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Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she will have the power to remove planning commissioners on the proposed infrastructure planning commission from their post before the end of their term of office for reasons other than misconduct. 
Yvette Cooper: Paragraphs 5.56 to 5.61 of the White Paper, Planning for a Sustainable Future (cm 7120), set out the Government's proposals as to the personnel of the infrastructure planning commission. It is intended that members of the commission will have fixed tenure for periods of between five and eight years. The Secretary of State will have the power to remove a person from office as a member of the commission if she is satisfied that the person is unable, unwilling or unfit to perform the duties of the office. We do not propose that members could be removed because of the decisions they took.
Sarah Teather: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many local authority owned homes were sold to (a) registered social landlords and (b) private landlords in each London borough in each of the last 10 years. 
The following table gives details of London boroughs who have sold their housing stock to the registered social landlord sector through large-scale voluntary transfer in the last 10 years. We could
provide figures for small-scale voluntary only at disproportionate cost. We do not have any data on trickle transfers to registered social landlords; nor do we have data on how many local authority homes have been sold to private landlords.
|Dwellings transferred from local authorities to the registered social landlord sector in London 1997-2007|
Mr. Woolas: The Government set out proposals for a new performance management framework for local areas in the White Paper Strong and Prosperous Communities (Cm 6939) in October 2006. This will be introduced from 2009.
The Audit Commission (which from April 2008 will be merged with the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate) will continue to have powers to inspect local authorities under Best Value, with any inspection in future being triggered primarily by risk assessment. The Audit Commission will also manage the overall programme of inspection and external assessment of local authorities to reduce duplication and ensure inspection and assessment is better co-ordinated and proportionate to risk.
Other regulators and inspectorates with responsibilities for inspection of some local authority services include the new Ofsted, the Adult Social Care Inspectorate which will bring together Commission for Social Care Inspection and Healthcare Commission functions, and the existing five criminal justice inspectorates.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make a statement on (a) the timetable and (b) progress achieved on reducing the number of central Government targets for local authorities to 200. 
Mr. Woolas: As we set out in the Local Government White Paper Strong and Prosperous Communities, we are developing a single set of national priority outcomes for local government working on its own or in partnership, measured by a single set of around 200 national indicators which will underpin the new performance framework. These outcomes and indicators will reflect decisions taken in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) which is currently under way and details will be published as part of the CSR announcement in the autumn. Implementation will take place from April 2008.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will reconsider the inclusion of clause 39 in the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill following the combined 2007 Scottish Parliamentary and Scottish local elections; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: Clause 60 (previously clause 39, prior to Report stage in the House of Commons) of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill provides for the Secretary of State, by order, to move the date of the local government elections in a year so that these coincide with the European parliamentary general election in that year. Any such order must be approved by both Houses of Parliament, following consultation with the Electoral Commission and other appropriate persons. This process will ensure that, in any year, the merits of holding the elections on the same day will be fully considered.
Mr. Woolas: I refer the hon. Member to the reports and related tables for the Local Government Finance Settlement 2006-07. Copies of the reports, tables and other supporting material were made available in the Vote Office and the Library of the House on 31 January 2006. Key Table 2 set out the specific and special grants to be paid in that year. Information covering all grants paid to local authorities in that year will be available from the local authority outturn return. There were no grants paid in 2006-07 using the special grant making powers under section 88B of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (substituted by paragraph 18 of schedule 10 to the Local Government Finance Act 1992).
Mr. Woolas: The Department for Communities and Local Government does not collect this information. Information on chief executives' and chief officers' pay can be obtained from the Local Government Employers' website
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will take into account local polls of public opinion on local government reorganisation when selecting the unitary bids she will be taking forward; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: Local polls of public opinion are one of many relevant matters to which we will have regard when assessing unitary proposals against our five criteria set out in the invitation document published on 26 October 2006.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to take into account the result of expressions of public opinion on local government reform in Somerset; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Woolas: Expressions of public opinion are one of many relevant matters to which we will have regard when assessing unitary proposals against our five criteria set out in the invitation document published on 26 October 2006.
Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many staff in the Valuation Office Agency undertake work in relation to assessment casework for business rates valuations. 
Yvette Cooper: Low mortgage rates and economic stability have increased the number of home owners by over one million since 1997. However, rising house prices have created pressure for first-time buyers. Kate Barker's review of housing supply showed that the industry had not been building enough homes to meet demand for over a generation.
The annual rate of new housing supply has increased by 40 per cent. since 2001 but we plan to go further in order to address the long-term problems of worsening affordability and help more people realise their aspirations to own their own home.
|Number of homeowners in England|
|Number ( T housand)|
Office for National Statistics, Labour Force Survey
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