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Written Answers

Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers To Questions

The following answers were received between Friday 18 July and Monday 1 September 2003

Minister For Women

Carer's Allowance

To ask the Minister for Women what entitlements are available to women who act as carers who have been receiving Carer's Allowance, once they have become entitled to state pension. [126105]

Women entitled to both Carer's Allowance and State Pension receive the latter because the social security overlapping benefits rules give precedence to payment of State Pension, which is a contributory benefit, over payment of a non-contributory benefit such as Carer's Allowance. If the weekly amount of State Pension paid is less than the weekly rate of Carer's Allowance, the amount by which the Carer's Allowance exceeds State Pension is also paid. In addition, such carers may also be entitled to the carer premium if they are in receipt of an income related benefit, to a State Second Pension, other social security benefits depending on their circumstances, and the Christmas Bonus and Winter Fuel Payments.

Civil Service Pay

To ask the Minister for Women when the pay reviews of civil service departments and agencies will be published; and if she will place a copy in the Library. [125737]

I have been asked to reply.Departments and agencies are responsible for undertaking their own equal pay review and producing an action plan. It is for individual departments to determine whether they will place a copy in the Library.The Cabinet Office is considering the actions contained in departmental action plans and will be publishing a summary of the findings after the summer recess.

Solicitor-General

Attorney-General Reference Cases

To ask the Solicitor-General if she will make a statement on her practice in appointing trial counsel in Attorney-General reference cases. [125995]

The Crown Prosecution Service instructs counsel on behalf of the Attorney-General in Attorney-General reference cases. These are cases that are referred to the Court of Appeal under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972 and sections 35 and 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 either on a point of law or because they come within the unduly lenient sentence provisions, under which the Attorney-General refers a case to the Court of Appeal to have the sentence reviewed on the grounds that it is unduly lenient.The Crown Prosecution Service usually instructs Senior Treasury Counsel or Junior Treasury Counsel to undertake this work. Treasury Counsel are very experienced counsel, used by the Crown for serious work. When instructing counsel, the Crown Prosecution Service considers the seniority of counsel, the specialist areas of work in which counsel practises and the ability of counsel to return work at the specified time. In deciding which counsel to instruct, the Crown Prosecution Service strives to promote consistency in the decision-making, process.In cases concerning potentially unduly lenient sentences it is considered to be of particular benefit to have new counsel to consider the facts. Consistency in these applications is maintained by restricting them to Treasury Counsel, who build up expertise in this field of work.

Crown Prosecution Service

To ask the Solicitor-General how many lawyers left the Crown Prosecution Service in 2002. [125782]

During 2002, 83 lawyers (i.e. 3.56 per cent. of the average legal staff in post) ceased working for the Crown Prosecution Service. Of those, 27 were early retirements, 22 were resignations, eight were standard retirements, 11 were dismissals, nine were transfers to offer Government Departments, four were early severance and two were deaths.Within the same period, and as part of the Government's commitment in the White Paper, "Criminal Justice—The Way Ahead", 251 lawyers (i.e 10.76 per cent. of the average legal staff in post) joined the Service.

Guantanamo Bay

To ask the Solicitor-General what information the Attorney-General has (a) requested and (b) received from (i) the United States Secretary for Defense and (ii) the US Attorney General in respect of the legal rights and legal representation to be afforded to detainees held at camp X-ray in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba by the United States Administration. [126318]

(a) The Attorney-General has raised the position of the UK nationals detained in Guantanamo Bay with the United States Department of Defense, which has responsibility for this matter, to express the Government's profound concern that if the UK detainees are to be tried they should have a fair trial with all proper safeguards, including legal representation, and to make plain the Government's opposition to the imposition of the death penalty.During a meeting with the then US Assistant Attorney General in September 2002, the Attorney-General raised the Government's concern about the position of the UK nationals detained in Guantanamo Bay. The Attorney-General has had no discussions about the Guantanamo Bay detainees with the US Attorney General.

(b) The Department of Defense has responded to the Attorney-General that detainees in Guantanamo Bay are held as enemy combatants under the laws of armed conflict and as such are not entitled to legal representation. They explained that their view is that the procedures of the military commissions established to try individuals designated under the US President's Military Order of 13 November 2001 provide for detainees to have access to defence counsel if the individual has been charged with an offence. They have also stated that they believe that the military commissions constitute an impartial and regularly constituted court respecting generally recognised principles of regular judicial procedure.

However, the Attorney-General continues to have serious concerns about these issues, and is in Washington on 21 and 22 July to discuss the matter further with senior members of the US Administration.

Illegal Trading Prosecutions

To ask the Solicitor-General how many individuals have been successfully prosecuted for illegal trading in the last three years. [125208]

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) among others prosecute offences of companies that continue to trade while insolvent.The Serious Fraud Office has prosecuted one defendant in the last three years far an offence under section 458 of the Companies Act 1985.The CPS's centrally held records do not include offence-based information about the cases that it prosecutes. It is therefore not possible to say, without incurring disproportionate cost, how many individuals have been prosecuted for such offences over the last three years.The CPS is currently rolling out a new Compass Case Management System that will capture offence-based information from across the Service's 42 Areas.

Incitement To Crime

To ask the Solicitor-General how many (a) indictments and (b) convictions there have been in each of the last five years for the offence of incitement to commit a crime; and in what proportion of such (i) indictments and (ii) convictions incitement to commit a crime was the only charge. [126185]

I have been asked to reply.The information requested is not available centrally. The figures collected by the Home Office on persons proceeded against and convicted do not separately identify the offence of incitement to commit a crime.

It Contracts

To ask the Solicitor-General how many outsourced IT contracts have been signed by her Department in each year since 1997; how much each of these contracts is worth; with whom they are signed; how many have been renegotiated; how many are still in place; and if she will make a statement. [126210]

Crown Prosecution Service

The Compass contract was awarded to LogicaCMG (formerly Logica UK Limited) on 31 December 2001 under a Private Finance Initiative procurement to provide a fully managed IT service to the Crown Prosecution Service. The Compass contract is for 10 years with the option of extending it for a further 5 years. Over 10 years the cost is currently estimated to be £275 million. This is subject to change as user numbers change and/or additional facilities are required. There has been no renegotiation of the contract.

Serious Fraud Office and Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers

There is one material contract relating to "Outsourced IT contracts" for the provision of IT support services. This contract is with IBM and originated as a comprehensive, PFI outsourcing in 1998. It was re-negotiated at end 2000 as a fixed-price, support agreement, subject to an inflation-related annual increase. The value of the agreement is affected by privity of contract but it has been considered to offer sufficient value for money that it was subsequently extended to provide support for the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers. IBM charges the Serious Fraud Office for this extension and the Serious Fraud Office recharges to the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers. Prior to 1998 IT was supported in-house both at the Serious Fraud Office and the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers.

HM Crown Prosecution Service

Since its inception in October 2000, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate has relied on the Crown Prosecution Service for the provision of its IT services. However, it used separate one-off contracts with commercial suppliers for the initial design and continuous improvement of its website. In 2002 this contract work totalled £5,000.

The design of the website is such that the majority of maintenance work can be conducted in-house. Any specific improvements, or work beyond the in-house capability would be subject to the awarding of separate contracts.

HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate has budgeted for a maximum cost per annum of £5,000 for both this work and the hosting of the website.

Treasury Solicitor's Department

Since 1997, the Treasury Solicitor's Department has entered into no contracts where an external organisation delivers and operates IT service on the Department's behalf. The Department's in-house Information Services team provides the IT services for the Department, generally using commercially available software, supported by contractors where necessary.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Solicitor-General when she expects to answer the question of 24 February from the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire on IT contracts in the Department above £50 million. [126904]

Written Ministerial Statements

To ask the Solicitor-General how many written ministerial statements have been made by the Law Officers' Departments since 29 October 2002. [126604]

I have made six written ministerial statements since 29 October 2002 on behalf of the Law Officers' Departments.

Deputy Prime Minister

National Land Information System

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 19 May 2003, Official Report, column 653W, on the National Land Information System, what steps the Government have taken in the past 12 months to encourage local authorities to transfer their land and property information to electronic local land and property gazetteers to link into the National Land Information System. [126638]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is responsible for the Local e-Government programme, which is supporting the electronic enablement of the local authority services in England, including the development of an electronic National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG).The Government have encouraged the recording of land and property information, as a means of providing both an improved service to customers making land charge searches, and an improved, consistent database for the authority's own use. In particular, on 24 July 2002, the Lord Chancellor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford), the leader of the Welsh Assembly and the Chairman of the Local Government Association and the Welsh Local Government Association jointly wrote to all local authority Chief Executives in England and Wales, pointing out the benefits of the NLPG, and of the one-stop shop for land and property related information provided by the National Land Information Services (NLIS). The benefits include saving staff time otherwise wasted on maintaining duplicate address lists, and improved service delivery based on accurate, up to date address data. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), the then Parliamentary Secretary for the Lord Chancellor's Department and my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Leslie), followed up the letter by hosting a reception on 8 October 2002 for local authorities which had committed to NLIS.The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also asked every authority in England to prepare and submit an implementing e-Government (IEG) statement in 2001 and 2002, in return for which they would receive £200,000 to help implement the e-Government plan set out in it. Authorities were asked to include some key data in their statements, including indicating whether they were committed to NLPG and NLIS. Following assessment of the IEGs submitted in 2002, Ministers of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister sought (with the agreement of the Local Government Association and other stakeholders) parliamentary approval for the use of £2.2 million from the Local e-Government programme funds to ensure that all local authorities were committed to supporting the NLPG by December 2003. Specifically, this will fund work to identify the barriers to implementation of the NLPG. Where implemented the NLPG will provide basis for electronic land and property information searches by NLIS and other compatible services. It will remain a decision for local authorities as to whether or not to link to NLIS.

