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Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the (a) regional chambers and (b) local authorities which have an office situated outside the United Kingdom; what the annual expenditure of each was since 1997; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Raynsford: There are offices in Brussels representing each of the English regions. Some of them have been established for many years. They represent a range of regional and local interests. The lead organisation for the office and the interests it represents varies from region to region.
The Local Government Association has an office in Brussels and there are also offices for the counties of Cheshire, Essex, Kent, and Lancashire. Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and West Sussex have a shared office.
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Mr. Raynsford: The composition of the voluntary regional chambers is a matter for each chamber. However they are designated under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 as representative regional bodies to scrutinise the plans and activities of the regional development agencies. To meet the criteria for designation and receipt of grant their membership needs to be representative of the range of views and interests within the region. The Government expect at least 30 per cent. of Assembly members to come from stakeholder groups, including representative of business, trades unions, environmental, consumer and other groups.
Mr. Raynsford: The proportion will vary slightly between regional chambers but in order to be designated under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 as representative regional bodies must not exceed 70 per cent. of the total membership.
Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not record such information. It is up to each regional chamber to decide its own membership within the guidelines that, for designation, at least 30 per cent. of members must come from stakeholder groups.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what (a) progress has been made and (b) resources have been allocated to the Supporting People programme in (i) Redbridge and (ii) Waltham Forest; and if he will make a statement. 
Keith Hill: Last October, the Government announced funding of £1.8 billion for 200304 financial year for the Supporting People programme in England of which Redbridge was awarded £4,466,479 and Waltham Forest £7,934,650.
The Government also announced an independent review of the Supporting People programme to gain a full picture of how the funding is being utilised. The Government have now received a report from the independent review team and are carefully considering its content. A response will be published in due course, and in time for local authorities to plan their 200405 budgets.
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Mr. Purchase: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister further to HB/CTB circular S9/2003 paragraphs 4651, whether he is planning any consultation with local authorities on the ways in which the Transitional Protection Scheme will operate in 200405 and 200506; if he will provide exemplifications to local authorities before 1 January 2004 setting out the potential financial implications for 200405 and 200506 at an individual authority level of the transitional protection scheme; and what guidance the Government will be providing to individual local authorities. 
Transitional protection will limit the impact of the change in the housing benefit/council tax benefit subsidy regime from April 2004. The financial implications will not be known until authorities have their subsidy claims audited, after the end of the year. It will then be possible to compare the difference in subsidy under the old and new subsidy regimes.
HB/CTB circular S9/2003, a copy of which is available in the Library, gave an outline of the new subsidy scheme. Further guidance for authorities on how the transitional protection scheme will operate will
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be provided in the near future. This will provide further advice and information which will enable authorities to estimate possible gains/losses under the new subsidy system and consequently whether they may be affected by the transitional protection arrangements.
Since 1996 pay bargaining below the Senior Civil Service has been delegated to individual departments and agencies. Where disputes in departments and agencies exist it is a matter for the relevant department's management and their trade unions to resolve.