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Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent steps his Department has taken to support the Palestinian Authority in its police and security functions. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Government remain committed to the reform of the Palestinian security sector as part of a wider state-building agenda. With the support of the UK (including the British Support Team in Ramallah) and others, the Palestinian Authority is working to increase the effectiveness and accountability of its police and security forces. In doing so, they are not only making west bank towns safer for ordinary Palestinians but also combating terrorism.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 29 October 2009, Official Report, column 506W, on Middle East: armed conflict, what are the challenges of interdiction referred to in the answer. 
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the compatibility with the principles of the Oslo Accords of the proposal for a Palestinian state made by the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Building the capacity of Palestinian institutions in preparation for statehood is a key part of the Palestinian Authority's proposal and is implicit in the Oslo Accords. The UK supports this aim and continues to pursue vigorously a two-state solution. We believe that direct negotiations between the parties involved, with the strong support of the US, the EU, and the rest of the international community, are the best way to achieve this. In seeking a solution, both parties should adhere to applicable international obligations.
Mr. Crabb: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the potential contribution of the proposal for a Palestinian state made by the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority to peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: We welcome the Palestinian Authority's plan as a contribution to building Palestinian institutions. The Government remain firmly committed to the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with limited land-swaps of equal quality, existing alongside Israel in peace and security. We believe that the best way to achieve this is through negotiations between the parties, with the strong support of the US, the EU, and the rest of the international community.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of Serbia's co-operation with the International War Crimes Tribunal; and if he will make a statement. 
David Miliband: Serbia's level of co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) continues to improve. We look forward to the next formal presentation to the UN Security Council by ICTY Prosecutor, Serge Brammertz, on 3 December 2009.
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Discussions by this Department on proposals for a Papal visit to the United Kingdom have taken place at official level since the Prime Minister's invitation to the Pope in February this year. To date, there has been no official announcement by either State of a Papal visit.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment has been made of the security situation in northern Yemen; and what the Government's policy is on the matter. 
We support the right of the Saudi Government to use proportionate means to defend the integrity of their territory. We do not believe that violence is the right way to resolve disputes, inequalities and injustices. The UK does not believe that a military solution to the Huthi conflict can achieve long term success. We encourage the rebels and the government of Yemen to agree a humanitarian ceasefire, an end to all violence and to pursue a political settlement to address legitimate grievances.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the governments of (a) Yemen and (b) Saudi Arabia on the security situation in northern Yemen. 
David Miliband: I last met the Yemeni Foreign Minister on 25 September 2009 when we spoke about the conflict in northern Yemen. I expressed the UK's concern about the deteriorating situation and urged him to consider a humanitarian ceasefire in light of the 175,000 internally displaced people.
My officials and those of Department for International Development are in daily contact with their Yemeni and Saudi counterparts at all levels. We are increasingly concerned about the situation in northern Yemen and the conflict along the Yemeni-Saudi border. We support the Saudi Government's right to use proportionate means to defend the integrity of their territory.
The situation in northern Yemen has the potential to create further instability in the Gulf region but we have seen no evidence of external interference to that end. The UK does not believe that a military solution to the Huthi conflict can achieve long term success. We encourage the rebels and the government of Yemen to agree to a humanitarian ceasefire, an end to all violence and to pursue a negotiated political settlement to address legitimate grievances.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many homes were purchased under the National Clearing House scheme in each of the last three years; and how many such homes were subsequently (a) sold, (b) used for affordable rent, (c) purchased under shared ownership and (d) unused. 
Mr. Ian Austin: The Housing Corporation, the Homes and Communities Agency's predecessor, set up the National Clearing House to streamline initial assessment of national packages of at least 250 units from private sector house builders and operated during 2008-09.
Allocations through the National Clearing House and the purchase of unsold stock from developers through the National Affordable Housing Programme allocated a total of £350 million to provide 9,600 affordable homes in 2008-09. Of these homes some 6,300 were to be used for social rent and 3,300 for low cost home ownership.
Mr. Ian Austin: The consultation will come to an end on 26 November. Following the end of the consultation we will need to analyse and publish a summary of responses, agree final proposals and revise the part J approved document (statutory guidance). It is planned that the revised approved document will be published by March 2010 and will come into force in October 2010.
Ms Rosie Winterton: Communities and Local Government works with the Office of the Third Sector and through intermediary bodies such as the Community Development Foundation, Social Investment Business, and local authorities, to promote opportunities to communities to apply for grants to help make a positive change to the lives of others and the community in which they live.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations he has received on proposals for Cornwall council to be renamed as an (a) assembly, (b) parliament, (c) senate and (d) another designation. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: We have received no such representations about the renaming of Cornwall council. An order made under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 allowed the council to adopt either the name of Cornwall county council or Cornwall council; the council decided to adopt the latter name.
Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what percentage of staff in each Government Office are in SCS pay band (a) 1, (b) 1A and (c) 2; and what job titles fall in each such pay band. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Each Government office has one regional director at SCS PB2 and between four and eight deputy regional directors at SCS PB1. The Government offices for the north-west and west midlands also have a deputy to the regional director at SCS PB1A.
The Department also operates a scheme for all staff below the senior civil service under which individuals or teams may receive a small non-consolidated award in recognition of an outstanding contribution over a limited period. A formal allocation of funding is not made for this scheme but a limit of 0.2 per cent. of the pay bill is placed on expenditure under these arrangements. The maximum payment under these arrangements is £600.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many and what percentage of staff of his Department, its Executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies work flexibly or part-time; and what his Department's policy is on making jobs available on a job-share or flexible basis. 
Barbara Follett: Communities and Local Government (CLG) has 236 members of staff who work part-time, this represents 10 per cent. of the total number of staff. Data on other forms of flexible working are collected for CLG, but the proportion of people who have provided data are too low to allow meaningful analysis.
All posts in Communities and Local Government are open to flexible working arrangements, including job-share; unless there is a substantive business case to the contrary showing it would be impracticable and inefficient. All posts will be advertised on this basis, whether advertised internally or externally.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many (a) registered social landlord, (b) private and (c) commercial properties have been empty for longer than (i) one, (ii) two, (iii) five and (iv) 10 years. 
Mr. Ian Austin:
Information on the total numbers of vacant dwellings by tenure but not time period was provided in the answer given to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) on 15 October 2009, Official Report, column 1066W. Information on the numbers of
dwellings vacant for the time periods requested is not available. There are no centrally available reliable or recent estimates of vacant commercial dwellings.
Mr. Ian Austin: We have allocated over £200 million to local authorities and voluntary organisations over three years (2008-11) to reduce and prevent homelessness in their areas by offering tailored support and advice. In addition, the department also recently announced a £20 million Preventing Repossessions Fund to enable local authorities to extend small loans to families at risk of homelessness through repossession or eviction. We have also provided £2.5 million funding to the National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS) which is a partnership between Shelter and the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CABx) providing high quality advice on homelessness prevention through the network of participating CABx and other voluntary agencies across England.
Over recent months the Government have also announced a series of measures and new funding that will help homeowners remain in their home wherever possible. This help includes the £285 million Mortgage Rescue Scheme, the Homeowners Mortgage Support Scheme and substantial changes to Support for Mortgage Interest Scheme.
New cases of homelessness acceptances have reduced by 69 per cent. since the last peak in 2003. The latest statistics show that there were 10,520 homelessness acceptances during the period April to June 2009-32 per cent. lower than the same period last year. The proportion of homelessness acceptances due to mortgage repossessions has remained at 3 per cent.
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