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2 Dec 2002 : Column 641Wcontinued
Tim Loughton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many letters he has received from (a) local authorities, (b) service providers and (c) service users regarding the implementation of the Supporting People strategy. 
Mr. McNulty: The implementation of the Supporting People programme has been designed as a participatory process involving representatives from local authorities and service providers as well as prospective service users from an early stage. Forums for communication, including email and telephone helplines, an online discussion area, regular stakeholder meetings and organised conference events are built into the programme development model. As a result the implementation team receives and responds to huge volume of correspondence by letter, email, telephone and other media covering a wide-range of implementation issues. This approach to implementation has proved effective in bringing key-stakeholders into the programme development process but due to the volume of correspondence dealt with and the diverse issues that it covers it is not possible to provide a breakdown of the overall figures in the format requested.
Sue Doughty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the sustainability strategy is for his Department; and if he will make a statement on how it has changed since the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. 
2 Dec 2002 : Column 642W
Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister makes a significant contribution to the UK's pursuit of sustainable development through our aim of thriving, inclusive and sustainable communities in all regions. In addition to this, work is under way to assess what mechanisms could be employed to ensure that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister continues to improve its contribution to sustainable development. This work will take on board the outcomes of the Johannesburg Summit.
Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister for what reason the Office of Government Commerce's Green Public Private Partnerships guide makes no reference to the Government requirement that all timber should be procured from legal and sustainable sources; and if he will require the guide to be amended to reflect Government policy. 
Mr. Leslie: The function of the Green Public Private Partnerships guide is to raise awareness of sustainability issues in a PPP context, and to direct project managers towards appropriate sources of advice and practical help.
Annex A of the guide provides advice on materials, drawing specific attention to the Government's timber policy. Detailed advice on the application of the policy is set out in the key guidance documents that project managers are referred to at paragraph 2.3 of the guide.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the costs will be of setting up the new Valuation Tribunal Service; what the running cost will be each year; and how many employees it will have. 
Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is establishing the Valuation Tribunal Service (VTS) to provide central direction to Valuation Tribunals (VTs), to help spread best practice, strengthen corporate identity and capacity and improve customer service. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is still working on the details but currently estimates that the set-up costs will be no more than a few hundred thousand pounds, and a similar annual amount for additional running costs. This expenditure will be met from the existing baseline for Valuation Tribunals through savings already achieved through rationalisation of staff and offices plus further savings which will result from the dissolution of the non statutory Valuation Tribunal Management Board and its fora.
VTs currently employ around 165 staff and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no plans for that to change except for the recruitment of a small number of HQ staff. Future staffing requirements will be a matter for the VTS to determine. It will want to take into account its workload and the impact of the Non Domestic Rates revaluation in 2005, the Council Tax revaluation in 2007 and other matters relating to the efficient management of the service.