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Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what steps his Department is taking to identify and spread good practice by local government in providing services for older people, with particular reference to those living in rural areas. 
Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and other departments, such as the Department for Health, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, are currently working with local government, the Local Government Association (LGA), the Improvement and Development Agency, Better Government for Older People and other organisations to ensure best practice in local authorities is identified and spread.
For example, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and other departments are supporting the LGA's 'Action Learning Sets' programme which is designed to help local authorities, including many rural authorities, to work with each other to share good practice and improve services.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also organises the beacon council scheme which recognises authorities that demonstrate excellence around specific themes and helps them disseminate their good practice. Last year, Stroud district council jointly with Cotswolds
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district council were awarded beacon status for their services for older people, in recognition of their work to support independent living. Over 100 authorities attended learning events to learn from the best practice of the five beacon authorities under the theme of services for older people.
Phil Hope: Installers registered with authorised competent person schemes for Part P of the Building Regulations are allowed to self-certify that the work they have carried out complies with all relevant requirements of the regulations. There are no plans to introduce third party certification of work into such schemes.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the inspectorate is in place to carry out inspections under the Part P schemes (electrical safety in dwellings); and if he will make a statement. 
Phil Hope: Each competent person self-certification scheme operator is required to have an adequate inspectorate to assess the competence of applicants to the scheme and then to monitor a random selection of completed work to ensure it complies with the relevant requirements of the Building Regulations.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the progress being made in the implementation of Part P schemes of the building regulations; and how the system will be introduced. 
Phil Hope: Five competent person self-certification schemes for Part P of the Building Regulations were formally authorised in July 2004 and a further six in December 2004. All are now accepting and processing applications for membership of the schemes.
Mr. Raynsford: None. Section 6 of the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003 states that no further referendum can be ordered in "the region until the end of the period of seven years starting with the day on which the referendum was held".
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the annualised total cost to the Government office
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for the south east of producing the publication Go South East was in the latest year for which figures are available; and what the annualised total cost to public funds is of all equivalent publications by Government offices of the regions. 
Phil Hope: The total cost to the Government office for the south east for producing Go South East is £26,983 for 2004. The total cost of all equivalent publications produced by the Government offices for the English regions is £86,869 for 2004.
Regional observatories are voluntary partnerships formed in the regions. Funding for their activities is provided by a variety of partners in each region. Central Government does not oversee their expenditure.
Phil Hope: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister continues to implement well established policies and procedures for the review and disposal of files in accordance with its administrative needs and the Public Records Act.
Records are destroyed, in accordance with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's disposal policy, when they come to the end of their retention period and they are not required for permanent preservation. The number of files due for destruction in any given year varies. Files destroyed in the last year included a backlog that had developed in the previous two years due to machinery of government changes and the closure of the Hayes Records Repository.
Brian Cotter: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact of changes in the way central government grants for local social service budgets are calculated on local authorities with a higher than average elderly population. 
There has been no change in the way we calculate the personal social services formulae spending shares (PSS FSS) in 200506. FSS is used to distribute formula grant to councils. The older peoples PSS FSS formulae directs extra resources to authorities with higher than average elderly populations in two ways. Firstly, the formulae allocates a basic amount per person aged 65 or over in each local council area.
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Secondly, through its age top up, the formulae allocates extra resources to areas with higher proportions of very old people.
There have been changes in the amounts distributed through two Department of Health specific grants, namely those for Preserved Rights and for Residential Allowances. We have listened to local authority concerns about the effect of transferring the majority of the Preserved Rights grant into FSS, originally announced as part of the SR2002 settlement. In co-operation with local authorities, we have agreed an alternative funding mechanism that minimises any adverse distributional impact, and which is based on the premise that a lower proportion of the Preserved Rights Grant will be transferred into the FSS.
In 200506 the Preserved Rights Grant will be funded at £348 million instead of the £133 million announced in SR2002. The Residential Allowance grant will transfer into FSS more quickly. The method of allocating the Preserved Rights and Residential Allowance Grants to local authorities in 200506 is unchanged. This will mean less turbulence for local authority funding. We have made corresponding adjustments to the base for allocations to councils of formula grant in 200506.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister on how many occasions between 31 March 2002 and 31 March 2003 his special advisers travelled abroad in an official capacity; what places were visited; and how much each visit cost. 
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