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Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many qualified teachers were in service at (a) maintained nursery and primary schools and (b) maintained secondary schools in Newcastle upon Tyne in each year since 1998; and what the ratio of teachers to pupils was in each sector in each case. 
Mr. Stephen Twigg: The following tables show the headcount and full-time equivalent number of qualified teachers and the pupil-teacher ratio for maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools in Newcastle upon Tyne local education authority in each year since 1998.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will list the attributable (a) articles and (b) contributions that his Department's special advisers made to (i) newspapers, (ii) journals, (iii) books and (iv) other media in their official capacity between 31 March 2003 and 31 March 2004. 
Keith Hill: Planning Policy Guidance Note 8 on Telecommunications was issued in August 2001 to reflect the changes in the planning regulations that were made at the same time. The Government have a strategy to replace all PPGs with Planning Policy Statements. PPG8 will be replaced by a PPS8 in due course.
On 22 December the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published a draft circular "Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Sites" on which we have invited comments. The aim of the circular is to ensure that the planning system makes provision for more sites to meet the needs of gypsies and travellers.
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Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is satisfied that the recommendations for unitary local government in Lancashire put forward by the Boundary Committee (with a minor modification regarding Ormskirk) would have represented effective structures for local government if an elected Regional Assembly had been established. However, as my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister made clear in a statement to the House on 8 November 2004, following the decision of voters in the North East referendum, there will be no reorganisation of local government arising from our proposals for elected Regional Assemblies.
Phil Hope: The Government launched a debate on the future of local government with the publication of a discussion paper on the future of local government, and a prospectus for local area agreements, last July. Over the coming months, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister intends to publish further discussion papers on key issues, the first of which will look at neighbourhood engagement and leadership.
Authorities are also being offered opportunities for focused training to improve their management of projects and programmes and service delivery both generally, through the Capacity Building initiative, and in the specific areas of housing provision, IT and e-government service delivery.
12. Jim Knight: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what support is available from his Department to fire and rescue authorities to enable them to provide advice to vulnerable households on how to prevent fire. 
The Community Fire Safety Innovation Fund supports local initiatives to reduce fire deaths; the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is funding free smoke detectors and fire suppression equipment; Revenue Support Grant takes account of authorities' prevention activity; the research
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programme identifies good practice; the National Community Fire Safety Centre provides publicity material and guidance.
Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to respond to the letter of 20 December 2004 from the right hon. Member for Birkenhead about the Provisional Formula Grant Settlement for 200506 and how it affects Wirral local authority. 
Keith Hill: Specified capital grants paid by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to local authorities for disabled facilities grant (DFG) can only be paid to local housing authorities. I announced DFG allocations to local authorities for 200506 on 27 December 2004. Devon authorities received an increase in funding of 10 per cent. compared with allocations for 200405. Total funds available for the DFG programme in England have also been increased from £103.5 million in 200506 to £120.8 million p.a. in 200607 and 200708. Allocations to individual authorities for these years will be made later this year following completion of the interdepartmental review of the DFG programme which is currently under way.
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