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15 Oct 2002 : Column 840W—continued

Millennium Dome

Mr. Evans: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total cost of the Millennium Dome to public funds has been. [73801]

Mr. Tony McNulty: The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), which was responsible for building the Dome and running of the Millennium Experience, was allocated #628 million of National Lottery funds from the Millennium Commission for the Millennium Experience, which included the associated national programme of events across the UK as well as the Dome at Greenwich. NMEC is currently in solvent liquidation and it is expected that some #25 million of this grant facility will not be required.

Up to the end of July this year, English Partnerships (EP) had incurred a total cost of #21.4m. This includes, from 1 July 2001—when EP took over the ownership of the Dome—#3.3m for the management, maintenance and security of the Dome; #6.5m for decommissioning the contents of the Dome and its site in preparation for the future long term use; and #4.9m in connection with the sale process. It also includes #6.7m for the previous

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competition to find a long-term use for the Dome. All of these costs incurred by EP in relation to the Dome will be recovered from sale proceeds.

Property Prices (Taunton)

Mr. Flook: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the effects of the change in property prices in Taunton since 1999; and if he will make a statement. [74110]

Mr. Tony McNulty: According to the Department's Survey of Mortgage Lenders, house prices in South West England rose by 31.8 per cent. during the three years 1999 to 2001. According to HM Land Registry figures the average price of residential property sold in Taunton Deane was #85,097 in 1999 and #109,530 in 2001.

Homeownership is affordable for most people. Homeowners are benefiting from low interest rates, low unemployment and robust income growth. For people purchasing a home in South West England during 2001, total mortgage payments averaged 17.44 per cent. of their income. This compares to 28.42 per cent. of income in 1990, and is lower than 1999 (17.91 per cent.) and 2000 (19.43 per cent.).

However, we are well aware that there can be serious problems for many first time buyers in areas of high demand. We are committed to improving people's housing choices, and to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity of a decent home. Our aim is to deliver new affordable housing where it is needed most, in more sustainable forms.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers

Harry Cohen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister in relation to communications data as defined in RIPA, how many officials from his Department he estimates will be authorised to seek access to communications data; how many times officials have sought access to such data from communications providers including Internet service providers under the Data Protection Act 1998 in the last year; and if he will make a statement. [74588]

Mr. Christopher Leslie: No officials in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister or its Agencies are engaged in law enforcement activities requiring them to be authorised to access communications data as defined in Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

Parish Councillors (Model Code of Conduct)

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to request parish councils to indicate how many of their parish councillors have been resigned in response to the introduction of the Model Code of Conduct for Parish Councils. [74229]

Mr. Christopher Leslie: We have no plans to request such information from parish councils.


Jane Griffiths: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what measures he proposes to introduce to prevent personation for the local elections to be held on 1 May 2003. [74760]

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Mr. Nick Raynsford: We have no evidence to suggest that personation will be a significant problem at local elections in May 2003, and have no plans to introduce any new specific measures to prevent personation.

In our prospectus, issued in September 2002, inviting councils to propose pilot voting schemes in the May 2003 local elections, we have made clear that such schemes would need to ensure that any new method of voting is at least as secure, if not more secure, than conventional electoral practices. The Electoral Commission will, as required by statute, be consulted before any pilot schemes are approved. The programme of pilots itself will be looking at new ways to incorporate specific measures to test security and fraud.

Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the (a) national budgetary contribution to, (b) role of and (c) national representation to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities; when he last met representatives from that group; and if he has made representations on this body to the Foreign Office in the context of the Convention on the Future of Europe. [73861]

Mr. Christopher Leslie: Member states of the Council of Europe (CoE), including the UK, make no direct budgetary contribution to the Congress of local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE), which is a consultative body within the CoE consisting of local and regional elected representatives from each of the 44 member states. CLRAE is funded through the CoE's ordinary budget as provided by member states and as agreed by the CoE's Committee of Ministers.

CLRAE has a Regional and a Local Chamber, membership of which is on the basis of nomination by member states' governments according to the requirements of the CLRAE founding charter. The UK has 9 full and 9 substitute seats in each Chamber. The UK's nomination procedure provides for a balanced representation of local and regional interests; all UK appointees must hold an electoral mandate in a UK local authority, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, the Northern Ireland Assembly, or the GLA.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met the leader of the UK's CLRAE delegation at the recent World Environment Conference in Johannesburg. Within the Central Local Partnership my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe and I regularly meet representatives of local government, including members of the UK CLRAE delegation, to discuss European issues, including the work of the Convention on the Future of Europe.


Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many families were living in bed and breakfast accommodation in (a) East Worthing and Shoreham and (b) West Sussex in each year since 1997. [73926]

Mr. Tony McNulty: The East Worthing and Shoreham Parliamentary constituency is covered by Adur DC and part of Worthing DC. Information reported by these and other councils in West Sussex on

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the total number of households—including couples and single persons without children—accommodated in bed and breakfast units under statutory homelessness provisions at the end of March in each year since 1997 is summarised below.

Homeless Households in Bed and Breakfast Accommodation as at 31 March*

Adur DCWorthing DCAll DCs in West Sussex
1997not reported3965 (estimated)


* includes households accommodated pending completion of enquiries by the local authority.


1997: P1(E) housing return (quarterly)

1998 onwards: Housing Investment Programme returns (annual)

Earlier this year the Government announced a new commitment to ensure that by March 2004 no family with children will be placed in B&B other than in an emergency, and even then for no more than 6 weeks. This was accompanied by changes in Housing Benefit subsidies to make leasing self-contained temporary accommodation more cost effective, and an additional #35 million to help local authorities find alternatives to B&B.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he last met the Director of the Homelessness Unit. [73927]

Mr. Tony McNulty: My right hon. Friend, the Deputy Prime Minister regularly meets officials in the course of his official duties.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent estimate he has made of the level of homelessness; how he defines a homeless person; and if he will make a statement. [74658]

Mrs. Barbara Roche: At the end of June 2002 81,170 households in England were living in temporary accommodation, including over 6,500 families with children in bed and breakfast hotels, and around 600 people were sleeping rough on any one night.

Under the homelessness legislation (Housing Act 1996), a person is ''statutorily homeless'' if they do not have accommodation which they have a legal right to live in, which is physically available to them and which it would be reasonable for them to continue to occupy.

In March 2002, the Homelessness Directorate published a report ''More than a Roof'', which outlined the Government's new approach to tackling homelessness funded by #125 million over this year. The Homelessness Act 2002 will also bring about radical change in the way that central and local government, and all other partners, work together to tackle homelessness. For the first time ever, local authorities will be required to carry out a review and develop a strategy for their area that prevents homelessness and provides solutions for people who are, or who may become homeless.

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Mr. Swayne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what measures he is taking to tackle homelessness in rural areas. [73988]

Mr. Tony McNulty: The Homelessness Directorate's report ''More than a roof'', sets out specific measures to tackle homelessness backed up by a #125 million investment over the next year. The Homelessness Directorate has provided a total of over #3.7 million to local authorities in rural areas over the next year to fund schemes such as mediation services for family and couples in relationship difficulties; additional support for women fleeing domestic violence; rent deposit guarantee schemes to help homeless people find housing in the private sector; court and landlord advice services to reduce evictions; and debt and welfare counselling to help people sustain their tenancies.

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