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14 Oct 2008 : Column 1084Wcontinued
16. Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will seek discussions with relevant Cabinet colleagues on the establishment of a constitution providing for independent local government; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey: In the context of the United Kingdoms constitutional arrangements there is recognition of local government, as demonstrated by our ratifying on 24 April 1998, the European Charter of Local Self Government whereby the United Kingdom is committed to the principle of local self government.
17. Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether she has conducted an economic impact assessment on the decision to levy retrospective business rates on businesses in the port of Liverpool. 
John Healey: The regulatory changes that changed the rating of statutory ports from a prescribed formula to a conventional basis did not change the law regarding what properties should or should not be separately assessed, under which the present action is being taken.
We are looking at the position of ports and the businesses that operate within them, following the end of the use of the prescribed formula.
18. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made in identifying suitable sites for proposed eco-towns. 
In April we announced the shortlist of locations for consultation in Eco-towns - living a greener future. We received a good response to the first stage consultation and we will shortly publish the draft
planning policy statement and sustainability appraisal for consultation. These will set out more details about the locations.
19. Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what plans she has to improve the provision of affordable housing in the north-west. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Government have recently approved a new regional spatial strategy for the North West. This requires local authorities to undertake strategic housing market assessments in order to assess the need for affordable housing within their area and carry this forward in their local development frameworks.
The Government have also announced six new growth points within the North West. Local authorities are currently working up programmes of development for these growth points in which we expect the issue of affordability to be addressed.
22. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what progress has been made against the Governments targets for the provision of affordable housing in the last two years; and if she will make a statement. 
Margaret Beckett: For the Spending Review 2004, covering 2005-06 to 2007-08, we were set a target to deliver 75,000 social rented homes over the three-year time span. Provisional figures indicate that we have met this target.
20. Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department plans to take to unlock the talent of communities through regeneration. 
Hazel Blears: We are enabling people to make the most of their potential and tackle the barriers that communities face through regeneration. Our new regeneration framework reinforces the importance of connecting deprived areas to opportunity and involving residents in decisions about regeneration priorities.
We are investing over £1.5 billion in the Working Neighbourhoods Fund and over £100 million via the Local Enterprise Growth Initiative. Both are focused on the most deprived areassupporting local innovative approaches to help residents to get into and get on in the labour market; and helping potential entrepreneurs to start up new businesses. Our White Paper Communities in control: real people, real power marks an important step in the transfer of power, changing the culture in public services and the terms of the debate. In particular, it sets out:
A requirement for councils to respond to all local petitions;
A new duty to promote democracy to put local authorities at the heart of connecting people with public decisions; and
A new £70 million community builders fund to support community organisations across England to acquire and run community buildings, provide local services and become more financially self sustainable.
23. Lyn Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions she has had with the Mayor of London on the potential contribution of the legacy of the 2012 Olympic Games to regeneration in London. 
Hazel Blears: I have met the London Mayor on two occasions to discuss the potential contribution of legacy from the 2012 Olympic Games to regeneration in London. Firstly, at a bi-lateral meeting on 3 September at my offices. Secondly, at the Olympic Park Regeneration Steering Group (OPRSG) at City Hall on 8 October. The Mayor chairs OPRSG, a group which includes the Leaders and Mayors of the five host boroughs, the Minister for London and the Olympics and the Minister for Housing, and reports to the Olympic Board on legacy issues.
Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) how many people were employed by the Architects Registration Board in each year since its establishment; 
(2) what the percentage change in fees for examination by the Architects Registration Board or its committee under section 4(2) for equivalence to a prescribed qualification is between those established for 2008 and those to be charged in 2009; 
(3) what the annual running costs of the Architects Registration Board were in each year since its establishment in 2007-08 prices; 
(4) what the expected cost is of the ongoing refurbishment of the headquarters of the Architects Registration Board. 
Mr. Iain Wright: These are operational matters for the Architects Registration Board. I have asked the registrar and chief executive of the Architects Registration Board to write to the hon. Member directly.
Letter from Karen Holmes dated 13 October 2008:
I am writing in response to your recent questions to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. I have listed the answers to each question in turn.
