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Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Communities and Local Government

Private Rented Sector

The Minister for Housing (Mr Mark Prisk): Helping the construction industry into a sustainable recovery is key to the overall economic recovery of the country. As part of an impressive large-scale housing package, the Chancellor increased the build to rent fund from £200 million to £1 billion in Budget 2013. This will provide much needed development finance to house builders and developers building new homes for market rent.

Today, I can announce to the House the first projects we will be taking forward. These 45 bids provide strong investment propositions which will move forward for competitive clarification and due diligence. We expect these projects to receive a share of up to £700 million as they go under contract to deliver up to 10,000 new homes. A further bidding round for additional projects is expected to open later this year.

These projects represent a wide range of innovative models including new delivery partnerships and building design, and will provide a good spread across England, with around one quarter in London. We will be working with a range of developers and house builders of varying sizes. This includes well-established organisations, as well as new players.

For many of the projects we are not taking forward at this stage, advice will be offered by the newly created expert private rented sector taskforce who will work with bidders to support them in refining proposals for future viable investment. The private rented sector expert taskforce is headed by Andrew Stanford, former head of Cluttons Residential. Further team members join the department this month and they include:

Julian D’Arcy of Kirkby Capital, a former regional chairman and proprietary partner at Knight Frank.

Joanna Embling, a property consultant and chartered surveyor, specialising in urban redevelopment and a former equity partner at Cushman Wakefield.

Tracey Hartley, a specialist asset manager for large-scale residential landlord Grainger plc.

Dominic Martin, senior analyst at EC Harris and a qualified surveyor.

Work continues to get the housing guarantees up and running. Bidding has closed for delivery of the guarantees, and we will be announcing the arrangements later, in May. Further details are available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/improving-the-rented-housing-sector--2/supporting-pages/private-rented-sector.

Projects being taken forward to competitive clarification and due diligence stage:

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Applicant

A2 Dominion Housing

Blackswan Property

Bouygues Development

Bovis Homes

Broomleigh Regeneration

Carillion-Igloo

Carpenter Investments

CCURV LLP

Chestnut Homes

Clearstorm

Climate Energy Homes

Countryside x 2

Crest Nicholson

CS Capital Partners

Derwentside Homes

Evenbrook Capital

Genesis Housing Association

Geronimo

Grainger

Greenwich Peninsula

Housing Solutions

Hurst Street

Inland Homes

Keepmoat

Kier Project Investment

YH Residential

Lendlease

Lovell Partnerships

LPC Living

Mill Group

Mount Anvil

Muse Developments

Network Housing Group

Notting Hill Housing

Orbit Homes 2020

Persimmon Homes

PlaceFirst x 2

Plus Dane

Quintain Estates

Regeneration

Relta

South Yorkshire Housing Association

Taylor Wimpey

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Parliamentary Written Question (Correction)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Richard Benyon): My written answer of 1 February 2013 to question 134856 from my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury (John Glen), Official Report, column 988W, seeking estimates on nappy recycling at Knowaste, contained information that was incorrect on both the number of used nappies previously sent for recycling at that facility, and the number estimated to be sent in the future. It also therefore incorrectly reported the percentage of nappies processed at the Knowaste facility as a proportion of the overall

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number of nappies thrown away in the UK. The answer was based on information which was available to the Department at the time.

Information recently provided to DEFRA by Knowaste indicates that 5,920 tonnes of nappies were treated at Knowaste between 11 September 2011 and 31 March 2012. The estimated projected throughput of nappies between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2013 and 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014 is 13,000 tonnes and 26,000 tonnes respectively. These figures were correctly reported in the original answer to the question.

The error was due to the figures being calculated using an incorrect estimate of the average weight per used nappy. Therefore, based on the correct estimated average weight of 230 grams per used nappy, the average number of nappies processed at Knowaste was 25.7 million between 11 September 2011 and 31 March 2012. Using this same estimated weight, the estimated average number of nappies that will be processed by Knowaste between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2013 is 56.4 million, and between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014, 113 million.

Based on the Nappy Alliance’s 2008 estimate that around 3 billion nappies are disposed of annually, Knowaste processed an estimated 0.85% of the UK market between 11 September 2011 and 31 March 2012. The estimated percentage of the UK market that will be processed by Knowaste between 1 April 2012 and 31 March 2013, and 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2014, is 1.88% and 3.74% respectively.

Wild Animals in Circuses

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr David Heath): I have today published a draft Wild Animals in Circuses Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny.

In line with previous ministerial written statements on 1 March 2012, Official Report, column 41WS, and 12 July 2012, Official Report, column 43WS, we are today fulfilling our commitment to publish draft legislation this parliamentary Session that sets out a ban on the use of wild animals in travelling circuses in England.

Wild animals, for the purposes of the draft Bill, are defined as any animal belonging to a kind that is not normally domesticated in Great Britain.