Affordable Housing

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he will take to enforce Regional Planning Guidance targets for affordable housing provision in the south-west. [126338]

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty), Official Report, column 1152W, on 13 June 2003, to a similar question, which made it clear that targets for affordable housing are set out in local development plans based on local assessments housing needs surveys undertaken by local planning authorities. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will continue fully to support policies and proposals by local authorities that are soundly based on such assessments. This process will also be aided by the more strategic and coherent approach to housing issues provided by the new South West Regional Housing Board established in February by the Deputy Prime Minister.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he will take to assist key workers in the south-west to meet their housing needs at a reasonable price. [126339]

As at 30 June 2003, more than 160 key workers in the south-west region had been helped to purchase their own homes under the Starter Home Initiative. From 2004–05, funding for the provision of key worker housing will be integrated into the Housing Corporation's main affordable housing programme. Funding for new key worker housing schemes in the south-west will be informed by advice from the South West Regional Housing Board.On 29 May the South West Regional Housing Body published a draft document setting out priorities for public sector housing investment in the south-west region. It contained a proposal to allocate funding for key worker housing in the region as part of its overall housing strategy. Ministers will be considering this together with other regional housing strategies that are due to be submitted this month.

Arson

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the schools in Herefordshire and Worcestershire that have been subject to arson attack since 1997. [126728]

The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with (a) Hereford and Worcester fire brigade and (b) West Mercia police force regarding ways to tackle arson attacks on schools in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire area. [126729]

The Deputy Prime Minister has not had recent discussions with the Hereford and Worcester fire brigade or the West Mercia police farce on this matter.The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is awarding £50,000 this financial year, via the Arson Control Forum, to the West Mercia Local Arson Task Force. The task force includes members from the Hereford and Worcester fire brigade and West Mercia constabulary; its plans for reducing arson in schools this year include holding arson reduction and information sessions for governors and staff of schools perceived to be at highest risk of arson.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what the clear up rate of malicious fires was in each police force area, in each year since 1997; [125530](2) what the arson detection rate was in each year since 1997. [125531]

I have been asked to reply.The available information fro m police recorded crime data on detection rates for arson and all recorded crime in England and Wales for the years since 1997 are as follows:

Percentage detection ratesEngland and Wales
ArsonAll recorded crime
199711628
1998–9921029
1999–20003925
2000–01824
2001–024823
1 Calendar year, and years ending March thereafter
2 There was a change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998, which may have affected defection rates.
3 There was a change in the counting rules for detections on 1 April 1999, which will have had an effect on detection rates.
4 Detection rates may have been affected by some police forces adopting the principles of the National Crime Recording Standard in advance of its national implementation on 1 April 2002.

Corporate Governance

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the (a) press release released by the Audit Commission on the publication of the Corporate Governance inspection of Kingston upon Hull and (b) records of questions and answers at the accompanying press conference. [125664]

I will ask the Audit Commission to provide a copy of their press release to the Library of the House. The Audit Commission has informed this Office of the Deputy Prime Minister that in general, they do not record questions and answers raised in their press conferences—hence this cannot be made available for the Library of the House.

Council Housing (North-East Lincolnshire)

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with North-East Lincolnshire council about the adequacy of the provision he has made for repairs and renovations of council housing; what recommendations he has made to them about the benefits of a large scale voluntary transfer, broken down by housing association; and what proposals he has for visiting North-East Lincolnshire to commend the large scale voluntary transfer to council tenants. [126560]

The Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber and the Community Housing Task Force have held a number of discussions with the council about their plans for delivering decent homes. The council has benefited from an increase in resources for housing investment from £2.221 million for 1997–98 to £6.563 million for 2003–04, including provision for major repairs allowance that was introduced in 2001–02. This demonstrates the Government's commitment to providing resources to tackle the backlog of council house renovation work and to modernise older stock to a standard of decency that tenants have a right to expect.My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has no plans to visit North-East Lincolnshire and has made no recommendations to North-East Lincolnshire about large scale voluntary transfer in particular, although all authorities are required to have in place arrangements to ensure the delivery of the decent homes target by December 2010. Housing transfer is one of three options available to an authority where additional resources are required to meet this target.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much has been (a) claimed by and (b) paid to (i) North East Lincolnshire, (ii) North Lincolnshire, (iii) Hull and (iv) the East Riding in major repairs allowances for council housing in the last 12 months. [126418]

The following major repairs allowances for 2002–03 have been claimed and included in the calculation of entitlement to housing revenue account subsidy:

£
North East Lincolnshire4,837,178
North Lincolnshire5,685,966
Kingston upon Hull16,181,820
East Riding of Yorkshire6,240,493

Council Tax

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list by each council tax valuation band the estimated number of households liable to pay council tax for 2003–04 in (a) England and (b) each of the English regions. [127211]

The number of chargeable dwellings for 2003–04 for England, and for each Government Office region, broken down by council tax band, is in the table.

Thousand

Valuation band ranges (1991)

Band A Under £40,000

Band B £40,001 to £52,000

Band C £52,001 to £68,000

Band D £68,001 to £88,000

Band E £88,001 to £120,000

Band F £120,001 to £160,000

Band G £160,001 to £320,000

Band H Over £320,000

Total all bands

Ratio to Band D6/97/98/9111/913/915/92
England5,2934,0124,5163,1511,9761,04474911420,855
North-east6381541558040181011,097
North-west1,260549505283167825652,907
Yorkshire and Humber956410344186119573432,107
East midlands677396316184109523131,767
West midlands697547420236149814952,185
East of England32248160539724113290102,278
London102410813779470233190513,048
South-east280543861669453274221293,329
South-west3615234963382291166962,138

Source:

CTB1 2003–04

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list by each council tax valuation band the average council tax payable for 2003–04 in each of the English regions. [127578]

£
Valuation band ranges (1991)Band A Under £40,000Band B £40,001 to £52,000Band C £52,001 to £68,000Band D £68,001 to £88,000Band E £88,001 to £120,000Band F £120,001 to £160,000Band G £160,001 to £320,000Band H Over £320,000
Ratio to Band D6/97/98/9111/913/915/92
North East7749031,0321,1611,4191,6771,9362,323
North West7578831,0091,1351,3871,6391,8912,270
Yorkshire and the Humber7148339521,0711,3091,5471,7852,141
East Midlands7508751,0001,1251,3751,6251,8752,250
West Midlands7298509721,0931,3361,5791,8222,187
East of England7448679911,1151,3631,6111,8592,231
London7058239401,0581,2931,5281,7632,116
South East7328549761,0981,3421,5871,8312,197
South West7428669901,1131,3611,6081,8552,227
England7358579791,1021,3471,5911,8362,204

Fire-Related Deaths

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his current target is for the reduction of deaths from fire by 2004. [127230]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's target set, following the 2000 spending review, is to reduce the number of fire-related deaths in the home by 20 per cent. averaged over the five year period to 31 March 2004 compared with the average for the five-year period to 31 March 1999. The base line figure is 379, so the average in the five years ending 31 March 2004 would need to be no more than 303.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many staff the Department and each agency and non-departmental public body for which the Department is responsible had in each year since 1997; and what the cost of those staff was in each of those years. [122299]

Data on staffing levels in the civil service are collected from Departments and agencies twice-yearly, in April and October. Headline figures are published under National Statistics guidelines via a press notice. Those for October 2002 were published on 27 February 2003.

The average council tax payable for 2003–04 and for each Government Office Region, broken down by council tax band, is shown in the following table:A copy of the press notice, accompanying media brief and supporting tables is available on the world wide web at www.civil-service.gov.uk/statistics. Copies of these documents are also available in the Libraries of the House.More detailed in formation on the civil service is published annually in "Civil Service Statistics", copies of which are laid in the Libraries of the House. The last edition, based on April 2001 data, was published in June 2002. The next edition, based on April 2002 data, is due to be published at the end of July 2003.Cabinet Office publishes information on non-departmental public bodies in its annual publication "Public Bodies". The information includes details of the number of staff employed by each NDPB at 31 March each year. "Public Bodies 2002" was published in January 2003. Copies of "Public Bodies" published each year since 1997 are available in the Libraries of the House.The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was established in May 2002. Information on staff costs was published in the Office's annual report 2003, and in the annual report and accounts for each agency and executive non-departmental public body since 1997. Copies of these reports are available in the Libraries of the House.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has for redeployment of members of his Department out of London and the south-east. [125393]

The scope for relocating Government activity is being considered by Sir Michael Lyons. His independent review was announced in the Chancellor's Budget statement on 9 April.Details of the review, including the consultation launched on 19 June, can be found on the HM Treasury website at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk. Sir Michael will report his findings on the scope for relocating Departments and other public sector bodies before the end of the year.

Disabled Facilities Grant

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans his Department has to review the working of the disabled facilities grant test of resources in relation to adaptations for disabled children; and if he will make a statement. [126303]

The means test for disabled facilities grant (DFG) is kept under continual review and updated annually. The means test is broadly based on the eligibility rules for housing benefit and compares weekly household income with a set of standardised expenditure allowances. In cases where a household contains a disabled child the DFG means test provides for a higher housing cost allowance, which has the effect of increasing the level of grant entitlement for that household.

Environmentally Friendly Procurement

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent guidance he has given to local authorities on environmentally friendly procurement. [127780]

Local authorities are responsible within the Law for making their own decisions on procurement. In doing so they will no doubt consider the case for environmentally friendly procurement, consistent with the European Union Procurement

(£000)
RegionERDF Spend 1 January 2001 to July 20032003 AllocationEnd December 2003 target2004 AllocationEnd December 2004 target
North West (Merseyside)15,97081,39484,59071,94882,929
South West (Cornwall and Scilly Isles)12,97327,57627,82024,87327,453
Yorkshire and Humber (South Yorkshire)16,59171,54274,38763,31172,965
East of England5,70413,36721,95411,69513,691
East Midlands11,71032,18152,51228,20832,916
London11,66021,38731,38519,58521,153
North East16,12954,46584,44548,89154,714
North West48,16875,988133,28764,27079,739
South East9993,3606,2392,7713,588
South West5,93814,50523,05612,86114,711
West Midlands23,42666,701121,78856,76869,695
Yorkshire and Humber11,80242,06568,06336,85243,043
Total181,069504,532729,526442,032516,595

Note:

All figures are in £000s. Allocations and targets (originally in Euros) are based on an average exchange rate since the beginning of the programmes (1 Euro =£0.628).

