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Mr. Raynsford: The Local Government Act 1974 sets out the procedures which the Commission for Local Administration in England (the local government ombudsman) must follow in carrying out his investigations. Anyone who has a concern about the outcome of their complaint to the ombudsman, or the manner in which their complaint has been dealt with by the ombudsman's staff, can contact the ombudsman's office. The matter will then be considered by a senior member of staff, usually the deputy ombudsman. If the concern is about the actions of the ombudsman himself then the matter would be considered by the ombudsman. If he is unable to satisfy the concern raised, then the complainant can pursue in the courts an allegation of failure to carry out an investigation in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment for the Kensington New Deal for Communities area and the Elm Park neighbourhood of Liverpool will be published; and if he will make a copy available in the Library. 
Phil Hope: The Regulatory Reform Order 2002 introduced greater flexibility for all local authorities in tackling private sector housing renewal. It also removed the need for the Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister, to approve the declaration of renewal areas. It is understood that the neighbourhood renewal assessments for Kensington including Elm Park are under consideration by Liverpool city council. Information on this is available on the council's website.
Paul Holmes: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many times the appraisal system for each pay bargaining unit in his Department has been changed in the last five years; and how many staff are fully or partly employed in connection with pay negotiations in each pay bargaining unit, broken down by grade. 
Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) was established in May 2002 following Machinery of Government changes. The information on (a) the changing of appraisal systems and (b) the numbers and grades of staff in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's bargaining units directly involved in annual pay negotiations, is set out as follows. It should be noted that pay negotiation forms only part of wider responsibilities of the teams.
Keith Hill: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published her Department's five year strategy "Delivering the essentials of life" on 8 December 2004. The strategy signals that the rural exception policy will be retained.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's consultation paper 'Influencing the size, type and affordability of housing' published last year proposed to replace the rural exception policy with an allocation policy, which would enable local planning authorities to allocate sites solely for affordable housing. In the light of the consultation responses, we now intend to revise policy to enable local planning authorities to allocate sites in rural areas in plans, but also to take advantage of windfall sites through a continuing rural exception approach. We will make this change in the update to Planning Policy Guidance Note 3: "Housing", which will be published early in the new year.
Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister was formed in May 2002. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's procurement is devolved and such items of low value are purchased direct by end users. This level of detail on procurement is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Local authorities produced non-statutory Cultural Strategies between 200001 and 200304 that covered planning for sports and recreation, as well as
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other cultural services. A list of authorities that produced these plans can be found on the Best Value Performance Indicator website: www.bvpi.gov.uk
As part of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's process of rationalising plan requirements, we are encouraging local authorities to subsume Cultural Strategies within their statutory Community Strategies. Guidance entitled "Living the Good Life" on how this process could happen has been published.
Mr. Reed: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what plans he has to consult local communities affected by the concentration of high student numbers in his study into managing good practice in the provision of student accommodation; and if he will make a statement; 
A joint project has been set in hand by Universities UK (UK) and the Local Government Association (LGA) with funding from the Department
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for Education and Skills. This follows concern over the impact on local communities of an expanding student population.
The project is due to result in a publication in spring 2005, and will be divided into two parts, the first looking at the reasons, scale, nature and context of some of the problems associated with large numbers of students in the community. The second part will focus on good practice and will give examples of effective co-operation between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and local authorities and other partnerships in the community.
As part of this project, researchers will survey universities in the UK and use the responses as the basis for further inquiries, in the form of interviews, which will involve a wide selection of stakeholders, including community interests.
Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the refurbishment projects that (a) are in progress and (b) will start in the next six months in (i) his Office and (ii) each agency of his Office; what steps are being taken to ensure that timber will be procured from legal and sustainable sources; and whether guidance will be issued to contractors on each of these projects to ensure that the timber used on site comes from legal and sustainable sources. 
|(i)||In the office||None|
|(ii)||In each agency of the office||None|
|(iii)||In the Government office network||Government Office East Midlandsspace planning/reorganisation project|
|(b)||Will start in the next six months|
|(i)||In the office||Eland House, Londonspace planning/reorganisation project on the 5th, 8th and 9th floors|
|(ii)||In each agency of the office||None|
|(iii)||In the Government office network||None|
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is currently updating all its Procurement Terms and Conditions in line with a number of recent and forthcoming changes and appropriate clauses with respect environmental considerations will be included. Contracts where the use of timber and timber based products is anticipated, contain clauses that require the supplier to actively seek legally sourced and sustainable timber and to supply physical evidence that supports this. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has the use of framework contracts for the purchase of furniture, which are subject to supply chain audits by officials.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is presently co-operating with the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs and other Government Departments in the creation of the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET), and has agreed to provide funding to support the initiative.
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