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Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance she has given to the regional chambers on whether they are subject to environmental information regulations, by virtue of carrying out functions of public administration. 
John Healey: Guidance on the general principles of voluntary designation was issued to Regional Assemblies by the Minister of Communities and Local Government on 29 March 2006. Paragraph 20 of that guidance states that
Assemblies should also be mindful of their duties under the Environmental Information Regulations.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the real terms percentage change in Government funding for local authorities, excluding education spending, was in each year since 1997-98. 
John Healey: It is not possible to provide a figure for the amount of Government funding which has been provided for non-education expenditure because a significant proportion of expenditure was funded by Revenue Support Grant and redistributed non-domestic rates. These are not hypothecated to a particular service, and authorities are able to decide on their own spending priorities.
John Healey: The Local Authority Business Growth Incentives scheme is designed to reward local authorities for increasing their business rateable value base by paying grant to authorities where business growth exceeds a certain level. Revenues under the scheme are not ring-fenced in any way.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which areas of green belt she has earmarked for (a) development and (b) mitigation; and what areas of brownfield land she expects to be built on in the next 10 years. 
Yvette Cooper: Local authorities, rather than the Secretary of State, have primary responsibility for planning and managing development in their areas. Local authorities are responsible for defining their green belt boundaries, in line with national policy, through their development plans. National Government policy on the green belt was confirmed in the Planning White Paper and Housing Green Paper. Government have set a national target that at least 60 per cent. of new housing development should be on brownfield land; currently around three quarters of housing development is on brownfield land.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will give guidance to the Government Office for the North West on liaison with hon. Members when major projects in their constituencies are under consideration by the Office. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Alongside her written statement and publication of the Planning Bill on 27 November, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State published Planning White Paper Consultation: Government response to consultation replies which is a summary of consultation replies and the Governments response. The summary can be found on the Communities and Local Government website at:
Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received on maintaining the Merton Rule in the forthcoming Climate Change Planning Policy Statement. 
Mr. Iain Wright: As set out in the Planning White Paper Planning for a Sustainable Future in May 2007, we are reviewing the current approach in Planning Policy Statement 6: Planning for Town Centres (PPS6) to assessing the impact of proposals outside town centres. We will replace the need and impact tests with a new test which has a strong focus on our town centre first policy, and which promotes competition and improves consumer choice, avoiding the unintended effects of the current need test.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what planning guidance and circulars are in force in relation to planning permission for (a) new schools and (b) expansion of existing schools. 
Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable development, will be of key relevance. This sets out the Governments overarching planning policies on the delivery of sustainable development through the planning system and asks local authorities to promote socially inclusive communities by having policies which address accessibility for all members of the community to education, leisure and community facilities.
Other relevant policies include Planning Policy Guidance note 13: Transport (PPG13), which sets out
general policy on the location of a range of facilities and car parking provision, and Planning Policy Statement 7: Sustainable development in rural areas (PPS7) which sets out the Governments policy on community services and facilities in rural areas, including schools. Planning Policy Guidance note 17: Planning for Open Space, Sport and Recreation (PPG17) will also be of relevance as it relates to the planning for public and private sports facilities, playing fields and childrens play areas. Circular 09/98: Town and Country Planning (playing fields) (England) Direction 1998 which relates to the loss of playing fields, whether for schools or for the wider community, will also be directly relevant.
The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your question asking for the breakdown of the population of Herefordshire by age group. I am replying in her absence. (170879)
Table 1 shows the population by quinary age group for Herefordshire for mid-2006. These are the latest population estimates available.
|Table 1: Mid-2006 population for Herefordshire UA, by quinary age group|
Figures may not add due to rounding.
Office for National Statistics.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what powers local authorities will have in relation to the integrated regional strategies of regional development agencies. 
John Healey: The review of sub-national economic development and regeneration published on 17 July makes it clear that regional development agencies will be expected to work closely with local authorities and other partners to develop single regional strategies.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the (a) composition of the boards and (b) procedures used to select board members for regional development agencies will be amended following the transfer of responsibilities for regional housing and planning from regional assemblies. 
RDA boards will remain business-led bodies. The expanded responsibilities of the RDAs as they assume their new role as the regional planning body, subject to parliamentary approval, will mean that the board will need to have a broader skills-set than at present. This will be reflected in specifications for appointments which are put out for consultation. RDA board appointments will continue to be made in accordance with the code on public appointments.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what research has been conducted into public (a) approval of regional government and (b) awareness and approval of Government Office regions. 
(a) None by this Department or its predecessor, the Office of The Deputy Prime Minister.
(b) In 2005 the Government Offices commissioned a survey of stakeholders. This will be repeated in 2008. A copy of the 2005 survey results will be placed in the House of Commons Library.
Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she expects to publish a summary and analysis of the responses to her Departments consultation on the Mechanism for Setting Guideline Rents in Housing Revenue Account subsidy 2008-09 and 2009-10. 
The summary and analysis of responses to the August 2007 consultation document Mechanism for setting guideline rents in housing
revenue account subsidy 2008-09 and 2009-10 will form part of the draft housing revenue account subsidy determination 2008-09, which will be published shortly.
Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library copies of her Departments consultation on the Mechanism for setting guideline rents in housing revenue account subsidy 2008-09 and 2009-10. 
Yvette Cooper: I have arranged for copies of the August consultation document Mechanism for setting guideline rents in housing revenue account subsidy 2008-09 and 2009-10 to be deposited in the Library of the House.
Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect on tenants of the rental constraint allowance mechanism in the last three years. 
Yvette Cooper: The rental constraint allowance (RCA) was part of the housing revenue account (HRA) subsidy regime for 2006-07 and 2007-08. Audited figures for 2006-07 will not be available until January 2008, meaning no formal assessment has been possible so far.
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