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Correspondence

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many letters were received by each Minister in his Department in each month since June 1997. [59307]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.

The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the volume of Members' correspondence received by Departments. For information for 2001 I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Clarke) on Friday 24 May 2002 Official Report, columns 674–76W when I was Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office.

On other correspondence received by Ministers, this information is not held centrally and can be obtained only at a disproportionate cost.

External Consultants

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much expenditure his Department has incurred in each year since 1997 on employing external consultants to deal with the press or public relations of his Department. [59489]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.

Details on expenditure incurred by the former DTLR in the period 1998–99 to 2001–01 on employing external PR consultants are as follows:

£

DepartmentAgencies
1998–9905,000
1999–2000683,6004,300
2000–01748,90084,500
2001–02621,38613,500

Following departmental changes, DTLR expenditure for the period 1997–98 and expenditure by non- departmental public bodies over the period could be supplied only at disproportionate cost.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what proportion of ordinary written questions for his Department were answered within a week of tabling in each month since June 2001; and what proportion of questions for named day received a substantive answer on that day in each month since June 2001. [58982]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.

The information in respect of the former Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions is as follows.

Ordinary written questions Named day questions
MonthTotalAnswered within a weekPercentage of totalTotalAnswered on the named dayPercentage of total
2001
June17214283382874
July2842709516112678
October4193478324115464
November 7216078439428272
December6345198218512869
2002
January7074997128919969
February6534547024112954
March6825488030015853
April4584008718110558
May3232868915212280

19 Jun 2002 : Column 413W

Departmental Sponsors

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what the duties are of hon. Members appointed as sponsors to his Department; and what assistance is given by officials in his Department to them in carrying out these duties; [59986]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member the answer given by my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Dr. Whitehead) to the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) on 22 May 2002, Official Report, column 345W.

Millennium Dome

Chris Grayling: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the agreement to dispose of the Dome site. [61995]

Mr. McNulty: The agreement is commercially confidential. Release of commercial details could affect ongoing discussions with third parties, both before and after planning permission is obtained; and the ability of English Partnerships to secure maximum value for money for the public purse.

Full details of the agreement are being made available to the National Audit Office.

19 Jun 2002 : Column 414W

Parish Councils (Audit)

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will estimate the cost to parish councils of the internal audit work which will be required to be carried out in addition to the main audit; and if she will make a statement. [62066]

Mr. Raynsford: All local authorities have been required to maintain an adequate and effective system of internal audit for many years. We plan to consult later this year on revised Accounting and Audit Regulations which will include proposals to make explicit the need for authorities to follow existing relevant best practice when carrying out their internal audit role.

Social Housing

Andrew George: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many new accommodation units have been created by (a) local authorities, (b) registered housing associations and (c) other Government registered housing providers in the form of (i) council houses, (ii) housing association units for rent, (iii) shared-equity properties, (iv) social housing as a conditional proportion of new private sector development and (v) other forms of affordable social housing in each of the past five years for which records are available. [62596]

Mr. McNulty: Information is collected from local authorities and Registered Social Landlords (housing associations) about the provision of new affordable social housing, which in the case of RSLs includes the acquisition of existing property from the private sector for refurbishment. Completions of rented social housing and shared or outright social ownership schemes as reported by local authorities and RSLs was as follows:

New affordable housing units: England

1997–981998–991999–20002000–012001–02(19)
Local authorities
New-build units for rent323194102717n/a
Registered Social Landlords
Units for rent34,82533,42628,82526,13825,627
Units for shared ownership/sale6,9586,1964,5624,6354,219

(19) Forecast

Note:

RSL schemes include 'off-the-shelf' purchases of properties built by private developers. Schemes for rent include additions to RSL stock holdings through acquisition and refurbishment, and as well as temporary social housing schemes such as Mini-Hag and short-life housing. Shared ownership and other sale schemes include DIYSO and HomeBuy.

Sources:

LA new build from DTLR Housing Activity return P2 (monthly)

RSL provision from Housing Corporation Stewardship reports


19 Jun 2002 : Column 415W

Other Government registered housing providers are housing action trusts (HATs) and the arms length management companies (ALMOS). All new units created by HATs have arisen from the major refurbishment of existing, or replacement of demolished, social housing. The small number of recently created ALMOS have not yet created any new units.

Reliable data about the number of private sector properties directly provided for affordable rent or discounted sale without any form of public funding are not available centrally. Local authorities have been asked to provide summary information on all affordable housing activity as part of this year's housing investment programme (HIP) returns, although on the basis of data first provided last year we believe that they may have under-reported RSL provision.

Available information reported through the HIP process about planning permissions for affordable housing units, including both low cost market and subsidised housing is as follows:

Granted
1998–9914,333
1999–200015,543
2000–0114,768

Information for earlier years was not collected centrally, and is not yet available for 2001–02.

Asylum Accommodation Centres

Mr. Luff: To ask the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, pursuant to the answer of 10 June 2002 [Ref 59084] from the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what the format and procedures will be of non-statutory public inquiries into the proposed asylum accommodation centres; and if he will make a statement. [61275]

Mr. McNulty: Pursuant to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford and Urmston (Beverley Hughes), no planning notifications in respect of the proposed developments have yet been referred to the Secretary of State for determination under the procedures set out in DoE circular 18–84. The circular sets out the various ways in which a dispute between the local planning authority and the developing Department may be determined. These are by means of written representations, a meeting chaired by an official of my Office, or a non-statutory public inquiry. The circular acknowledges that where there is evidence of interest of other parties it may be desirable to hold a non-statutory public inquiry.

Where the Secretary of State holds a non-statutory public inquiry under the circular, his practice is to follow the procedure in the Inquiries Procedure Rules which apply to local inquiries held into planning applications and appeals under the Town and Country Planning Act. The current rules are the Town and Country Planning (Inquiries Procedure) (England) Rules 2000. He would, of course, abide by the principles of natural justice and human rights at all times. After any public inquiry, the inspector would submit a report to the Secretary of State who would then determine the dispute.

19 Jun 2002 : Column 416W


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