|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what role the (a) Electoral Commission, (b) Office for the Surveillance Commissioner, (c) Food Standards Agency and (d) Health and Safety Executive/Commission have in inspecting local authorities. 
John Healey: The Electoral Commission undertakes reviews of electoral arrangements in local government in England. The Surveillance Commissioner is responsible for establishing compliance with the powers granted by Parliament to authorise and conduct covert surveillance operations carried out by all local authorities, except the intelligence services. The Health and Safety Executives role, as an enforcing authority, includes responsibility for enforcement against local authorities as an employer under the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998. The Health and Safety Commission also expects all local authorities to undergo an inter-authority audit of their management of health and safety enforcement at least once every five years. The Food Standards Agency audits local authorities in accordance with relevant EC guidelines, to ensure the delivery of official feed and food controlslargely enforced by local environmental health and trading standards services.
The Local Authority Better Regulation Group in the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) is leading on ensuring co-ordination between the different national bodies who have roles re local authority regulatory services (eg Food Standards Agency, Consumer and Trading Standards Agency, etc.).
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what changes
have been made to eligibility and entitlements under the Local Government Pension Scheme since May 2005; and on what changes to the scheme her Department is consulting. 
Currently, statutory consultations are under way on proposals for added protections for older, eligible Scheme members, providing these are legal and affordable, and on proposals to provide transitional protections for existing 1997 Scheme members who will transfer to the new 2008 Scheme from 1 April next year.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local referendums have been held by local authorities under the provisions of the Local Government Act 2003. 
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable is for the review of non-domestic rate reliefs and exemptions; and whether the Government intend to publish a consultation paper. 
John Healey: Reviewing business rates reliefs and exemptions has been included in the ongoing work of Communities and Local Government, involving other Departments and stakeholders as appropriate. Any proposals emerging from the review will of course be subject to consultation in the usual way.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of the merits of a tariff system in place of Section 106 agreements and planning-gain supplement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Paragraph 3.117 of the 2006 pre-Budget report (CM 6984) indicated that the Government have considered alternative measures to capture land value uplift and that they have looked closely at these models. The predecessor Department to Communities and Local Government consulted on the introduction of a mandatory tariff in December 2001 and on an optional planning charge in November 2003. The Government continue to believe that a workable and effective planning-gain supplement (PGS) represents a fairer and more effective means of capturing land value to help finance infrastructure.
In his statement on the third session draft legislative programme on 11 July 2007, the Prime Minister said that the Planning-gain Supplement Bill is provisional within that programme because if, prior to the pre-Budget report, a better way is identified of ensuring that local
communities receive significantly more of the benefit from planning gain, including to invest in necessary infrastructure and transport, and it is demonstrated that it is a better alternative, the Government will be prepared to defer next Session's legislation.
The Housing Green Paper published on 23 July 2007 says that PGS remains the Government's preferred option but lists the main alternative approaches, including those which have been raised by stakeholders. These approaches set out in the Green Paper will form the basis for discussions with key stakeholders prior to the pre-Budget report.
Alistair Burt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 11 July 2007 to the hon. Member for Guildford, Official Report, column 1474W, on rates and rating: aerials, how many communication masts were on the Valuation Office Agency's rating list in England on (a) 31 March 2003 and (b) 31 March 2007. 
(a) as at 31 March 2003, 17,227
(b) as at 31 March 2007, 26,590.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of the effect of (a) PPG3 and (b) PPS3 on the supply of flats in the housing market; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: In the period 2000 to 2006, new build dwelling completions that were flats increased from 20 per cent. to 47 per cent. nationally. It is not possible to say whether this was a direct result of PPG3, as other policies, commercial considerations and market factors will also have played a part.
The Government want to see local planning authorities providing the right types of housing to meet need and demand in areas, based on a robust evidence-based approach. This is why PPS3 asks local authorities to carry out strategic housing market assessments, which should then inform the planning process.
If assessments show that a greater number of larger homes are needed, then we would expect these to be planned for and delivered. But equally there will be areas where smaller homes, including flats, will be needed.
