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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 26 May 2005


House Prices

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average house price was (a) in each local billing authority in England and (b) in England, in each year for which figures are available. [359]

Yvette Cooper: Estimates of median house prices at local authority level are only available back to 1996 and are based on Land Registry data. The figures for 1996 to 2004 are available from the Housing Statistics section on the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's (ODPM) internet site.

These data are published on the ODPM website at: http://www.odpm.gov.uk/stellent/groups/odpm_housing/ documents/page/odpm_ house_609382.xls

Local Authority Cabinets

Bob Russell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what advice he has given to local authorities concerning councillors elected to two authorities holding Cabinet positions on both; and if he will make a statement. [1144]

Mr. Woolas: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has given no advice to local authorities specifically concerning councillors who hold Cabinet positions on two different authorities. Members are, however, required to follow the provisions of the code of conduct for Members, issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which sets out the standards of conduct expected of Members, and includes provisions relating to Members' personal and prejudicial interests.

Local Government Conduct

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he will amend the local government code of conduct to incorporate a defence of acting in the public interest; and if he will make a statement; [1042]

(2) if he will undertake a review of the operation of the (a) Local Government Code of Conduct and (b) the Standards Board; and if he will make a statement. [1045]

Mr. Woolas: The Standards Board for England is currently consulting on a review of the code of conduct for Members. The review includes consideration of whether there is a case for the addition to the code of a provision which would allow Members to disclose certain information in the public interest. Any recommendations the Standards Board may wish to make for amendments to the code will be considered by Ministers.

The role and effectiveness of the Standards Board and the operation of the ethical framework for local government has recently been the subject of reviews by
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both the Committee for Standards in Public Life and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Select Committee. Both have published their findings, and the Government are considering its response to these reviews.

Local Government Finance

David Howarth: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will rank local authorities by percentage increase in amount received in revenue support grant plus national non-domestic rates in the period from 1999–2000 to 2005–06. [1156]

Mr. Woolas: A table has been placed in the Library of the House showing the percentage change year-on-year on a like-for-like basis (i.e. after adjusting the base year for changes in the funding and functions of local authorities) of formula grant for the period 1999–2000 to 2005–06, together with the average percentage change over this period. Authorities have then been ranked by the average percentage increase over the period within class.

Formula grant consists of the sum of the following grants (where appropriate):

SSA reduction Grant (SSA Review), SSA Reduction Grant (Police Funding Review) and Central Support Protection Grant were damping grants provided to protect authorities from year-on-year changes in Revenue Support Grant, Redistributed Business Rates and Police Grant. In 2001–02 Central Support Protection Grant was replaced by floor and ceiling damping within Revenue Support Grant for authorities with education and personal social services responsibilities. In 2002–03, floor and ceiling damping was extended to all authorities. Floor and ceiling damping refers to the increase year-on-year in formula grant.

As different classes of authorities provide different services it would be inappropriate to compare all authorities. Please note that the Combined Fire Authorities became precepting bodies in 2004–05, and therefore the average percentage increase in formula grant for these authorities refers to the two-year average for 2004–05 and 2005–06.

Local Government Reform

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the time scale is for the publication of further consultation papers on reform of local government. [363]

Mr. Woolas: Before the general election, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister set out a number of ideas on the future of local government, both in our five year plans, the initial local vision document and subsequent discussion papers on neighbourhoods, local leadership, and the performance framework. We are considering
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the best way of developing this work in light of the feedback so far and the ambitious programme of work in the manifesto.

Mobile Telephone Masts

Keith Vaz: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidelines mobile network providers have to follow to set up mobile telephone masts; what plans he has to review the guidelines; and whether mobile network providers have to consult nearby residents before installing masts. [577]

Yvette Cooper: Current planning guidance for all electronic communication developments is set out in planning policy guidance note 8 (revised) (PPG8). The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has also issued a code of best practice on mobile phone network development. The code provides detailed guidance on best practice for public consultation. In September last year the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister commissioned the University of Reading and Arup to undertake an independent study to assess the impact that the code has had since its introduction. This forms part of the Government's review of all the planning arrangements surrounding telecommunication masts.

Neighbourhood Renewal Fund

John Hemming: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans the Government have for the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund. [982]

Mr. Woolas: In Spending Review 2004 (SR04), the Government made available over £1 billion of new Neighbourhood Renewal Fund (NRF) resources for the period 2006–08. No decision has yet been taken on how these resources will be allocated. The Government are carefully examining the options available, in the light of responses to the recent consultation with key stakeholders such as local authorities and Local Strategic Partnerships. An announcement on the allocations will be made as soon as possible once we have completed our consideration.


Asylum and Immigration

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applicants for refugee status he expects will be processed each year at the accommodation centre for asylum seekers at Bicester. [668]

Mr. McNulty: The total number of applicants processed annually will be dependent on the mix of asylum applicants but we expect it to be no less than 1,500.

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many migrants claimed refugee status in each month in the last three years. [696]

Mr. McNulty: The table shows the number of asylum applications received in each month in the last three years.
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Information on asylum applications is published quarterly. The next publication covering the second quarter of 2005 will be available in August 2005 on the Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate website at http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/immigration1.html
Applications(1) for asylum in the UK, excluding dependants, 2002–04

Applications received

(1) Figures rounded to the nearest 5.
(2) Figures are provisional.

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