Directives and domestic law, which includes the duty of Best Value. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister set out its views on Best Value and procurement in Circular 03/2003. This included the Government's definition of Best Value as "the optimum combination of whole life costs and benefits to meet the customer's requirement."

This approach enables sustainability and quality to be taken into account when service delivery options are being considered.

European Constitution

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with (a) colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and (b) counterparts in the European Union about the legislative competencies covered by the draft European Constitution. [124783]

As part of the normal Whitehall process Ministers and officials have had regular correspondence with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss all aspects of the Convention, including legislative competence. In line with exceptions 1 and 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, it is not the normal practice of Governments to disclose details about internal discussions, or information whose disclosure would harm the conduct of international relations or affairs.

European Regional Development Fund

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the (a) projected total spend and (b) total allocation of the European Regional Development Fund is for financial year 2003–04, broken down by region. [125846]

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is planned in calendar years rather than English financial years. Figures in the table below show details of allocations and targets for each region, both for this and the following calendar year. Spend so far for this year is also shown. Whilst spend is difficult to project (e.g. because of exchange rate fluctuations) regions are working to reach the targets shown.

Fire Service College

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the Fire Service College provides services to brigades in Scotland [127208]

Yes. The Fire Service College at Moreton in Marsh has unique facilities that are used to provide training for fire brigades across the UK and world-wide.

Somali Community

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on local authority support for Somali community organisations; and what advice his Department gives to local authorities in respect of applications for funding. [127392]

Local authority support for Somali community organisations is a matter for individual local authorities. The local government finance system takes into account the costs local authorities face in educating children who need additional support in English or who come from low-achieving ethnic backgrounds. There is also a top-up to reflect the cost of translation services.

Home Improvements (Vat)

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with (a) other Government Departments, (b) housing bodies and (c) other interested bodies on reducing VAT on home improvements for poor housing; and if he will make a statement. [126244]

The Government will continue to consider the use of economic instruments to support regeneration and encourage brownfield development. Discussions with other Government Departments, housing bodies and other interested bodies touch on a wide variety of issues, including possible options for encouraging improvements to poor housing.

Homelessness

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much it cost per week on average to house temporarily a homeless family in priority need in the last year for which figures are available; and what the total cost was of housing such families. [124694]

Information annually reported to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister by local authorities identifies expenditure incurred in respect of bed and breakfast, private sector leasing and all other forms of temporary accommodation used by homeless households. This includes associated costs, such as the provision of furniture, property maintenance/refurbishment, rent guarantees, nomination fees and administrative costs, chargeable to the general fund services revenue account, along with any specific capital charges. Latest available information is for 2001–02, when it is estimated that gross expenditure on homelessness in England amounted to some £436.0 million. Net total costs—after taking into account rents received directly from tenants, and housing benefit payments such as rent allowance—amounted to £190.75 million. In addition, net expenditure on homelessness funded from the housing revenue account—for example where the local authority's own vacant stock is used on a temporary basis—was estimated at £21.6 million.The return does not seek corresponding information on average unit costs but, from estimates of household-days spent in temporary accommodation derived from quarterly statistical returns, it is estimated that the overall average gross cost per household during 2001–02, including HRA-funded expenditure, was some £156 per week. The average net cost per household, excluding housing benefit/rent allowances and rent payments met directly by tenants, was £73 per week.

Housing Stock

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received on (a) improving poor housing stock and (b) tackling problems of empty homes through financial grants; and if he will make a statement. [126245]

The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002, which took effect on 18 July 2002, gave local authorities new and wide ranging powers to provide financial assistance, including by way of grant, for these purposes. The Government consulted a wide range of stakeholders before introducing these new powers and there was overwhelming support for these changes.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what research he has commissioned to examine whether financial assistance would help to tackle poor housing stock and empty homes in the Pathfinder housing renewal areas; and if he will make a statement. [126246]

Identification of the nine market renewal pathfinder areas and the policy approach on low demand and abandonment set out in "Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future" has been underpinned by a range of data available to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, in particular Housing Investment Programme data and other published evidence including regional and local level data published by CURS at the University of Birmingham on changing demand.A key remit of the pathfinders is to restructure the housing markets in areas so that they are returned to places where people want to live and stay. We are clear that this is not something that can be left to the market alone to resolve. That route offers a prospect of years of neglect that will endanger economic resurgence and cause untold suffering for the communities affected. Turning round these areas will require long-term commitment. We have already signalled the Government's commitment through the creation of a £500 million market renewal fund for investment in the pathfinder areas over the next three years. Tackling poor housing stock and empty homes will be a crucial part of the pathfinders work.

Illegal Travellers

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent meetings he has had with (a) the police and (b) ministerial colleagues on the cost to local authorities of dealing with illegal travellers; what plans he has to assist local authorities; and if he will make a statement. [125974]

Ministers in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have not recently met with the police or with other ministerial colleagues to specifically discuss costs to local authorities in removing illegal Gypsy and Traveller camps.However, in drafting the new joint guide on managing unauthorised camping, officials in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in conjunction with the Home Office, has met and consulted with various stakeholders including the Association of Chief Police Officers, and the Local Government Association. Costs to local authorities in removing illegal encampments were discussed among other issues.The new joint guide will be published and made available for use by local authorities and police services by the end of the summer.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much money each English local authority has spent in each of the last five years for which figures are available on (a) the results of flytipping and (b) the cost of the (i) administration involved in dealing with travellers and (ii) clearing up after they have moved on; and if he will make a statement. [125983]

I have been asked to reply.These data are not collected centrally so the information is not available in the format requested.The Environment Agency has estimated that the total cost of clearing fly tipping by all stakeholders is 100 million. ENCAMS (Environmental Campaigns) also recently completed a survey, where costs were assessed on a different basis. The results of this survey suggested an average spend on clearing fly tipping for each local authority in 2002 of 54,258. No estimates are available, however, to indicate the costs associated with clearing incidents caused by particular individuals or groups of individuals.A clause in the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill currently before Parliament will, if successful, require local authorities and the Agency to submit annual data returns to Defra on the amounts and type of illegally dumped waste they deal with. These measures are expected to come into effect in the summer of 2004 and will mean, for the first time, that national data on fly tipping levels will be available.

Climate Change

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the arrangements for regional co-ordination of the UK position in international climate change negotiations. [127861]

I have been asked to reply.International climate change negotiations are the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Secretary of State writes to the Devolved Administrations, ahead of each Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to set out the key issues for the negotiations. Officials from the Devolved Administrations have the opportunity to input to the preparations for these and other technical negotiations, and have been in the UK delegation attending them.

Islington Borough Council

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what monitoring is being undertaken by his Department's representatives of the financial performance of the Islington borough council; and what assessment he has made of the accounting procedures at the council. [127395]

As part of the Government's engagement policy with poorly performing authorities a Government monitoring board has been set up to advise Ministers of Islington's progress against its agreed recovery plan, including targets and milestones on financial performance.However, the assessment of the council's performance is a matter for the auditor, not the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Although Islington received an unqualified audit opinion on the accounts for 2001–02, a number of improvement areas have been identified in the recovery plan, and the district auditor has drawn up an audit plan for 2003–04, which reflects the areas requiring improvement and the priorities in the recovery plan.

Licensing Laws

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to alter the rules governing planning use class orders following the changes to the licensing laws in the Licensing Act 2003; and if he will make a statement. [127146]

I refer to the Written Statement made by my hon. Friend for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty), on 4 March 2003, Official Report, column 79WS, which stated that it is the Government's intention to change the Use Classes Order so as to put pubs and bars into a separate class. The effect of this change will be to require an application to be made for planning permission in respect of any proposal to change use of an existing building into a pub or bar.I expect to make a full statement on the outcome of our consultation on proposals for changes to the Use Classes Order early in the autumn session.

Local Authorities (Borrowing)

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proposals he has for allowing councils to borrow on the security of (a) council housing stock, (b) rent income from council housing and (c) service charges on council housing; and whether he intends that such borrowing would have to be approved by (i) his Department and (ii) HM Treasury. [126585]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not consider it prudent for local authorities to borrow against the security of their capital assets, since the potential seizure of property by creditors would pose an unacceptable threat to the delivery of services. Similarly it is not proposed to allow authorities to sell future streams of revenue such as rents, in return for immediate one-off payments. The Local Government Bill will allow authorities to borrow without Government consent, provided that they can afford to service the debt from their own revenues, which could include housing income.

Local Authority Housing

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his policy is on whether all local authority tenants will continue to have a choice about who their landlord is. [126167]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's policy is that tenants should be at the heart of decision making on the future of their homes. In delivering decent homes local authorities will need to fully engage with tenants on deciding what the best option is for all stakeholders.There are four options for local authorities to deliver the decent homes target: investment in the stock by the local authority using existing resources, PFI, setting up an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) or stock transfer. The first three of these leave the stock in local authority ownership.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which local authorities he has visited since May 2002. [121812]

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister regularly visits local authority projects and meets local authority councillors and officers, since May 2002 the Deputy Prime Minister has visited Allerdale, Barking and Dagenham, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Bradford, Brighton, Coventry, Dartford, Doncaster, Eden, Gateshead, Greenwich, Harlow, Harrogate, Kensington and Chelsea, Kingston-upon-Hull, Lambeth, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Medway, Newcastle, North Lincolnshire, Salford, Sefton, Watford, Windsor and Maidenhead and York.

