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For the Metropolitan Police, the estimated additional cost of the policing operation was £85,000. This includes expenditure on air support, transportation, catering, the erection of barriers and road signs and overtime.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost of removing and replacing the steel barriers in Old Palace Yard in order to allow access for the Sovereign's procession at the State Opening of Parliament. [HL982]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): The complete cost of the removal and reinstatement of the Corus barriers, and associated actions, for the 2009 State Opening of Parliament was £92,271. This included: the closure of the road (erection of diversion signs, early warning notices etc); the removal, storage and reinstatement of all barriers and railings in front of the Palace from St Stephen's Entrance to Black Rod's Entrance; the removal, storage and reinstatement of the Corus barriers; and the installation and removal of the temporary security boom gates and blockers, as well as their removal and reinstatement for the early morning rehearsal and for the State Opening itself.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have consulted the appropriate local authorities on the impact on traffic flows in Westminster and Lambeth of closing Old Palace Yard for the State Opening of Parliament. [HL983]
The Chairman of Committees: In order to close the roads for the State Opening of Parliament, the police make an application to Westminster City Council. It is for the council to consider the impact of the closure when making its decision.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will fund the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder projects for the remainder of the 15-year investment period announced when the projects were set up in 2003. [HL1041]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the annual funding of the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder projects will increase in future; and how much funding they expect to provide for each of those projects in their remaining years. [HL1042]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Housing Market Renewal was established as a long-term programme, although it is too early to confirm future levels of funding for the programme
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): We consulted over the summer on our response to the independent review of the private rented sector carried out by Julie Rugg and David Rhodes of the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York. This included proposals for the regulation of letting agents. We have been considering the consultation responses received and plan to publish the results shortly.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): We consulted over the summer on our response to the independent review of the private rented sector carried out by Julie Rugg and David Rhodes of the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York. This included proposals for a national register of private landlords. We have been considering the consultation responses received and plan to publish the results shortly.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken in response to the report of unprofessional conduct by some overseas escort contractors noted by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in her report on Tinsley House immigration removal centre. [HL1122]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The UK Border Agency has been working with its escorting contractor G4S to address the concerns raised by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMCIP).
A reminder has been issued to all G4S overseas escorts of the availability of the telephone interpreting service and of the need to use it with any detainees identified as having difficulties in communication. This will be reinforced in operational briefings given to staff on charter flights and the level of use of the interpreting service will be monitored.
While escort staff always try to help detainees with their concerns and will endeavour to put them at their ease, this should never extend to providing false assurances. All overseas escorts have been reminded of this in operational briefings. Any reports of escorts offering inappropriate advice or assurances will be investigated thoroughly.
On the occasion of the charter observed by HMCIP, with the large number of detainees and the short timescale, some overseas escort staff omitted to introduce and identify themselves to some of the detainees. Escort staff are expected to carry ID at all times and are obliged to identify and introduce themselves to detainees when requested. This omission has been followed up with a reminder to escort staff of the need for an introduction and identification on all moves, including charter flights.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many single women are held at Tinsley House immigration removal centre; and what changes they have brought in since HM Chief Inspector of Prisons noted that "the small number of single women felt intimidated and rarely left their rooms". [HL1123]
Lord West of Spithead: Tinsley House immigration removal centre can accommodate five single women at any one time, providing a place of detention close to Gatwick Airport. Following the HMCIP report, G4S in conjunction with the UK Border Agency has arranged for an officer to check on all women at various times of the day to ensure their welfare needs are met and to address any particular concerns. Arrangements are in place for them to eat separately from the men if they so wish, and to access activities such as the gym alone.
To ask Her Majesty's Government in light of the conclusion by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons in her report on Tinsley House immigration removal centre that apparently unnecessary force had been used on children when removing a family, whether new instructions have been issued on the use of force on children. [HL1124]
Lord West of Spithead: New instructions have not yet been issued, but staff at Tinsley House were reminded of the need to obtain prior authority in advance following the incident reported in the HM Chief Inspector of Prison's report.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether "double devolution" of power from central government to local government to local people remains part of their policy programme; and, if so, what steps they are taking to promote it. [HL1043]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Since 1997, local authorities have gained significant powers, responsibilities and financial freedoms from central government to enable further devolution of decision-making to local communities. Actions we have taken to date include: increased financial freedom and stability to local government through the first ever three-year finance settlement, reduced ring-fencing, and devolved powers to local authorities, enabling them to create parish councils, make and enforce certain bylaws and increasing their choice in democratic processes such as electoral schemes and leadership style. We have promoted the transfer of assets from local government to local people where these could be better run for community benefits. We have also recently passed legislation that will give citizens greater power to hold local authorities to account and influence local services. This includes the extension of scrutiny arrangements, enabling local people, through their councillors, to influence decisions which affect their day-to-day lives and give them more say over what their council is doing for them.
