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There is no specific allocation for the Housing Data Warehouse in 2007-08 as the running costs are contained within existing resources.

Only Communities and Local Government has direct access to the Housing Data Warehouse. There are no plans to extend direct access to other Government agencies or Departments. Specific requests for data from other Government agencies and Departments would be considered on a case by case basis and with regard to the need to avoid disclosure of personal information.

IPPR

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what funding the Government Office for (a) London and (b) the North East has provided to (i) the IPPR and (ii) IPPR Trading Ltd in each year since May 1997; and for what purpose. [125737]

Ruth Kelly: The Government Office for London used IPPR’s services in 2004-05 when a member of staff attended an event organised by the company. The event was called “New challenges for race equality and community cohesion in the 21(st) century”, which took place on 7 July 2004 and the cost of attendance was £58.75 including VAT. Other than that, the Government Office for London and the Government Office for the North East have not made any payments to IPPR or IPPR Trading Ltd through running cost or ODPM/CLG programme funding.

Financial records prior to 2003-04 are held on a different records system and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Local Authorities: Newspaper Press

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on what matters local authorities have statutory obligations to place notices in local newspapers. [129748]

Ruth Kelly: We do not hold centrally, information on matters for which local authorities have statutory obligations to place notices in local newspapers.

Local Government

Kitty Ussher: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the written statement of 27 March 2007, Official Report, columns 71-73WS, on local government, what recent assessment she has made of the structure of local government across the whole of Lancashire. [131678]

Mr. Woolas: The Secretary of State has made no assessment of the structure of local government across the whole of Lancashire other than those announced in my written statement of 27 March 2007, Official Report, columns 71-73WS.

Kitty Ussher: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the written statement of 27 March 2007, Official Report, columns 71-73WS, on local government, what her
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assessment was of the joint bid for unitary status made by Burnley and Pendle borough councils against each of the five criteria. [131679]

Mr. Woolas: The Department’s assessment against all five criteria, including affordability and value for money, are set out in Burnley and Pendle borough councils’ decision letter of 27 March 2007. This is available on the Department’s website at:

Local Government Executive

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the average effect on local government election turnout of an elected mayoral system being established in (a) the first year and (b) subsequent years. [129755]

Ruth Kelly: We have made no estimate of this. Details of local government election turnout each year in the 12 mayoral authorities since those authorities adopted mayors can be found in the Local Government Chronicle Election Handbook, published by university of Plymouth.

Local Government Finance: Chorley

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the level was of central Government grant to local government for social services in Chorley’s local authority area in the most recent year for which figures are available. [110546]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I have been asked to reply.

The level of central Government formula grant to Lancashire county council which covers the Chorley area for services (including social services) for 2007-08 is £232.482 million (increase of £10.165 million or 4.6 per cent.). Formula grant is not hypothecated and decisions on how it is used are made locally. In addition, the Department has made available £33.714 million in respect of personal social services grants.

Local Government Reform

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 19 January 2007, Official Report, column 1354W, on local government reform, whether local authorities which are not small districts but which adopted a committee structure as a fallback option after the executive model was voted down, will be allowed to continue with a committee structure. [129467]

Ruth Kelly: The Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill provides that any authority currently operating alternative arrangements must move to executive arrangements where the resident population of the authority’s area on 30 June 1999 was 85,000 or more.


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Local Government: Training

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department is still supporting the Future Leadership programme. [129767]

Ruth Kelly: The Future Leadership hip programme was commissioned as an investment in leadership capacity in order to raise the long-term performance of local government. Since 2004, 353 people from across local government have completed the programme. In 2006-07 and 2007-08 a total of £3.5 million has been provided to regional improvement partnerships by the Department to enable them to purchase places on a suite of capacity-building programmes including the Future Leadership programme.

Population: Slough

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many individual written representations she has received about the statistics of the population of Slough; and how many of those were pre-printed postcards. [126330]

Mr. Woolas: Since November 2005, the Department has received 28 written representations that contain, in part or in full, issues relating to the population statistics for Slough.

In addition, since January 2007, the Department has received 86 pre-printed postcards and newsletter cut out response slips about the population statistics for Slough.

Sir Michael Lyons: Pay

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much has been paid to Sir Michael Lyons in expenses in relation to his work on his inquiry into local government. [127060]

Ruth Kelly: Since he started work on his inquiry in the autumn of 2004 Sir Michael has so far been paid expenses of £21,039.16 plus VAT. He is expected to submit a further claim relating to the final few months of his work.

