect important soils, and whether there is a need to update the policy.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether letters have been sent to local authorities in (a) the East of England and (b) the South East by the relevant Government Office on the weight to be given to draft regional spatial strategies; and what guidance is being given to local authorities on the weight to be given to elements of regional spatial strategies which are subject to legal action pending the outcome of that action. 
Mr. Ian Austin: Policies relating to two districts in the East of England have been remitted to the Secretary of State for further work on the sustainability appraisal. Policies relating to two further districts in the South East of England are currently subject to legal challenge. All other policies in the regional spatial strategies for both the East of England and the South East should be treated as with full development plan status.
Mr. Malik: The Government announced on 25 September 2009 that they will carry out a further appraisal of whether its proposals for the Regional Spatial Strategy for South West England (SW RSS) are the most sustainable way forward for the Region.
In light of the appraisal's findings, the Government will then decide what action to take to complete the strategy to provide the clarity and certainty about the future framework for growth in the region which all partners are keen to see.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the membership of the Shared Ownership Lending Working Group is; what terms of reference have been set for the Group; and on what dates the Group has met. 
John Healey: The Shared Ownership Lending Working Group is an official led group comprising representatives from Communities and Local Government, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the National Housing Federation, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Tenant Services Authority.
The working group is examining how to overcome some of the potential barriers and disincentives to shared ownership lending. The group has met on four occasions to-date i.e. 9 June, 15 July, 19 August and 14 September.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps his Department plans to take in response to the report by Professor John Hills' on social housing and social mobility. 
Mr. Ian Austin: John Hills' report has made a significant contribution to the debate about the role of social housing. This Government have taken decisive action to address the challenges raised in John's report and the challenges raised by the current economic climate. We have committed to investing £7.5 billion over two years to deliver up to 112,000 affordable homes and around 15,000 private homes, including £340 million to support local authorities in delivering new council housing. I am also introducing a range of major reforms to the social and private rented sector. This includes the consultations I have recently published on a devolved system of responsibility and funding for council housing, a major review of the private rented sector and changes to social housing allocations to give people confidence that councils allocate housing in their area fairly, and the initiative I have launched to clamp-down on fraud in the social sector. In addition, I will be setting out further details of the Government's plans to support housing recovery and ensure people have access to decent homes later this year.
Mr. Malik: This Department has not issued guidance to local authorities on the use of stab-proof vests by street wardens. It is for local authorities, and other organisations employing wardens, to decide how their wardens should be equipped, in the light of local circumstances and health and safety requirements.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with reference to page 21 of his Department's Resource Accounts for 2008-09, HC 449, how much his Department has budgeted for payment to the Town and Country Planning Association in 2009-10 for work on eco-towns. 
John Healey: We are currently agreeing an eco-towns work plan with the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) as we move into the implementation stage of the Eco-towns programme, following publication of "Planning Policy Statement: eco-towns". As part of this the TCPA will complete the series of best practice worksheets to support those taking forward eco-towns, and we have allocated £22,000 in 2009-10 for this work.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what proportion of planning appeals relating to Traveller sites (1) were (a) granted and (b) dismissed in the two years prior to the introduction of Circular 01/06; 
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what steps his Department is taking to reduce the additional amount householders in receipt of a grant from the Warm Front Scheme pay. 
Mr. Kidney [holding answer 20 October 2009]: On 23 April we announced our intention to increase Warm Front grant levels from £2,700 to £3,500 (or from £4,000 to £6,000 where oil or a low carbon technology is recommended).
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change how many households in Coventry have received Warm Front Scheme grants to date; and what the average additional amount paid by householders was. 
Mr. Kidney [holding answer 20 October 2009]: The following table shows the number of households in Coventry that have received assistance from the Warm Front Scheme, and the average additional amount paid by householders to 30 September 2009.
|Households assisted by Warm Front in Coventry from June 2000 to 30 September 2009:|
|(1) £394.41 is the average additional amount paid by those 1,808 households that paid a contribution.|
Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the monetary value of the opium crop harvested in Afghanistan in each of the last five years for which figures are available. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) provides estimates of the value of the Afghan opium crop at "farm-gate" prices (the value the farmer receives) in their annual Afghan Opium Surveys. These figures reflect changes in the opium price and poppy cultivation. The estimated values for the last five years are in the following table:
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the outcome of the Butmir meeting on 9 October in Bosnia-Herzegovina; and what the Government's policy is on political reform in Bosnia-Herzegovina. 
David Miliband: We welcome and fully support this joint EU/US push for political reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). It provides an important opportunity to make progress on priority areas for reform in BiH and we are urging BiH's political leaders to engage fully and constructively ahead of and during the next scheduled meeting on 20-21 October 2009.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had since July 2009 with Arab governments on (a) the imprisonment of Israeli Soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas
and (b) the refusal of Hamas to allow Gilad Shalit visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: I raised the continued captivity of Gilad Shalit and Hamas' refusal to allow humanitarian access with the Palestinian authorities during my visit to the region in August 2009. We have also made our position on these issues very clear in international meetings, most recently in the Security Council debate on the Middle East on 14 October 2009.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment the Government has made of the level of respect for human rights in Guinea following the violence at an Opposition rally on 28 September 2009; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: We believe that an accurate assessment of the human rights situation in Guinea can only be secured by an independent investigation into recent events, including the gross violations that took place on 28 September. The UK, as a member of the International Contact Group for Guinea, is actively considering with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States the scope for an urgent independent international inquiry to conduct such an investigation.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government is taking to assist regional mediation efforts to restore democracy and constitutional order in Guinea following the violence at an Opposition rally on 28 September 2009; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: As a member of the International Contact Group for Guinea, the UK is in regular contact with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union encouraging and supporting them in their efforts to take urgent and robust action on Guinea. We support the appointment by ECOWAS of President Campoare of Burkina Faso as mediator to the current crisis in Guinea.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the Iranian Government on the development of a nuclear programme in that country in the last month; and what the outcomes were of such discussions. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met the Iranian Foreign Minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, in the margins of the UN General Assembly on 22 September 2009. He underlined to Mr. Mottaki the need for Iran to restore the international community's confidence in Iran's nuclear programme through the path the E3+3 had laid out, stressing in particular the need for transparency.
The Foreign Secretary and his E3+3 colleagues met on 23 September 2009 and agreed on the E3+3's strategy. Following this, officials from the E3+3 and Iran met on 1 October 2009. This meeting agreed on several practical steps that, if they come to fruition, may build confidence. We look to the next meeting of the group, before the end of October 2009, to make progress on the key issues relating to Iran's nuclear programme.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many times officials from his Department have visited Greek Cypriot people living in enclaves in the Karpas in the last 12 months; what the outcomes were of those visits; and if he will make a statement. 
Chris Bryant: The British high commission frequently visit the Karpaz region and we follow events there closely. The high commissioner recently met with the Bishop of Karpaz and with the Rizokarpasso associations, where he discussed the position of the Greek Cypriot people living in the Karpaz.
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with his Quartet counterparts regarding the renewal of the tenure of the Quartet Special Envoy; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 February 2009, Official Report, column 381, on the Middle East: peace negotiations, how many staff his Department plans to second to support the role of the Quartet Special Envoy in 2010; what the (a) grades and (b) salary ranges of such staff will be; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has currently seconded one higher executive officer equivalent (salary range £23,157 to £33,004) and one senior civil servant (salary range £58,200 to £117,750) to work in the Quartet Representative's office. There are no plans to change this.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|