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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): This is an operational matter for the Audit Commission, and I will ask the chief executive of the Audit Commission to write to the noble Baroness direct.
The Audit Commission did not look explicitly at the role of good design in its national study on the strategic housing role. The report Building better lives-Getting the best from strategic housing reports councils' concerns that affordable housing targets encouraged them to build large numbers of small flats even if that was not the type of housing that best met the needs of their locality. If councils are prepared to allow such an interpretation of targets to colour their housing strategy, this suggests that the strategy is neither robust enough nor founded in understanding of local needs.
The External Advisory Group, the members of which are listed below, comprised experts from the housing and academic world. It included people from the public and private sector with experience in planning, commissioning new housing and strategic housing management. As the focus of the study was on the strategic housing role, not specifically on new build or design, we did not seek specific design expertise for the advisory group.
The Audit Commission interviewed a variety of stakeholders as part of its research into the strategic housing role of local authorities. These included the chief executive and head of policy at the Homes and Communities Agency. We also shared a draft of the report with the Homes and Communities Agency and invited comments. However, the role of good design was not a focus of the study and we asked no specific questions of the Homes and Communities Agency or of other stakeholders about it.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The available information is provided in the table.
|Great Britain-Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance claimants with Pervasive Development Disorders as main condition|
3. To qualify for incapacity benefit (IB)/severe disablement allowance (SDA), claimants have to undertake a medical assessment of incapacity for work which is called the personal capability assessment. Therefore, the medical condition recorded on IB/SDA claim form does not itself confer entitlement to incapacity benefits, so, for example, the decision for a customer claiming IB on grounds of mental or behavioural disorders would be based on their ability to carry out the range of activities in the personal capability assessment; or on the effects of any associated mental health problems.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect on the economy of the introduction of the new rates of air passenger duty; and what assessment they have made of the impact on families wishing to travel to and from the United Kingdom. [HL6255]
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): In line with Cabinet Office guidance, HMRC conducted an impact assessment of the new banding system and published it on its website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ria/apd-reform-ia.pdf.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress has been made on developing equipment to capture fume events in aircraft and give a warning to cabin and crew members, such as that for carbon monoxide warnings in the home. [HL6130]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): Technology exists to capture fume events on aircraft. This was developed by Cranfield University as a precondition of being able to begin the current research
6 Nov 2009 : Column WA90
When we know what contaminants are in cabin air fume events, and in what concentrations, we will then be able to begin to make judgments about whether they cause ill health and what remedies, technical or otherwise, may be appropriate.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the competition authorities about the proposal by the Office of Fair Trading to refer the local bus industry to the Competition Commission. [HL6266]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Department for Transport responded to the Office of Fair Trading's consultation on its proposal to refer the market for local buses services to the Competition Commission. A copy of the response has been placed in the Libraries of the House.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what consideration they have given to encouraging wider community use of church buildings in England which are under-used outside the times of regular church services. [HL6137]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The wider community use of church buildings, and of the buildings of other faiths, was the subject of a joint working group between the Church of England and five government departments. This led to the publication of a report, Churches and Faith Buildings: Realising the Potential, in March 2009. The report sets "out a range of actions to help faith groups engage
6 Nov 2009 : Column WA91
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The United Kingdom will not be proposing measures for population control at the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen this December.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of research by Professor Don Easterbrook of Washington University that there is a correlation between sea temperatures and global temperatures and that the present trend indicates 30 years of global cooling. [HL5828]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Professor Easterbrook has claimed that global average temperature may decrease over the next 30 years, due to the onset of a cool phase in a natural pattern of Pacific climate variability that is often referred to as the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO). My department is not, however, aware of any scientific articles published by Professor Easterbrook to support his claim and considers the suggested scenario to be very unlikely.
Historical records of global average and regional temperatures show that the PDO produces at most only a small effect on global average temperature. As a result, the PDO is not expected to produce a global average effect large enough to overcome the amount of warming expected over the next 30 years from current and future levels of greenhouse gases.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): I refer the noble Baroness to the Answer that my honourable friend the Member for Dewsbury (Shahid Malik) gave to the honourable Member for Putney, Roehampton and Southfield (Justine Greening) on 19 June 2009 (Official Report, col. 509W).
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of charges of around £100 made by certain local authorities when obtaining liability orders in respect of council tax debts; under what circumstances £3 is charged for such an order from a county court; and whether they propose to review the situation. [HL5981]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): No assessment has been made. It is a matter for local authorities to decide what level of costs to charge. Regulation 34(7) of the Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 allows local authorities to charge reasonable costs incurred by the authority in obtaining a liability order to the debtor.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The Government announced a review on 22 September 2009 into how rape complaints are handled from when a rape is first disclosed until the court reaches a verdict. The review, led by Baroness Stern, will report in February 2010. The Stern review terms of reference are:to examine the response of the public authorities to rape complaints and examine how more victims can be encouraged to report;to explore ways in which the attrition rate in criminal cases can be reduced and how to fairly increase the conviction rate;to identify how to increase victim and witness satisfaction, and confidence in the CJS in addressing rape;to explore public and professional attitudes to rape and how they impact on outcomes;
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Morgan of Drefelin on 2 November (WA 7), whether they will place in the Library of the House copies of the original evidence, collected from local authorities and elsewhere, that formed the basis of Mr Graham Badman's letter of 28 October and his statement that he is aware of 52 care plans in respect of home-educated children. [HL6215]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The detailed evidence collected from local authorities is not being made available as it is could be used to identify individual children. The aggregated data which Graham Badman provided to the Select Committee with his letter of 28 October has been published on the Every Child Matters website. This letter includes a breakdown of the number of child protection plans for each authority but does not identify individual local authorities.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to introduce targets for the number of anaerobic digestion plants to be built in the United Kingdom utilising agricultural and waste products. [HL5892]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We have no intentions of introducing targets for the number of anaerobic digestion plants to be built in the UK. Such a policy would encourage plants to be build for the sake of the target rather than encourage cost-effective, well thought-out proposals to deliver both renewable energy and carbon savings. We are nevertheless working with local government, business and farmers to identify the potential of anaerobic digestion in their sectors. We have developed jointly with a broad range of stakeholders Anaerobic Digestion-Shared Goals. This sets out our collective ambitions for the use of anaerobic digestion in this country, as well as the aspirations of individual sectors. It includes an aspiration by the National Farmers Union to have 1,000 farm-based anaerobic digestion plants by 2020.
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