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19 Jan 2010 : Column 277W—continued

South Africa

Mr. Watson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when a Minister of his Department last visited South Africa; and what the purpose of the visit was. [310420]

Chris Bryant: My noble Friend Baroness Kinnock, Minister of State for Africa, visited South Africa from 2 to 4 November 2009. The purpose of the visit was to engage with the South African Government and civil society interlocutors on a wide range of shared UK and South African regional and international priorities.

Turks and Caicos Islands: Politics and Government

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the effects on (a) the economy, (b) the health service and (c) tourism provision in the Turks and Caicos Islands since the suspension of the constitution and institution of direct government by the Governor. [310993]

Chris Bryant: In his latest quarterly statement

the Governor outlined steps that have been taken to improve the economic situation through the restoration of sound financial management. This included a review of Turks and Caicos Islands government financial management practices; completion of the 2009-10 budget; steps to bring expenditure and revenue in line, including the introduction of strict expenditure controls and enforcing the payment of dues and taxes. Discussions have been held with banks to secure a consolidated loan facility to reduce the burden of unpaid bills and short term debt built up by the previous government. This will create a more predictable development for private sector investment.

Enrolment for a new National Health Insurance Plan (NHIP) began on 1 October 2009-this will help pay for two new hospitals on the islands of Providenciales and Grand Turk, both due to open on 10 April 2010. Work has been undertaken to ensure that the requirements and responsibilities for both NHIP and the hospital projects are clearly understood by officials, and are also explained to the public.

Following the establishment of a Working Group on the promotion of tourism, its initial report and recommendations were considered by the Advisory Council on 14 December 2009.

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Written Questions: Government Responses

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he plans to answer question 307049, on officials serving at overseas posts, tabled on 9 December 2009. [311589]

David Miliband: The question was answered on 13 January 2010, Official Report, columns 975-76W.

Zimbabwe: Politics and Government

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contact there has been between the Minister of State for Africa and members of the unity Government of Zimbabwe since October 2009; and if he will make a statement. [310635]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Minister of State for Africa, Baroness Kinnock, welcomed Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Minister of Regional Integration and International Cooperation, to London on 20 October 2009. Among more general issues, they discussed the Movement for Democratic Change's then recent disengagement from executive engagement with ZANU-PF and Zimbabwe's dialogue with the EU. The Minister has not had the opportunity to have direct contact with other members of the Inclusive Government. The nature of our future engagement with the Inclusive Government is very much dependent on its progress against the Global Political Agreement. The Minister regularly raises Zimbabwe with our international partners, urging the Southern African Development Community states to remain engaged on Zimbabwe.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of progress by the unity Government of Zimbabwe in re-drafting that country's constitution since the signing of the Global Political Agreement in September 2008; and if he will make a statement. [310636]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: With our international partners we believe that the constitution making process called for in the Global Political Agreement is key to Zimbabwe's recovery. Much of the current imbalance of power is enshrined in the constitution and the constitution making process is an important step towards the next elections. Although the process has slipped from the timetable stipulated by the Global Political Agreement, a parliamentary committee on constitutional reform has been established and training for committee members began on 11 January 2010, in preparation for the period of public consultation.

The UK is working closely with other donors to support civil society organisations to ensure all communities are aware of the constitutional reform process and properly equipped to feed into it.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department's policy is on proposals for the future EU sanctions regime against Zimbabwe; and when he next expects the EU to review its sanctions programme in respect of that country. [310638]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: The EU is reviewing its measures against those individuals and entities connected to human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. The measures do not harm ordinary Zimbabweans or impede the country's economic development. The EU review will assess the future of the measures in the light of progress in reform by the Government of Zimbabwe. We expect the EU decision to be made in February 2010.

Communities and Local Government

Aerials: Planning Permission

Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) planning applications and (b) planning appeals have been made in respect of telecommunications masts in the last five years. [310688]

Mr. Ian Austin: The Department does not hold information on the number of planning applications in respect of telecommunications masts.

The number of planning appeals relating to telecommunications development received for the period 1 October 2004 to 30 September 2009 is 2,565. This figure includes telecommunications masts and other types of telecommunications development.

