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10 Apr 2003 : Column 352Wcontinued
10 Apr 2003 : Column 353W
Local authorities are already under a duty (section 3(1) of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 to remove a vehicle which is abandoned in their area on any land in the open air or on any other land forming part of a highway.
For vehicles abandoned on private land, the local authority enters onto the land using their powers under section 8(1) of the 1978 Act. Using their powers under Regulation 8 of the Removal and Disposal of Vehicles Regulations 1986 they then serve on the landowner or the occupier a 15 day notice requiring them to remove the vehicle. If no representations are received then the local authority can remove the vehicle following the expiry of the 15 day period. Objections to the notice must be made by the landowner or occupier to the Chief Officer at the local authority within the 15 day period and the landowner or occupier must outline their reasons why they consider that the vehicle is not abandoned. If the local authority accepts the representations then the vehicle can remain on the land. If the local authority rejects the representations they will then remove the vehicle.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the (a) county council, (b) local authority and (c) police council tax contribution, as applicable, for each local authority in England in (i) 200304 and (ii) 199697; and what the percentage change has been since 199697. 
Mr. Leslie: A table setting out the county council, billing authorities' own and police authority contribution to each billing authority's area council tax has been placed in the Library of the House.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he will make a statement on the reasons for the divergence among local authorities in the percentage of total revenue expenditure raised through council tax; 
Mr. Leslie: One of the main reasons for the divergence among local authorities in the percentage of total expenditure raised through council tax is the varying extent to which authorities are dependent upon central Government grants. The distribution of grant between
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local authorities takes account of authorities' relative circumstances, in terms of both their need to spend and their ability to raise resources from council tax.
It is, however, for local authorities to determine their revenue expenditure and council tax levels. Ultimately, they are answerable to their local electorates for their decisions. They should be seeking the views of their taxpayers about the level of tax that they will bear, and where their money is spent.
St. Albans district council budgeted to raise 50 per cent. of its revenue expenditure through council tax in 200102. In addition, the following local authorities budgeted to raise more than 50 per cent. of their revenue expenditure through council tax in 200102:
Blaby district council
Castle Point borough council
Chiltern district council
Congleton borough council
East Dorset district council
East Hampshire district council
Elmbridge borough council
Harborough district council
Harrogate borough council
Huntingdonshire district council
Macclesfield borough council
North Hertfordshire district council
Reigate and Banstead borough council
Rochford district council
South Bedfordshire district council
South Northamptonshire district council
South Oxfordshire district council
Stroud district council
Tandridge district council
Uttlesford district council
Waverley borough council
Wealden district council
West Wiltshire district council
Wychavon district council
Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what changes in unit payments for electricity have resulted from the switch by his Department to purchasing renewable energy which is exempt from the Climate Change Levy. 
Mr. Leslie: In response to Government targets, the Office has switched a number of its sites over to the purchase of electricity from renewable energy sources that are exempt from the Climate Change Levy. Where this has taken place, the actual average price was
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many projects in (a) the Buckingham constituency and (b) Buckinghamshire have received funding from the Estates Renewal Challenge Fund; and if he will list the beneficiaries. 
Mr. Maude: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list (a) the title and subject, (b) the total cost to his Department and (c) the commissioned author or organisation of each external report commissioned by his Department and its predecessors in each year since 1997. 
Mr. Leslie: A list of the titles published by and for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and its predecessors in each year since 1997 has been placed in the Libraries of the House. Publications of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister can be found at www.publications.odpm.gov.uk.
Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not plan to use building regulations to require the installation of micro CHP heating systems. The regulations are couched in functional terms allowing the person carrying out the work to decide upon the best way to meet the functional requirements. To be prescriptive would risk stifling innovation.
There has been no research into the relative efficiency of condensing boilers and micro CHP heating systems. Research into the efficiency of conventional and condensing boilers led to the development of the SEDBUK (Seasonal Efficiency of a Domestic Boiler in the UK) procedure. The SEDBUK procedure can be used to demonstrate that boiler efficiency meets the requirements of Part LI of the Building Regulations. At present the SEDBUK database of boilers (which can be viewed at www.sedbuk.com) does not include micro CHP systems because a means of taking the electrical energy benefit into account in the efficiency rating has yet to be developed. However research is on-going on this.
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Mr. Sanders: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will publish the calculation used by his Department to reach the conclusion that the forthcoming change in national insurance contributions would increase local authorities' pay costs on average by 0.7 per cent. 
Mr. Raynsford: The changes to employers' national insurance contributions announced in the Budget will raise revenue by £4.0 billion in 200304. This puts pay costs up on average by about 0.7 per cent. across the economy, calculated by expressing the increase as a percentage of the total pay bill in the economy and allowing for the element on which NICs are not paid. At the time of the Spending Review, we looked at the actual total local authority pay bill for 200001, including pay, national insurance, pension contributions and other costs. This was then uprated by an assumption for pay increases to estimate the first year direct costs. The precise cost will be dependent on a number of factors including the actual pay award and the number of part-time staff employed by local government.
Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the additional cost to local authorities in a full year of the recently announced extension of TUPE provisions in PFI and PPP contract arrangements. 
Mr. Leslie: Clauses 102 and 103 of the Local Government Bill confer new powers on the Secretary of State, the National Assembly for Wales and Scottish Ministers to require best value authorities, in contracting with other persons for the provision of services or in circumstances where a contracted-out service is brought back in-house, to deal with staff transfer matters (employment and pensions) in accordance with any directions made. This will enable the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to meet its commitment, following the Best Value Review to make statutory within local government the policy set out in the Cabinet Office "Statement of Practice on Staff Transfers in the Public Sector" and the Annex to it, "A Fair Deal for Staff Pensions".
The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) published when the Bill was introduced contained estimates of cost based on data from a Local Government Management Board (LGMB) survey carried out in 1998. This survey found that up to 12 per cent. of local authority staff transferred without TUPE applying and up to 35 per cent. transferred without a broadly comparable pension. This figure represents contracts entered into in any one year but is calculated over the full term of the contract.
The RIA estimated that for England and Wales the additional cost of protecting employees' terms and conditions could equate to almost £5.5 million. The additional cost of protecting employees' pension provision was estimated to be almost £21 million (the survey indicated that fewer contracts contained pension provision in the past). Therefore the total additional cost of protecting transferees' terms and conditions and pension provision could amount to almost £27 million.
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These estimates, however, illustrate a maximum possible cost scenario and because of policy and legislative changes since the survey was carried out, we do not consider that the shortfall is likely to be more than a few per cent. The RIA therefore made an assumption that if only 2 per cent. of employees currently transfer without TUPE and 6 per cent. currently transfer without a broadly comparable pension, then the additional cost of protecting these employees would amount to approximately £4.5 million.
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