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Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he will make a statement on the use by Liverpool city council of the powers to declare a renewal area without having published the findings of a Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment; 
(2) what (a) entitlements are conferred and (b) obligations are imposed by the notice recently published by Liverpool city council of a renewal area in the Kensington New Deal and Elm Park areas. 
Keith Hill: The declaration of a Renewal Area under section 89(1) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 as amended by the Regulatory Reform Order (Housing Assistance) (England and Wales) Order 2002 is designed to provide a long term strategic framework for housing renewal assistance in that area and to act as a catalyst for wider regeneration action.
Before declaring a Renewal Area, the authority must first satisfy itself that the unsatisfactory living conditions in the area are best dealt with in this way. As part of this process the authority must consider a report which among other things considers the living conditions in the area and the authority's detailed proposals for dealing with these conditions, either by using powers in the 1989 Act or by other means.
The Secretary of State, my right. hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has issued guidance which recommends that as part of this evaluation the authority should undertake an assessment of the proposed area which is called a Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment. There is no legislative requirement to publish any such assessment. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published in 2004 a revised guidance manual for Neighbourhood Renewal Assessment.
Before declaring a Renewal Area the authority is required by section 89(6) of the 1989 Act to consult with local residents in the area about the authority's detailed proposals for action contained in the report referred to above. It is also required to publicise the declaration when it has been made and to keep local residents informed during the renewal process and to notify them of any changes to the original declaration.
The declaration of a Renewal Area by a local authority confers on it additional powers. These are principally for the acquisition of land and property either by agreement or compulsorily for the improvement of the area and for the well-being of residents. Also to carry out works on land which it owns.
Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much neighbourhood renewal funding earmarked for wards with high levels of deprivation was transferred by Liverpool city council for the establishment of a city of culture information office in Liverpool city centre. 
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister understands that in discussion of their priorities for neighbourhood renewal funding (NRF) for this year, the Liverpool Partnership Group decided to allocate £600,000 towards the establishment of a City of Culture information office. This will enable Liverpool's citizens, as well as visitors, to access information about City of Culture. NRF is provided to local authorities to help them and their Local Strategic Partnerships to improve services in their most deprived neighbourhoods and to narrow the gap between their most deprived neighbourhoods and the rest of the country in particular in terms of employment, education, crime, health and housing.
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Keith Hill: Planning Delivery Grant is not ring-fenced. Grant is awarded on the basis of previous performance, and therefore if authorities do not spend it on improving their planning services, the likelihood is that they will not receive awards at the same level in future.
Mr. Sutcliffe: We are committed to outlawing age discrimination in employment and vocational training. We intend to introduce age legislation in 2006 which will make unjustified age discrimination in vocational training and employment, including recruitment, training, promotion and dismissal, unlawful for workers of all ages.
Nigel Griffiths: There were 6,800 business start-ups in Birmingham local authority (for which Birmingham, Hodge Hill is a constituency) in 2003 and a further 4,200 in the first six months of 2004. Business start-up data for local authorities are not available for before 2003. Barclays Bank's latest survey of business creation includes non-VAT registered firms and shows that there were 465,000 business start-ups in England and Wales in 2003, a 19 per cent. increase on the year before. A further 288,000 businesses started up in England and Wales in the first six months of 2004. This represents an increase of 23 per cent. on the first six months of 2003.
VAT registrations do not capture all start-up activity. Businesses are unlikely to be registered if they fall below the compulsory VAT threshold, which has risen in each year since 1997. Similarly, businesses that de-register will not necessarily have closed. Only 1.8 million out of 4 million enterprises were registered for VAT at the start of 2003.
Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many businesses have been helped by Business Link in each (a) region, (b) constituency and (c) local authority ward in (i) 200304 and (ii) 200405 to date. 
|200304||2004 to end September|
|Yorkshire and Humber||43,829||27,092|
Mr. Mike O'Brien: This information can be found on the DTI website. Details of operating aid paid to each colliery are at www.dti.gov.uk/energy/coal/ukcoas/index.shtmlclick on 'list of applicants'. Details of investment aid payments to date are at www.dti.gov.uk/energy/coal/invest_aid/index.shtml.
Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what consultations her Department has undertaken with the newspaper and magazine distribution industry with regard to the proposed changes in competition law; 
Over the course of the past 18 months, DTI Ministers and officials have had discussions with all sides of the newspaper and magazine industry about how removing the Order exempting vertical agreements from prohibition under UK competition law would affect arrangements for distribution of newspapers and magazines. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is now engaged in discussions with representatives from all sides
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of the newspaper and magazine industry to ensure the arrangements in place for the distribution of newspapers and magazines will continue to comply fully with domestic and European competition law after 1 May 2005 when this change will come into effect. In the context of these discussions, I understand some parties have argued in favour of a new block exemption for exclusive distribution agreements between newspaper and magazine publishers and wholesalers. DTI Ministers expect to receive advice from OFT on progress with discussions on these matters by spring 2005 at the latest.
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