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Written Statements

Volume 477: debated on Friday 20 June 2008

Written Ministerial Statements

Friday 20 June 2008

Communities and Local Government

Correction to Parliamentary Question

I regret to inform the House that the answer I gave to parliamentary question 165558 from my hon. Friend the Member for Great Grimsby (Austin Mitchell) on 18 December 2007 (Official Report, columns 1305-06W), was printed incorrectly in the Official Report.

The answer should read:

A table showing the national level of housing revenue account (HRA) subsidy from 1995-96 to 2005-06—the last year for which audited data is available—is as follows:

The table shows the value of the ‘bricks and mortar’ element of HRA subsidy. Prior to 2004-05, HRA subsidy also contained a rent rebate element. This is omitted from the table to ensure consistency with post 2004-05 data. Prior to 2004-05, surpluses in the ‘bricks and mortar’ element were applied to the cost of rent rebates for local authorities.

HRA subsidy (£)

1995-96

-390,050,431

1996-97

-563,028,455

1997-98

-668,307,497

1998-99

-869,992,311

1999-2000

-1,040,869,030

2000-01

-1,123,786,228

2001-02

351,105,009

2002-03

252,059,142

2003-04

191,153,240

2004-05

77,994,764

2005-06

249,427,865

Pre-1995 to 1996 data are available only at disproportionate cost.

As part of the self-financing modelling exercise, some broad forecasts of future HRA subsidy entitlement were generated at a national level. These forecasts were based upon a number of assumptions about factors such as the number of dwellings in the HRA subsidy system, interest rates and rates of inflation. The forecasts are highly sensitive to changes in any of these assumptions. It is based upon the 2007-08 HRA subsidy system.

The forecast subsidies generated were as follows:

HRA subsidy (£ million)

2008-09

-194

2009-10

-216

2010-11

-303

2011-12

-421

2012-13

-424

2013-14

-376

2014-15

-398

2015-16

-434

2016-17

-476

2017-18

-543

2018-19

-611

2019-20

-680

2020-21

-750

2021-22

-822

2022-23

-894

Transport

Transport Council

I attended the second Transport Council of the Slovenian presidency, in Luxembourg on 13 June.

In road transport, the Council reached a political agreement on each of three legislative proposals: the recast regulation on common rules for access to the international road haulage market; the regulation on common rules concerning the conditions to be complied with to pursue the occupation of road transport operator; and the recast regulation on common rules for access to the market for coach and bus services. Presidency compromise texts took into account the concerns of several member states, including the UK, in relation to cabotage and the Commission’s report in June 2009 on the future inclusion of vehicle registration data on the national registers of operators. The agreed texts of all three proposals are acceptable to the UK.

The Council reached a general approach on a recast Directive on roadworthiness tests for motor vehicles and their trailers. The text was acceptable to the UK.

The Council adopted conclusions, acceptable to the UK, on multi-annual contracts for rail infrastructure quality.

The Council reached a general approach on a Directive on the promotion of clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles. We support the principle of using public procurement to help stimulate the market for greener vehicles. The revised text presented to Council, which we were able to accept, is a significant improvement over the original. However, I informed the Council that we regret the lack of a formal impact assessment. We will want, with the Commission, to keep the costs and benefits of the proposed measures under review.

The Council adopted a decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations towards an EU/Western Balkans transport treaty. The UK supports the decision and welcomes this opportunity to work towards improvement of the infrastructure of the Western Balkans and better transport links.

The Council adopted decisions authorising the Commission to open negotiations on comprehensive air transport agreements with Australia and New Zealand. The UK supports the opening of negotiations with these countries.

Under any other business, I was pleased to be able, jointly with the Irish Minister, Mr Noel Dempsey, to inform the Council of the recently agreed Ireland/UK functional airspace block (FAB). This is the first FAB to be established within the framework of the European Single European Sky legislation. It is a demonstration of the two countries’ commitment to delivering the Single European Sky initiative. The FAB is designed to deliver real operational efficiencies irrespective of existing national airspace boundaries.