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Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will publish the advice received from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors concerning marriage value and leasehold enfranchisement. 
Ms Keeble: I understand that, by this, the hon. Member for Torbay wished to know whether we would make public the views expressed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in response to consultation on the Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Bill. All responses to the consultation paperwith the exception of those who asked for their responses to be treated as confidentialare available to the public. The response from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is among them. Copies can be inspected by visiting my Department's library at Ashdown House. Appointments are not necessary, but we would advise visitors to contact the library in advance on 020 7944 6107 to avoid unnecessary delays.
Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what statutory powers he has to ensure local authorities meet their statutory duty to house the homeless. 
Ms Keeble: Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1999 (best value) imposes a general duty on local authorities to make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in the way in which their functions are exercised, having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Section 15 of the 1999 Act provides the Secretary of State with a wide range of intervention powers to secure an authority's compliance with part 1. For example, he may direct the local authority to carry out a review of the function or to contract out the function. The Secretary of State also has the power, in cases of serious failure, to assume responsibility for a function and nominate a person to undertake it on his behalf.
Ms Keeble: The Housing Inspectorate, part of the Audit Commission's Inspection Service undertakes scrutiny of local authorities' housing functions, including their statutory homelessness duties. The Minister for Housing and Planning is notified by the Chief Inspector of Housing of any inspection which concludes that a service is poor, and the Secretary of State has intervention powers which he can use if he is satisfied that the authority is not complying with its statutory best value responsibilities. For the years 200101 and 200102 local authorities were required to assess their performance against Best Value Performance Indicator 67, the proportion of homelessness applications decided upon within 33 working days. Local authorities are also encouraged to set appropriate local performance indicators.
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The Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions also collects, monitors and publishes at quarterly intervals data about local housing authorities activities under the homelessness legislation. Among other things, this indicates the numbers of applicants accepted by individual authorities as statutorily homeless and the number of households being accommodated under the legislative provisions.
The Homelessness Act 2002 includes provisions which will require local housing authorities to carry out a homelessness review in their district and to formulate a homelessness strategy based on the review. The new Homelessness Directorate being established within DTLR will monitor the development and progress of these reviews and strategies.
Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what action he proposes to take about the worst 10 accident black spots on the trunk and primary route network, with particular reference to the A5 from the A45 to the A428 in the Daventry constituency; and if he will discuss these accident black spots with the Automobile Association. 
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Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if members of the Disabled Person's Transport Advisory Committee have expertise in autism spectrum disorders. 
Ms Keeble: Members of the committee are appointed on the basis of their personal transport and disability experience. They do not represent any particular organisation or interest group. We expect the committee to take account of the needs of the widest range of disabled people in formulating their advice to Ministers.
Dr. Ladyman: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions to what extent the revised Blue Badge Scheme for Disabled People takes account of the serious mobility impairment of people with autistic spectrum disorders through their behavioural difficulties and inability to perceive danger. 
Ms Keeble: The current review of the Blue Badge Scheme will consider all aspects of the Scheme, including the eligibility criteria, administration and enforcement. Formal representations have been made by the National Autistic Society and their views will be given due consideration during the review process.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 10 January 2002, Official Report, columns 98687W, on asbestos, if the handling of asbestos cement will be limited to licensed contractors after the regulations come into operation. 
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 10 January 2002, Official Report, column 987W, on asbestos, who commissioned the (a) 1985 Doll and Peto paper and (b) 2000 Hodgson and Darnton paper; and on what basis their reports may be deemed to be independent. 
Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 28 February 2002]: The 1985 report by Professors Doll and Peto was commissioned in 1982 by the Health and Safety Commission. Both individuals are highly respected academic epidemiologists, chosen for this task on the basis of their expertise in the subject matter. The paper by Hodgson and Darnton, was prepared as part of their day-to-day work in the HSE. Drafts of the paper were seen and reviewed by a number of external experts before it was submitted for publication, and again by peer reviewers selected by the Annals of Occupational Hygiene before its publication in this journal. Copies of the report and paper are in the Libraries of the House.
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Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 10 January 2002, Official Report, column 986W, on asbestos, if he will give a breakdown of the 200001 prosecution figures differentiating between white and blue asbestos. 
Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 28 February 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 10 January 2002, Official Report, column 986W, on asbestos, which explained that the system for recording prosecutions does not differentiate between the different types of asbestos.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 10 January 2002, Official Report, column 986W, on asbestos, if he will give a breakdown of his estimate of the compliance cost of the proposed new duty to manage the risk from asbestos to include the (a) cost of replacement materials, (b) devaluation of property, (c) premature demolition of property affected, (d) cost of collection and disposal of asbestos cement, (e) replacement of blue asbestos water pipes and (f) legal costs. 
Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 28 February 2002]: The Health and Safety Executive included the cost of the replacement materials in the estimated removal costs provided with the consultation document. The cost of replacement materials varies by type and location of asbestos. The research the Executive commissioned for the proposals indicates that reinstatement costs could be in the region of 3545 per cent. of the calculated removal costs. On this basis total reinstatement costs would be between £230 million and £290 million for the asbestos that is actually removed as a result of the proposals. These reinstatement costs include labour costs. These costs were included in the original overall cost estimates.
The Health and Safety Executive do not believe there will be any significant devaluation of property values following reinstatement if asbestos is removed or adequate management of asbestos remaining in place. Any on-going management costs are expected to be only a small fraction of annual building maintenance costs.
The Health and Safety Executive do not expect these proposals in themselves to result in any premature demolition. Other factors, such as the overall desirability of the property, are likely to play a more significant role in any decision to demolish. Under existing legislation, an asbestos survey has to be undertaken and asbestos has to be removed under controlled conditions before a building is demolished.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what the anticipated costs are of removing all blue and brown asbestos from domestic properties. 
Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 28 February 2002]: There are no plans to require the removal of blue and brown asbestos from domestic properties so it has not been costed. It is safer to leave asbestos in place if it is not going to be damaged or disturbed.
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Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 28 February 2002]: There are no plans to require the removal of white asbestos from domestic premises so it has not been costed. It is safer to leave asbestos in place if it is not going to be damaged or disturbed.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions whether he plans to ban sales of domestic property containing blue, brown or white asbestos; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Whitehead [holding answer 28 February 2002]: There are no such plans. Our proposals for seller's packs will help raise home buyers' awareness. The seller's pack will include a home condition report which will disclose the presence of asbestos where it is a safety hazard and is apparent from a visual inspection of the property.
The Health and Safety Executive does not call for asbestos to be removed if it is in good condition and is not going to be disturbed. In those circumstances, it is safer to leave undamaged asbestos in place, and this is what the Health and Safety Executive recommends.
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