Local Government Act

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many applications he has received from local authorities under sections 2 and 5 of the Local Government Act 2000; how many applications have been determined by his Department; and what mechanisms are in place for dealing with such applications outside arrangements made in the course of the negotiations of local public service agreements. [126914]

Nine applications or expressions of interest have been received for action under section 5 of the Local Government Act 2000. Applications are assessed by the Department responsible for the relevant area of policy in conjunction with this Office. One application has so far been addressed through provision made in primary legislation. Others are subject to on-going discussions with the relevant local authorities.

Large Scale Voluntary Transfers

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many local authorities have implemented large scale voluntary housing transfers (LSVTs) since 1997; how many have been rejected by tenants; how many have put up proposals for large scale voluntary transfers; and how many have not yet registered their interest. [126421]

86 local authorities have completed 117 large scale voluntary transfers since 1 April 1997. During this period, tenants have not supported the transfer proposal in 23 ballots. There are 38 transfer schemes in progress. Housing transfer is one of three options available to authorities for meeting the decent home target where additional resources are required. By July 2005, all stock-owning authorities are required to have completed an investment option appraisal, with the full involvement of tenants, to decide on the best means of meeting the decent home target for their stock. These investment option appraisals must be signed off by the relevant Government Office for the Regions.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how many applications for large scale voluntary transfers of council housing have been accepted by his Department; and what arrangements at what cost have been made in each case for write-off or reduction of overcharging housing debt; [126422](2) how much he estimates will be provided in

(a) this and (b) the next financial year (i) to write off overhanging housing debt for local authorities who privatise their housing stock and (ii) for council house repairs and renovations in those authorities in the same years. [126559]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has accepted 268 applications for large-scale voluntary transfer of council housing since 1988. When an authority transfers all its housing stock it is expected to use the receipt to meet any debt liability. Of the 173 transfers that have taken place to date, there have been 10 transfers where the receipt was insufficient and the office made an overhanging debt payment. The payments are tabled as follows:

Financial yearLocal authority£ million
1999–2000Burnley21.0
2001–02Coventry111.7
2001–02Calderdale64.6
2001–02Blackburn with Darwen78.9
2002–03St. Helens87.2
2002–03Redcar and Cleveland25.4
2002–03Knowsley126.1
2002–03Carlisle18.0
2002–03Bradford182.8
2002–03Walsall108.7
The projected overhanging debt payments have reduced to £24 million for 2003–04 and are estimated at £500 million for 2004–05. These are likely to change as details of transfer proposals are finalised. These payments reflect the liability the office would have had to meet as ongoing Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidy if these authorities retained their stock. In respect of the authorities liable to require overhanging debt payments over the two years concerned, the total estimated provision for the Major Repairs Allowances (MRA) within the Housing Revenue Account subsidy is £124.2 million in 2003–04 and £122.3 million in 2004–05.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proposals he has for issuing to each tenant balloted in large scale voluntary housing transfers a statement of the benefits they will receive from a yes vote and the extra spending it will bring for repairs and improvements. [126423]

None. Local authorities are required by section 106, and schedule 3A to, the Housing Act 1985 to serve notice of the details of the transfer proposal, including the identity of the new landlord and the likely consequences of the disposal for the tenant, to all secure and introductory tenants.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what sanctions are imposed on housing associations which do not fulfil promises made to tenants in large scale voluntary transfers of council housing; what redress is available to tenants in the event of such transfers; and how many complaints have been made to his Department about such purchases in the last five years. [126425]

The Housing Corporation is responsible for regulating all Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), commonly known as housing associations. RSLs are required to adhere to the Housing Corporation's

Price per dwelling, in large scale voluntary transfers since April 2001
AuthorityDate of transferPrice per dwelling (£)1
Derbyshire Dales4 March 20027,616
Chelmsford BC11 March 200211,530
East Hertfordshire DC (split transfer)18 March 200211,937
13,725
Erewash BC25 March 20026,460
Reigate and Banstead BC25 March 200213,212
St. Edmundsbury24 June 20027,489
Vale Royal BC1 July 20027,462
St. Helen's MBC1 July 20021,974
Redcar and Cleveland BC15 July 20025,180
Knowsley MBC15 July 20021,794
LB Waltham Forest30 September 2002832
LB Hackney cc sheltered stock14 October 2002-1,514
LB Harrow14 October 2002-3,642
Manchester cc Langley Estate18 November 2002-342
County of Herefordshire C25 November 20026,945
Carlisle CC9 December 20021,803
Rushcliffe BC20 January 200312,934
Liverpool CC Eastern Fringe (south)23 January 20031,800
Liverpool CC Eastern Fringe (central)30 January 2003-1,378
City of Bradford24 February 20032,831
Amber Valley BC24 February 20035,077
Crewe and Nantwich BC10 March 20036,181
Liverpool CC10 March 2003-728
Oldham MBC Limeside (Hollins/The Avsnues)17 March 2003-1,577
Walsall MBC (majority of stock)27 March 20031,026
Walsall MBC (tenant managed stock)27 March 2003-0.03
Craven DC31 March 20035,201
Forest of Dean DC31 March 20036,849
North Hertfordshire DC31 March 20033,128
1 Negative value figures indicate a dowry payment from the local authority to the acquiring registered social landlord.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether consultants and tenants' friends employed on large scale voluntary transfer proposals for council housing are (a) approved, (b) nominated and (c) paid for by his Department; what steps he takes to ensure their impartiality; and whether any have recommended that the large scale voluntary transfer should not proceed. [126561]

Regulatory Code and guidance which sets out minimum standards in the three areas of governance, financial viability and management of services to tenant. It also has a number of general and specific powers to take action is respect of housing associations.

All housing associations registered with the Corporation must have procedures to deal with complaints from tenants fairly and effectively. Once tenants have been through this procedure, they can bring the matter to the attention of the Independent Housing Ombudsman. There is no formal procedure for complaints to be made to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or investigated by it.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much was paid to each local authority per council house that has opted for large scale voluntary transfer of its council stock in each of the last two years. [126558]

To reflect the intended continued use of the properties for social housing the price paid to each local authority per council house accords with a Tenanted Market Value (TMV) rather than an open market value. Tabled are the price paid per dwelling in each large scale voluntary transfer since April 2001 in accordance with this valuation method.

Both consultants and tenant advisers are employed and paid for by the local authority. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister guidance is that they should be chosen through a competitive process. The role of the tenant adviser is to offer impartial advice and support to the tenants and leaseholders about the proposals being draw up. This is set out in guidance on the recruitment and role of the tenant adviser issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.The nature of any work being undertaken by a consultant will depend on the nature of the contract with the local authority. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister would not necessarily know where a consultant had advised an authority.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) whether publicity polling and consultancy fees for voluntary transfers of council housing stock can be financed out of the local housing revenue account;[126565](2) what estimate he has made of the costs of publicity polling, publishing information, consultancy fees and preparation and polling processes for large scale voluntary transfer of council housing pools over the last 12 months; and how much of this has been paid for by

(a) local authorities and (b) central Government. [126568]

Expenditure incurred in carrying out the statutory consultation required under section 106A of the Housing Act 1985, including the cost of any ballot, is considered to be in connection with the management of dwellings held within the Housing Management Account and therefore must be charged to that account.No payment is made by central Government towards the cost of such consultation and figures for the total expenditure on this by local authorities are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Media Training

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost was to his Department of media and voice training for ministers and officials in each year since 1997. [123130]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was created on 29 May 2002. Expenditure on media skills training has been as follows:

MinistersOfficials (£)
29 May 2002–31 March 2003nil9,165.00
1 April 2003–30 June 2003nil3,053.62

Mobile Telephone Masts

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 10 July 2003, Official Report, column 998W, on mobile telephone masts, what action he plans to ensure greater adherence by network operators to the code of best practice on mobile phone network development. [126556]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 10 July 2003, Official Report, column 998W. The Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Developments, which was produced jointly by representatives of central and. local government and the mobile phone industry, built on Government guidance and the operators' Ten Commitments. The Code has only been in operation since last November.

On Tuesday 15 July 2003 Deloitte and Touche published their report of the Implementation Review of the Ten Commitments to Best Siting Practice for the UK Mobile Industry. A copy of the report is available in the Library of the House. The opinion of Deloitte & Touche is the evidence they have seen of the operators' processes and procedures during the review fairly reflects the operators' assertion that they have made demonstrable progress in implementing the Ten Commitments. However, given the relatively new nature of some of the Commitments at the time of the review some of the processes were not fully operational and there were some areas where implementation was not comprehensive or thorough. Deloitte and Touche made 46 recommendations for improving procedures and all the mobile network operators have accepted all the recommendations.

The operators are committed to commissioning another review in a year's time and I will be asking them to extend the scope of that review to include observance of the Code. This will enable us to assess how effectively the Code has been put into operation since its introduction and whether any changes need to be made.

Neighbourhood Renewal Fund

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make it his policy (a) to take into account regional wage differentials in distributing the neighbourhood renewal fund and (b) to apply an area cost adjustment to the calculation. [124746]

The Government's policy for determining eligibility for and distributing Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) resources is based on the Indices of Deprivation 2000 (ID2000). This applies to the £900 million of NRF resources that have been allocated, as part of Spending Review 2000 (SR2000), in 2001–02 to 2003–04, and to the additional £975 million of NRF resources provided for in Spending Review 2002 (SR2002) for 2004–05 and 2005–06.

New Housing

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the Government's target is for new housing to be built on derelict urban land. [126765]

The national target is that, by 2008, 60 per cent. of new housing should be provided on previously-developed land and through conversions of existing buildings. The definition of previously-developed land is provided in Planning Policy Guidance note 3: "Housing" and includes derelict urban land.

