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Fire Service (Shrewsbury)

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact his plans for modernisation of the Fire Service would have on Shrewsbury fire station, with particular reference to manning levels. [93114]

Mr. Raynsford: The Independent Review of the Fire Service led by Sir George Bain set out proposals for the reform of the Fire Service. The Government believe that reform will create a Fire Service that is better, safer and will save more lives. The Government will respond in detail to the recommendations in the Independent Review in a Fire White Paper later this year.

The Independent Review recommended a new approach to fire cover, based on a thorough assessment of life threatening risks. Under this new approach, the deployment of firefighters would be for Fire Authorities and Chief Fire Officers to consult on locally, in the light of new advice which the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will issue for consultation in the near future.

Housing (Pendle and Burnley)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many houses in (a) Pendle and (b) Burnley are (i) abandoned, (ii) empty and (iii) unfit. [96595]

Mr. McNulty: Figures on abandonment are not collected centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, preparatory work undertaken in Pendle and Burnley as part of the East Lancashire housing market renewal pathfinder will improve levels of data on a range of issues, including abandonment. Latest reported information on the total number of empty and unfit dwellings is presented as follows:

Numbers of vacant and unfit dwellings as at 1 April 2002

Vacant dwellingsUnfit dwellings


ODPM Housing Investment Programme HS Statistical Appendix 2002

Housing Corporation RSR returns 2002

Housing Corporation

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the administrative costs of the Housing Corporation were for 2001–02. [95621]

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Mr. McNulty: The amount of expenditure incurred by the Housing Corporation on administration in 2001–02 was £34.1 million. The corporation's administrative budget in the current year was originally set at £34.16 million.

Housing Policy

Mrs. Calton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans there are to review housing policy to meet the needs of disabled children. [96313]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has already introduced a number of policies which will help to meet the needs of disabled children. On 10 February I announced a substantial increase in next year's budget for Disabled Facilities Grant to £99 million, an increase of £11 million over this year. Jointly with the Department of Health, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also issued new draft guidance on how a housing adaptations service for disabled people can be more effectively delivered by local authorities.

Under the Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 local authorities now have a new discretionary power which will enable financial assistance to be given to help a disabled person purchase another home, where this is more cost-effective than adapting the existing home.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also has a target to ensure that by 2010 all houses in the social sector are of a decent standard and to increase the proportion of vulnerable households in the private sector who live in decent housing.'Vulnerable' has been defined to include families with disabled children.

Recent changes to building regulations mean that new houses must now be designed to manage more easily the needs of a family which includes a disabled person.

The Supporting People programme, which goes live on 1 April 2003, will also help to ensure that the housing related support needs of households with disabled children are appropriately met.

Local Government Funding

Gregory Barker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what plans he has to meet a cross-party delegation from East Sussex county council to discuss the Local Government Finance settlement for the county; [96261]

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Mr. Raynsford: Since the beginning of the Formula Grant Review consultation period on 8 July, the following local authorities, groups and associations have been met as part of stated consultation periods:

Since the announcement of the Provisional Settlement on 5 December, the following authorities have been met:

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No authorities have been met since the announcement of the Final Settlement on 5 February 2003 to discuss the local government funding formula.

East Sussex met with the Minister of State, my right hon. Friend the Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Mrs. Roche) on 14 January 2003 as part of the local government finance settlement consultation. There are currently no further plans to meet with them.

North West Regional Assembly

Mr. George Osborne: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the North West Regional Assembly's Sandings inquiry into the view of the public in the North West on elected regional government has received central Government funding. [97227]

Mr. Raynsford: The North West Regional Assembly are not undertaking a soundings inquiry. As with other organisations in the region, the North West Regional Assembly has been invited to respond to the Government's soundings exercise. No specific funding has been provided for this purpose.

Parish Councillors

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what powers district monitoring officers have in respect of suspending parish councillors from their duties. [97200]

Mr. Leslie: Monitoring officers of district councils do not have any such powers, which under the Local Government Act 2000 lie with case tribunals formed by members of the Adjudication Panel, or may, by regulations be conferred on a council's standards committee.

Private Landlords

Lynne Jones: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will publish the results of the consultation on selective licensing of private landlords. [94723]

Mr. McNulty: As announced in the Queen's Speech, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister aims to publish a draft Housing Bill this session. The provisions in the Bill will include powers for local authorities to introduce the selective licensing of private sector landlords targeted primarily at areas of low housing demand. The nature of these proposed powers follows on from the consultation exercise in late 2001.

The draft Bill will itself be subject to further public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny.

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