1. What is the percentage increase in fees for examination by the Architects Registration Board or its Committee under Section 4(2) for equivalence to a prescribed qualifications between those established for 2008 and those to be charged in 2009?
The percentage increase on the 2008 fee is 14.88%. The Board's policy regarding the examination fee is that it should be self-financing, that is, it should not be subsidised by architects. The fee has been held at the same level since 2007 and is being increased for 2009 solely as a result of increased costs in its operation.
2. What were the annual running costs of the Architects Registration Board in each year since its establishment in 2007/2008?
We have calculated the figures you requested using the appropriate year's Retail Price Index, excluding mortgage payments. Please note that the figures for 2008 are not yet available, but will be published in due course. Information about the Board and its work is in its 2007 annual report, and I am pleased to enclose a copy for you. It is also published on our website, www.arb.org.uk.
|Actual total expenditure||Total expenditure at 2008 prices|
3. What is the expected cost of the ongoing refurbishment of the headquarters of the Architects Registration Board?
The Board recently agreed a budget allocation for 2009 of £350,000, excluding professional fees, to refurbish its offices. The Board's landlords commenced negotiations with the Board in 2004 as they wished to extend their Weymouth Street premises. The Board used this opportunity to negotiate a more flexible and modern lease, as the previous lease was particularly onerous in terms of length.
A significant advantage of the additional space secured as part of the negotiations will be for the Board to hold its public Board meetings in-house rather than having to use external premises. The Board has also welcomed the opportunity to deliver compliance with regard to its responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Part of the refurbishment plan will be both to install a disabled lift access to the main reception area and compliant toilet facilities, along with additional assistance for people with hearing impairments. Although an overall budget allocation of £350,000 has been made, the project is at an early stage with the final specification and tender document yet to be agreed. The Board is very conscious of its obligations to be prudent and economical and will ensure that the project not only delivers the Board's objectives, but also offers value for money.
4. How many people have been employed by the Architects Registration Board in each year since its establishment?
The details are as follows.
The increase to the Board's staff resources has been necessary for the Board to continue to deliver its statutory functions. More information about the Board's increased workload is in the 2007 annual report.
I hope the information I have set out in this letter has been of assistance, and has helped to address any concerns you may have had. I do know that both the Board's Chairman, Michael Starling, and Registrar, Alison Carr, would be very pleased to meet you to discuss the Board and its work in more detail. Please let me know if you would like to accept this offer to meet, so that we can arrange a date that is convenient for you.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what types of development she has considered exempting from the requirement to pay the proposed community infrastructure levy; 
(2) when she plans to publish the categories of development to be exempt from paying the community infrastructure levy; 
(3) whether she will make it her policy that developments that promote sport or physical activity be exempt from paying the community infrastructure levy. 
Mr. Iain Wright: As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government stated when the Planning Bill was in Commons Committee, our principal starting point is that almost all developments will have some imposition and impact on the need for infrastructure, and some call on local services or amenities. In addition, exemptions to, or reductions from, CIL may cause complexity and distortion and reduce fairness. Therefore, the Government envisage that most types of development will be liable to pay CIL.
The Government will however consider the case for exemptions when consulting on the regulations to implement CIL, and will set out the exemptions available in the final regulations. Any exemptions we create must be legally robust and based on coherent criteria, such as those set out at page 60 of the CIL policy document published in August.
Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether developments in receipt of funding from the community infrastructure levy will be exempt from paying the levy charge. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) clauses in the Planning Bill, now in the other place, stipulate that CIL funding may be applied only to infrastructure that supports the development of an area. Infrastructure in itself has other impacts on infrastructure. For instance, a power station might place new burdens on the local road network. Therefore, the Government do not consider it right to provide an automatic exemption from paying CIL for developments that have been in receipt of CIL funding.
This is not to say that there will be no exemptions from CIL. The Government will consider the case for exemptions when consulting on regulations, and as we made clear in the CIL policy document published on 5 August, any exemptions from CIL will be decided on the basis of the criteria set out at page 60 of our publication, available at:
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