Partnership Agreements

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he plans to conclude a partnership agreement with the trade unions representing the staff in his Department. [117462]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and its agencies enjoy a positive and productive relationship with the trade unions working in partnership together to address staffing issues and matters of mutual interest. Given this approach there are currently no plans to conclude a partnership agreement but this is kept under review.

Planning Policy Guidance 13

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent representations he has received on the relationship between Planning Policy Guidance 13 and flexible working practices. [127857]

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has received one MP's letter dated 19 June on behalf of a third party on this issue, and has not received any representations on this issue on behalf of anyone else.

ProjectInvestment (£)Period
CCTV: Chorley Town Centre/Secured Car Parks120,2231999–2002
Communities Against Drugs162,0002001–03
Safer Communities Initiative28,7662002/03
Partnership Development Fund91,5962001–03
Small Retailers in Deprived Areas/Security for Small Retailers10,0002002/03
Chorley Interchange2.6millionCompleted 2003
Barnardo's Chorley Families Project119,9032002–04
Chorley and South Ribble Primary Care Trust Health Promotion unit50,1002002–04
South Lancashire Arts Partnership: Chorley Rural Sports and Art Project61,600(estimated)2003/04
Chorley Carers Project7502000–03
Age Concern Lancashire1,0002000–03
Chorley Disability Sports Forum2002000–03
St. John Ambulance2002000–03
Chorley Village Website4002000–03
Creative Minds5002000–03
Clayton Brook Community House1,5002000–03
Service Improvement for People with Learning Disabilities2502000–03
Croston Rural Action Group2002000–03
Chorley/South Ribble Disability Forum5002000–03
Eccleston Community Environment Trust3752000–03
Chorley/South Ribble Mental Health Alliance5702000–03
Chorley Environmental Forum: Green Vehicles Exhibition5002002

Public Housing

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what his policy is on public housing investment in (a) the south east and (b) the south-west; how many homes were built in the south-west in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement on the reasons underlying the trend. [126932]

The policy of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on public housing investment is set out in "Sustainable Communities in the South East and Sustainable Communities in the South West", which made clear the actions that will be taken on a regional basis to deliver a step change in addressing the balance between supply and demand of housing.Funding for the provision of affordable housing in the south-west has increased to £81 million for 2003–04, compared to just under £62 million for 2002–03. The programme is expected to deliver around 2,000 new affordable homes for the region in 2003–04. Funding for the provision of affordable housing in the south-east has increased to £146 million, compared to just under £114 million for 2002–03. The programme is expected to deliver around 3,000 new affordable homes for the region in 2003–04.The table shows the supply of new dwellings built in the south-west in each of the last 10 years.

Projects Assistance (Chorley)

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which projects in Chorley have been assisted by the Government Office for the North West in the past three years; and what assistance was provided in each case. [126456]

Government Office for the North West offers guidance and support for a range of initiatives in Chorley. This includes providing, or helping to secure, funding for the following projects in the borough:

New homes built
1992–9314,873
1993–9415,171
1994–9516,772
1995–9616,884
1996–9716,642
1997–9819,003
1998–9915,929
1999–200015,912
2000–0114,979
2001–0215,575
2002–0315,943

Source:

Returns from local authorities and the National House Building Council to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

To better understand the reasons underlying the low responsiveness of housing supply to demand pressures in the UK, the Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister have asked Kate Barker to conduct a review of issues affecting housing supply in the UK. The review will deliver an interim report by autumn 2003.

Queen Elizabeth Ii Conference Centre

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the bar chart on page 2 of the annual report and accounts 2002–03 of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre gives a fair representation of the evolution of the centre's surplus on ordinary activities. [126234]

The accounts of the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre have been given an unqualified Opinion by the Comptroller and Auditor General in all the years represented. Therefore, the figures shown in the bar chart on page 2 in relation to surplus on ordinary activities can be considered audited and accurate.

Tenancy Money

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place copies of the submissions to his consultation paper, "Tenancy Money: probity and protection" in the Library. [126758]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend for Bethnal Green and Bow (Ms King) on 16 July 2003, Official Report, column 1362.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list those persons and organisations who responded to the consultation paper "Tenancy Money: probity and protection", broken down by (a) landlords, (b) tenants and (c) others. [126759]

Landlords:

  • John Allen
  • Forebury Estates Ltd.
  • M. Gora
  • George Wilder & Yvonne Hawkins
  • M. P. Davis
  • Jan Kamburoff
  • BR & J. Green Letting
  • Rigby Properties
  • Blaxhill Estates
  • Kath & Nick Heirons
  • R. F. Maycock
  • G. Foers
  • Exeter Property
  • M. G. Beech
  • John Pybus
  • Malcolm Pither
  • Paul & Heather Wiles
  • Mrs. P. E. Cook
  • + 8 anonymous

Tenants:

  • 3 anonymous

others:

  • Flintshire County Council
  • Ashton Wingate Ltd.
  • Edward Taub & Co.
  • Training for Professionals
  • Forebury Estates Limited
  • Thomas Winter Insurance
  • The UK Association of Letting Agents Ltd.
  • The Rent Service
  • R. W. Goldie
  • Jack Tennison
  • Independent Housing Ombudsman Ltd.
  • Lettings-landlords.co.uk
  • Robert Jordan & Associates
  • Cleeve Residential Lettings
  • City of Bradford MDC
  • Wirral Council
  • Aabee Homes
  • Bradford & Bingley Letting Agents
  • Brighton & Hove Private Sector Housing Forum
  • Gedling Borough Council
  • Kensington & Chelsea Housing Advice Service
  • University of Sheffield Union of Students
  • LB Greenwich
  • Lacors
  • Dermot McKibbon
  • LB Hammersmith & Fulham
  • Southern Private Landlords Association
  • Sefton MBC
  • Housing Advice Service Kensington & Chelsea (HASKC)
  • Exeter Housing Group
  • Legal Action Group
  • National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux
  • Association of Residential Letting Agents
  • Hanover Park Services plc t/a HomeLet
  • Brighton & Hove Private Sector Housing Forum
  • Brent Private Tenants' Rights Group
  • Cardiff Bond Board
  • Housing Needs & Strategy Unit, Burnley Borough Council
  • Streetwise Property Rentals (Scotland)
  • Association of Letting & Management Agents (ALMA)
  • Department of Housing Services, Nottingham City Council
  • The Law Society
  • Braintree District Council
  • Bury & Walkers acting for Leeds Property Association
  • British Property Federation
  • Association of Tenancy Relations Officers
  • The Country Land and Business Association
  • The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
  • Housing Law Practitioners Association
  • Local Government Association
  • National Union of Students
  • The National Rent Deposit Forum (NRDF)
  • Homelessness Strategy for Ipswich Borough Council
  • Chartered Institute of Housing
  • Dorset Residential Landlords Association
  • National Federation of Residential Landlords
  • Birmingham City Council
  • The National Association of Estate Agents
  • Shelter
  • Countrywide Residential Lettings
  • National Approved Letting Scheme
  • Office of Fair Trading
  • Celtic Properties
  • The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
  • North Staffordshire Landlords Association Limited
  • Roger Barton
  • The Letting Centre
  • + 1 anonymous, 1 who asked to remain confidential

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his written ministerial statement of 16 June 2003, Official Report, column 2WS, on what basis he calculated that the cost of a national tenancy deposit scheme would be £19 million per annum and the benefits equal to £20 million. [126812]

The calculations for both these figures are to be found in Annex 1 of the consultation paper "Tenancy Money: probity and protection". They start from a figure derived from the Survey of English Housing (SEH), that there are 127,000 tenancies ending each year in which there is a dispute about the deposit. The total cost is found from multiplying this figure by the average cost of each adjudication in the pilot Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS), £150. The benefit is found from multiplying the derived figure on deposit disputes by the average level of deposit (£510, SEH data) and by the average proportion of the total deposit an independent adjudicator would consider should be returned to the tenant (31 per cent. taken from data on disputes in the TDS).

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of (a) the maximum annual adjudication costs and (b) the likely annual adjudication costs of a statutory rent deposit protection scheme. [127050]

As my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty) mentioned in his statement of 16 June 2003, Official Report, column 2WS, it is estimated that adjudication costs of a statutory scheme would be £19 million. This is a best estimate based on survey findings of tenancy numbers and level of deposit, statistics on perceived prevalence of wrongful withholding of deposit moneys, and the adjudication cost per dispute in the pilot scheme.

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimates he has made of the amount of interest that would be generated by holding all rent deposit money in a single custodial scheme. [127051]

The consultation paper "Tenancy Money: probity and protection" provides an assessment in paragraph 35 of the Regulatory Impact Assessment at Annex 1. It noted that if £790 million (the amount estimated to be currently held in deposits) was held in a single custodial deposit scheme for a year, it would raise £31.6 million in interest (calculated at the Bank of England's then current base-rate).

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many responses were received to the consultation on "Tenancy money: probity and protection"; how many responses were received from (a) individual landlords and agents and their representative bodies and (b) individual tenants and their representative bodies; of those respondents who were not individual landlords, agents and tenants or their representative bodies, what percentage of respondents were (i) in favour and (ii) not in favour of a statutory custodial scheme to protect tenants' deposits. [127052]

Ninety-eight responses were received. Of these, 26 were from landlords and nine from landlord organisations; eight from letting agents and five from agent organisations; three from tenants and four from tenant organisations/representatives; 13 from local authorities; 24 from other organisations (of which 16 were public or voluntary sector); two from other interested individuals; and four from respondents whose type was not known.Of the 43 respondents not in categories involved in letting or their representatives, 30 responded to the options concerning whether there should be Government intervention; and if so, of the three options which each included a statutory custodial scheme, which option they favoured. Two favoured no intervention; four favoured or appeared to favour a statutory scheme, but with no further details; favoured a custodial scheme as the sole option; two favoured a custodial scheme plus approved insured alternatives; five favoured a custodial scheme plus membership of an approved trade association or accreditation scheme that would provide insurance. There were four further options involving deposits (that did not involved a statutory custodial scheme), which respondents could indicate either instead of or in addition to the ones mentioned here.

