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7 Nov 2002 : Column 624W—continued

Housing Fitness Standards

Alan Simpson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, what the timescale is for the full implementation of the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System; and what mechanisms exist to ensure compliance with its requirements. [79503]

Mr. McNulty: We intend to legislate to replace the current housing fitness standard with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System at the earliest opportunity. We will ensure that appropriate mechanisms exist for compliance with the new regime.

Land Ownership (Public Authorities)

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment has been made by his Department of the total development land owned by public authorities in each London borough; and what advice he gives on its disposal. [79630]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister collects information about previously developed land, distinguishing between that in the ownership of the private sector, local authorities and other public sector bodies, and the borough in which it is located. ODPM published National Land Use Database—Previously Developed Land (NLUD-PDL) data for 2001 on 12th September 2002 and this is available at, including a Supplementary Table on ''Previously developed land that is unused or may be available for redevelopment by land type and Planning Authority: England 2001''.

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Guidance on disposals includes chapter 24 of ''Government Accounting 2000'', available at

Non-departmental Public Bodies

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans his Department has to decentralise non-departmental public bodies that are affiliated to his Department and devolve their responsibilities to local authorities. [79667]

Mr. Raynsford: There are currently no plans to decentralise the work of Non-Departmental Public Bodies to local authorities. The Housing Corporation has long had regional offices.

In the case of the four Housing Action Trusts, the relevant local authority is represented on each board by 1–3 Councillors and tenants have the right to choose the Council or a Registered Social Landlord as their future landlord.

We also plan to introduce new arrangements to strengthen links, at regional level between housing, planning and economic development strategies. These arrangements include the introduction of a single regional pot for resources for housing investment.

Parliamentary Questions/Correspondence

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) parliamentary questions and (b) letters to him from hon. Members in this session remain unanswered, broken down by those which are (i) one month old, (ii) two months old, (iii) three months old, (iv) four months old and (v) over six months old. [79942]

Mr. Leslie: (a) As at today, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no Parliamentary Questions outstanding.

(b) The Cabinet Office publishes a report to Parliament on an annual basis, setting out the volume of Members' correspondence received by departments. The Report for 2001 was published on Friday 24 May, [Col. 677w]. Copies of previous reports are available in the Library of the House.

Following the recent machinery of government changes and the creation of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 29 May 2002 I will write to the hon. Member as soon as the information on correspondence is collated.

Houses in Multiple Occupation

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to bring forward legislation to ensure that homes in multiple occupation meet satisfactory standards, with particular reference to energy efficiency. [80007]

Mr. McNulty: The Government are committed to raising standards in houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and we intend to introduce legislation to achieve this as soon as a legislative slot is available. Our

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proposed measures will include a requirement for local authorities in England & Wales to licence those HMOs in their areas that pose the greatest risk to the health and safety of their occupiers. Underpinning the licensing regime and applying to all residential properties will be a new risk assessment based approach to housing conditions, which will replace the current prescriptive standards, and enable local authorities to target those HMOs with the worst housing conditions, including energy efficiency standards.

Council Rents

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what estimate he has made of the cumulative additional rent paid in real terms over the 10 years rent restructuring period by council tenants in London in (a) money terms at 2002–03 prices and (b) as a percentage of the Housing Revenue Account rent income for 2001–02 at 2002–03 prices, assuming that (i) there is no change in the number of council tenants over the period, (ii) councils move to the average of the formula rents proposed by his Office and (iii) they do so in the roughly equal steps proposed by his Office, (1) taking the impact of individual tenants' rent increase capping into account and (2) not taking the impact into account; [79862]

Mr. McNulty: Setting of council tenants' rents remains a matter for individual local authorities. Future council rent levels will be influenced by, among other things, the outcome of future Spending Reviews.

However, were London boroughs to follow our policy on rent restructuring, we estimate that on current assumptions the average rent paid by council tenants in London in 2011–12 at the end of the ten year rent restructuring period, would be #8.17 higher in real terms in 2002–2003 prices. This represents a real increase of 12.8 per cent., as a percentage of the Housing Revenue Account rental income of London boroughs for 2001–2002 in today's prices.

The estimated cumulative additional average rent paid each year in real terms over the ten years is shown in the following table in 2002–2003 prices.

YearReal rent increasePercentage increase over today's average rent


1. These figures do not make any allowance for the impact of future Right To Buy sales or transfers to Registered Social Landlords.

2. As relevant data is currently unavailable, these estimates do not take account of the effects of the rent caps and limits on individual rent rises, which will have the effect of reducing this average rise.

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Mr. Coleman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, what plans he has to ensure that the proceeds of the increased rents in real terms paid by council tenants in London over successive years as a result of rent restructuring will be available for (a) the better resourcing of services to council tenants' homes and (b) investment in those homes. [79861]

Mr. McNulty: The resources to be made available to local authorities for housing will be a matter for future Spending Reviews.

The ring fencing of the Housing Revenue Account ensures that rental and other revenue income relating to council dwellings must be spent on matters relating to those dwellings. Within that ring fence, it is a matter for individual local authorities to decide how to prioritise spending in order to provide a better service to council tenants and to ensure the necessary investment in their homes.

Agricultural Buildings (Rates)

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the benefit accruing to agriculture from the exemption of agricultural buildings from payment of local rates. [79261]

Mr. Raynsford: I have been asked to reply.

Agricultural land and buildings are exempt from rating under Schedule 5 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. As a result, the Valuation Office Agency, whose responsibility it is to compile and maintain an accurate rating list, makes no assessment of the values of such properties and therefore there is no reliable basis on which to make an estimate.

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