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Freedom of Information

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether it is the policy of the Department to retain for the benefit of future (a) historians and (b) applicants under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 the same (i) complete categories of files, (ii) numbers of files and (iii) representative examples of files from categories of files destroyed as had been preserved prior to the passage of that Act. [203386]

Phil Hope: In accordance with the Public Records Act 1958 S.3, the selection of records of enduring historical value for permanent preservation at The National Archives (TNA) will continue to take place in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister under the guidance and supervision of TNA staff. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will also comply with the Code of Practice on Records Management, issued by the Lord Chancellor under S.46 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which underlines the importance of having clear selection policies and disposal schedules in place.

Green Belt

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans the Government have to alter the green belt designation. [205259]

Keith Hill: None. The process for designating green belts remains as set out in Planning Policy Guidance note (PPG)2. The Government have set a target to maintain or increase the extent of green belt designated in development plans in each English region. Since 1997 there has been a net increase of 19,300 hectares in the total area of green belts designated in development plans in England.
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Tom Cox: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people within the Greater London area are classified as homeless; and what the figures have been in each of the last three years. [204742]

Keith Hill: Information collected about local authorities' actions under homelessness legislation is in respect of households, rather than persons. Estimates of the number of households accepted as eligible for assistance, unintentionally homeless and in priority need, by London boroughs during 2003–04, is tabled as follows.

Households accepted as homeless(44)

(44) Households eligible under homelessness legislation and found to be unintentionally homeless and in a priority need category.
ODPM P1E homelessness returns (quarterly)

Tom Cox: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much financial assistance has been spent on assisting rough sleepers in the Greater London area in each of the last three years. [204743]

Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister provides grants to local authorities and voluntary and community sector organisations to support their work in sustaining the rough sleeping target, eliminate the long-term use of bed and breakfast hotels for homeless families with children and to tackle homelessness more effectively.

The level of these grants provided to local authorities and voluntary and community sector agencies working in London is tabled as follows:
(£ million)

PeriodFunding (capital and revenue)

(45) Actual
(46) Budget

There are close links between tackling these manifestations of homelessness, it is not therefore possible to provide details of grants used exclusively on assisting rough sleepers.


Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what criteria he applies to the acceptability of plans for housing in the Green Belt. [205888]

Keith Hill: The national planning policy criteria for proposed development within the Green Belt are set out in Planning Policy Guidance note (PPG) 2, Green Belts. Where a local planning authority proposes to allocate through the development plan land for housing provision, for example, as an urban extension, which would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt, it will first be necessary to alter the Green Belt
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boundary. Such an alteration should only be made in exceptional circumstances and, if proposed, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister (the First Secretary of State) will wish to be satisfied that the authority has considered opportunities for development within the urban areas contained by and beyond the Green Belt.

PPG2 makes clear that there is a general presumption against inappropriate development in the Green Belt, which should not be approved, except in very special circumstances. Where a major new housing development is proposed within the existing Green Belt, it is for the applicant to demonstrate that very special circumstances exist which clearly outweigh the harm that such inappropriate development would cause to the Green Belt.

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister will attach substantial weight to the harm to the Green Belt when considering any planning application that comes before him for inappropriate development within the Green Belt.

When considering an application for new housing, a planning authority should also have regard to the policies in PPG3, Housing.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Andrew Smith: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much Government grant was given to Oxfordshire county council in each of the last 10 years. [205887]

Mr. Raynsford: The amount of Government grant given to Oxfordshire County council in each of the last 10 years is shown in the table.
Government grants (£000)

These figures are not strictly comparable over time, as they are not adjusted for changes in local authority function between one year and another.

The data are outturn figures 1995–96 to 2002–03 and budget data for 2003–04 and 2004–05. The amounts are as reported by the local authority. The grants included are special and specific grants inside Aggregate External Finance, central support protection grant, revenue support grant and redistributed non-domestic rates.

Muscular Dystrophy

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the timetable for his review of grants and allowances for those suffering from muscular dystrophy and their carers. [205422]

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Keith Hill: The Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) programme, for which the Office Of the Deputy Prime Minister has responsibility, provides mandatory grants to disabled people, including families with disabled children, to help them continue to live independently with their carers in their own homes.

A wide-ranging Review of the DFG programme, being undertaken jointly between the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health is now underway. It will report to Ministers in May 2005 with its conclusions being published in the summer of that year.

National Planning Guidance

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which national planning guidance notes issued since May 1997 have altered guidance in relation to the green belt. [205258]

Keith Hill: Planning Policy Guidance note (PPG) 13, Transport, published on 27 March 2001, amended green belt policy set out in PPG2 to provide additional guidance on Park and Ride schemes in the green belt.

Neighbourhood Renewal

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the Government Office for the North West was consulted when the neighbourhood renewal funding earmarked for wards with high levels of deprivation was transferred by Liverpool city council for use in the establishment of a city of culture information office in Liverpool city centre. [204259]

Phil Hope: The use of Neighbourhood Renewal Funding (NRF) is a matter for local authorities in collaboration with their Local Strategic Partnership (LSP). There is no requirement to consult the Government Office (GO), though GOs do have sight of proposals through their participation in LSPs and in discussion of this particular item the Government Office of the North West sought clarification on the explicit linkage to the neighbourhood renewal strategy.

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