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1 Sept 2003 : Column 669Wcontinued
Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to his answer of 19 May 2003, Official Report, column 653W, on the National Land Information System, what steps the Government have taken in the past 12 months to encourage local authorities to transfer their land and property information to electronic local land and property gazetteers to link into the National Land Information System. 
Keith Hill: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is responsible for the Local e-Government programme, which is supporting the electronic enablement of the local authority services in England, including the development of an electronic National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG).
The Government have encouraged the recording of land and property information, as a means of providing both an improved service to customers making land charge searches, and an improved, consistent database for the authority's own use. In particular, on 24 July 2002, the Lord Chancellor, my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Mr. Raynsford), the leader of the Welsh Assembly and the Chairman of the Local Government Association and the Welsh Local Government Association jointly wrote to all local authority Chief Executives in England and Wales, pointing out the benefits of the NLPG, and of the one-stop shop for land and property related information provided by the National Land Information Services (NLIS). The benefits include saving staff time otherwise wasted on maintaining duplicate address lists, and improved service delivery based on accurate, up to date address data. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper), the then Parliamentary Secretary for the Lord Chancellor's Department and my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Leslie), followed up the letter by hosting a reception on 8 October 2002 for local authorities which had committed to NLIS.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also asked every authority in England to prepare and submit an implementing e-Government (IEG) statement in 2001 and 2002, in return for which they would receive £200,000 to help implement the e-Government plan set
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out in it. Authorities were asked to include some key data in their statements, including indicating whether they were committed to NLPG and NLIS. Following assessment of the IEGs submitted in 2002, Ministers of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister sought (with the agreement of the Local Government Association and other stakeholders) parliamentary approval for the use of £2.2 million from the Local e-Government programme funds to ensure that all local authorities were committed to supporting the NLPG by December 2003. Specifically, this will fund work to identify the barriers to implementation of the NLPG. Where implemented the NLPG will provide basis for electronic land and property information searches by NLIS and other compatible services. It will remain a decision for local authorities as to whether or not to link to NLIS.
Keith Hill: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. McNulty), Official Report, column 1152W, on 13 June 2003, to a similar question, which made it clear that targets for affordable housing are set out in local development plans based on local assessments housing needs surveys undertaken by local planning authorities. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will continue fully to support policies and proposals by local authorities that are soundly based on such assessments. This process will also be aided by the more strategic and coherent approach to housing issues provided by the new South West Regional Housing Board established in February by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Keith Hill: As at 30 June 2003, more than 160 key workers in the south-west region had been helped to purchase their own homes under the Starter Home Initiative. From 200405, funding for the provision of key worker housing will be integrated into the Housing Corporation's main affordable housing programme. Funding for new key worker housing schemes in the south-west will be informed by advice from the South West Regional Housing Board.
On 29 May the South West Regional Housing Body published a draft document setting out priorities for public sector housing investment in the south-west region. It contained a proposal to allocate funding for key worker housing in the region as part of its overall housing strategy. Ministers will be considering this together with other regional housing strategies that are due to be submitted this month.
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Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what recent discussions he has had with (a) Hereford and Worcester fire brigade and (b) West Mercia police force regarding ways to tackle arson attacks on schools in the Herefordshire and Worcestershire area. 
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is awarding £50,000 this financial year, via the Arson Control Forum, to the West Mercia Local Arson Task Force. The task force includes members from the Hereford and Worcester fire brigade and West Mercia constabulary; its plans for reducing arson in schools this year include holding arson reduction and information sessions for governors and staff of schools perceived to be at highest risk of arson.
|Arson||All recorded crime|
(1) Calendar year, and years ending March thereafter
(2) There was a change in counting rules for recorded crime on 1 April 1998, which may have affected detection rates.
(3) There was a change in the counting rules for detections on 1 April 1999, which will have had an effect on detection rates.
(4) Detection rates may have been affected by some police forces adopting the principles of the National Crime Recording Standard in advance of its national implementation on 1 April 2002.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the (a) press release released by the Audit Commission on the publication of the Corporate Governance inspection of Kingston upon Hull and (b) records of questions and answers at the accompanying press conference. 
Mr. Raynsford: I will ask the Audit Commission to provide a copy of their press release to the Library of the House. The Audit Commission has informed this Office of the Deputy Prime Minister that in general, they do not record questions and answers raised in their press conferenceshence this cannot be made available for the Library of the House.
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Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with North-East Lincolnshire council about the adequacy of the provision he has made for repairs and renovations of council housing; what recommendations he has made to them about the benefits of a large scale voluntary transfer, broken down by housing association; and what proposals he has for visiting North-East Lincolnshire to commend the large scale voluntary transfer to council tenants. 
Keith Hill: The Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber and the Community Housing Task Force have held a number of discussions with the council about their plans for delivering decent homes. The council has benefited from an increase in resources for housing investment from £2.221 million for 199798 to £6.563 million for 200304, including provision for major repairs allowance that was introduced in 200102. This demonstrates the Government's commitment to providing resources to tackle the backlog of council house renovation work and to modernise older stock to a standard of decency that tenants have a right to expect.
My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has no plans to visit North-East Lincolnshire and has made no recommendations to North-East Lincolnshire about large scale voluntary transfer in particular, although all authorities are required to have in place arrangements to ensure the delivery of the decent homes target by December 2010. Housing transfer is one of three options available to an authority where additional resources are required to meet this target.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much has been (a) claimed by and (b) paid to (i) North East Lincolnshire, (ii) North Lincolnshire, (iii) Hull and (iv) the East Riding in major repairs allowances for council housing in the last 12 months. 
|North East Lincolnshire||4,837,178|
|Kingston upon Hull||16,181,820|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||6,240,493|
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