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Planning Permission

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) if he will make provision for the public to appeal in a planning permission application case where the matter is of considerable public interest; [18290]

(2) whether there are conditions under which members of the public may appeal a planning permission decision. [18291]

Yvette Cooper: Third parties do not have a right of appeal in the way that applicants do because it is the responsibility of local planning authorities to act in the general public interest when determining planning applications. Local authorities must determine planning applications in accordance with the development plan for the area unless material considerations indicate otherwise. They must take account of the views of local people on planning matters before taking decisions and elected members must justify their decisions subsequently to their electorate. Any right of appeal for third parties would slow down the system. Furthermore, it would not be consistent with our democratically accountable system of planning.


Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects a (a) draft and (b) final version of the new PPG3/PPS3 to be published. [17221]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister intends to publish for consultation a draft of new Planning Policy Statement 3 (PPS3) before the end of the year, with the aim of publishing a final version of PPS3 as soon as practicable after the consultation period has closed.
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Public Services (Inspection)

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how Cabinet Office plans for league tables of public services will relate to local government and existing inspection regimes; and if he will make a statement. [17641]

Mr. Woolas: The Cabinet Office has no plans for league tables of public services. A plan has been developed for a Customer Satisfaction Index, which was announced in a speech by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to the Social Market Foundation on 24 August this year, but this does not involve producing league tables of organisations. This index will provide information on specific encounters with services, which may be delivered by single or multiple organisations. No conflict is envisaged with other existing sector based schemes.

Regional Assemblies

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the decision-making powers of regional assemblies. [17972]

Yvette Cooper: Regional assemblies have no statutory powers but are designated under section 8(1) of the RDA Act to contribute to the regional economic strategies produced by the regional development agencies and scrutinise their delivery.

In their capacity as regional planning bodies they have a statutory duty to oversee the Regional Spatial Strategies (RSS) including its monitoring and implementation and preparing draft revisions where necessary.

Regional Chambers

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether England's regional chambers are defined in (a) law and (b) Government policy as part of local government in England. [17145]

Yvette Cooper: The regional assemblies are voluntary bodies comprising local authorities and regional economic and social partners. They are not a part of local government.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what guidance the Government have produced on the legality of local authorities making payments to England's regional chambers; and if he will make a statement. [17149]

Yvette Cooper: The Government do not produce guidance relating specifically to local authority payments to regional assemblies.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the level of central government funding to each regional chamber in each year since their creation was; and what the estimated figures for (a) 2005–06 and (b) 2006–07 are. [17159]

Yvette Cooper: Past and current grants made by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) are as follows.
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North East500,000600,0001,408,0001,708,0001,708,000
North West500.000600,0001,837,0002,536,0002,536,000
Yorkshire and the Humber500,000600,0001,655,0001,923,0001,923,000
West Midlands500,000600,0001,671,0002,071,0002,071,000
East Midlands500,000600,0001,631,0002,056,0002,056,000
South East500,000600,0002,186,0003,280,0003,280,000
South West500,000600,0001,613,0002,101,0002,101,000
English Regions Network100,000200,000200,000200,000200,000

The grant supports the assemblies in the performance of their designated functions to scrutinise the work of the Regional Development Agencies; fulfil their regional planning responsibilities; and for the development of their strategic regional role.

The increase in funding from 2003–04 was granted in recognition of the statutory responsibilities that were placed on them as regional planning bodies by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.

The overall ODPM grant available to regional assemblies is set to increase to £19 million in 2006–07 but as yet no decision has been made on how it will be allocated.

Regional Emphasis Documents

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the Government's plans to commission regional emphasis documents from the Government officer of the regions, regional development agencies and regional assemblies; and what the timetable is for their publication. [17497]

John Healey: I have been asked to reply.

The Government invited the regions to submit an input into the 2004 Spending Review in the form of regional emphasis documents. The Government's plans for the Comprehensive Spending Review were set out in a statement to the House on 19 July 2005. Further details will be published in due course.

Small Business Rate Relief

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the interim take-up of small business rate relief was in each council in England. [17232]

Mr. Woolas: This information is not available centrally. On the basis of returns completed by local authorities before the start of the current financial year, an estimated £390 million is expected to be claimed in small business rate relief for 2005–06 (the first year in which the scheme has been operating). Applications for small business rate relief may be made up to six months after the end of the financial year to which the application relates, or six months from notification of an alteration to a rateable value that makes the hereditament eligible for relief.

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether small business rate relief is available in relationto the levy charged by business improvement districts. [17390]

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Mr. Woolas: No. Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are business-led initiatives to deliver improvements in a defined business area. It is the businesses themselves who decide on the amount of and the arrangements for paying the levy and who vote in a ballot on whether or not a proposed scheme should go ahead. However, many BID proposals exclude smaller properties from the BID levy or offer special terms for small properties.

Social Housing

Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the impact on smaller registered social landlords of requiring all lead regulated associations to produce an annual efficiency statement. [17640]

Yvette Cooper: The Housing Corporation does not require smaller RSLs with fewer than 250 housing units to produce an annual efficiency statement. Consistent with its policy of minimising regulatory burdens, the Corporation is not prescribing the form of the efficiency statement and is basing it on self-assessment. Well-managed organisations should already be collecting the information required to make this return.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects to respond to the Audit Commission's report on Financing Council Housing; and what changes to the present system would be necessary to implement the recommendations. [18386]

Yvette Cooper: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is considering carefully the points raised in the Audit Commission report.

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