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Local Government Inspection

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much is spent annually on external inspection of local government; and if he will make a statement on the methods used to assess the effectiveness of such inspections. [28818]

Dr. Whitehead: The following costs identified represent those of the major [Interruption.] Inspectorates working in the local government field together with the

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costs of district audit. Apart from district audit and inspection by the Audit Commission Inspection Service, which include a fee element, these costs are centrally funded by sponsoring Departments.

Other inspection bodies, such as the Health and Safety Executive, will have some involvement with local government, but figures for this are not readily identifiable or available.

The figures do not include any element of the indirect costs of inspection to authorities; e.g. staff time, as no agreed or reliable figures are available.











Assessment of the effectiveness of the various statutory and non-statutory components of the inspection regimes applied by each inspectorate, is the responsibility of the relevant sponsoring department. However, the Local Government White Paper seeks to deliver inspection regimes which more fully reflect authority performance, with a substantial reduction in inspection activity for the high performing. Our intention is that inspection will be co-ordinated across all local authority functions and will reflect risk analysis of each local authority based on a comprehensive performance assessment.

Refrigerator Disposal Costs

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what arrangements he has made with regard to the allocation of the adjustment to the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services block, announced in the provisional local government finance settlement, to cover the cost of implementing refrigerator disposal regulations. [29117]

Mr. Byers: £6 million has been added to the upper tier sub-block of the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services Standard Spending Assessment for 2002–03 for the costs of implementing refrigerator disposal regulations for the period 1 January 2002 to 31 March 2003. This will be distributed to local authorities using the standard formula for this sub-block.

NIMSA

Mr. Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will

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make a statement on the achievement of performance targets set for the use of NIMSA funding of the Ordnance Survey. [28979]

Ms Keeble: Performance criteria and deliverables are defined for NIMSA activities. Progress is reviewed quarterly by the NIMSA Review Group. Through NIMSA funding, Ordnance Survey delivers a range of valuable services in the public interest. These outputs are published in an annual report.

Mr. Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will publish the minutes of the NIMSA Review Group's meetings in (a) 2000 and (b) 2001. [28983]

Ms Keeble: No. Publication of Ordnance Survey outputs funded under NIMSA is by an annual report.

Mr. Pound: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the use of NIMSA funding by the Ordnance Survey in (a) 1999, (b) 2000 and (c) 2001. [28982]

Ms Keeble: The National Interest Mapping Services Agreement (NIMSA) was implemented on 1 April 1999. It is an agreement between DTLR, on behalf of Government, and Ordnance Survey for the provision of Ordnance Survey services that are required in the national interest but are not commercially viable.

Since April 1999, NIMSA funds have been used by Ordnance Survey for activities that are defined and agreed by the NIMSA review group comprising officials from DTLR and Ordnance Survey. These activities are agreed each year in advance, but are subject to change by the review group.

Details about NIMSA activities are published annually in an annual report. The report for the year 2000–01 will be published in February 2002.

Lord Birt

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he was consulted on the appointment of Lord Birt in respect of his role on transport. [29313]

Mr. Jamieson: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 16 January 2002, Official Report, column 298W.

Parliamentary Questions

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many answers to parliamentary questions have been refused by his Department under exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information in each year since 1994. [29422]

Dr. Whitehead: The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions was formed on 8 June 2001. In the period 8 June 2001 to 18 January 2002, my Department has answered over 3,400 written questions, of which information was withheld in respect of 23 questions because the information requested was wholly or partially commercially confidential.

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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions when he will respond to the questions of the hon. Member for the Vale of York, refs. 23897–23900. [29281]

Mr. Spellar: I answered the hon. Member's questions on 17 January 2002, Official Report, columns 422–23W.

Fire Service

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what information is available to him to determine the percentage of fire officers' time spent on average on (a) responding to emergencies, (b) other key duties, (c) administration and (d) sick leave, in the last 10 years for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [28432]

Dr. Whitehead: This information is not held centrally. However, information about shifts lost due to sickness by firefighters in 2000–01 was published at tables 30–33 of Her Majesty's Fire Service Inspectorate Best Value Performance Indicators, a copy of which has been placed in the House of Commons Library. This information is also available on www.safety.dtlr.gov.uk/fire/fepd/bvpi/ bvpi.htm.

Electoral Modernisation Pilot Schemes

Ms Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will publish the names of those local authorities which have applied to him to run electoral modernisation pilot schemes in the May 2002 elections. [29886]

Mr. Raynsford: My Department has received 41 applications from local authorities to run electoral modernisation pilot schemes during the May 2002 local elections, involving a range of activities. More than half of the bids contain an element of electronic voting and/or counting; the rest are postal voting and some miscellaneous proposals. The local authorities that have submitted bids are:


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An announcement confirming which bidders have been successful will be made by the end of this month.


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