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19 Nov 2002 : Column 85Wcontinued
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) full-time and (b) full-time equivalent firefighters there were in (i) Chesham and Amersham and (ii) Buckinghamshire in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Leslie: Statutory responsibility for the provision of fire services rests locally with the fire authority, in this case the Buckinghamsire, and Milton Keynes Fire Authority. The readily available information is as follows.
|Firefighter posts||Firefighter posts|
|31 December 1997||17||12||0||12|
|31 March 1999||14||12||3||12|
|31 March 2000||14||12||0||12|
|31 March 2001||14||12||0||12|
|31 March 2002||14||12||0||12|
|31 December 1997||300||156|
|31 March 1999||305||152|
|31 March 2000||307||151|
|31 March 2001||292||152|
|31 March 2002||304||143|
(22) In full-time equivalents
(23) In units of 24 hour cover
19 Nov 2002 : Column 86W
Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether democratically elected members of an authority have a right to see the inspection team's report following a comprehensive performance assessment of a local authority while awaiting the identification of the final assessment category. 
Mr. Raynsford: The Audit Commission had been charged with developing and implementing the methodology for the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, including a Corporate Assessment. Corporate Assessment tests how the council has established its aims and priorities and how they are succeeding in delivering them.
Once completed, the Corporate Assessment report will be a public document. Prior to publication it is shared with each council, as a confidential draft, in order to rectify any inaccuracies, to permit the authority to provide further evidence or to seek clarification on inspection findings before the report is finalised. All Corporate Assessment reports are then subject to an Audit Commission quality assurance process before they are completed and published. In respecting the confidential nature of the draft, it is a matter for each authority how widely it is shared with officers and elected members.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what level of revenue support grant has been received by the Isle of Wight Council in each of the last five years at 2002 prices (a) in total and (b) per head of population; and what the anticipated figures would be for 200304 under each of his consultative options for reform of the local government finance formula using Treasury inflation assumptions. 
Mr. Raynsford: The tables show the amounts of Revenue Support Grant and redistributed national non-domestic rates, and the total of these two items, for the Isle of Wight in # millions and in 3s per head for the period 199899 to 200203.
19 Nov 2002 : Column 87W
The figures are in real terms, based on the GDP deflator, with 200203 as the base year. The figures are based on the amount of grant actually received by the Isle of Wight for the year concerned, and so do not take into account any changes in function or responsibility.
Figures for 200304 under each of the consultative options could only be provided at disproportionate cost. In all events this would not give an accurate projection for 20034 as the consultative options were illustrated by reference to 20023 and did not incorporate data changes for 20034 which were not then
|RSG||NNDR||RSF plus NNDR|
|RSG||NNDR||RSG plus NNDR|
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 have 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 ceiling scheme as part of the provisional settlement.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what impact changes in the local government formula grant will have on public services delivered by (a) Chiltern District Council and (b) Buckinghamshire County Council. 
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 we
19 Nov 2002 : Column 88W
will use grant Xfloors" to ensure 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.
Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of spending by (a) Buckinghamshire county council and (b) Chiltern district council (i) has been financed by council tax payers in each year since 1 January 1996 and (ii) is to be financed by council tax payers in 200203. 
Mr. Raynsford: The proportions of revenue expenditure financed from the council tax for Buckinghamshire county council and Chiltern district council in the financial years 199596 to 200203 are set out in the following table:
|Year||Buckinghamshire county council(24)||Chiltern district council|
(24) For 199798 onwards this excludes the area of Milton Keynes borough council, which became unitary from 1 April 1997.
(25) 200102 and 200203 are budgeted figures; 199596 to 200101 are outturn figures.
199596 to 200001 Revenue Summary Returns.
200102 and 200203 Budget Estimate Returns.
Mr. Leslie: We have not issued any guidance on the training of parish clerks, although the National Training Strategy has introduced a training package for parish clerks, prepared by the Countryside Agency and NALC. The Government strongly support this initiative and are contributing #2 million over three years.
19 Nov 2002 : Column 89W
government have for parish clerks. The new Training Strategy which has been prepared by the Countryside Agency and NALC, to which the Government is contributing #2 million over three years, reflects the current role of clerks.
Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not made any assessment of the parish clerk workforce recently. However, research undertaken in 1991 for the then Department of Environment sampled 1,000 parish councils in England. The research found that 59 per cent. of all clerks were female and employed part-time. However, this proportion decreases with the increase in the size of the council. The research found that in councils for parishes with a population of over 10,000 only 25 per cent. were female.
19 Nov 2002 : Column 90W
Mr. Leslie: We have not made any assessment of the current workload of parish clerks generally, although in our consultation document XQuality Town and Parish Councils", published on 7 November 2001, we proposed a basis for assessing their competence.
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