Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

6 Nov 2009 : Column WA94

We are encouraging the development of anaerobic digestion through our policies to support the generation of renewable energy. The renewables obligation supports the generation of renewable electricity by anaerobic digestion, as will the feed-in tariff. Our proposed renewable heat incentive will support the generation of heat or the production of biomethane from anaerobic digestion for injection to the gas grid.

Asked by Lord Cameron of Dillington

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The progressive loss of flexible indigenous natural gas production means that the GB gas market will need alternative sources of supply- (and potentially demand-) side flexibility, including gas storage capacity.

The extent to which increased supplies from biomethane could offset a need for additional close-to-market gas storage capacity would depend on a number of factors, including the quantity, reliability and flexibility of such supplies.

Energy: Nuclear Power


Asked by Lord Moynihan

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): As set out in the nuclear White Paper, the Government are taking active steps to establish and cement the right policy framework and create the right conditions in the UK for investment in new nuclear power stations. The Office for Nuclear Development is acting to enable investment in the UK from the earliest possible date.

The Government have set neither a target nor a cap on the amount of nuclear power that could come forward. Instead, the approach has been to remove the barriers to investment in new nuclear power, and allow energy companies to come forward with projects if they consider it in their interests to do so. The action taken by government so far has resulted in real interest in new nuclear in the UK, with energy companies announcing plans to build up to 16 GW of new nuclear capacity.

The programme of facilitative actions set out in the White Paper should, subject to regulatory approvals, enable companies to begin operation of new nuclear power stations between 2017 and 2020.

Government Departments: Procurement


Asked by Lord Bates

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Action Treasure Hunts Ltd was contracted by the department to provide a training event in Brighton for the Local Governance Research Unit in June 2008. The purpose of the event was to improve the unit's effectiveness and team working capability in line with the department's commitment to encourage collaborative working. The total cost for the 12 staff involved was £1,410 (including VAT). Follow-up work embedded the lessons learnt during the event about office practices and planning.



Asked by Lord Lucas

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The right to exchange one social tenancy for another can only be refused on the grounds set out in Schedule 3, Section 92 of Part IV of the Housing Act 1985. None of these grounds covers safety checks or related costs.

The conditions which may be attached to landlord's consent are set out at subsection (5) of Section 92. Conditions can only be imposed where rent lawfully due from the tenant has not been paid or an obligation of the tenancy has been broken or not performed. It is unlikely that refusal to pay a charge could amount to rent arrears.

Housing: Sale Information


Asked by Lord Bates

6 Nov 2009 : Column WA96

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The local inquiries search within the home information pack (HIP) should reveal whether the property is on land required for public purposes and could therefore be affected by planning blight. The HIP also includes the result of a search of the local land charges register. This will reveal whether the local authority has incurred recoverable expenses under the Public Health Act 1936 in respect of action taken with the object of taking steps for the destruction of rats and mice on specified premises. If the seller chooses to include a home condition report in the HIP, it will report on any damage caused by wood boring insects that is obvious from a visual inspection of the property. None of the documents that are required to be included in the HIP will reveal whether the property is reputedly haunted or suffers from noise disturbance from nearby licensed premises.

Housing: Valuation


Asked by Lord Bates

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): Section 3(4) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 states that a yard, garden outhouse, or other appurtenance belonging to or enjoyed with property used wholly for the purposes of living accommodation will be included as part of the dwelling. This would include any sheds and greenhouses within the domestic curtilage of a property. There is no evidence that such features are value significant attributes.

The VOA council tax property attribute data guide specifically states that sheds and greenhouses should be ignored: "Outbuildings present (ignore sheds/greenhouses/outside WCs)".

If a property has to be valued for inheritance tax or capital gains tax, it is necessary to estimate its market value at the relevant valuation date. The definition of market value for capital gains tax is contained in Section 272 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 and for inheritance tax purposes in Section 160 of the Inheritance Act 1984. The statutory definitions are couched in similar terms, and essentially require an estimate to be made of the price that a property would fetch if it were sold in the open market.

In general terms, if a garden shed or a greenhouse adds any value to a property then it is, in theory, reflected in the valuation. However, in practice such outbuildings are generally of de minimis value when compared to the value of the main dwelling, and nothing will in practice be specifically added to the valuation.

6 Nov 2009 : Column WA97

Motorcyclists: Noise


Asked by Lord Luce

The Secretary of State for Transport (Lord Adonis): Her Majesty's Government do not hold detailed information on the number of public complaints made about motorcycle noise. Police forces do not classify and record such complaints in a manner that would enable this information to be obtained without disproportionate cost.

The Department for Transport has received 41 items of correspondence on this issue in the past three years. These are broken down in the following table. No complaints have been received by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs or the Department for Communities and Local Government on this issue.























North Yorkshire



















Asked by Lord Laird

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 Lord to my Answers of 5 May

6 Nov 2009 : Column WA98

2009 (WA 105) to Parliamentary Question HL2814 and of 1 June 2009 (WA 08) to Parliamentary Question HL3626.

The benefits and pensions ordinarily uprated by September's retail price index are:

basic state pension, and rates of widow's and bereavement benefits linked to the rate of basic state pension;additional pensions, also known as SERPS or S2P;increments: for the deferment of state pension and guaranteed minimum pensions;attendance allowance;carer's allowance;disability living allowance;maternity allowance;industrial injuries disablement benefit;benefits under the Workmen's Compensation Act and the Pneumoconiosis, Byssinosis, and Miscellaneous Diseases Scheme;industrial death benefit;widows/bereavement benefits rates are linked to the basic state pension rate; andstatutory payments for maternity, paternity, adoption and sick pay.

Income-related benefits, such as income support, are usually uprated in line with the September Rossi index, which is the retail prices index excluding rent, mortgage interest payments, council tax and depreciation costs. Since April 2009, incapacity benefit has been uprated in line with the September Rossi index.

Public sector pensions are increased in accordance with Section 59 of the Social Security Pensions Act 1975 and I refer the noble Lord to my noble friend Lord Patel of Bradford's Answer of 3 March 2009 (WA141) to Parliamentary Questions HL918 and HL1108.

In the 2009 Budget, the Chancellor reaffirmed the Government's commitment to increasing basic state pension, and by extension widow's benefit and bereavement benefit, in April 2010 by at least 2.5 per cent even if, as expected, retail price inflation was below zero. Uprating basic state pension by 2.5 per cent in April 2010 will deliver an increase worth around £1 billion to pensioners over the course of the year. The current legislation does not allow for benefits and pensions to be reduced in the event of negative inflation so no calculations on benefit and pension reductions have been made.

The Government will inform Parliament of proposed benefit levels and tax thresholds for 2010-11 at the Pre-Budget Report.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord McKenzie of Luton: Such information as is available is presented in the following tables:

6 Nov 2009 : Column WA99

Number of defined benefit occupational pension schemes by sector, 2004 to 2007











Source: Occupational Pension Schemes Survey


1) Defined benefit includes hybrid schemes

2) The 2005 survey did not cover the public sector

3) Private sector scheme numbers relate to pension schemes with only one section.

4) Figures for 2004 and 2005 exclude schemes that were winding up.

5) Changes to the methodology for 2006 onwards mean that comparisons with 2005 and earlier years should be treated with caution.

In 2007, 8,740 private sector defined benefit occupational schemes were no longer open to new members (6,250 closed schemes, 1,760 frozen schemes and 730 schemes that were winding up).

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page