Waste Disposal Applications

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the refusal rate for waste disposal applications within the terms of county matters was for the last four quarters of the year. [126918]

For 'County Matter' applications, the provisional numbers supplied to this Office for the four quarters ending 31 March 2003 show a total of 105 refused applications among the 1,154 decisions on waste applications. This is a refusal rate of 9 per cent. As there are relatively small numbers of 'County Matter' applications made and decided each quarter, refusal rates for individual quarters can be quite volatile. In 2002–03, the quarterly refusal rates ranged from 7 per cent. to 12 per cent.

Cabinet Office

European Constitution

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what discussions he has had with (a) colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and (b) counterparts in the European Union about the legislative competencies covered by the draft European constitution. [124782]

As part of the normal Whitehall process my officials have had regular contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss all aspects of the Convention, including legislative competences. My officials have also had regular contact with Member and Accession States to discuss issues arising in the Convention. In line with exemptions 1 and 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, it is not the normal practice of Governments to disclose details about internal discussions, or information whose disclosure would harm the conduct of international relations or affairs.

Media Training

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what the cost was to his Department of media and voice training for Ministers and officials in each year since 1997. [123118]

No training in media or voice training has been provided for Ministers by my Department.Cabinet Office runs four programmes specifically for officials who deal with the media and make presentations. From 2001–02 to date, 12 officials have attended the programmes at a total cost of £3,450.Figures before 2001–02 are not available.Additionally, a one-off voice coaching workshop for seven CMPS officials who regularly give presentations was held on 17 June 2003 at a cost of £1,189.10.

Ombudsmen

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office what progress has been made in restructuring and improving the various ombudsmen's services. [125229]

The latest position is set out in the Government's response (Cm 5890) to the Public Administration Select Committee's recent report on Ombudsman issues (HC448), published on 22 July. I have sent a copy to my hon. Friend.

Public Sector Leadership

To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office (1) what measures he has put in place in the last two years to (a) track the career moves and (b) monitor the improvement of individual public sector leaders, as referred to in the Strategy Unit Report on Strengthening Leadership within the Public Sector; [126696](2) what measures he has put in place within the last two years to gather data on

(a) career progression and (b) wastage rates of public sector leaders, as referred to in the Strategy Unit Report on Strengthening Leadership within the Public Sector. [126697]

A significant number of actions have been taken in the last two years to improve and measure public sector leadership.In the Civil Service, the Senior Appointments Selection Committee (SASC) takes a strategic overview of senior appointments, succession planning and leadership development. Over the last year, SASC (supported by the Cabinet Office) has shifted its annual succession planning round with the aim of providing a more strategic overview of talent in the SCS and those with potential for top posts. It includes individual Departments' assessment of their short- and long-term skills needs to meet priorities, an assessment of their current talent pools and what they are doing to develop individuals through career moves and broader development.The Cabinet Office also collects data on the Senior Civil Service workforce, which include information on progression rates through SCS Pay Bands and leavers. These data are used to inform SASC's succession planning overview.

In the wider public services, priority has been given to strengthening leadership. For example, in the NHS through the NHS Leadership Centre, in Schools with the introduction of the Leadership Incentive Grant, and the Police with the establishment of the Central Police Training and Development Authority last year. There has also been a focus on monitoring leadership improvement through inspection, for example the Local Government Comprehensive Performance Assessment corporate reviews.

Trade And Industry

Fair Trade

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent proposals the Government have tabled in the EU to (a) promote fair trade between the EU and developing countries and (b) prevent unfair competition by EU companies and agriculture with developing countries. [125744]

The Government are working through the EU and with all WTO members to ensure the Doha Trade Round negotiations provide a fairer framework for international trade. A better deal for developing countries is part of the Government's objectives at the WTO Ministerial in Cancun this September. The recent agreement on reform of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy enhances the prospects of success.

Research And Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on trends in Government spending on research and development. [126553]

I refer my right hon. Friend to the written ministerial statement I made on 16 July 2003, Official Report, column 46WS.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent assessment she has made of the impact of Government research and development spending on English regions. [126552]

No such assessment has been made. However, Government research and development spending—both within higher education institutes and outside of higher education institutes—is tracked regionally through the ONS regional trend series. The most recent figures available—for 2000—were published last year (ONS, Regional Trends 37, Table 13.9).

British Electricity Transmission And Trading Arrangements

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans there are for (a) her Department and (b) Ofgem to carry out an environmental appraisal of the British Electricity Transmission and Trading Arrangements. [126722]

A Regulatory Impact Assessment has been carried out on BETTA and is available on the DTI website http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/domestic_markets/electricity_trading/ria.pdf The RIA includes a section on the environmental impact of BETTA.

British Energy

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether the condition that British Energy was to complete the sale of Amergen by 30 June 2003 was included in the restructuring package submitted to the EU on 7 March 2003. [126654]

Full details of British Energy's restructuring plan were given to the European Commission in our submission on 7 March 2003. The submission is confidential between the Government and the Commission

China (British Financial Services)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received regarding the scale of the British financial services industry in China; and if she will make a statement. [126577]

TPUK regularly receives requests from UK based financial services companies for support for their China market activities.My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and I shall be leading a high-powered business delegation to Beijing and Shanghai from 20-22 July which will include several financial services companies. I shall be raising a number of trade-related issues with the Chinese leadership, including pressing the case for increased market access by British financial services providers to the Chinese domestic market in line with China's WTO commitments. I will also be seeking a relaxation of some of the administrative and technical hurdles that currently exist (for example the high capitalisation requirements for banks and insurance companies and the lengthy waiting period for second and subsequent branches).At the same time, I shall be encouraging members of the local Chinese business community I meet to take greater advantage of the expertise and experience the City of London is able to offer them in the field of international financial services.

Clergy (Terms Of Employment)

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the interim report of the McClean review of clergy terms of service in relation to section 23 of the Employment Relations Act 1999; when she expects to receive the final report; and if she will make a statement. [126831]

The Department is currently studying the interim report and I look forward to receiving the final report. I understand that the Working Group is looking to produce the final report towards the end of next year.

Company Directors

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer of 10 July 2003, Official Report, columns 569-70W, on company directors, what procedures are in place for ensuring that company directors who have been disqualified (a) do not take part as directors and (b) are not involved in the management of companies during the disqualification period; and if she will list the number of directors who have been discovered to have been in breach of disqualification orders in each year since 1997. [126757]

When a director is disqualified, that individual is advised of the provisions of section 13 of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, which states that it is an offence for a person to act in contravention of a Disqualification Order.The Insolvency Service operates the disqualified directors hotline for the receipt of complaints from members of the public concerning disqualified directors and bankrupts who may be acting in the management of a company in breach of their disqualification orders and undertakings or a bankruptcy order. Additional complaints are also received from the DTI's Companies Investigation Branch, Official Receivers and other Government Departments. Liquidators also have an obligation to report matters of a criminal nature, such as a contravention of section 13, to the Insolvency Service.Additionally, the sub poena section of Companies House checks new directors appointments against the list of disqualified directors and advises the Insolvency Service of any potential breaches.

Section 11 and section 13 Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986

Details of prosecutions of individuals for breach of section 11/13 CDDA in each year since 1997. The information is contained in Table D2 of the companies annual report published by the Department.

The figures include only those offences prosecuted by this Department. There are likely to be section 11/13 offences prosecuted by other prosecuting authorities (for example, the CPS and the SFO). We have no information on the number of such cases.

1 April to 31 March

Prosecutions (number of offences)

Convictions

Acquittal/other disposal

1997–981128626
1998–9916911752
1999–20001097930
2000–0113611917
2001–0217413539
2002–0314111823

Council Of Ministers

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on (1) how many occasions since May 1997 the Department's vote in the Council of Ministers against a legislative proposal (a) was and (b) was not sufficient to achieve with other member states a blocking minority; [117208]

(2) on how many occasions since May 1997 the Department abstained in the Council of Ministers on a legislative proposal which was passed by qualified majority voting; [117223]

(3) on how many occasions since May 1997 the Department has been outvoted by qualified majority voting in the Council of Ministers; and if she will list the legislation by year; [117247]

(4) on how many occasions since May 1997 the Department indicated dissent from a proposal in the Council of Ministers but did not register a vote or abstention. [117260]

It is not possible to identify these occasions when a blocking minority has been assembled against a proposal in the Council of Ministers; it is agreement that triggers the recording of a vote. For the same reason it is not possible to identify these occasions when the UK indicated dissent without abstaining or voting against the proposal.It is good practice for the UK to work closely with the other member states and the Commission to influence and have our views taken into account prior to any vote at the Council of Ministers.

Credit Card Industry

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if she will review the practice of differential charging structures for credit card cheque books as part of the review of the Consumer Credit. Act 1974; [116718](2) if her Department will ban the issuing of unsolicited credit card cheque books as part of its review of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. [116719]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that my predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Miss Johnson) gave him on 5 June 2003, Official Report, columns 531-32W. However I should emphasise that I believe that the practice of sending unsolicited credit card cheques should be discouraged but that this issue should be addressed by the credit industry changing its codes of practice rather than by regulation.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has for redeployment of members of her Department out of London and the South East. [125362]

The scope for relocating Government activity is being considered by Sir Michael Lyons. His independent review was announced in the Chancellor's budget statement on 9 April.Details of the review, including the consultation launched on 19 June, can be found on the HM Treasury website at www.hm-treasury.gov.uk Sir Michael will report his findings on the scope for relocating Departments and other public sector bodies before the end of the year.