The Government have already introduced the Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses (England) Regulations 2012 to safeguard the welfare of wild animals still in use in travelling circuses in England.

The draft Bill makes it an offence for any circus operator to use a wild animal in performance or exhibition in a travelling circus in England. The Government propose to give circus operators until 1 December 2015 to remove any wild animals from their circus before the offence comes into force.

This “grace period” is to allow operators of travelling circuses a reasonable period of time to adapt their businesses and organise suitable care arrangements for their wild animals.

Copies of the draft Bill are available in the Vote Office.

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Dangerous Dogs

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr David Heath): On 9 April, DEFRA published a draft Bill amending the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 for pre-legislative scrutiny by the EFRA Committee.

The proposed amendments to the 1991 Act will extend the law to make it an offence for a dog to be dangerously out of control in any place, including all private property. The provisions make it explicit that a dog attack on an assistance dog, for example a guide dog for the blind or deaf, will be an aggravated offence. The changes will also make clear that the courts should take into account the character of the owner or keeper as well as the temperament of the dog along with any other circumstances when deciding whether a dog poses a danger to public safety.

The Government are determined to tackle irresponsible dog ownership and promote more responsible ownership with a range of measures and proposals. The two clauses in the draft Bill I have published propose important changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and are one element of the Government’s plans to address this issue. The Government’s statement on tackling irresponsible dog ownership on 6 February 2013, Official Report, column 15WS, set out the detail of other areas where we are taking action, including the compulsory microchipping of all dogs in England by 6 April 2016, the provision of a set of flexible powers and tools for police and local authorities to tackle irresponsible dog ownership in the context of antisocial behaviour and work with the animal welfare charities to tackle irresponsible advertising of pets on the internet.

Home Department

European Arrest Warrants: Data

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mrs Theresa May): I have been informed by the chair of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) that it has identified an error in the way in which the agency has captured and reported the number of outgoing (part 3) European arrest warrants (EAW) that have been issued since 2009-10. The chair of SOCA has assured me that there is no evidence to suggest that this error in data capture has had any operational impact on the way in which EAWs have been processed by SOCA, or any other part of the criminal justice system, or therefore on public protection.

What it does mean, however, is that some answers to parliamentary questions, and other reports to Parliament, will have been inaccurate and I wanted to make this clear to this House at an early opportunity and, reflecting the seriousness with which I regard this matter, set out the steps I am taking to ensure that this does not happen in future.

This error in capturing data was identified as a result of processes undertaken by SOCA in moving to a new case management system. In order to ensure that any revised figures are completely accurate, I have asked

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HM chief inspector of constabulary (HMCIC) to undertake an audit not only of data for part 3 (outgoing) cases collected since 2009-10 but of data for part 1 (incoming) cases over the same time period, a process which SOCA has already set in train, so that I am in a position to correct quickly any misleading information which has been given to Parliament. I want also to test the assurance I have been given about operational impact and public protection.

I have also asked HMCIC to assure me that the new case information management system (CIMS) will provide accurate data so that this House can, in future, have confidence in the data it is given by my Department in this area.

I have agreed with HMCIC that this work will be completed as soon as possible and by the middle of May at the latest. I will then update this House with the accurate figures and the necessary assurances about the CIMS system. This will include providing a list of parliamentary questions and other reports where the inaccurate information has been provided.

Work and Pensions

Credit Unions

The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Steve Webb): The Government have previously announced that we will work with credit unions on ways in which the future progress of this sector can best be supported.

On 27 June 2012, it was announced that the Government will take forward the findings of the Department for Work and Pensions credit union expansion project feasibility

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study, and that the Department for Work and Pensions will make a further investment of up to £38 million in credit unions to March 2015. This investment will be conditional upon the credit union industry meeting a number of agreed milestones for collaboration, modernisation and expansion, and to deliver this expansion in a way that makes them financially sustainable.

We are now able to announce that following a procurement exercise, the contract has been awarded to the Association of British Credit Unions Ltd (ABCUL).

The high-level objectives are to enable credit unions joining the project to: increase access to financial services to at least 500,000 more people on low incomes by March 2015 and a total of at least 1 million more people by March 2019; and to reduce their costs and become financially sustainable by March 2015, thus eliminating the need for further Government funding of credit unions after that date. The project will provide access to affordable credit, bank and savings accounts, and save consumers up to £1 billion in loan interest repayments by March 2019.

The feasibility study also showed that at present even the biggest credit unions struggle to meet the operating costs of making small loans to people on lower incomes. Therefore, in addition to our investment in modernisation and expansion, HM Treasury has consulted on raising the cap on the interest rate that credit unions are permitted to charge on loans from 2% to 3% per month, supporting credit unions to achieve financial sustainability and reach a wider range of customers. The consultation period is now complete and HM Treasury is considering the responses received and plan to provide a Government response this summer with any changes on the rate cap coming into effect from April 2014.