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Regional Government: Public Participation

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 17 December 2007, Official Report, column 943W, on regional government: public participation, what meetings the Minister for the West Midlands has had with local authorities. [181700]

Mr. Dhanda: The Minister for the West Midlands has had the following meetings with local authorities since being appointed: Shropshire, Coventry, Staffordshire, Newcastle, Telford and Wrekin, Worcestershire, Birmingham, Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Stoke on Trent, Sandwell and Warwickshire.

Regional Ministers

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment has been made of the contribution of regional Ministers to the development of Government policy. [188772]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 25 February 2008]: Regional Ministers are engaging actively in their region and are working with other regional partners to ensure that the key issues facing their region are reflected in the development of government policy. No formal assessment has yet been made of this contribution, although it will be a key consideration as their role develops.

Regional Ministers: Accountancy

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether her Department plans to put in place interim reporting and accountability guidelines for regional Ministers before the Modernisation Committee produces its report on regional accountability. [188771]

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Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 25 February 2008]: The Government are currently preparing their evidence on their preferred means of strengthening regional accountability and have no plans to put in place any interim reporting and accountability guidelines before the report of the Modernisation Committee is published.

Regional Ministers: Departmental Responsibilities

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proportion of time each Regional Minister has spent on (a) regional matters and (b) other departmental work since appointment. [188882]

Mr. Dhanda: Regional Ministers divide their time between their roles as Regional Minister, Departmental Minister and constituency Member of Parliament. The amount of time devoted to each role varies from week to week according to events in the region and the Minister’s other commitments.

Regional Ministers: Finance

Julia Goldsworthy: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what financial and other resources are available to regional Ministers to support them in the discharge of their duties. [188768]

Mr. Dhanda [holding answer 25 February 2008]: Regional Ministers are not allocated separate budgets and their support costs are funded by their own Departments and the Government Office Network from within existing budgets. To provide a breakdown of the financial costs to support each regional Minister would incur disproportionate costs. In addition to the staff in their departmental Private Offices and Government Offices, each regional Minister, with the exception of the Minister for the North East of England, also has 40 hours per month from a dedicated GNN press officer.

Regional Planning and Development: Greenbelt

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what proposals for reviews or changes to green belt land are contained within the draft regional spatial strategies. [171497]

Caroline Flint: Green belts have performed an important role in preventing urban sprawl and protecting the countryside for 50 years and Government have no plans to change its policy on the green belt set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 2. Green belt boundary reviews are matters for local planning authorities and regional planning bodies. Boundaries can only be changed in exceptional circumstances and after public consultation and public inquiry through the development plan process. Nationally, the amount of green belt land continues to grow, with an 80,000 acre increase since 1997.

The relevant policies in draft regional spatial strategies which currently refer to green belt land are as follows:

North East—Policy 6.5

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North West—Policy RDF5

Yorkshire and Humber —Policy YH9

East Midlands—Policy 27

West Midlands

East of England—Policy SS7

South East—Policy CCl0a

South West—Policy 3.35

London—No review of the green belt proposed

Regional Planning and Development: Public Bodies

Mr. Jeremy Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which (a) non-departmental public bodies, (b) executive agencies and (c) non-ministerial departments have responsibility for regional strategy and funding. [188910]

John Healey: Regional Development Agencies, which have a budget of over £2.2 billion in 2007-08, are the lead strategic non-departmental public body in each region. They are sponsored by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

My Department published details of the public bodies it sponsored as at 31 March 2007 in its report, The Department for Communities and Local Government's Public Bodies 2007, a copy of which is available in the Library of the House. Of these bodies, English Partnerships, The Housing Corporation and The London Thames Gateway Development Corporation have particular responsibility for contributing to regional strategy and funding.

In addition, Government Offices deliver a wide range of Government policies and programmes on behalf of Whitehall departments, including my Department.

Regional Planning and Development: South East

Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government when she will publish her response to the draft South East Plan; and if she will make a statement. [188730]

Mr. Dhanda: The Secretary of State’s proposed changes to the draft regional spatial strategy (RSS) for the South East will be published for consultation later this year. It is difficult, at this stage, to commit to a precise publication date for the proposed changes given
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the complexity of the issues involved. Our aim, as it stands now, is to publish the proposed changes before the summer recess.

The Secretary of State will make a statement to the House when they are being published.

