|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
3 Dec 2002 : Column 708Wcontinued
Mr. Leslie: Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Minister's visits overseas. Details of travel during the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 was published on 24 July 2002, Official Report, columns 137475W. Copies of the list are available in the Libraries of the House.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister only came into existence in June this year following Machinery of Government changes. The former Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions expenditure on official travel was £6.6 million. For agencies now sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, total expenditure was £4.1 million.
For 200203, the Office's official travel budget is included in the overall administration resource budget. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's agencies budgets for official travel in 200203 is £4.4 million.
3 Dec 2002 : Column 709W
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister for what reason the proposal in the draft Local Government Bill to merge new domestic rates and rates support grant has been dropped in the published Bill. 
Mr. Leslie: The draft Bill proposed the merger of Revenue Support Grant (RSG) and redistributed national non-domestic rates (NNDR) into a single grant stream. The intended purpose was to simplify the grant distribution mechanism by paying the combined total of central government unhypothecated grant support for local authorities and the amount of support raised via business rates using a single basis of distribution. The Government believed that this change would make the grant system more transparent and easier for stakeholders to understand.
A number of local authority responses to the consultation on the draft Bill agreed that the proposed changes would simplify the grant distribution system. However the overwhelming majority of consultation responses argued that the two funding streams should not be merged. The Select Committee also recommend against the proposed merger.
Having considered carefully all the consultation responses and the views of the Select Committee, the Government decided to not to proceed with the merger because it evidently did not achieve the desired objective of improving the clarity of the grant distribution system.
Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has received a small number of representations about various aspects of the work done by the Standards Board. Having recently met the chairman of the Standards Board I have full confidence in the board and in the actions it is taking as a wholly independent body to fulfil the role which it was given by the Local Government Act 2000 of promoting high standards of conduct in local authorities.
Mr. McNulty: The priorities of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for assistance under the Starter Home Initiative are teachers, police, nurses and other essential health workers. This reflects the importance which the Government attaches to addressing recruitment and retention problems in the key public services of health, education and policing. The number of key workers being helped in each of these groups was informed by the overall number of key workers in each
3 Dec 2002 : Column 710W
group, the scale of shortages and the ability of individuals in each group to access home ownership. A few other groups of key workers are also receiving assistance through the Initiative in the light of bids received.
Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average residential density was of housing developments in the London part of the Thames Gateway that received planning permission in the last two years; and what estimate he has made of the average residential density of new housing developments in the London part of the Thames Gateway which will be needed to secure 50,000 new dwelling units within that area over the next 15 years. 
Mr. McNulty: The information requested is not held centrally, and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. The average density of developments completed between 1997 and 2000 in the boroughs that make up the London part of the Thames Gateway, as defined by RPG9a, are:
|Borough||Dwellings per hectare|
|Barking and Dagenham||43|
Guidance on future levels of housing provision for these boroughs, up to 2016, is set out in the emerging London Plan (Spatial Development Strategy). The London Plan, once finalised, will provide the strategic planning framework for London.
The draft London Plan also contains policies directed at maximising the potential of sites. The emerging strategic policy framework for residential density is that in urban and central areas, densities of between 50 and 275 units per hectare should be provided. For suburban areas the density range should be between 30 and 65 units per hectare.
Mr. Christopher Chope: To ask the Prime Minister (1) how many hon. Members have been invited to bring children from their constituencies to a tea party at 10 Downing Street; how many have accepted; and what criteria are applied to choosing invitees; 
3 Dec 2002 : Column 711W
The Prime Minister: Hon. Members from all parties are invited on a rolling programme to nominate and accompany a small group of children from their constituencies to have tea at 10 Downing Street and a small group of adults from their constituencies to come for a tour of the House. The criteria applied are that selection is made by the hon. Member in a fair and open way for children and adults with a particular interest in visiting 10 Downing Street. Since 1998 approximately 340 MPs have accepted invitations for children to come for tea and 95 MPs have accepted invitations for tours of the House.
The Prime Minister: Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Details of travel undertaken during the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 was published on 24 July 2002, Official Report, columns 137475W. The cost of Ministers' visits overseas for 20022003 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|