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8 Dec 2003 : Column 346Wcontinued
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister in relation to Stage 1 of the Special Grants Programme from his Department for 200405, if he will (a) list the recipients and (b) the value of all grants awarded. 
Yvette Cooper: No grants are awarded at Stage 1 of the Special Grants Programme. A number of Stage 1 applicants are prioritised and invited to submit full Stage 2 applications. Grants are awarded after Stage 2 applications have been appraised. The list of successful applicants and the amount awarded to each is published each year on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's website. Successful applications to the 200405 competition will be announced early in 2004.
Mr. Hayes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how many renewal areas have been established by local authorities in each of the last 10 years; and how many renewal areas were established between 18 July 2002 and 18 July 2003; 
Keith Hill: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister records show that the following number of renewal areas were declared in each of the last 10 years:
|Number of renewal areas declared|
The Regulatory Reform (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 repealed the requirement for local authorities to send their declaration of renewal areas to my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister from 18 July 2002. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister therefore does not hold a record of the number of renewal areas declared after 18 July 2002.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has recently received on the funding settlement for (a) North Yorkshire county council and (b) district councils in North Yorkshire. 
Phil Hope: Since the start of consultation on the provisional local government finance settlement 200405 on 19 November the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has received a representation from North Yorkshire county council and one from Scarborough borough council.
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The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's proposals for the funding of local authority revenue spending provide local government overall with a 4.7 per cent. increase in general grant or, a like for like basis. This is the seventh successive year of real terms increases for local government and means that since 1997, we have increased grants to local authorities by some 29 per cent. in real terms.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will estimate the cost of (a) setting up and (b) the annual manning of a regional assembly. 
Mr. Raynsford: The information is as follows:
(a) The actual cost of setting-up an elected regional assembly will vary from region to region, mainly because of the different sizes of their electorates and membership. It is expected to be around £30 million in each region. This estimate includes all costs necessary to establish an assembly, including the cost of referendums, local government reviews and the first elections.
(b) The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister estimates that each assembly would cost around £25 million a year to run. But £5 million of this cost will be directly offset because staff will be transferring from existing bodies such as the region's Government Office. The remaining costs could be absorbed within the assembly's programme budget through efficiency savings of around 5 per cent. or less in larger regions.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to publish the full list of (a) powers and (b) functions of the proposed regional assemblies. 
Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published the Regional Governance White Paper, Your Region, Your Choice Revitalising the English Regions in May 2002. This set out our proposals for elected regional assemblies for regions that chose to have them. The powers and functions of assemblies were set out in full in the White Paper.
The Fire White Paper, "Our Fire and Rescue Service", published in June of this year, announced that responsibility for the fire and rescue service will transfer to a regional level in regions that choose to have an elected assembly.
We hope to publish a draft Bill to establish elected regional assemblies before the referendums take place next autumn in the North East, the North West and Yorkshire and the Humber.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to set a minimum percentage participation threshold in referendums for regional assemblies for the result to be acted upon; and if he will make a statement. 
Phil Hope: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 11 November 2003, Official Report, column 256W.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister in what circumstances the referendums on regional assemblies would be held after October 2004. 
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Mr. Raynsford: It is the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's firm intention to hold referendums in the three northern regions in the autumn of 2004. But before that can happen, the Boundary Committee for England must make its recommendations on restructuring the local government of two tier areas in those regions and Parliament must approve Orders under sections 1 and 2 of the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003.
Sections 103 and 109 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 mean that there will need to be at least 10 weeks between the Orders being approved and the referendums being held.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps he will take to maximise turnout in the proposed regional assembly referendums. 
Phil Hope: The regional assembly referendums are being held by all-postal ballot. Recent all-postal ballots pilots in local government elections have produced increased turnout.
The Electoral Commission is empowered under the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003 to encourage voting.
My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government, Regional Governance and Fire launched an information campaign in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humber on the 3 and 4 November. The purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness of the referendums and the issues around them. Further events will be held over the next year. Referendums websites have been established for each of the regions and copies of our explanatory leaflet will be widely available.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what events he plans to hold in East Lancashire to promote the benefits of a North West Regional Assembly. 
Phil Hope: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government, Regional Governance and Fire launched the 'Your Say' information campaign for the North West in Warrington on 4 November. This was the start of a continuing information campaign to raise awareness of elected regional assemblies and the responsibilities that they will have, before the referendums.
Ministers will visit the North West, including East Lancashire, to continue this awareness raising information campaign.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects the Electoral Commission to decide on the level of grant to award to designated organisations representing both sides in the regional assembly referendums. 
Phil Hope: This is a matter for the Electoral Commission.
Mr. Spring: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the sources of funding are for street warden schemes in Suffolk; and how much funding is being received by each source in 200304. 
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Yvette Cooper: Street warden schemes can be funded from a number of sources such as the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's warden programme, local authorities, housing associations and businesses. Suffolk's two street warden schemes, in Bury St. Edmunds and Lowestoft, and Ipswich have been allocated funding for 200304 from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of £121,000 and £53,000 respectively. Match funding comes from Suffolk county council, St. Edmundsbury borough council and the local CDRP and Ipswich local authority.
Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what action the Green Minister in his Department is taking to ensure that his bid to the forthcoming Government spending round contributes towards the United Kingdom's objectives on sustainable development. 
Phil Hope: Sustainable development has been identified by Her Majesty's Treasury (HMT) as a key thematic issue for SR2004. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's submission for SR2004, to support the creation of sustainable communities, will be framed in that context.
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