We will also undertake a full 12-week public consultation to provide an opportunity for all interested parties to make representations on the proposed changes.

Thames Gateway

Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the Answer to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar of 31 January 2008, Official Report, columns 589-91W, on the Thames Gateway, whether the Olympics Delivery Authority is involved in the development. [189405]

Caroline Flint: The Olympic Delivery Authority is developing the Olympic Park, and other sporting venues for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. These provide a unique contribution to the wider Thames Gateway regeneration programme. There is close liaison between the Thames Gateway Executive and the ODA, with regard to both 2012 delivery and legacy planning, to ensure that the two projects reinforce one another in the most effective way.

International Development

Departmental Manpower

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many (a) staff and (b) full-time equivalent staff under 18 years of age are employed by his Department. [189077]

Gillian Merron: There are no staff under the age of 18 years employed by the Department for International Development.

Departmental Official Hospitality

Mr. Philip Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much was spent by his Department and its agencies on (a) alcohol and (b) entertaining in the last 12 months. [187961]

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Gillian Merron: DFID's total spend on entertainment within administration cost budgets in the last 12 months was £265,360. We do not have any agencies.

It is not possible to disaggregate specific entertainment costs without incurring disproportionate cost.

All entertainment is made in accordance with published departmental guidance on financial procedures and propriety, based on the principles of Managing Public Money and the Treasury handbook on Regularity and Propriety.

Departmental Retirement

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development, how many staff in his Department retired on grounds of stress-related illness in each of the last three years. [187502]

Gillian Merron: None.

Departmental Sick Pay

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the cost of sickness pay to staff within his Department was in the most recent year for which figures are available. [187515]

Gillian Merron: It is not possible to provide an accurate figure for the cost of sickness pay without incurring disproportionate cost.

Departmental Temporary Employment

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what average hourly rate his Department paid to employment agencies for agency staff in each year since 1999, broken down by employment agency. [187916]

Gillian Merron: DFID appoints temporary administrative staff predominantly through two Recruitment Agencies (one based in London and one in East Kilbride). The average rates are as detailed in the following table but are only available in London from 2002 and in East Kilbride from 2005 without incurring disproportionate costs:

Agency/charge rate
2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Pre-April 2007 Post-April 2007









East Kilbride








For more specialist staff, e.g. IT and communications specialists, records are held by different budget holders across the department, and it is not possible to provide hourly rates without disproportionate costs.

Developing Countries: Clinical Trials

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what discussions he has had with (a) governments of developing countries and (b) international organisations on cases where UK-based pharmaceutical companies’ clinical trials on medicinal products in developing countries have caused death, injury or blindness; and if he will make a statement; [188827]

(2) if his Department will provide support to people in developing countries who have been adversely affected, or have had close relatives killed, in pharmaceutical trials of medicinal products of UK-based pharmaceutical companies. [188828]

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Gillian Merron: The UK Government regulates clinical trials run by the pharmaceutical industry through the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. DFID has had no reason to have discussions with developing countries’ governments or international organisations about cases where clinical trials run by UK-based pharmaceutical companies have caused death, injury or blindness.

All clinical trials that receive DFID funding are run according to good clinical practice and are also listed on the international clinical trials register. To protect people taking part in clinical trials funded by DFID, each trial has its own Independent Data Monitoring Committee, which looks at the data collected as the trial progresses, and a separate independent Trial Steering Committee (which oversees and monitors the trial). These committees have the power to stop the trial at any time and at the earliest indication of harm.

Clinical trials run by pharmaceutical companies have insurance, to make provision for anyone harmed in research, and no-fault compensation schemes. DFID is not involved in any UK-based pharmaceutical company trials and therefore can not make provision for anyone claiming to have been harmed by participation.

Developing Countries: Infant Mortality

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to ensure that economic growth in developing countries has a positive impact on infant mortality; and if he will make a statement. [187775]

Mr. Douglas Alexander: Economic growth means that governments have more resources to invest in critical services. The Department for International Development (DFID) works with countries to improve the quality of spending allocations and public service delivery to ensure that the benefits of economic growth are shared equally. DFID pioneered the International Health Partnership (IHP) which was launched in September 2007. By committing partners to work together to support Government’s health plans, the IHP will seek to remove obstacles to stronger health systems. DFID is now supporting the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Bank and other international health agencies to implement the IHP in the eight first wave countries and in encouraging more countries to join.

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