Peter Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the oral statement of 17 July 2007, Official Report, columns 161-2, on economic reform, if she will direct the West Midlands Regional Assembly to defer the consultation on the revision to the regional spatial strategy to enable the strategys integration with the regional economic strategy; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey: No. It is essential that the phase two of the regional spatial strategy revision, which will include new housing numbers, is undertaken as agreed to provide clear guidance for local authorities producing their core strategies. The Regional Assembly and the Regional Development Agency have already taken steps to ensure effective integration of the revision with the regional economic strategy revision. This includes shared evidence and joint working groups.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 9 July 2007, Official Report, column 1280W on rented housing, what recent meetings her Department has held with stakeholder groups to discuss affordable housing; and if she will place in the Library the minutes of such meetings. 
Mr. Iain Wright: My hon. Friend the Member for Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) officials and I have routine and regular contact with a wide range of stakeholders including affordable housing providers. The Housing Green Paper which we published on 23 July provides all stakeholders with an opportunity to offer their views on how we can best increase the delivery of affordable housing. The Green Paper sets out our plans for the delivery of more affordable housing.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what further consultation she carried out before taking decisions on the social sector working party's interim report on major works charges. 
Mr. Iain Wright: No further consultation was carried out following receipt of the interim report of the Social Sector Working Party on major works Bills at the end of January 2007. The Government's statement to Parliament about high leaseholder major works Bills, on 29 March 2007, available at the following link, reported progress on its own review of these issues. This review was started in February 2006, and involved extensive consultation with stakeholders including leaseholder representatives, social landlords, the Leasehold Advisory Service, and lenders. It also took account of the Working Party's report.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the South East England Development Agency spent on hospitality and entertainment in each year since it was created. 
John Healey: I refer the hon. Member the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Ham (Mr. Timms) to the hon. Member for Fareham (Mr. Hoban) on 18 July 2007, Official Report, column 360W.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment her Department has made of the effect on communities of being designated as unsustainable as a consequence of Planning Policy Statement 1. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Planning Policy Statement 1 Delivering Sustainable Development sets out the key role of planning in contributing to the delivery of sustainable development. In particular, the planning system should facilitate and promote sustainable and inclusive patterns of urban and rural development by:
making suitable land available for development in line with economic, social and environmental objectives to improve peoples quality of life;
contributing to sustainable economic development;
protecting and enhancing the natural and historic environment, the quality and character of the countryside, and existing communities;
ensuring high quality development through good and inclusive design, and the efficient use of resources; and,
ensuring that development supports existing communities and contributes to the creation of safe, sustainable, liveable and mixed communities with good access to jobs and key services for all members of the community.
Policies in regional and local development plans, together with national planning policies, provide the framework for decisions on future urban and rural development. In preparing development plans, planning authorities have a statutory requirement to do so in a way that contributes to the delivery of sustainable development. Part of that process will be to ensure that policies in plans seek to improve the sustainability of existing communities as well as ensuring new developments contribute towards that aim.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what response she has made to the National Audit Office report Thames Gateway: Laying the Foundations, with particular regard to the sections on performance and planning; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: There was a hearing of the Committee of Public Accounts on 13 June 2007 based on the National Audit Office's report. Subsequent to the hearing the Department will receive a report from the Committee of Public Accounts with recommendations, which the Government will then respond to.
The Thames Gateway Executive has already implemented the majority of the recommendations in the original National Audit Office report which formed the basis of the Committee of Public Accounts hearing. In particular a cross-Government board for the Thames Gateway has been set up and will have its third meeting on 19 July. A final delivery plan for the Thames Gateway is being prepared which will be completed later this year. Finally a communications strategy for the Thames Gateway is also being prepared.
Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department provides on the (a) definitions and (b) methodology for calculating the (i) regional, (ii) national and (iii) local need for authorised traveller site provision. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Local authorities are required to undertake accommodation needs assessments for Gypsies and Travellers in their area, and Communities and Local Government has provided draft guidance on this. A final version will be published shortly. Regional assemblies are responsible for reviewing regional spatial strategies to determine regional pitch requirements and allocate them between local authorities, and Communities and Local Government has published research to assist with this process.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 25 June 2007, Official Report, column 182W, on urban areas: Cheltenham, whether the information provided is available, broken down by age bands for the period covered in the draft Regional Spatial Strategy. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The information is available at Table 20: Population by sex and quinary age for all local authorities and higher areas, published by the Office for National Statistics on 12 October 2006, and can be accessed at:
|2004 based population projections for Cheltenham borough|
Table 20: Population by sex and quinary age for all local authorities and higher areas published by the Office for National Statistics (12 October 2006).
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|