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10 Dec 2002 : Column 267W—continued


Area Cost Adjustment

Mr. Todd: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will publish the evidence he employed to choose which areas he has placed within those entitled to area cost adjustment. [86626]

Mr. Leslie: A full methodology guide to the area cost adjustment has been published on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website ( A copy has also been placed in the House of Commons Library.

Asylum Seekers (Rough Sleeping)

Simon Hughes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what arrangements he has made for contact assessment outreach workers in the rough sleepers unit to record the number of destitute asylum seekers sleeping rough. [85815]

Mrs. Roche: Contact and assessment teams funded by local authorities and the Homelessness Directorate already record details of anyone they encounter who is sleeping rough and this will include any destitute asylum seekers.

British-Irish Council

Llew Smith: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on matters discussed and decisions taken at the meeting of the British-Irish Council on 22 November; if he will place in the Library and on his Department's website copies of papers discussed at the Council; and if he will list the Council attendees. [86472]

Mr. Leslie: I refer my hon. Friend to the written statement made by my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister on 4 December 2002, Official Report, column 75W.

Emergency Planning

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what responsibilities he has for emergency planning and the co-ordination of the work of

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emergency planning authorities; and how his exercise of such responsibilities in London differs from that in (a) England and (b) the UK. [84604]

Mr. Leslie: As my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton Itcham stated today, responsibility for the arrangements for co-ordinating the Government's response to major emergencies lies with him.

My right. hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister is represented on the three Cabinet Committees which my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton Itcham mentions and which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield Brightside chairs.

As my right hon. Friend also stated, all Departments have a responsibility to plan, prepare, train and exercise for handling major incidents and emergencies that might occur within their field of responsibility. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is thus responsible for the following areas:

In addition, my right hon. Friend, the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich, has specific responsibility for London resilience. As the capital city, the financial capital and the seat of Government, London is in a unique position, with unique requirements for emergency planning. A new strategic emergency planning regime for the capital, developed in response to the events of 11 September 2001, is headed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich with the Mayor of London as his deputy. This regime co-ordinates the emergency planning work of the London boroughs, transport operators, utilities, London NHS, the emergency services, other civil authorities in London and the business community.

Local Government Reform

Mr. Wood: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact of his proposals for reform of local government on enhancing (a) accountability, (b) openness and (c) probity; and what additional powers and resources will be made available for investigating and addressing complaints and malpractice. [85669]

Mr. Leslie: Building on the reforms in the Local Government Act 2000, which have brought about new council constitutions and established a new ethical framework for local government, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is now implementing the next stage. As set out in our response to the Transport, Local Government and Regional Affairs Committee's report on the draft Local Government Bill, this Bill marks a key stage in the Government's commitment to giving all local authorities new freedoms and flexibilities.

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Already under way is a long-term evaluation study of new council constitutions and the new ethical framework, which will establish the extent to which the reforms achieve the sought-for improvements in local authority efficiency, accountability and transparency.

As to additional measures for investigating and addressing complaints and malpractice, the Government intend in the new year to introduce regulations under the Local Government Act 2000 to provide for the handling by local standards committees of cases of alleged misconduct.

Mobile Phone Network

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he will review his Best Practice guidelines on mobile phone network development to take account of the results of the Deloitte and Touche review of the mobile phone operators' compliance with the 10 commitments; and if he will make a statement; [86571]

Mr. McNulty: The XCode of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development" was published on 11 November this year. The code contains guidance for operators and local authorities on the siting of mobile phone masts and base stations.

The review by Deloitte and Touche, commissioned by the Federation of Electronics Industries (FEI), is a comprehensive assessment on the operators' 10 commitments. The review has not yet been completed; we expect it early next year. Once it has been received, we will then assess the need to review the guidance.

Pathfinder Projects

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much was originally budgeted for each national pathfinder programme in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02; what funds budgeted for were not spent in each year; and whether they were carried forward. [81937]

Mrs. Roche: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 25 November 2002, Official Report, column 118w.

Regional Government (Exmoor)

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the effect of regional government on Exmoor, with special reference to funding for the national park. [86235]

Mr. Leslie: The White Paper XYour Region, Your Choice" (Cm 5511) makes it clear that elected assemblies will only be established in those English regions outside London which choose to have one. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently taking soundings about the level of interest in each region in having a referendum about establishing an elected assembly.

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The White Paper does not propose any changes in the current arrangements for funding National Park Authorities.

Elected regional assemblies will have a responsibility to ensure that countryside, landscape, recreation and rural issues are addressed in their regional strategies (for example regional spatial strategies and regional cultural strategies). They will also be expected to 'rural proof' their activities.

The White Paper invited views on the way in which regional stakeholders should be involved in the work of elected assemblies, and the Government will announce specific proposals in due course. National Park Authorities have been involved in this consultation.

Rent Restructuring

Mr. Coleman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will set out the formula that (a) RSLs and (b) local authorities will need to implement as a minimum to reach the target rents set under his rent restructuring policy for (i) 2003–04, (ii) 2004–05 and (iii) 2005–06. [85679]

Mr. McNulty: Rent restructuring in the social sector aims to produce a fairer and more coherent pattern of rents, while keeping rents affordable and well below market levels. We want social rents to reflect the size, condition and location of properties, as well as the level of local earnings relative to the national average to take account of affordability.

These factors have been included in the following national rents formula, where weekly rent is equal to:

The national rents formula is capped at a maximum level, varying according to the number of bedrooms. This will ensure rents do not rise to unreasonably high levels in high value areas.

Registered social landlords and local authorities are being encouraged to start moving their rents towards the rents formula over a 10 year period from April 2002, in 10 roughly equal steps, while keeping annual rent changes within limits of RPI + ½ per cent. ± #2 per week.

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