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Yvette Cooper: The Government's detailed proposals on Social HomeBuy, which would help social tenants to purchase a share in their rented home at a discount, are set out in our consultation document"HomeBuyexpanding the opportunity to own"launched on 1 April 2005. The document makes clear that Social HomeBuy will be voluntary for both housing associations and local authorities.
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with (a) the South East England
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Regional Assembly and (b) the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire and its constituent local authorities on the level of infrastructure required to support the house building targets set out in the draft sub-regional strategy for South Hampshire. 
Yvette Cooper: Officials from the Government office for the south-east (GOSE) were invited by the Partnership for Urban South Hampshire to attend their meetings, and have taken a close interest in progress on the strategy for South Hampshire. As a result, South Hampshire was mentioned in the Departments five-year Strategy: 'Homes for All'.
Where local partners want to pursue planned growth that is consistent with existing or emerging Regional Spatial Strategies, and subject to the normal statutory procedures, the Government will support them. Senior officials from GOSE and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have met with local authority officers in South Hampshire to take forward this commitment.
As we made clear in our response to The Electoral Commission's report, 'Delivering democracy? The future of postal voting', laid before the House on 9 December 2004, the Government remain committed to the goal of multi-channel elections, in which voters choices will include e-voting channels. Our strategy for achieving this goal is to encourage local authorities to continue the programme of local electoral pilots, including remote e-voting.
Mr. Kidney: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many local authorities in England have schemes allowing councillors to make grants out of public funds; and what monitoring there is of the uses to which such funds are put. 
Mr. Woolas: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The discussion document, "Citizen Engagement and Public Services: Why Neighbourhoods Matter" (January 2005), suggests ideas about devolving to each ward's councillors control over a small pot of money for the benefit of that ward.
Mr. Woolas: All nine authorities which were designated have challenged the maximum budgets proposed. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is receiving delegations from all the authorities to listen to their cases and will carefully consider both their formal challenges and their representations at the meetings before taking final decisions.
Mr. Woolas: A statutory consultation exercise on proposals to amend the local government pension scheme in England and Wales began on 1 April 2005 and concludes on 31 May 2005. Once the responses have been carefully considered a decision will be taken on the next steps. In due course other statutory amendments to the Scheme will come forward within the requirements of the Superannuation Act 1972, and after full consultation with all the interested parties.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans the Government have to reassess the role of the (a) Government office for London and (b) Greater London authority; and if he will make a statement. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: A joint Treasury/Office of the Deputy Prime Minister review is currently taking place on the future role of the Government office network, including the Government office for London. The review's emerging proposals were announced in the 2005 Budget report. The final report will be published later this year.
Yvette Cooper: Total negative subsidy in 200405 was £620,543,656. The equivalent figure, representing the total negative housing element for 200304 was £706,268,335. Negative subsidy generated by some councils is captured so that it can be redistributed to other authorities with an assumed deficit. It is not retained by central Government.
The definition of negative subsidy was changed by the Local Government Act 2003, which came into force on 1 April 2004. The figures given above are directly comparable, though the terminology changed between the financial years.
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Yvette Cooper: Regional assemblies have not been given any new powers or responsibilities since November 2004. The Government stated in our manifesto that we would continue to devolve further responsibilities to the existing regional bodies in relation to planning, housing, economic development and transport. We will, as we take forward our regional policies, continue to include the regional assemblies in our considerations.
Yvette Cooper: Regional spatial strategies (RSSs) contain housing numbers by district, and the draft revisions are prepared by the regional planning body (RPB) for the region. RPBs in all regions have not less than 60 per cent. of their members drawn from local authorities, including county councils.
RPBs are required to seek the advice of certain authorities, including county councils when preparing, keeping under review and implementing RSSs, and these authorities are required to give the RPB their advice. These authorities must have the opportunity to prepare the detailed proposals for different provision for different parts of the region, if the RPB decides to make such provision. The RPB must also consult statutory consultees including county councils prior to examination in public of the strategy.
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