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3 Jun 2009 : Column 589W—continued

Local Government: Political Impartiality

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what timetable her Department has set for bringing forward legislative proposals to change the Widdicombe rules on restrictions on political activity by local authority officials. [277034]

John Healey: Provisions to amend the Widdicombe rules by removing the salary bar link to politically restricted posts were introduced by Government amendment to the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill during its Third Reading on 29 April in the other place.

Mayors: Greater Manchester

Andrew Gwynne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions her Department has had on the establishment of a Mayor for Greater Manchester. [277502]

John Healey: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my hon. Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Dhanda) gave him on 10 June 2008, Official Report, column 144W.

Non-Domestic Rates

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department’s methodology for its annual calculation to adjust the business rate multiplier in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI) the previous September allows for a reduction in the multiplier when RPI is negative; and if she will make a statement. [277350]

John Healey: Calculation of the multiplier is determined by a formula set out in schedule 7 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government with which representative bodies her Department had discussions on the business rate deferral scheme (a) in the three months prior to and (b) following the announcement of the scheme. [277468]


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John Healey: Ministers and officials from the Department regularly meet representatives of the business community and local government to discuss business rates matters. Since the announcement of the business rates deferral scheme officials have in particular held discussions on its implementation and administration.

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she plans next to review the rateable value limits in (a) England and (b) London; and if she will make a statement. [278075]

John Healey: Various rateable value thresholds are used in the non-domestic rating system to target rate relief at smaller properties. We will consider all rateable value thresholds in light of the 2010 revaluation over the course of the rest of this year.

Non-Domestic Rates: Greater London

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) of 8 May 2009, Official Report, columns 453-54W, on non-domestic rates: Greater London, what the title of the substantive Valuation Office Agency document was from which the section on the sub-location concept was taken. [277122]

John Healey: The title of the document is: Review of sub location codes.

Non-Domestic Rates: Microgeneration

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department has prepared an impact assessment in respect of changes to the business rate liability of microgeneration equipment to be applied during the 2010 rates revaluation. [276966]

John Healey: The 2010 revaluation is undertaken under section 52 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988. As we are not introducing a new policy proposal, scheme or new legislation, under the guidance published by BERR on their website, the revaluation does not require an impact assessment.

The purpose of revaluation is to ensure that the liability of a property reflects the market values on 1 April 2008.

Non-Domestic Rates: Ports

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to bring forward legislative proposals to prohibit the retrospective application of business rates to firms in ports. [276926]

John Healey: The policy underpinning the requirement for backdating where appropriate is to ensure a rateable property pays its fair amount of rates from the point the property should be rated to ensure all business are treated fairly.


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The rates system must be equitable to all and any solution to a situation as in the ports must not confer a disadvantage upon other ratepayers.

The statutory framework of business rates gives Ministers no discretion to remove a liability to taxation, and we do not believe it would be in the interests of fair competition or in line with the principles of taxation for such a liability to be waived.

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the potential change in non-port rateable values in Milford Haven Port Authority as a result of the Valuation Office Agency's review of ports rates liability. [277015]

John Healey: The Milford Haven assessment is currently subject to legal opinion, and therefore the VOA consider it inappropriate to estimate liability at this point in time.

Non-Domestic Rates: Religious Buildings

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Jackson) of 7 May 2009, Official Report, column 382W, on the Church of Scientology, what (a) criteria and (b) methodology the Valuation Office Agency uses to determine whether a faith community is deemed to be eligible for a place of worship business rate exemption. [277024]

John Healey: Schedule 5 para. 11(1) to the Local Government Act 1988 provides the criteria for exemption from non-domestic rating for places of public religious worship. Premises occupied by a faith community will be exempt providing:

Valuation officers’ methodology is to follow the above criteria.

