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22 Oct 2002 : Column 288W—continued

Backland Development

Mr. Todd: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the lack of explicit guidance on backland development in the present PPG3 signifies a relaxation of the controls on backland development outlined in the 1992 guidance; and if he will make a statement. [75908]

Mr. McNulty: There is increased emphasis in the new PPG3 on securing well-designed residential environments, which offer housing opportunities for all in the community in the most sustainable way. Local authorities and developers are expected to think imaginatively about designs and layouts which make good use of previously developed land in urban areas without compromising the quality of the environment. In determining planning applications, local planning authorities should reject poor design.

National Land Use Database

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will require local authorities to publish lists of sites submitted to the National Land Use Database; and when he intends to issue such a requirement. [74980]

Mr. McNulty: Aggregate figures for local authorities for 2001 were published on 12 September 2002. A list of sites is on the NLUD web site ( and is available without charge to the public sector under licence. The information for an individual local authority can also be made available to the private sector with the agreement of the local authority concerned. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is working to secure agreement on making the information more widely available.

Regional Governance

Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the proposed size of an individual constituency in an elected regional assembly in the north-west of England. [76218]

Mr. Raynsford: The size of an individual constituency will depend on the total number of members of the assembly in each region. As set out in chapters 6 and 7 of the Regional Governance White Paper, an assembly would have between 25 and 35 members in total, mainly depending on its size of population, and around two-thirds of members would represent individual constituencies. The average population per constituency in the north-west would therefore be between around 290,000 (with 23 constituency members) and around 420,000 (with 16 constituency members).

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Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what criteria will be used to determine the level of support necessary in Cheshire for the establishment of a regional assembly in the North West of England; and what level of turnout will be used as the democratically legitimate measure for an affirmative vote in any proposed referendum on regional Government in the North West of England. [76217]

Mr. Raynsford: As the Regional Governance White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice, said, the primary factor in deciding where a referendum should be held will be the level of interest in holding a referendum in each of the eight regions. A subsidiary factor will be the need to avoid unnecessarily distracting local government with unitary reviews where there is only limited demand for a referendum (paragraph 9.3).

An affirmative vote at a referendum will occur if a majority of those voting at the referendum vote in favour of establishing an elected assembly for their region.

Joyce Quin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the outcome of the consultation on the White Paper on Regional Governance. [74098]

Mr. Nick Raynsford: The White Paper Your Region, Your Choice formally invited comments on stakeholder involvement with elected regional assemblies; the closing date for responses was 31 August 2002. But the White Paper also offered the opportunity for general views to be submitted—there is no deadline for these views and comments are still being received.

To date, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has received around 1,100 representations on the White Paper, of which around 200 offered comments on stakeholder involvement with elected assemblies

In addition, we have received around 1,500 postcards in support of the Cornish Constitutional Convention campaign for a referendum on establishing a Cornish Assembly.

We are currently undertaking detailed assessments of stakeholder responses, and of general responses to the White Paper. These will be published on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website later in the year. We will then set out our further proposals on stakeholder involvement, taking into account views expressed in the consultation.

It remains the case that we intend to introduce a Bill to provide for referendums and associated local government reviews as soon as Parliamentary time allows, with the aim of enabling the first referendums to be held during this Parliament.

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Home Buying and Selling

Lynne Jones: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will publish the consultation paper on the seller's pack and reform of the home buying and selling system. [75462]

Mr. McNulty: A major consultation paper ''The Key to Easier Home Buying and Selling'' was published in December 1998. The consultation found wide-ranging support for the introduction of a seller's pack in England and Wales. We are committed to making it easier for people buying and selling homes through the introduction of a seller's pack, and the necessary legislation will be reintroduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows. Following discussions with representatives of consumers and the main professional and trade bodies, we intend to publish shortly two further consultation papers dealing with the detailed contents of the seller's pack and the application of the seller's pack in areas where property values and demand are very low.

High Hedges

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proposals he has to bring forward legislation relating to the control of high hedges and trees. [75166]

Mr. McNulty: The Government are committed to legislation, that would give local authorities in England and Wales powers to deal with complaints about high hedges, as soon as Parliamentary time can be found.


Chris Ruane: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many fatalities and serious injuries there have been in houses of multiple occupation by local authority area in each of the past 10 years. [75879]

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

Empty Dwellings

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many dwellings he estimates are empty in each local authority area in Devon, broken down by (a) local authority, (b) RSL, (c) MOD, (d) other public sector and (e) the private sector; and how many of these are owner-occupied. [74857]

Mr. McNulty: The number of empty dwellings in each local authority area in Devon at 1 April 2001 broken down by tenure is shown in the table below.

Vacant Dwellings by Tenure in Devon by Local Authority Area at 1 April 2001

Local authority(46) Registered Social Landlord(47) Other Public(46)Other Private(46)of which: Owner occ.(46) Total
East Devon27180274026932785
Mid Devon18150841698874
North Devon0230247520502498
South Hams024045764600
West Devon01724477425518


—not known


(46) ODPM's 2001 Housing Strategy Statistical Appendices completed by local authorities

(47) Housing Corporation's Regulatory and Statistical Return (RSR) completed by RSLs

22 Oct 2002 : Column 291W

Information on empty MOD stock is not held centrally at local authority (or county) level, and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. These dwellings should be included in the local authorities' estimates of ''Other public'' sector vacants in the above table.

Local Authority Social Housing Grant

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what plans he has to abolish the local authority social housing grant and replace it with increased resources to the approved development programme to support the priorities of regional housing statements; [76382]

    (2) what proposals he has to convert the current local authority repayable loans to registered social landlords into one-off grants. [76383]

Mr. McNulty: The local authority social housing grant (LASHG) enables those local authorities with the necessary capital resources to make a loan to Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) for new or improved social housing, which is then reimbursed by the Housing Corporation. It is a demand-led mechanism, with no link to relative need to spend.

We have been consulting on options for replacing this system with one that targets resources to areas with the greatest housing need. We have invited comments on two alternatives—providing resources through the Approved Development Programme, or replacing LASHG with a regime in which local authorities make grants direct to RSLs.

The consultation period ended last Friday and we will make a further announcement when we have considered the responses.

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