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6 Mar 2003 : Column 1191W—continued

Local Government Grant Settlement

Harry Cohen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the six per cent. real terms increase in the local government grant settlement equates to in cash terms; how much has been distributed to local authorities in cash terms under the settlement; and if he will make a statement on the purposes for which the difference between the two sums will be used. [101020]

Mr. Raynsford: The local government finance settlement for 2003–04 distributed £43,894 million of formula grant, made up of revenue support grant, redistributed business rates, and police grant. That is £2,449 million or 5.9 per cent. more in cash terms than was distributed in 2002–03. It is for local authorities to decide how they spend this increased grant. On top of that, there will be increases in specific and special grant, bringing the overall increase over 2002–03 to £3,819 million or eight per cent. in cash terms. Some of these grants are ring-fenced to particular purposes.

Parish Councillors

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many parish councillors have declined to sign the model code of conduct since November 2001. [101218]

Mr. Leslie: The Standards Board and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have been directly informed of 95 resignations by parish councillors unwilling to accept the code of conduct, out of an estimated total of some 70,000 parish councillors. There is no requirement for local authority members to inform the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of resignations, for whatever reason.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what right of appeal parish councillors have if suspended from their duties by an adjudication panel. [101219]

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Mr. Leslie: Where a case tribunal of the adjudication panel decides that a parish councillor has failed to comply with the code of conduct, that councillor may appeal to the High Court.

Residential Care (Funding)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what account is taken in the Supporting People budget for re-allocation of funding between those local authorities who choose to place residents in other local authorities for the purposes of residential care. [100541]

Mr. McNulty: Supporting People funding is paid to the authority that is actually contracting to provide Supporting People services in its area, irrespective of Social Services arrangements concerning 'usual' residency.

Starter Homes Initiative

Mr. Horam: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the next round of the Starter Homes Initiative will begin. [100454]

Mr. McNulty: The Starter Homes Initiative runs until 2004. From 2004–05, funding for the provision of key worker housing for rent and home ownership will be integrated into the Housing Corporation's main affordable housing programme. Funding will be allocated for this in the light of advice from Regional Housing Boards. The Housing Corporation expects to invite bids for key worker housing schemes at the same time as bids for other affordable housing schemes, around September 2003.

Sustainable Communities Plan

Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether an environmental appraisal has been undertaken for the Sustainable Communities Plan. [100365]

Mr. McNulty: No overall Environmental Impact Assessment was carried out for "Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future", as this document covers a number of areas and delivery agendas. However, Environmental Impact Assessments will be carried out for the individual elements where appropriate, at a suitable point in the delivery process.


"Getting Ahead of the Curve"

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether a formal assessment was made of the resource neutrality of organisational changes set out in "Getting Ahead of the Curve". [95867]

Ms Blears: "Getting Ahead of the Curve" stated that the proposed changes would be cost neutral in terms of public expenditure—that is, the ongoing costs of the Health Protection Agency (HPA) would be met from the funding already made available to the Department of Health—and in particular to those entities transferring to the HPA—via the spending review 2002. It was recognised in the consultation document,

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published in June 2002, that there might be some short-term transitional costs in establishing the HPA, which would also be met from within existing resources.

"Primary Care" Magazine

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost of (a) producing and (b) distributing Primary Care magazine is; and how many copies have been circulated of each issue in the last 12 months. [100503]

Mr. Lammy: NHS Magazine now has two editions, each issued 10 times a year. NHS Magazine is distributed to around 27,000 senior staff in acute and secondary health care teams. Primary Care Magazine is distributed to around 31,000 staff in primary health care teams.

Production and distribution costs can be different for different issues, depending on content, advertising revenue and whether any specific staff groups are being sent material of specific interest. Costs for each issue are reduced by income from advertising.

The normal average costs of production and distribution are shown in table 1. The number of copies of each issue circulated in the last 12 months is shown in table 2.

Table 1

NHS MagazinePrimary Care Magazine
Total (gross)62,38646,376
Income from advertising7,9007,900
Total (net)54,48638,476

Table 2

MonthNHS MagazinePrimary Care Magazine
February 200235,89226,166
March 200235,74526,080
April 200230,83630,919
May 200229,09231,387
June 200226,91931,921
July 200226,82631,926
August 2002n/an/a
September 200227,26632,364
October 200227,19932,319
December 200227,17332,177
January 2003n/an/a
February 2003(9)34,485(9)35,366

(9) Includes bulk copies distributed to workforce development confederations; this issue contained a personal development supplement.

Age Diversity in Employment

Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when his Department completed its diagnostic review for compliance with the Government's Code of Practice for Age Diversity in Employment; and what changes his Department plans to make following the review. [99418]

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Mr. Lammy: The Department took steps to embed the provisions of the Government's code of practice on age diversity in employment when it integrated age into its equal opportunity policies in accordance with the performance and innovation unit's "Winning the Generation Game" report. The Department is fully committed to ensuring that older people are never unfairly discriminated against.

A diagnostic review of progress was completed in February 2003. A number of recommendations are currently being discussed with the Department's trade unions.

Alcohol Strategy

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the responses from the consultation on the National Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy. [100535]

Ms Blears: The Cabinet Office Strategy Unit and the Department of Health carried out a joint consultation on the National Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy. The consultation ran from 15 October 2002 to 15 January 2003 and the results will be published shortly on both the Strategy Unit and the Department of Health websites.


Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Government will issue health warnings about the use of aspartame in food. [100720]

Ms Blears: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that they have no plans to issue health warnings about the use of aspartame in food.

Mr. Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent review has been undertaken of the safety of aspartame. [100766]

Ms Blears: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that the European Commission's Scientific Committee on Food published its updated opinion on aspartame on 10 December 2002. Following a review of all the data available to date, the Committee reiterated its previous advice that aspartame is safe for use. The Committee also concluded that there is no need to revise the previously established acceptable daily intake calculation for aspartame of 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the cost to the NHS in each of the last five years of asylum seekers (a) in Greater London and (b) in England. [101251]

Ms Blears: National Health Service funding is allocated direct to 303 primary care trusts to secure health services for the local population, including asylum seekers. There are no separate records of services provided to asylum seekers.

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