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Public Service Agreements

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on progress with the public service agreement target on the overall international ranking of the science and engineering company base in terms of quality, relevance and cost- efficiency. [23171]

Ms Hewitt: The most recent measurements of the international ranking of the Science and Engineering Base (SEB) in terms of quality, relevance and cost- effectiveness indicate that the UK continues to maintain its position relative to other G7 nations. The details are as follows:

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These measures were put in place at the time of the Comprehensive Spending Review and were continued for the period of the 2000 Spending Review (2001–02 to 2003–04).

While the public service agreement targets described here provide a valuable indication of the strength of the UK science base relative to our competitors, other indications are also available. The results of the latest Research Assessment Exercise were published on 14 December and show that, since 1996 when the last study was carried out, many university research groups have significantly improved their performance.

Departmental Sickness Absence

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will commission and publish an independent report on the reasons for the level of sickness absence in her Department. [26995]

Ms Hewitt: The Cabinet Office already commissions and publishes an independent annual report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the Civil Service". This report includes details of the causes of absenteeism. The report for the year 2000 will be published shortly.



London Boroughs (Funding)

Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the category and amount of each item of funding outside the revenue support grant which his Department made available to (a) Westminster city council and (b) Kensington and Chelsea in (i) 2000–01 and (ii) 2001–02. [26248]

Ms Keeble: The information requested is, as far as possible, given in the table:

£ million

Type of grant2000–012001–02
London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Income from non-domestic rates47.16748.566
Housing Investment Programme(11)16.30512.855
Housing Revenue Account20.21226.195
Neighbourhood Renewaln/a0.054
Transport Block Supplementary Credit Approval1.521(12)
Disabled Facilities Grant0.0900.055
Invest to Save 0.225(13)
London Borough of Westminster
Income from non-domestic rates61.30162.783
Housing Investment Programme(11)25.49917.107
Housing Revenue Account31.14946.109
Neighbourhood Renewaln/a0.748
ERDF Funding0.173(14)0.451
Transport Block Supplementary Credit Approval2.221(12)
Estate Action2.6873.828
Disabled Facilities Grant0.1140.239

(11) Basic Housing ACG

(12) Now administered by Transport for London

(13) Figure supplied represents Invest to Save grant available for drawing down during 2000–01 or 2001–02.

(14) Figure supplied represents payments thus far in 2001–02. Another claim is forecast for March although the grant amount is as yet unknown.

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David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many development schemes have been funded by English Partnerships and have secured redevelopment on sites formerly occupied by sub-standard housing in each of the last five years; and at what locations. [26747]

Ms Keeble: During the five years to 31 March 2001:

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the progress being made in (a) house clearance and (b) redevelopment through the Housing Corporation pilot grant scheme. [27115]

Ms Keeble: The Housing Corporation's "New Tools" pilot is currently operating in six areas across the north- west and north-east. The pilot programme is investigating housing associations' contribution to the redevelopment of low demand areas.

Progress on funding the pilot acquisition and demolitions in 1999–2000, 2000–01 and 2001–02 are as follows:

130 units cleared
27 units cleared11 units cleared
to clear 40 units

The 2002–03 allocation is currently being finalised and will include allocations in three additional pilot areas in Merseyside.

The programme is being evaluated by the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of Birmingham, and the final report is due this summer.

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many English Partnerships funded projects have involved housing development in the last five years in (a) Telford and (b) the west midlands. [26749]

Ms Keeble: During the five years to 31 March 2001:

(a) the CNT side of English Partnerships spent £12.3 million on site infrastructure in Telford, predominantly to promote housing development. In the same five year period, 125 hectares of land in Telford was sold to the private sector for housing development. In the wider west midlands area, CNT spent around £1 million on site infrastructure, some of which went towards promoting housing development. 7.4 hectares of land was sold for this purpose.

(b) the URA side of English Partnerships approved no projects in Telford during these five years. In the wider west midlands, 12 projects were approved under the Partnership Investment Programme, committing £16.6 million towards

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projects facilitating the provision of housing. (Since 1999–2000, such projects were approved in conjunction with Advantage West Midlands).

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what policy was adopted in publicising and disseminating the consultation document: "Change to the Decent Home Definition"; what agencies other than local authorities were invited to comment; from which of these agencies responses have been received; and if he will make a statement. [26129]

Ms Keeble: The consultation document was disseminated widely using the usual mechanisms—through placement on the Department's website and through direct mailing. All English and Welsh local authority chief executives and housing directors received copies directly, as did chief executives of Registered Social Landlords with more than 250 units of housing stock. Copies were also sent to a number of national organisations such as umbrella housing organisations and academic organisations. Bodies with a specific interest in energy efficiency issues were alerted to the consultation.

We received 140 responses to the consultation. The table shows the number of responses received from the different types of organisations:

OrganisationNumber of responses
Local authorities82
Registered Social Landlords34
Housing Umbrella organisations8
Building surveyors4
Energy efficiency organisations9

An announcement regarding the outcome of the consultation will be made later this month.

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