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Mr. Raynsford: The Local Authorities (Elected Mayor and Mayor's Assistant)(England) Regulations 2002 have been laid before Parliament today. These provide for directly elected mayors to be treated as councillors for
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the purpose of certain legislation. This means that certain provisions which currently apply only to councillors will be extended to apply to elected mayors.
In particular, the Regulations extend the permission to appoint a political assistant, which is currently enjoyed by political groups in local authorities to mayors. We are doing this in preparation for the arrival of the first directly elected mayors in councils, following elections being held on 2 May. A mayor's assistant will be subject to the same rules as apply to assistants for political groups who are already employed by local authorities and appointed by political groups.
As with local authority political assistants now, a mayor's assistant will be a politically restricted post for the purposes of s1 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. This means they will be disqualified from becoming members of the local authority by which they are employed. In addition, mayor's assistants will not be able to discharge any functions of the local authority or the executive. The only staff which may work under the direction of a mayor's assistant are those providing the assistant or the mayor with clerical or secretarial support. A mayor's assistant will be subject to the same salary limit as a political assistant is now. This is set by the Secretary of State through an Order under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and is at present £25,044.
Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 20 March 2002, Official Report, column 359W, on ex-local authority properties, what estimate he has made of the proportion of ex-local authorities sold under the right to buy scheme in London in which the leaseholder is the tenant who originally purchased the lease under that scheme. 
Ms Keeble: We estimate that about 120,000 flats in London have been sold under the right to buy scheme since its introduction. Based on information derived from the Survey of English Housing, we estimate that around 50 per cent. of those householders who, as tenants, had originally purchased the lease under that scheme, had continued to be in occupation at the time of the survey in 200001.
Ms Oona King: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, pursuant to his answer of 20 March 2002, Official Report, column 359W, on ex-local authority properties, what plans he has to encourage local authorities actively to promote the buy back scheme to those holding the leasehold interest in ex-local authority properties previously sold under the right to buy. 
Ms Keeble: We have no plans to do this. Councils have discretion to decide whom to help, in the light of local circumstances. They are best placed to judge who is in greatest need and how they should use their resources to help.
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Dr. Whitehead: 3 civil servants are on secondment to regional assemblies from the Government Offices. 1 is seconded to each of the Southwest Regional Assembly, North West Regional Assembly and Yorkshire and Humber Regional Assembly.
Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many traveller (a) caravans and (b) households were on (i) authorised and (ii) unauthorised sites in each parliamentary constituency in England and Wales for each year since 1997. 
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how many local authorities have benefited from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, setting out the (a) amount and (b) the purpose of each award. 
Ms Keeble: The Neighbourhood Renewal Fund was launched in 200102 to provide additional resources for local authorities to improve mainstream services in the most deprived areas, including contributing to the achievement of the floor targets to narrow the gap between deprived areas and the rest of the country. The fund provides £900 million over three years to the 88 most deprived districts in England.
£200 million of funding was allocated for 200102. The purpose of the funding and individual allocations are set out in Special Grant Report No. 78, copies of which are available in the Library. £300 million of funding is being allocated for 200203. The updated purpose, allocations and conditions applying to the fund in 200203 are set out in Special Grant Report No. 93, which was approved on the floor of the House of Commons on 13 March. Copies of Report No. 93 have also been placed in the Library.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what progress there has been towards the baseline assessment of the number of dwellings and the number and location of wards affected and at risk from low demand and unpopular housing, announced in the Social Exclusion Unit's National Strategy Action Plan for Neighbourhood Renewal. 
Ms Keeble: As from April 2001, the annual Housing Investment Programme has included local authorities' assessment of low demand in their district. This has provided a baseline assessment of the number of dwellings affected by low demand and unpopular housing.
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level that will help establish the number and location of wards affected and at risk from low demand. This work will also inform future development of the Housing Domain of the Index of Deprivation 2000. The project is due to report in late 2002.
In addition, the English House Condition Survey 2001 will provide a valuer's professional assessment of housing demand, which will provide a more objective, national baseline. Data from the English House Condition Survey 2001 will be available in early 2003.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps are being taken to incentivise the renovation and conversion of empty properties which have fallen into disuse. 
Ms Keeble: In the Budget 2001 the Government introduced a reduced 5 per cent. rate of VAT on the renovation of single household dwellings that have been empty for three years or more. We have recently consulted on proposals to give local authorities discretion to charge full council tax on long-term empty homes. Our planning policies include a package of tough new measuresincluding a brownfield first policy to meet the country's housing needs in the most sustainable way possible.
To tackle problems in areas of low housing demand where empty homes proliferate, we intend to overhaul legislation governing private sector renewal and introduce selective licensing of private sector landlords. We are also looking at further options for more concerted action on a larger scale.
Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much funding was (a) allocated and (b) used by each housing association in the UK in each of the last five years for aids and adaptations to housing for people with disabilities. 
Ms Keeble: Information about the amounts allocated to each housing association in England for aids and adaptations under the Housing Corporation's Approved Development Programme and Local Authority Social Housing Grant in the years 199798 to 200102 has been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions how much funding was (a) allocated and (b) used in each of the last five years for the councils disabled facilities grant, for each council in the UK. 
Ms Keeble: Figures showing the Government's allocation towards each English local authority's expenditure on DFGs, and that expenditure, over the last five years were placed in the Libraries of the House in January.
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Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what plans he has to relocate executive agencies and non- departmental public bodies under the remit of his Department to Scotland. 
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