This Government's recent public consultation, Strengthening Local Democracy, on which we will respond in due course, affirms our commitment to principles of devolution. In addition, Putting the Front-line first: Smarter Government published on 9 December sets out how we will meet new challenges and deliver better public services for lower costs by: driving up standards through strengthening the roles of citizens and civic society; freeing up public services by recasting the relationship between the centre and the front line; and streamlining central government, saving money through sharper delivery. These actions all demonstrate our continuing commitment to devolution.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have set an upper limit on (a) geographical size, or (b) population, before a local authority ceases to be "local"; and, if so, what those limits are. [HL1044]
Lord McKenzie of Luton: We have no such parameters, as is illustrated by the fact that the size of principal local authorities ranges from West Somerset with a population of around 35,500, to the City of Birmingham, with a population of just over 1 million.
Lord McKenzie of Luton: Local authorities are independent bodies responsible for the decisions they make on spending priorities to meet their statutory commitments. Councils have benefited from significant investment since 1997 with a 39 per cent real terms increase in government grant in the first 10 years, and an additional £8.6 billion over the period covered by the current spending review (2008-09 to 2010-11). We want to see local government at the heart of initiatives to provide innovative and better-value public services. Councils have a good record on delivering the efficiency gains necessary to provide effective local services. We expect them to make £5.5 billion available over the three years up to 2011 through efficiencies which can be reinvested in local services or used to keep council tax levels down.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the findings of the Total Place pilots that 5 per cent of spending on public services is discretionary spending by local authorities; whether that proportion will be increased; and, if so, by how much. [HL1113]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The Total Place initiative is currently ongoing and the pilots have yet to provide their final reports. Once received, the department will work with a range of other departments to consider the issues raised in those reports.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will compensate the mountain rescue teams which have supported local authorities during recent extreme
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): As my noble friend Lord Faulkner of Worcester said in the House on 6 January 2010, support for mountain rescue teams is a matter for the police authority and chief constable concerned as they have responsibility for co-ordinating inland search and rescue operations. Between them, police forces contribute almost £100,000 annually in direct support and additional amounts by way of support in kind. However, in recognition of concerns expressed by the Mountain Rescue Council about such matters, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the honourable Member for Gillingham, has offered to facilitate a meeting with Lord Dubs, interested parties and relevant government departments. As my noble friend also said, the efforts of those who give their time to the mountain rescue service during severe weather events of the kind we are experiencing merit only the highest praise and appreciation.
Baroness Thornton: Guidance to primary care trusts (PCTs) on the procurement of health services is maintained under the PCT Procurement Guide and is supported by the role of regional Commercial support units in adopting best practice, for example, in realising opportunities for collaborative working.
This document is also available on the department's corporate website, via the following link at www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/@dh/@en/documents/digitalasset/dh_084857.pdf
Baroness Thornton: Annual total revenue expenditure on clinical supplies and services, as recorded in the National Health Service audited summarisation schedules, was £4,922,822,000 in 2008-09, which is the latest period for which audited figures are available.
Revenue expenditure on clinical supplies and services is taken to include drugs, dressings, medical and surgical equipment, x-ray equipment and supplies, laboratory equipment, appliances (eg, artificial limbs and wheelchair hardware) and the maintenance of
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Baroness Thornton: The Pre-Budget Report announced that spending on front-line health will increase in line with inflation in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Funding for 2013-14 has not been announced. Planning at the level of detail of medical supplies and equipment is a matter for the National Health Service locally and not the department.
Baroness Thornton: The department signed a 10-year master services agreement with Exel Europe Ltd (part of the DHL group) on 4 September 2006 for the provision of procurement and supply chain services. Exel trades under the name of National Health Service Supply Chain (NHS SC).
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