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Yvette Cooper: Current planning guidance for all electronic communication developments is set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 8 (revised) (PPG8). The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has also issued a Code of Best Practice on Mobile Phone Network Development and has no plans to change these arrangements at present.
Keith Hill: Local planning authorities can invite a retrospective planning application for unauthorised development where they judge that there are no planning objections to it. Otherwise, authorities have wide ranging enforcement powers to control development undertaken without planning permission.
Keith Hill: When development has been carried out to an acceptable standard, or it can be made acceptable by the imposition of conditions attached to a grant of planning permission, it is reasonable to enable the developer or landowner to obtain permission after the event. The considerations applying in determining a planning application will in general be the same regardless of whether or not the development has taken place.
Keith Hill: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are carrying out a review of the planning enforcement system in England. Retrospective planning applications, including whether any penalties should be imposed, and retrospective planning permission are part of that review. We expect to announce the outcome of the review later this year.
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(3) how many (a) press officers and (b) public relations officers were employed by the Stonebridge Housing Action Trust in each year since 1997; 
(4) how many (a) press officers and (b) public relations officers were employed by the Tower Hamlets Housing Action Trust in each year since 1997. 
Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was created on 29 May 2002. At 1 April 2003 the number of full-time equivalent staff with press or public relations responsibilities in each of the Housing Action Trusts was:
|Full-time equivalent staff|
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which Government-funded bodies other than the Government Offices for the Regions would reduce in size in a region where an elected assembly is established. 
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost of establishing and implementing proposals for elected regional assemblies has been to date; and what his estimate is of the costs for the next financial year. 
Mr. Raynsford: No action has yet been taken to establish or implement proposals for elected regional assemblies and none will be taken in the next financial year. Costs so far have been associated with securing the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003 and enabling referendums in the three northern regions.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the costs of abolishing regional chambers in regions where an elected assembly is established; and how those costs would be met. 
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Mr. Raynsford: It will be for the voluntary regional chambers to decide whether they should abolish themselves. The Government will cease to pay grant to the chambers in regions with elected assemblies as the functions currently supported by grant will transfer to the new assemblies.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will ensure that the size of a central Government grant to an elected regional assembly will require no assembly to precept more than the equivalent of five pence per week for a Band D council tax-payer to cover its administrative costs in its first financial year. 
Mr. Raynsford: The Government has already said in paragraph 5.8 of the White Paper 'Your Region, Your Choice' that "In setting the level of central Government grant, we will expect council tax-payers in any region with an elected regional assembly to contribute the equivalent of around five pence per week for a Band D council tax-payer".
Mr. Raynsford: The regional chambers are voluntary bodies and may receive funding from a variety of sources. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister does not therefore hold information on the South West Regional Assembly's annual budget. This is a question for the Assembly itself.
Since April 2001 the Government has paid grants to South West Regional Assembly totalling £2,626,967 in order for it to undertake scrutiny of the South West Development Agency and (since April 2003) to act as the recognised Regional Planning body for the South West Region.
Mr. Raynsford: During the passage of the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister made commitments to provide information on the referendums to every household in the regions affected. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will make arrangements for printing and delivery once the orders for referendums have been approved by Parliament.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions have taken place, and with whom, on which constituencies are being considered as sites for headquarters of a regional assembly for the North West; and which constituencies are being considered. 
Mr. Raynsford: No such talks have taken place. Paragraph 6.7 of the White Paper 'Your Region, Your Choice' explains that "It will be for an assembly to decide the best way to meet its accommodation requirements, including the location of its headquarters".
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Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many regional assembly members there will be for the (a) North East, (b) Yorkshire and Humberside and (c) Lancashire; and what percentage of the population each will represent. 
Mr. Raynsford: Paragraph 7.7 of the White Paper "Your Region, Your Choice" states that "assemblies should have between 25 and 35 members". The number for each region has not been decided. However, we expect that the North East, as the English region with the smallest population would have an Elected Assembly of 25 members, while Elected Assemblies for Yorkshire and Humber and the North West would have between 30 and 35 members each.
Paragraph 6.13 of the White Paper explains that the Government will "ask the Electoral Commission to advise on the boundaries of constituencies within regions that vote for elected regional assemblies" and the powers to do this are in the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total number of staff working in the Government Office for the Regions is; how many of those staff have been transferred to the Government Office for the Regions from other Government Departments; and how many have been recruited from outside Government Departments. 
Yvette Cooper: The total number of staff currently working for the nine Government Offices is 2,742. In addition there are about 100 secondees from the private, voluntary and community and other public sector bodies. All permanent staff working in Government Offices are employed by one of the Departments which conduct business through them.
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