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Written Answers

Tuesday, 16th September 2003.

Questions for Written Answer:Response Times

Lord Jopling asked the Leader of the House:

    What steps he is taking to ensure prompt answers to Written Questions by his office bearing in mind that of the questions awaiting reply on 9 September one, which had been tabled on 15 July and had remained unanswered for eight weeks, was addressed to him.[HL4501]

The Lord President of the Council (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I regret that the Question referred to was not answered within the 14-day deadline.

I have reiterated to my office the importance of answering Questions for Written Answer within the given deadline.

Kenya: Aid

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in their future aid programme for Kenya they will take into account the impact of the recent ban on direct flights by United Kingdom airlines to Mombasa on tourism and employment in Coast Province.[HL4315]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Baroness Amos): In taking decisions on the future aid programme for Kenya, I will take into account a wide range of issues, including the economic and social impact of terrorism and of the various measures that have been necessary to combat it. The European Commission has recently allocated over £2 million for a tourism market recovery plan in Kenya. The UK share of this is around £250,000. The ban on UK flights to Mombasa was lifted on 4 September.

Advisory Board on Restricted Patients

Lord Morgan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have regarding the future of the Home Secretary's Advisory Board on Restricted Patients.[HL4502]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The Home Secretary's Advisory Board on Restricted Patients will cease to function with effect from 16 September 2003.

Police Complaints Authority: Annual Report 2002–03

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When will the annual report (2002–03) of the Police Complaints Authority be published.[HL4505]

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I am pleased to announce that the annual report of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) will be laid in another place on the 16 September 2003 and published on that day.

The report as well as setting out the work completed in 2002–03 with regard to supervision of complaints, misconduct reviews and dispensations also highlights the outcome of the projects that were carried out in order to pilot key aspects of the new complaints system (Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)). The IPCC will be replacing the PCA on 1 April 2004.

The PCA will be holding a press conference on the 16 September to launch the report.

Copies of the report will be available in the House Library. Joan

Neighbourhood Renewal Fund

Lord Morgan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which areas are supported by the recently announced funding package of £175 million Neighbourhood Renewal Fund resources for 2004–05 and 2005–06.[HL4503]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): Today we are announcing the distribution of the remaining £175 million of unallocated Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) resources for 2004–05 and 2005–06.

The NRF was launched in 2001–02, providing £900 million over three years as a time-limited component of the Government's long-term strategy for tackling deprivation in our poorest neighbourhoods. For over two years NRF has been assisting the 88 recipient local authorities and their fellow local strategic partnership (LSP) members in establishing inclusive and effective partnership structures and strategic approaches to addressing the particular deprivation problems of each local area.

The spending review 2002 settlement provided for further support for the NRF's challenging remit, continuing to give a targeted boost to ongoing increases in mainstream public service investment in deprived areas. SR2002 allocated to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister an additional £975 million of NRF resources—£450 million in 2004–05 and £525 million in 2005–06. We announced the allocation of £800 million of these resources in April this year, confirming that the existing 88 eligible areas shall receive a further £400 million in total in each year.

Over the past few months we have given detailed consideration to the best way in which to distribute the residual £175 million of NRF resources for 2004–05 and 2005–06. After examining a range of options we have concluded that we should focus resources in those areas which have great need in terms of health, education, crime and other aspects measured by the Government's floor target indicators. These floor targets are designed to ensure that the poorest areas do not get left behind and see significant improvements in

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outcomes on health, education and other measures. That is why we are announcing today that 26 local authority areas that are currently eligible for NRF are also eligible for a share of the residual £175 million. These 26 areas have been selected because they are ranked in the lowest 10 areas against two or more indicators used to measure progress towards the national floor targets, ie they have the furthest distance to travel in order to meet these floor targets. Tabled below is a list of the eligible areas and their allocations in 2004–05 and 2005–06.

There are several reasons why we are taking this approach. First is the fact that the achievement of the floor targets is one of our top priorities. Delivering improvements for our most disadvantaged neighbourhoods is fundamental to the objectives we have set ourselves in the Communities Plan.

We also recognise the importance of NRF in helping local service providers to work collectively through local strategic partnerships to address local priorities, and to meet national floor targets at the local level. We are pleased with and greatly encouraged by the good progress already being made by the 88 NRF local authorities and their LSP colleagues. However, some areas have a greater task than others to deliver the improvements needed in areas such as the health of local people, educational achievement and preventing crime. Joan

The £175 million of residual NRF resources will provide these 26 areas with additional financial support to meet this challenge.

Allocations of Residual Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) Resources for 2004–05 and 2005–06

Current NRF recipients also eligible for residual NRF 2004–05 Allocation (£)2005–06 Allocation (£)
Bristol, City of1,013,6892,534,224
Kingston upon Hull, City of2,134,4955,336,238
South Tyneside1,530,2853,825,713
Tower Hamlets3,020,5527,551,380
Wear Valley485,1171,212,793

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Housing Corporation: Review

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government: Joan

    Whether there are any plans to examine the role of the Housing Corporation in delivering affordable housing policy.[HL4504]

Lord Rooker: Today the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is announcing the start of an end-to-end review of the Housing Corporation and its interaction with registered social landlords (RSLs) and other agencies. The review will look at the links between the development of policy and delivery in the area of affordable housing. Part of this process will involve looking at ways of minimising administrative burdens on the Housing Corporation and the organisations with which it works.

With the new initiatives that are being put in place, particularly for delivering sustainable communities, a review of this sort is timely, and forms part of the Government's wider strategy for the reform of public services.

The review will be managed by a project board, which includes external members as well as representatives from the Housing Corporation and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. It will report in the spring.

British Forces Germany: Post-Op TELIC Helpline

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many calls and of what type have been received in the last month by the BFG Post-Operation TELIC Helpline and the Confidential Support Line operated by the Soldiers', Sailors', Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.[HL3665]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): The Post-Op TELIC welfare hotline operated by British Forces Germany is intended to provide a last resort facility for service personnel, based in Germany, who are not able to obtain the support they need through the extensive system of welfare support available to all units. It has received three calls since troops began returning to Germany from the deployment. Two of these related to family relationship difficulties; the third concerned problems resulting from the continued separation of a family.

In order to provide 24-hour coverage, SSAFA provides the same service as part of their confidential support line. While details of calls to SSAFA relating specifically to Op TELIC are not recorded centrally by the MoD, the SSAFA line is currently taking approximately 300 calls per month (compared to an

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average of 150 calls per month). The annual report on calls to the SSAFA line is currently being compiled and will be placed in the Library of the House in due course. Joan

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