Travelling People

Julie Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate she has made of the number of unauthorised Gypsy Traveller caravans on unauthorised (a) developments and (b) encampments. [131235]

Meg Munn: The Department for Communities and Local Government publishes data on the number of Gypsy and Traveller caravans on authorised public and private sites, and unauthorised encampments and developments twice yearly. Copies of the latest publication “Count of Gypsy Caravans on 19 July 2006: Last Five Counts” have been distributed to the Libraries of the House. An electronic version is also available on the Department’s website at


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Valuation Office: Databases

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how much funding her Department and its predecessor has provided to the Valuebill project since its inception; and how much will be provided in the next 12 months; [129710]

(2) what the timetable is for the rollout of the Valuebill project; and how many local authorities are participating in Valuebill. [129760]

Ruth Kelly: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister allocated £2,660,950 of start up funding to the Valuebill project between 2002 and 2005 through the local e-government national projects programme. No further funding has been provided by my Department since then or will be provided in the next twelve months.

Lead responsibility for Valuebill rested initially with the London borough of Newham and now rests with London Connects. My Department does not hold information on the number of local authorities who are currently making use of Valuebill or when and if others may participate in the project. We are however aware of positive outcomes in participating authorities in terms of improved address data and the more timely billing, improved cash flow and reduced debt chasing that flows from that.

Constitutional Affairs

Legal Aid

26. Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how her Department's plans to reform the legal aid system reflect the advice contained in the Otterburn report on criminal legal aid. [131531]

33. Mr. Leech: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans she has to reform the legal aid system to reflect the recommendations contained in the Otterburn report on criminal legal aid. [131538]

Vera Baird: The Government presented their plans for legal aid reform on 28 November last year.

The reform programme took account of over 2,000 responses to consultation, over 25 meetings which I had personally with legal aid practitioners as well as the conclusions of Mr. Otterburn’s report to the LSC.

In the light of everything that was presented to us the Government made changes to the timing, sequencing and detail of a number of Lord Carter’s original recommendations for legal aid reform.

The Government continue to consider and to take into account all evidence and consultation responses as we move forward on the detailed elements of our reform programme.

28. John Robertson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of trends in the number of
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cases brought by offenders with custodial sentences which attract legal aid; and if she will make a statement. [131533]

Vera Baird: The eligibility for legal aid of those serving custodial sentences is no different from other members of society. Individuals will be eligible for legal aid if the matter is within scope and the individual satisfies the means test. There is therefore no specific monitoring of cases brought by those serving custodial sentences.

However, some form of legal aid is available exclusively to those serving custodial sentences. This is to cover advocacy assistance at prison discipline hearings and parole board hearings. The volume of cases where advice and assistance has been provided has risen from 11,263 in 2002-03 to 20,186 in 2005-06.

29. Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when she next plans to meet representatives of the legal profession to discuss proposed changes to legal aid. [131534]

31. Mr. Harper: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs when she next plans to meet representatives of the legal profession to discuss proposed changes to legal aid. [131536]

Vera Baird: My Department and the Legal Services Commission regularly meet with legal aid practitioners as part of the ongoing consultations on the detail of implementation, and to discuss aspects of the reform programme.

Lyn Brown: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what representations she has received on the eligibility for legal aid in criminal cases. [131528]

Vera Baird: Since the introduction of the new means test for criminal legal aid representation in the magistrates courts, which came into effect on 2 October 2006, I have received approximately 75 written representations from MPs, solicitors and members of the public, about eligibility for criminal legal aid.

Magistrates Courts

27. Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what change is planned to the number of magistrates courts in 2007; and if she will make a statement. [131532]

Ms Harman: There are 360 magistrates courts in England and Wales. We are currently reviewing the provision of courts across England and Wales to consider access to justice, the most efficient use of public monies and the condition and facilities within courthouses.

Electoral Register

30. Dr. Whitehead: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will take steps to place a duty on electoral registration officers to use all available databases to compile the electoral register. [131535]


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Bridget Prentice: The Electoral Administration Act 2006 introduced a new duty to help Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) increase registration rates and compile a more accurate register. This duty includes:

And the good news for democracy is that the new duty is making a difference. I am pleased to say that as of 1 December 2006, the number of registered electors in the UK has increased by just over half a million.

Mediation

32. Kali Mountford: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans she has to encourage parents to go to mediation instead of court to resolve disputes over their children. [131537]

Ms Harman: The Government are committed to encouraging greater use of family mediation. We have established the Family Mediation Helpline and supporting website, sponsored a public awareness campaign, are facilitating judicial awareness seminars and supporting in-court referral schemes.

Provisions of the Children and Adoption Act 2006 will enable the court to direct parties in child contact disputes to attend a meeting about mediation. Referrals will also be encouraged through changes to court rules and court forms, particularly in relation to disputes over children.

Constitutions: Channel Islands

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether the Channel Islands are part of the United Kingdom; and what their constitutional status is. [131746]

Bridget Prentice: The Channel Islands are not part of the United Kingdom. They are self-governing dependencies of the Crown, which—acting through its Privy Council—is responsible for their good governance. The UK is responsible for their defence and international relations, but the Channel Islands have their own directly elected legislative assemblies, administrative and fiscal systems and courts of law, and UK legislation does not apply to them unless specifically extended.

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what rights and responsibilities are enjoyed by the Channel Islands under the terms of their relationship with the EU under Protocol 3 of the UK's treaty of accession. [131747]


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