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Regional Government

Mrs. May: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what are the (a) powers and (b) responsibilities, of (i) the

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Government offices and (ii) regional chambers of the regions, with regard to (A) sustainable development and (B) social inclusion. [60420]

Mr. Raynsford: The Government offices for the regions bring together the activities and interests of many Government Departments. They deliver the policies and programmes of these Departments as well as promoting a coherent regional approach to cross-cutting activities, including sustainable development and social inclusion. Government office responsibilities are set out in the corporate plan for the RCU/GO network.

Under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998, the regional chambers have no statutory functions other than that each RDA, in preparing its regional economic strategy, must have regard to its chamber's views. That was put into effect by a ministerial direction under section 8(2)(a) of the Act. However, chambers have, in agreement with other regional partners taken on a range of other functions. In particular a number of chambers have taken on responsibility for producing the regional sustainable development framework, and regional planning guidance.

The regional governance White Paper 'Your Region, Your Choice' contains proposals to enhance the role of both the regional chambers and Government offices. These include providing direct funding to chambers for the purpose of regional planning, central Government support for the chamber in integrating regional strategies, and enhancing the responsibilities of Government offices in a wide range of areas.

Mrs. May: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) guidelines and (b) requirements are placed on (i) regional chambers and (ii) Government offices of the regions, with regard to their allocation of Government money to their different areas of responsibility; and if he will place copies in the Library. [60421]

Mr. Raynsford: In respect of the regional chambers, a three year funding programme of £15 million commenced in the financial year 2001–02. The Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions issued guidance on the allocation process for the funding in July 2001. This contained guidelines as to the types of projects that might be funded and how the bidding process would work. This was updated and re-issued in February 2002. Each chamber is issued with a grant agreement letter, setting out the requirements and limitations under which the funding is provided. I am placing a copy of the most recent guidance in the Library.

Sponsor Departments have transferred resources to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in respect of the running costs for the RCU/GO network. The Regional Co-ordination Unit allocates these resources to individual Government offices for the regions each year.

My Department and other sponsor Departments delegate funds directly to the Government offices in respect of programmes they deliver on our behalf.

Programme and running costs funds are allocated and managed in accordance with the principals of Government Accounting, appropriate departmental guidance and other

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guidance specific to individual programmes. The activities and objectives that Government offices undertake in behalf of sponsor Departments with the resources allocated are set out in the corporate plan for the RCU/GO network.

Social Housing

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, pursuant to the answer of the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions of 16 May 2002, Official Report, column 800W, on social housing, what other information his Department has collated on the range of initiatives, apart from the cash incentive scheme and home buy, local authorities and registered social landlords in London offer to encourage tenants to relinquish a tenancy. [60883]

Mr. McNulty: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Housing Licensing Scheme

Gillian Merron: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress has been made on the introduction of mandatory licensing schemes for houses in multiple occupancy, as stated in the Housing Green Paper 'Quality and Choice: a decent home for all'; and what such licences will specify. [60632]

Mr. McNulty: The Government are committed to introducing a national licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and we consulted on our proposals in 1999. We remain committed in legislating for this at the earliest possible opportunity.

Our proposals on HMOs are targeted at combating the significant threat to occupants' health and welfare that exist in this part of the private rented sector. The licensing scheme will aim to ensure that a building in multiple occupation meets acceptable physical standards, that those involved in its management are competent and otherwise fit for such a role and the management arrangements in the property are satisfactory. To that end licences will only be granted to persons who are deemed "fit and proper" and will require such persons to ensure the property meets minimum physical fitness and safety standards, is not overcrowded and is managed effectively for the protection of the occupiers' health, safety and welfare.

Departmental Grants

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which organisations which were in receipt of a grant from him in 1997–98 no longer are; what the annual saving is; which organisations which were not in receipt of a grant in 1997–98 now are; and what the annual cost is. [61398]

Mr. Raynsford: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the answer of 15 May, ref 56031, when it was decided to propose the Contents Board in the draft Bill. [57846]

Dr. Howells: The proposals for the Content Board were one of the many matters which had been under consideration following the publication of the communications White Paper in December 2000. The hon. Member will be aware that the draft Communications Bill giving details of the Content Board was published on 7 May.

