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15 Dec 2003 : Column 744W—continued

Brighton and Hove Albion

Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which directors of Brighton and Hove Albion football club (a) he has and (b) other Ministers in his Department have met since 1 January 2002; and if he will make a statement. [142431]

Yvette Cooper: Pursuant to my answer of 8 December 2003, Official Report, column 342W, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister met Derek Chapman, Managing Director of Adenstar Construction Group, when he opened Adenstar's new offices in Portslade, Hove on 13 May 2003. My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, was not made aware until last week that Mr. Chapman was a Director of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club.

Civil Servants (Secondment)

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether it is standard practice for civil servants from his Department who are seconded to other organisations to write a report to record their experiences and achievements during their secondment on their return from the secondment. [142389]

Yvette Cooper: The Office recognises the importance of setting objectives for each secondment and for evaluating the experiences and achievements of each secondee.

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The standard terms and conditions covering outward secondments require the secondee to "provide a brief report on their work".

Reports are either verbal or written. Before secondees are posted within the Office on their return discussions are held to identify the skills and knowledge they have acquired during the secondment to ensure that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister benefits from these.

Council Housing Lists

Mr. Steen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will take steps to allow parity of access to council housing lists between council officials and elected councillors. [143850]

Keith Hill: The Homelessness Act 2002 made changes to the legislation governing the allocation of accommodation by local authorities (Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996) which came into force on 31 January this year. As a result, local authorities can exclude persons the housing waiting list in only very limited circumstances: namely, if they are certain persons from abroad (who are ineligible for an allocation) or if the authority has determined that they have been guilty of unacceptable behaviour serious enough to make them unsuitable to be a tenant (who may be treated as ineligible).

Elected councillors are bound by the Local Authorities Model Code of Conduct (SI 2001 No. 3575). This does not restrict members' access to housing waiting lists, but does require them to register any interest that they have in land within the authority's area (including tenancies of council property). The Code also requires members to ensure that they do not use their position as a member improperly, to confer on or secure for themselves an advantage or disadvantage, or do anything that compromises the impartiality of those who work for the authority.

Council Tax

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what powers, in addition to existing age specific means-tested concessions on council tax, local or billing authorities have to offer discretionary council tax concessions to those over the age of 75. [143992]

Mr. Raynsford: The Local Government Act 2003 provides a power for local billing authorities to offer a locally defined council tax discount if they wish on an individual basis, or for a class of council tax payer. This new power came into force on 18 November 2003. More generally local authorities may also be able to use their "well being" power under section 2 of the Local Government Act 2000. It is for local authorities to decide how they use such discretionary powers.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on council tax bands for properties built after 1991. [143637]

Mr. Raynsford: For property built after 1991, council tax valuations are based on an estimate of the price the property would have fetched if it had existed and been sold on 1 April 1991.

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Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what advice his Department gives to local councils on the banding for council tax purposes of homes built after 1991. [143638]

Mr. Raynsford: The Valuation Office Agency is responsible for the banding of homes for council tax purposes. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister therefore gives no advice to local councils on this matter.

Decent Homes Standard

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what impact he estimates the Inland Revenue's ruling of 24 October will have on the standard of housing in (a) South Norfolk and (b) Newton Abbot; [143744]

Jim Dobbin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of the Inland Revenue's ruling of 24 October on the standard of housing in (a) Bromsgrove, (b) Skipton, (c) Letchworth, (d) Maidstone and (e) Hereford, with particular reference to funds available to spend on housing stock; [144162]

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Keith Hill: It will be for each local authority and registered social landlord to consider the implications on their local circumstances and in particular on their decent home delivery plan of the Inland Revenue's preliminary opinion. While there might be slight delays in any particular transfer it is unlikely this will impact on either the standard of housing or an authority's short-to-medium term housing policy.

Departmental Costs

Mr. Stringer: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost has been so far of the information campaign, Elected Regional Assembly: Your Say; what the total budget is; and what the cost for each of the three regions in which referendums are to be held has been so far. [143914]

Mr. Raynsford: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) on 11 November 2003, Official Report, column 259W.

Departmental Spending

Norman Baker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much his Department has spent on the acquisition of works of art in each year since 1997, broken down by amounts spent on (a) paintings and (b) sculpture; what the single most expensive piece of art purchased by his Department since 1997 has been; how much it cost; and what the total revenue raised by his Department through sales of works of art has been since 1997. [142357]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was created 29 May 2002. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not spent any money purchasing works of art, and has sold none. As with previous Administrations, Government Departments are supplied Art work by the Government Art Collection (GAC) on a loan basis.


Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the level of deprivation was in each local authority in England in each year since 1997. [143001]

Yvette Cooper: Since 1997, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and it's predecessor Department have published two Indices of Deprivation—the Index of Local Deprivation in 1998 and the Indices of Deprivation 2000. Tables containing the rankings for each local authority district in England for both years are available in the Libraries of the House.

These two Indices are not directly comparable. The methodology for measuring deprivation was completely changed in 2000 and the range of indicators were extended in 2000 from 12 to 33.

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