Regeneration: Finance

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden of 8 May 2009, Official Report, column 454W, on regeneration, what steps her Department has taken to guard against repetition of such financial irregularities. [277236]

John Healey: The 2007-13 round of the European regional development fund is being administered by regional development agencies. In setting up these programmes we have:


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Regional Development Agencies: Finance

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what funding her Department has allocated to each regional development agency for (a) 2009-10, (b) 2010-11 and (c) 2011-12. [277880]

Mr. Khan: The Department of Communities and Local Government does not directly allocate funding to the regional development agencies. Regional development agencies are instead funded through a single programme, which is administered by their sponsor Department, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

My Department is, however, one of six contributory Departments to this single programme, with a planned contribution of £1.585 billion during 2009-10.

For information, total departmental allocations to the regional development agencies’ single programme for 2009-10 and 2010-11 are set out in the following table.

Total single programme allocation (£)
Regional development agency 2009-10 2010-11

Advantage West Midlands

295,165,000

212,003,000

East of England Development Agency

135,740,000

108,115,000

East Midlands Development Agency

160,322,000

131,304,000

London Development Agency

374,963,000

325,521,000

North West Development Agency

397,410,000

304,572,000

One North East

249,226,000

194,845,000

South East England Development Agency

165,097,000

132,562,000

South West Development Agency

157,463,000

124,580,000

Yorkshire Forward

317,475,000

228,160,000

Total

2,252,861,000

1,761,662,000


It should be noted that allocations for 2010-11 are currently indicative.

Single programme allocations for 2011-12 are yet to be determined, falling outside the current 2008 to 2011 spending review settlement.

Valuation Office: Local Government

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden of 7 May 2009, Official Report, columns 400-2W, on Valuation Office, if she will place in the Library a copy of a Billing Authority Report submitted via the e-BAR facility. [276915]

John Healey: Billing Authorities send information to the Valuation Office Agency. This information, required to assist in maintaining valuation and rating lists, is
3 Jun 2009 : Column 593W
called a billing authority report or BAR. Some Billing Authorities submit their BARs electronically using the e-BAR facility. As the e-BAR is electronic, and can be in different formats, it is not possible to provide a typical e-BAR.

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden of 7 May 2009, Official Report, columns 400-2W, on Valuation Office, whether any Billing Authority Report submitted via the e-BAR facility has included information derived from building control data. [276916]

John Healey: The sources of information vary from Billing Authority to Billing Authority. The Building Control Department will be a source for some Billing Authorities.

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden of 7 May 2009, Official Report, columns 400-2W, on Valuation Office, what the differences are between the Valuebill interface and the e-BAR facility. [276917]

John Healey: The various data exchanges between billing authorities, the Valuation Office Agency, and the National Land and Property Gazetteer covered by the former Valuebill project can be regarded as the Valuebill interface. The e-BAR facility is a development, based on a Valuebill schema, to enable Billing Authorities to send electronic reports to VOA.

Children, Schools and Families

Children in Care

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many (a) family and friend carers and (b) family and friends foster carers are providing full-time care for a child because of (i) parental drug and alcohol misuse, (ii) the death of a parent, (iii) parental imprisonment, (iv) domestic violence and (v) other reasons. [270225]

Beverley Hughes: Data on the reasons for a child being provided with full-time care by their relative or friend are not collected centrally. This is the case both for family and friends carers who are approved foster carers and for those who are not.

Children: Databases

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many (a) maintained and (b) independent schools have indicated that they will not take part in the ContactPoint database. [272310]

Beverley Hughes: We are not aware nationally of any individual schools in either (a) the maintained or (b) independent school sectors that have indicated that they will not take part in ContactPoint.


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Class Sizes: Primary Education

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many key stage 1 children were in classes of (a) over 20, (b) over 25 and (c) over 30 pupils in the latest year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [276512]

Jim Knight: The information requested is in the following table.

Maintained primary schools( 1) : Number of Key Stage 1 children in classes( 2,3) . Coverage: England. Year: January 2009 (provisional)
Class size Number of pupils

All classes

1,396,830

Over 20 pupils

1,293,370

Over 25 pupils

997,370

Over 30 pupils(4)

29,200

(1) Includes middle schools as deemed.
(2) One teacher classes as taught during a single selected period in each school on the day of the census in January.
(3) Includes reception classes.
(4) Includes all pupils in large classes, including those with excepted activity.
Note:
Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.

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