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has for Northern Ireland to be represented on the main OFCOM board. [59113]

Dr. Howells [holding answer 24 May 2002]: Members of the main board of OFCOM will be appointed for the range of expertise and experience they can provide rather than to represent specific interests. However, the Draft Communications Bill proposes that, in carrying out their functions, each member of the main OFCOM board will have an obligation to take account of the different interests of the different parts of the UK. The Draft Bill also proposes that there be specific representation for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the Content Board and Consumers Panel.

Overseas Visitors (Scotland)

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the answer of 6 February 2002, Official Report, column 987W, how many overseas visitors came to Scotland in each year since 1998. [60801]

Dr. Howells: The number of visits was as follows:

YearVisits from overseas (million)

Television Licence Fee

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the answer of 22 May 2002, Official Report, column 518W, on the television licence fee, which organisations and people will be part of the review process of future funding arrangements; how the Government will ensure that public service broadcasting is protected under the Royal Charter Review Process; and if she will exempt those aged 65 years and over from paying the licence fee. [60800]

Dr. Howells: As the BBC's charter is due to expire in 2006, we expect the charter review process to begin in 2004. It is too soon to consider how we will conduct the review, but we will want the process to provide an opportunity to consider the BBC's relationship with Government, its role within the overall broadcasting

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ecology and the arrangements for funding the Corporation. We will, of course, seek to consult as widely as possible during the course of the review. There are no plans to exempt people aged 65 years and over from paying the licence fee.


Departmental Policies (Stalybridge and Hyde)

James Purnell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what impact his Department's policies have had on the Stalybridge and Hyde constituency since 1997. [54332]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 7 May 2002]: The Home Office is working to build a safe, just and tolerant society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced, and the protection and security of the public are maintained. Detailed information on the impact of Home Office policies across the full range of responsibilities is set out in the Home Office Annual Reports. A copy of the most recent report, Home Office Annual Report 2001–02 is due to be published shortly.

The impact of Home Office policies and actions is not normally examined by constituency and the statistics which the Department collects, such as recorded crime, cannot be matched in the way requested although set out are examples relating to the Stalybridge and Hyde constituency or the immediate locality.

Crime and Reduction

A number of programmes have been set up to reduce crime reduction, which I have highlighted.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) projects have been funded in and around Tameside, reducing burglary initiatives funded scheme in and around Ashton under Lyme including alley gating, property making, Home Watch and crime booklets. 22 street wardens provided and established in the constituency.

Safer community's initiatives launched in 2002–03 and allocated £105,158 to assist in crime reduction.

Communities Against Drugs 2002–03 programmes, which will intervene with street crime: these will consist of a targeted offender scheme (Operation Rhodes), mobile CCTV system, truancy sweeps, appointment of anti-social behaviour officer.

Neighbourhood renewal, £3,015 million has been allocated in and around Tameside from 2001–04. These initiatives will intervene with street crime helping to re-establish a just, safe and tolerant society.


Stalybridge and Hyde is in the Thameside division of Greater Manchester Police. I understand that Thameside division had 389 police officers on 31 March 2002, 36 more than in March 1997.

Youth Crime

The Youth Offending Team (YOT) which covers Halton and Warrington has been established since April 2000 and is funded by the Youth Justice Board. It has been allocated estimated funds for the team £292,481 for

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the forthcoming financial year. The YOT have put in place a full range of youth justice service which have been outlined in the Crime and Disorder Act.

The Cheshire area pledged a reduction in the time from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders. The figures recorded are used to monitor the Governments' pledge to halve the average time from arrest to sentence for persistent young offenders in England and Wales from 142 days in 1996 to 71 days. Persistent young offenders who are as categorised as in between the ages 10 to 17-years-old who have been sentenced by any criminal court in the United Kingdom on three or more separate occasions for one or more recordable offence and within three years of the last sentencing occasion is subsequently arrested or has information laid against them for a further recordable offence.

Within the Halton and Warrington schemes set up for adolescents who are given the opportunity to attend swimming activities which are run in February, Easter and the Whitsun and Summer holidays.

More generally, all of the policies of the Home Office will have a greater impact on the residents of Stalybridge and Hyde to a greater extent. For example:

Information on the Home Office and its policies is also published on its website

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