Deregulation

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the deregulation measures enacted since 1997. [126071]

The Government are committed to removing unnecessary regulatory burdens on business. This commitment is shown through the Regulatory Reform Action Plan, which includes over 250 reforms, with 25 of these being from the DTI. They include:

the recently enacted Communications Act, which replaces five existing regulators with a single regulator;
the Enterprise Act, involving insolvency reform, which will lead to significant improvements for business; and
abolition of the 20 Partner Limit.
We are also committed to ensuring new domestic employment legislation is introduced on just two dates a year.In addition, of the 300 recommendations to Government in the 25 major reports from the Better Regulation Taskforce, we have accepted in full or in part all but 10 recommendations. We continue to identify further areas for action.

Economic Partnership Agreements

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the likely impact of economic partnership agreements signed between the European Union and southern African countries on the economies of African, Caribbean and Pacific states. [126258]

The Department has not yet made an assessment of the likely impact of economic partnership agreements (EPAs) signed between the European Union (EU) and southern African countries on the economies of ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) states.Negotiations of EPAs began in September 2002. As part of these negotiations, each ACP state is required to decide with which regional organisation it wishes to enter into an EPA with the EU; many ACP states are still in the process of exploring the options available to them. Any assessment of the likely impact of EPAs signed between the EU and southern African countries on the economies of ACP states will need to consider the resulting geographical configurations.

Eu Directives

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will list the EU directives implemented by the Department since 8 June 2001. [126588]

Between 8 June 2001 and April 2002, my Department implemented the following two EU Directives:

NumberTitle/subject matter
Directive 96/29Laying down basic safety standards for the protection of the health of workers and the general public concerning the dangers arising from ionising radiation.
Directive 97/80On the burden of proof in cases of discrimination based on sex

For those EU Directives implemented between April 2002 and April 2003, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him on 28 April 2003, Official Report, columns 178-79.

Since April 2003, my Department implemented the following two EU Directives:

Number

Title/subject matter

Directive 2000/34Amending Council Directive 93/104 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time to cover sectors and activities excluded from that Directive.
Directive 2000/78Establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation

Eu Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many regulations originating from the EU have been implemented by her Department over each of the last five years. [120817]

Regulations are, in general, directly applicable in the member states, without the need for implementation in national law. Figures for those which fall within this Department's area of responsibility are not held centrally.I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Europe on 30 June 2003,

Official Report, columns 64-65 W which gives estimates for the total number of EC, ECSC and Eurotom Regulations.

Euro

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment the Government have made of the impact on employment of membership of the single European currency, on each region, by Standard Industrial Classification. [125424]

I have been asked to reply.I refer the hon. Member to "UK membership of the single currency: An assessment of the five economic tests" (Cm 5776) and the EMU study "EMU and business sectors", which were published on 9 June 2003.

European Working Groups

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on progress with achieving transparency in respect of the European working groups for which the Department is responsible. [105733]

The Government have long been committed to greater openness in the EU Institutions. This was a key theme of the UK Presidencies in 1992 and 1998. Making it easier to gain access to non-sensitive documents is crucial to this. The Government welcomed Regulation 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. As a result, more documents are released to the public, while genuinely sensitive documents are given the protection they need.

Much of the Council's work takes place in preparatory bodies, including working groups. Accountability and transparency of Council business to Parliament are ensured by the scrutiny process, to which the Government are also firmly committed.

We strongly supported the measures agreed at the Seville European Council to make the Council more open when in legislating mode. We remain committed to increasing transparency. The Future of Europe Convention is also looking at ways to make the EU more open.

Export Credits Guarantee Department

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer of 9 June 2003, Official Report, column 626W, regarding the three cases in which covenants and other conditions relating to environmental and social impacts were included, what (a) host country legislation and (b) international environmental standard requirements which the Export Credits Guarantee Department stipulated that the relevant projects, goods or services had to comply with to ensure cover was provided. [126087]

Taking each of the projects listed in the answer of 9 June 2003, Official Report, column 626W in turn:

Nigeria LNG Plus

All the participating Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) insisted that covenants were inserted which committed the project to comply with the environmental laws of Nigeria and the environmental guidelines and standards of the World Bank Group and the African Development Bank. In addition, a detailed Environmental and Social Management Plan agreed by ECGD, the participating EGAs and the African Development Bank committed the company to a range of project-specific standards and mitigation measures.

Marlim Sul Oilfield, Brazil

Covenants committed the company to implementing the standards and recommendations set out in the Environmental Impact Assessment and to compliance with Brazilian environmental laws (which we consider to be more stringent than those of the World Bank Group).

Offshore exploration drilling, Brazil

The covenants required the company to regularly provide evidence that it had obtained all relevant environmental permits from the Brazilian authorities, and to notify ECGD of any material environmental incidents.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to her answer of 13 June 2003, Official Report, column 1103W, excepting host country legislation, whether there are international environmental standard requirements which the Export Credits Guarantee Department makes requisite for every application if it is to be awarded cover. [126088]

ECGD has, since 2001, sought to ensure that all the civil, non-aerospace cases it supports comply with relevant World Bank Group environmental guidelines and policies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many applications deemed to have high potential impact the Export Credits Guarantee Department has (a) received and (b) refused cover for; and what the project type was of those applications (i) received and (ii) refused. [126110]

The information is as follows:

  • (a) ECGD has received 12 applications relating to projects deemed to have high potential impacts. Of these, six are oil and gas projects, four involve power distribution or generation, one is a steel project and one is a bridge.
  • (b) None of these applications has been refused cover. Two have been approved and both were in the oil and gas sector. The others are either still being assessed or have not progressed because the UK exporter did not win the contract.
  • To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to her answer of 25 June, Official Report, column 798W, on the Export Credit Guarantees Department, if she will list, for each country, the amounts (a) which relate to military and defence products, contracts or services and (b) which do not. [125930]

    The amounts are detailed by country and split between defence and non-defence in the tables (which have been placed in the Library) by reference to ECGD's exposure as at 30 June 2003. Given the way ECGD's records are held it is not possible to split claims outstanding for recovery in respect of Account 1 (pre-1992 business) between defence and non-defence nor amounts in respect of moratorium interest accrued on claims paid.

    Flexible Working

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how the introduction of employment legislation covering working time and temporary workers is affecting the ability of the manufacturing industry to act flexibly. [116572]

    The UK is in favour of legislation to provide minimum standards of employment protection, but is keen to maintain the flexibility our individual labour market requires, and which many individual workers prefer. Last year, we implemented new rights for employees on fixed-term contracts in a way that provides a high level of protection for these employees, without unnecessarily reducing employers' flexibility to use fixed-term contracts. We must allow workers choice as well as protection. The proposed Directive on temporary agency work is currently being considered by the European Council of Ministers. The Directive would not need to be implemented in the UK unless and until it is adopted. The Government are keenly aware of the potential impact on UK agencies and agency workers of a Directive that takes no account of conditions in the UK labour market. We are therefore pressing very hard for the UK's legitimate concerns to be recognised.

    Information Technology

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what major IT projects with a value in excess of £10,000 she authorised expenditure on in each of the last three financial years. [125719]

    My Department manages its major IT projects through the provision of centrally managed corporate projects aimed at benefiting the whole Department and through delegated arrangements for locally driven projects, where the overall costs and benefits may be quite small and specific to that work area. Records about all major IT projects with a value in excess of £10,000 are held centrally and a list of these for each of the last three financial years is as follows.

    Financial Year 2000–01

    • Calipsoe—Personnel System
    • OIELS—Export Licensing
    • SIELS—Export Licensing
    • Penserver—Pensions Administration System
    • Remote Access to ELGAR
    • Matrix—Electronic Records and Document Management System
    • Senior Staff Management Service
    • BTI Gateway/Ourplace Web Services
    • Redundancy Payments—Case Handling System
    • Secure GSI Network
    • Quarterly Fuel Index/Domestic Fuels Enquiry System

    Financial Year 2001–02

    • Licensing and Consents Unit—Application Support Service
    • Hermes—Prosecution Case Management System
    • IBIS—Company Investigation Case Handling System
    • BTI CRM—Customer First

    Financial Year 2002–03

    • Mentor—Departmental Accounts System
    • Cameo Project—Insolvency Service Banking Project
    • Local Intranet Service
    • BTI Portal Web
    • OMIS
    • Database Promotional Schemes
    • E. Purchasing
    • Business Support Transformation Service

    Financial Year 2003–04

    • DTI Joint Web Content Management Service
    • Licensing and Consents Unit—Development Infrastructure.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much the Department spent on IT (a) software, (b) hardware, (c) maintenance and (d) licences in 2002–03. [124418]

    The Department of Trade and Industry spent £21.3 million on information technology in 2002–03. A full break down as requested is not available but this spend can be classified as follows:

    £ million
    Software/licences0.4
    Hardware0.9
    Maintenance3.8
    Services16.2

    Insolvency Act

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many cases of offences for (a) wrongful trading and (b) fraudulent trading under the Insolvency Act 1986 have been referred for prosecution by the Official Receiver in each year since 1997; and how many of these cases have resulted in successful prosecution in each year. [126657]

    The information is as follows:

  • (a) Wrongful trading is not a criminal offence.
  • (b) Fraudulent trading under the Insolvency Act 1986 is not a criminal offence.
  • Both

    (a) and (b) are civil matters dealt with by a court on the application of a liquidator seeking a civil liability on an individual. As they both provide civil remedies, Official Receivers do not refer such matters for prosecution.

    Official Receivers do report alleged Fraudulent Trading offences under the Companies Act 1985. The number of convictions in respect of such offence reported by Official Receivers since 1997 have been.

    Number

    199725
    19989
    199911
    200011
    200130
    200214

    The above figures are for the calendar year starting on 1 January 1997.

    It Contracts

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many outsourced IT contracts have been signed by her Department in each year since 1997; how much each of these contracts is worth; with whom they are signed; how many have been renegotiated; how many are still in place; and if she will make a statement. [126203]

    Only one outsourced IT contract has been signed by my Department since 1997 and this was in 1999 for the ELGAR PFI contract between DTI and a consortium known as UNITAS, (consisting of Fujitsu Services in conjunction with LogicaCMG).The overall value of this over the 15-year life cycle of the contract is estimated at £579 million for the provision of a large range of IT services across the Department.This contract is still in place, has 11 years still to run and has not been renegotiated to-date. Specific new services provided will have been negotiated during the first four years of the PFI deal but within the terms of the existing contract.

