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In undertaking any consultation on local government structures, the Government would have regard to its code of practice on consultation which
30 Nov 2005 : Column 584W
provides, but for exceptional cases, for a minimum period of 12 weeks. Implementation of any changes would require legislation.
Mr. Woolas: Other than in the case of the local government restructuring proposed in the context of referendums on regional assemblies, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has not made any assessment of the transitional and set up costs of introducing unitary local government.
Mr. Andy Reed: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make it his policy to use real data rather than modelling to assess the day visitor indicator element of the formula spending share for local authorities; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: Ministers are currently considering the option to update the day visitor indicator for use in the 200607 formula spending shares taking into account the representations received during the recent formula grant distribution consultation.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether the (a) Government and (b) Valuation Office Agency conducted research or analysis on the (i) possible distribution and (ii) number of gainers and losers from the council tax revaluation in England prior to the public announcement of its postponement. 
Anne Snelgrove: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will restore the entitlement to the first 12 months pension scheme membership to local government manual workers who began employment before 1991. 
Mr. Woolas: There are no plans to amend the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations in relation to manual workers whose employment started before the 12 months qualifying condition for joining the scheme was removed. It is open to scheme members to purchase added years membership where appropriate.
Mr. Mudie: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the average percentage contribution by local authority employees to the Local Government Pension Scheme was in each of the last five years; and what the total employee contributions were in each year. 
Mr. Woolas: The employee contribution rate is set by the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations 1997. Over the past five years, the rate has been fixed at 6 per cent., with a 5 per cent. contribution rate for those members classed as manual workers prior to March 1998 who can demonstrate continuous membership.
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 31 October 2005, Official Report, column 764W, on policies (financial report), if he will place in the Library copies of the costings carried out on the two documents to which the answer refers. 
Jim Fitzpatrick: The performance indicators the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister uses to measure progress against all its public service agreement targets are set out in technical notes, which were published at the beginning of 2005. These are available at http://www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1122982.
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister publishes an assessment of progress against these performance indicators in its Annual Report and Autumn Performance reports. The latest assessment published was in the Annual Report for 200405 (cmd 6526). The next assessment will be given in the Autumn Performance Report for 2005, due to be published in December 2005.
Paul Rowen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will issue guidance to fire services on the need for smoke alarms provided to deaf and hard of hearing people to meet the British Standard (BS 54463.2005). 
Cole Layer Trumble currently assist the Valuation Office Agency with computer modelling and statistical analysis of the AVM. The total spend with Cole Layer Trumble from July 2004 until end October 2005 is £1,868,780. It is estimated any associated liabilities will not exceed £200,000.
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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much the Valuation Office Agency spent on digital cameras and related electronic equipment in the last five years for which figures are available; and how many cameras were purchased in each year. 
Mr. Woolas: This equipment is used across the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) business. In respect of residential property, it is used for external photographs to help valuation officers arrive at fair and accurate valuations. On very rare occasions, for example where a property is in poor condition and this is not obvious from an external photograph alone, the occupier's permission is sought for internal photographs to be taken.
(excluding VAT) (£)
Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the committees and working groups within the Valuation Office Agency that have been involved in the council tax revaluation in (a) Wales and (b) England. 
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