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4 Nov 2002 : Column 45Wcontinued
Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress is being made in resolving the dispute concerning funding given to the Walton Group for its regeneration of Exchange Flags, Liverpool. 
Mr. McNulty: English Partnerships, acting as agent for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, is continuing its legal action for the return of all public money and subsequent legal costs expended on the Exchange Flags building, Liverpool. The date for trial has been set for the week beginning 18 November 2002.
The Planning Inspectorate
The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre
4 Nov 2002 : Column 46W
Mr. Heath: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what information he has received from the Chief Fire Officer of Somerset on his assessment of the adequacy of fire cover in areas of the Somerton and Frome constituency during a firefighters' strike. 
Mr. Raynsford: The Chief Fire Officer of Somerset Fire Brigade sent a short e-mail to officials at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 20 September, in which he expressed the view that strike action at two retained stations in Somerset would potentially leave a significant number of road traffic accidents uncovered.
Emergency cover in Somerset, as for the rest of the country, will consist of a number of elements including Green Goddesses, breathing apparatus teams (BARTs), a rescue team equipped with specialist equipment (REST) and the police. The BARTs and RESTs carry basic cutting and other rescue equipment, and have been trained to respond to road traffic accidents.
The provision of MOD emergency cover has been planned in consultation with Chief Fire Officers to maximise the effectiveness of call-outs and the availability of a range of firefighting capabilities. The MOD's emergency cover will not replicate the firefighting capabilities of the Fire Service, but will aim to minimise the danger to human life.
Retained firefighters provide a very valuable service to their communities. We expect that during industrial action many retained firefighters would continue to protect the communities in which they live and work.
Mr. Leslie: The following table shows the latest available information on the number of wholetime firefighters and strength (in 24 hour units of cover) of retained firefighters in Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service.
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Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether (a) professional firemen, (b) retained firefighters and (c) other publicly employed persons are insured, including the death in service provision, when dealing with a fire or other incident during a firefighters' strike. 
Mr. Leslie: Professional and retained firefighters who are on duty during any FBU industrial action will be fully covered by the standard insurance, death and pension benefits as normal. Members of the armed forces will benefit from the same cover and support as is provided for any operational duty. Police officers are afforded protection in the event of injury while on duty by the provisions of the Police Pension Regulations in the case of death or permanent disablement. In the event of temporary disablement the arrangements for contractual sick pay would safeguard the officer from immediate financial loss.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the housing associations; how many houses they have built and acquired over the last five years; and how many of these have been allocated to (a) those on their existing waiting list and (b) those outside their area. 
Only about one quarter of registered housing associations undertake development. Over the last five years, housing associations have completed the following number of dwellings, through new-build or acquisition and redevelopment, via funding from the Housing Corporation's approved development programme (ADP) and local authority social housing grant (LASHG):
|Approved development programme||Local authority social housing grant|
Information is not available about the allocation of housing association dwellings to people on existing waiting lists or from elsewhere. The Housing Corporation's regulatory code states that registered housing associations must work with local authorities to enable the latter to fulfil their duties to homeless households and people in priority housing need; to the vulnerable and those covered by the Government's Supporting People policy.
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Mr. Raynsford: A summary of responses to the consultation on the formula grant review will be published and placed in the Library before the Government's proposals for the future grant distribution system are announced at around the beginning of December.
Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions his Department has had with the F40 group in the review of the local government education funding formula to provide a more even funding system for rural and inner city schools. 
Similar discussions have taken place between the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's officials and officers representing F40 members. We are currently taking decisions on the new system to be that we will propose following that consultation. In doing so we are considering carefully the evidence, pressures and representations that we received, including those from F40 authorities and campaigners.
Mr. Raynsford: The formula grant review options that were put forward as part of the summer consultation were informed by evidence on relative costs of providing services across the country. We are currently taking decisions on the new system to be implemented following that consultation, and in doing so are considering carefully all of the evidence, pressures and representations that we received, including those from rural areas.
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Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what impact changes in the local government formula grant will have on public services in (a) the East Riding of Yorkshire and (b) North Lincolnshire. 
Mr. Raynsford: We will announce the new system for distributing Formula Grant, including detailed grant allocations for individual authorities, at the time of the provisional local government finance settlement which we expect to be around the start of December. Once the Government has allocated its grant, decisions about budgets and services are primarily for local councils to make. However, we have already guaranteed that no authority will face a cut in grant next year on a like for like basis, and we hope to do better than that when we announce the actual floors and ceilings scheme as part of the provisional settlement.
Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what research was done by his Department into the impact of dispersal and settlement patterns on the cost of providing services in rural areas as part of the local government formula grant review. 
Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister commissioned research into the impact of sparsity, dispersal and settlement patterns as part of the work on the Environmental, Protective & Cultural Services block. In addition other Government departments have undertaken such research covering the services for which they are primarilyresponsible. Officials have also discussed sparsity issues with local government colleagues over the past 18 months in technical groups covering all service blocks. This informed the options put forward in the Formula Grant Review consultation document. We are currently taking decisions on the new system to be implemented following that consultation, and in doing so are considering carefully all of the evidence, pressures and representations that we received, including those from rural areas.
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