    Mobile Phones

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of UK mobile phone users are (a) contract pay customers and (b) pre-pay customers. [126894]

    This is a matter for the Director General of Telecommunications, and I understand he will be writing to my hon. Friend setting out what information he collects in this regard.

    New Electricity Trading Arrangements

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry by how much energy production from (a) renewable sources, (b) wind and (c) combined heat and power has changed for each year since the introduction of New Electricity Trading Arrangements. [126719]

    Electricity generation in the UK from these sources in 2000 (the year before NETA was introduced in England and Wales), 2001 (the year in which NETA was introduced) and 2002 are shown in the following table:

    GWh
    200020012002
    Electricity generation from all renewable sources110,38310,07711,444
    of which generation from wind947967 1,259
    Generation from CHP226,53922,56824,236
    1 Includes generation from large-scale hydro stations and from biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes.
    2 Detailed CHP statistics for 2002 are to be published on Thursday 31 July 2003 in the Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics,2003

    Post Office Card Account

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what percentage of benefit recipients in (a) Jarrow constituency, (b) South Tyneside, (c) the North East and (d) the UK have (i) applied for and (ii) opened Post Office Card Accounts. [125729]

    The information is not available in the format requested. National figures only are available.A report containing Department of Work and Pensions figures for the number of clients opting for a Post Office card account, broken down by client group up to 27 June 2003, is available in the Libraries of the House.I understand from Post Office Ltd. that by 4 July 2003, 20,000 Post Office card accounts had been opened. This figure is not broken down by category of benefit recipient. The number of Post Office card accounts should grow rapidly over the coming weeks and months as those people opting for a card account complete the application process.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to the statement of 14 July 2003, Official Report, House of Lords, column 621, by the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Lord Sainsbury, on Post Office card account users, what the Government's current estimate is of the number of users; and if she will make a statement. [126907]

    The migration to Direct Payment is at a very early stage and the figures are volatile, but, based on customer choices so far, the Government now expect the eventual number of Post Office card accounts to be in excess of our 3 million operating assumption. A report containing Department of Work and Pensions conversion figures up to 27 June 2003 is available in the Libraries of the House.

    Productivity

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps her Department is taking to improve productivity growth rates. [123329]

    The Government's approach to raising productivity centres on maintaining macroeconomic stability to allow firms and individuals to invest for the future, as well as implementing microeconomic reforms to remove the barriers which prevent markets from functioning efficiently. The Government are addressing historic microeconomic weaknesses in five areas that drive productivity growth—investment, innovation, skills, enterprise and competitive markets.Following the recent review of DTI structure and priorities, the Department has been reorganised in order to put productivity and competitiveness at the heart of our activities. The Department's mission, reflecting the Government's five drivers, is centred on the three objectives of world-class science and innovation, successful business and fair markets. In order to enhance the DTIs capacity to achieve these goals, we are currently working to develop a new strategy. This strategy will set out our longer-term direction; allow us to meet the expectations of our key stakeholders and guide the annual business planning process. The strategy will make the maximum use of the evidence base to inform both policy and delivery.The DTI has already initiated a number of measures which are intended to help drive up productivity. These include:

    publishing the first Manufacturing Strategy for thirty years and launching the Manufacturing Advisory Service;
    working in conjunction with the Department For Education and Skills, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Treasury to produce the recent Skills Strategy White Paper, which contains measures to improve the skills of Britain's work force;
    introducing the Enterprise Act 2002, which will make UK competition and insolvency regimes amongst the best in the world according to independent observers;
    increasing funding for science, engineering and technology from £8.46 billion in 2002–03 to £8.61 billion in 2004–05 in real terms. This includes £1 billion investment in the research infrastructure;
    levering in £330 million extra capital to small firms through the Regional Venture Capital Funds;
    announcing a review of innovation policy that will set out a strategy for improving innovation performance in the UK The findings of the review will be published later this year.

    Radiation

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had on a review of the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation guidelines and the Trower report. [124956]

    ICNIRP is an international body of independent scientific experts which publishes health and safety guidelines on exposure to ultraviolet, optical, electromagnetic and ultrasound radiation. There are no plans at present to review ICNIRP guidelines on electromagnetic radiation. No discussions have been held with the UK Government on this matter.

    In 2001, Mr. B Trower made available to the Police Federation a report he had written about the health and safety aspects of the TETRA mobile radio technology. The Home Secretary discussed the report with the Police Federation and provided a response based on expert advice from the National Radiological Protection Board's independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation.

    Redundancies

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many notified redundancies there have been in each year since 1997 among (a) 18 to 24, (b) 25 to 35, (c) 36 to 54 and (d) over 54-year-olds; what these figures represent as a percentage of the total work force, broken down by region; and if she will make a statement. [124539]

    The information about proposed redundancies notified to this Department does not identify the ages of the workers concerned.

    Regional Science Councils

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has to create more regional science councils. [124118]

    Regional Science Councils or similar bodies are created by the regions themselves and not by central Government. However, the Government have consistently commended the board model of such councils. Most recently—as announced in the Budget statement in April—I have asked Sir Tom McKillop—in his capacity as Chair of the North West Science Council—to lead a network to ensure that best practice in promoting innovation and knowledge transfer is exchanged, and that models of Science and Industry Councils come into operation in every region as soon as practicable.

    Renewable Energy

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans she has for renewable energy schemes that will benefit the West Midlands. [126311]

    With DTI support the Government Office for the West Midlands is working with local government and private sector partners to promote and support the development of renewable energy in the region. A number of renewable energy schemes are already under way. These include:

    Under the Large Scale Field Trial Scheme, the DTI has supported the installation of Solar PV stands at the National Indoor Athletics Training Centre at the Alexander Stadium. This will provide 107 KWP rating surplus energy into the grid.
    Other projects will follow under the Major PV Demonstration programme.
    Two schemes were successfully completed in the 1st Round of Clear Skies Community Funding grants; One for solar thermal panels on a new build for Housing Association at Craven Arms, Shropshire and the installation of a biomass boiler at the National Trust supplying estate offices in Bridworth, Shropshire.
    Three Waste incineration projects at Birmingham, Stoke and Coventry with total operating capacity of 60MW
    A 25MW operating capacity landfill gas project at Packington
    A sewage gas site at Minworth in Birmingham operated by Severn Trent Water
    Small scale hydro schemes at Oswestry and Tamworth
    In addition, DEFRA officials, are working with project developers setting up biomass heating and power generation projects in the West Midlands under the DTFs New Opportunities Funds Bio-Energy Capital grants Scheme.

    Research And Development

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much has been spent on research and development in current prices in each year since 1997–98; and what her plans are for each year until 2005–06. [125590]

    I refer the hon. Member to the written ministerial statement I made on 16 July 2003, Official Report, column 46WS.The figures in Forward Look 2003 extend to 2004–05. Corresponding figures for 2005–06 are not yet available. However, plans for the Science Budget up to 2005–06 are set out in the DTI OST document 'Science Budget 2003–04 to 2005–06' a copy of which is in the Libraries of the House.

    Smoking

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her policy is on employers providing smoking breaks in smoke-free workplaces. [126837]

    There is no statutory entitlement to receive smoking breaks in any workplace. However, the Working Time Regulations provide workers with a 20-minute in work rest break if they work for more than six hours at a stretch. Young workers are entitled a 30-minute in work rest break if they work for more than four and a half hours at a stretch. There are no plans to amend the Working Time Regulations to require employers to provide smoking breaks in smoke-free workplaces.

    Special Advisers

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on how many occasions between 31 March 2002 and 31 March 2003 (a) departmental and (b) non-departmental special advisers have travelled abroad in an official capacity; what places were visited; and how much each visit cost. [126672]

    Between 31 March 2002 and 31 March 2003, Departmental special adviser have travelled abroad in an official capacity four times, on all occasions accompanying the Secretary of State. On three occasions to Brussels at an average cost of £463 per visit, and on one occasion to the USA at no cost to the Department.

    DatePlace visited
    19-20 June 2002Brussels1 special adviser
    26 November 2002Brussels1 special adviser
    3 March 2003Brussels1 special adviser
    28 July 2002–1 August 2002USA1 special adviser
    All travel by the special advisers was undertaken in accordance with the guidance set out in the Ministerial code and the Civil Service management code.

    Tariff Barriers

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what research she has commissioned on the costs of administering tariff barriers, broken down by (a) country and (b) major category of product. [125080]

    No independent research has been commissioned on this although officials will make assessments of the impact of particular proposals from time to time.

    Telecommunications Masts

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many planning applications have been made to site mobile telecommunications masts on land owned by the Department. [124813]

    Since August 2001 when the current planning regulations on mobile telecommunications masts came into force there have been eight planning applications and six applications for prior approval to site mobile telecommunications masts on land owned by the Department.

    Wind Farms

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what briefing was provided by her Department's Press Office to the media in advance of her announcement on 14 July on the expansion of offshore wind capacity. [126319]

    Invitations to a press briefing were issued to media representatives in advance of the announcement on the expansion of offshore wind capacity on 14 July. No other briefing material was released in advance of the announcement.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether wind farms built on unpopulated islands and islands with populations of less than 1,000 people are entitled to support under the offshore wind capital grants programme. [126779]

    Wind farms built on islands would not be entitled to support under the offshore wind capital grants programme, as such wind farms are considered onshore rather than offshore.Onshore wind farms are not eligible for capital grants, since onshore wind is close to becoming commercially competitive. However, onshore wind farms (wherever situated) would be eligible for support under the Renewables Obligations.

    Leader Of The House