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12 Dec 2002 : Column 488Wcontinued
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if it is his policy that local community and strategic partnerships should be subject to Local Authorities (Admission to Assets) legislation. 
Mr. Leslie: Local Strategic Partnerships are non-statutory bodies, entirely separate from local authorities. LSPs which register as companies limited by guarantee will be subject to the rules and procedures that apply to such companies.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many malicious fires were recorded in (a) Derbyshire and (b) Chesterfield in each year since 1992, broken down by (i) categories of dwellings, (ii) other buildings, (iii) road vehicles and (iv) other locations. 
Mr. Leslie: The following table contains information on the number of malicious fires attended by local authority fire brigades in Derbyshire in each year between 1992 and 2000 (the latest year for which data are available). Malicious fires are those where malicious or deliberate ignition was proved or suspected (this includes fires which were recorded by the brigade as Xdoubtful"). Incident data are not available below brigade area level.
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|Total||Single occupancy||Multiple occupancy||Other or unspecified||Other buildings||Road vehicles||Other|
(28) Including late call heat and smoke damage incidents (not recorded prior to 1994).
(29) From 1994 onwards figures are based on sampled data weighted to true brigade totals.
(30) Figures are rounded and the components do not necessarily sum to the independently rounded totals.
(31) A small number of late call heat and smoke damage incidents were not recorded in 1995.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether an environmental impact assessment is required for applications to amend planning permissions where such an assessment (a) was required and (b) would have been required had it not predated the introduction of environmental impact assessments. 
Mr. McNulty: Applications to vary a condition attached to a planning permission are subject to the same requirements as other planning applications for the purposes of environmental impact assessment (EIA). For certain types of project EIA is mandatory. For others, EIA is required if the project meets prescribed criteria and the planning authority considers that it is likely to have significant effects on the environment. This applies to applications to vary a permission regardless of whether EIA was required for the original permission or whether that permission predated the introduction of EIA.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if the research being conducted by Nathaniel Litchfield and Partners to assess the implementation of PPG3 was commissioned through open tender; what the cost is of this research; and what assessment of possible conflicts of interest was made. 
Mr. McNulty: The tendering exercise and award process were carried out in accordance with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's procurement guidelines. The intention to carry out the work was advertised in the Planning Research Newsletter. Six companies from those submitting a formal expression of interest were invited to tender and three were interviewed. Nathaniel Litchfield and Partners Limited were awarded the contract on a tender price of #59,895 because of team composition, experience, cost and overall value for money. No conflicts of interest were identified.
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of local government structure in areas which give a positive reaction to holding a referendum on regional assemblies. 
Mr. Leslie: The Government launched a consultation on draft guidance to the Boundary Committee for England on 2 December 2002. Should the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill become law, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister would then decide in which region or regions there should be a local government review. A review is likely to take around nine to 12 months to complete.
Mr. Evans: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many letters he has had (a) in support of and (b) in opposition to the establishment of a regional assembly in (i) Yorkshire and the Humber, (ii) the South East, (iii) the South West, (iv) the East of England, (v) the West Midlands, (vi) the East Midlands and (vii) the North West; what his estimate is of the cost of a referendum on regional government in each of those regions; what research he has commissioned into the likely outcome of a referendum on regional government in each of those regions; and what his estimate is of the cost of local government reorganisation in each region should regional government be established. 
Mr. Leslie: The White Paper XYour Region, Your Choice" was not a consultation exercise, except on the issue of stakeholder involvement with elected regional assemblies, and therefore did not invite views either for or against the principle of establishing assemblies. However, between the dates of 9 May 2002, when the White Paper was published, and 30 November 2002, we recorded 1,200 written and e-mailed pieces of correspondence on the subject of elected regional assemblies. Of those which can be identified by region, responses were identified as follows:
18 in favour, 142 opposed and 56 either undecided or expressing mixed views in the South East;
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11 in favour, 35 opposed and 23 either undecided or expressing mixed views in the East of England;
16 in favour, 165 opposed and 19 either undecided or expressing mixed views in the West Midlands;
7 in favour, 27 opposed and 14 either undecided or expressing mixed views in the East Midlands; and
29 in favour, 45 opposed and 34 either undecided or expressing mixed views in the North West.
In addition, we have received 2,333 cut-out coupons as part of a campaign organised by Conservative MEPs in the South East opposing an elected regional assembly in the region, and 1,595 postcards as part of a campaign organised by the Cornish Constitutional convention in support of a referendum for a Cornish Assembly.
No research has been commissioned into the likely outcome of a referendum on regional government in each region. But the Government launched a soundings exercise on 2 December to find out the level of interest in each English region in holding a referendum on establishing an elected regional assembly. Views, information and evidence have been requested by 3 March 2003 and will inform the Secretary of State's consideration of the level of interest in each region in holding a referendum.
It is not possible, at this stage, to make an estimate of the cost of local government reorganisation in each region, as much will depend on the precise details of the structure and boundary changes proposed by the Boundary Committee following the local government reviews.
Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no plans to end the Right to Buy scheme, but sees difficulties with some aspects of the way in which the scheme is operating. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is looking at what can be done to tackle abuses and at the effects of the scheme in areas of high demand for housing.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received from the Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty on wind farms in areas of outstanding natural beauty. 
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Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is aware that the Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty has recently published a position statement on wind farms in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister welcomes the interest shown by all parties including the Association in the land use planning issues involved in the siting of any development, including wind farms, in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
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