Affordable Housing: Construction

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many social homes were (a) built and (b) acquired in rural areas in each year since 1990. [305274]

Mr. Ian Austin: The following table shows the number of homes built and acquired for social rent in rural areas in England each year since 1991-92. Figures are not available for 1990-91.

In 1997 there was a significant backlog of social housing repairs, more than 2 million homes failing basic decency standards and too many of society's most vulnerable people on the streets or in bed and breakfast accommodation. Therefore, funds were prioritised into tackling the quality of the existing social housing stock which while resulting in a decrease in new affordable homes being built led to significant inroads on delivering decent homes and tackling rough sleeping. In more recent years, increased funding has led to an increase in affordable housing.

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New social rented homes built and acquired in rural Areas( 1)

Number of social homes built Number of social homes acquired























































(1) Based on DEFRA classification of local authorities.
Homes and Communities Agency Investment Management System (IMS), and local authority returns to CLG. Figures have been rounded to nearest 10 units.

Total affordable housing supply includes intermediate rent and Low Cost Home Ownership, as well as homes for Social Rent. In 2007-08, a total of 16,610 affordable homes were completed in rural local authorities through new build and acquisitions. Total affordable housing supply statistics for 2008-09 were released by CLG on 8 December 2009.

These figures reflect the delivery of affordable housing in the 178 local authorities defined as rural by the DEFRA Rural Definition (2004).

Affordable Housing: Nottingham

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much has been spent on improving social housing in Nottingham North constituency since 1997. [308988]

Mr. Ian Austin: Unfortunately, it is not possible to disaggregate expenditure on social housing within Nottingham by parliamentary constituency. Total expenditure on stock owned by Nottingham city council across the city for each year since 1997-98 is given in the following table:

Expenditure (£ 000 )

























2009-10 (planned expenditure)




The Government have no data available identifying expenditure by registered social landlords on improvements to properties they own within Nottingham North or the city as a whole.

There has also been significant investment to deliver new social housing in Nottingham through the National Affordable Housing Programme. Since 2004 Nottingham has received £ 13.3 million to deliver new homes for rent or low cost home ownership including £7 million so far through the current 2008-11 programme.

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has also funded Nottingham city council to develop a Local Housing Company to deliver an extra 5,000 new homes
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over the next five years and in 2009, Nottingham city council was successful in a £200 million PFI bid to the HCA to transform the meadows neighbourhood. Both initiatives will provide a mix of social and private affordable housing.

Airfields: St. Albans

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations he has received from Helioslough regarding the former aerodrome site in St. Albans following the conclusion of the inquiry. [311757]

Mr. Ian Austin: There have been no representations received from Helioslough since the close of the inquiry.

Bankruptcy: Coastal Areas

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent assessment his Department has made of rates of bankruptcies in coastal towns; and what steps he is taking to reduce those rates. [310715]

Ian Lucas: I have been asked to reply

As there are no official boundary definitions for coastal towns, there are no official statistics available at this level. However, statistics for unitary authorities can be found on the Insolvency Service website at the following link:

There has been no assessment carried out by Government specifically relating to bankruptcy rates in coastal towns.

The Government recognise that seaside towns have a distinctive role to play in sub-regional and regional economies. It supports efforts by the regional development agencies (RDAs), to ensure that seaside towns in their regions are helped to achieve their full economic potential.

Initiatives such as the New Deal for Communities, Working Neighbourhoods Fund, Local Enterprise Growth Initiative, and the Sea Change programme have benefited some seaside towns.

Local area agreements (LAAs) are helping local authorities, including those with seaside towns, to work alongside partners to improve public services and the quality of life for people living and working in their areas. Multi area agreements (MAAs) are enabling some seaside towns, such as the Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole partnerships, to develop stronger approaches to improving skills level, transport and sustainable growth.

The cross-Government working group on coastal towns, led by CLG, in partnership with the RDA Coastal Areas Network, is identifying areas where more can be done and to highlight existing best practice in coastal town regeneration.

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