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Annette Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what criteria she will apply in terms of building on a flood plain in her consideration of the South West Regional Spatial Strategy. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The Secretary of State will take account of all relevant evidence that has come forward throughout the preparation of the regional spatial strategy (RSS), including the strategic flood risk assessment and any new evidence included in responses to the consultation on the RSS proposed changes. The proposed changes have also been subject to sustainability appraisal which has taken detailed account of the regional flood risk assessment while all such evidence will be considered against the Governments policy set out in Planning Policy Statement 25.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many times her Department and its predecessors have used the powers of the Secretary of State to take over local authority services under the Local Government Act 1999. 
Hazel Blears: This Department has used powers available to the Secretary of State under the Local Government Act 1999 to take over local authority services on two occasions. Hull was subject to a Direction in November 2003 following a second adverse corporate governance inspection. Hackney was subject to Directions issued in September 2001 and January 2002.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the (a) highest and (b) lowest ranking on the barrier to housing and services domain on the index of multiple deprivation is of each of the principal seaside towns in England and Wales in descending order and giving the name of each lower super output area included. 
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many houses of multiple occupation are (a) registered and (b) not registered in each of the 37 principal seaside towns in England. 
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what representations she has received from local businesses on the effect on payable rates of installing shutters, security cameras and other security measures. 
Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how long the Valuation Office took on average to decide a new rateable value for a business in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2007-08. 
John Healey: For cases involving normal updating of the rating lists in England and Walesinvolving of the order of 250,000 cases per yearthe average elapsed times in number of working days were as follows:
Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent discussions she has had with the Treasury on the Valuation Offices ability to increase business rates; and if she will make a statement. 
John Healey: None. The VOA has a statutory duty to compile and maintain accurate rating lists. Alterations to the rateable value of non-domestic properties are notified to the relevant billing authority who reassess liability for business rates and issue bills to ratepayers.
Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (1) what powers are available to the Valuation Office to make retrospective decisions on business rates for more than two past years; 
Valuation officers are required to maintain accurate rating lists. When they become aware a change is needed, they must make the alteration and also specify the date from which the change should be effective for rates charging purposes. The date of the change is governed by (legislative) regulations. Where the correction is to insert a property which existed on or before 1 April 2005, into the list, these require the alteration to be
made from the start of the rating list, currently 1 April 2005. Valuation officers do not legally have discretion on the effective date.
Grant Shapps: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the timetable for the designation of regional development agencies as regional planning bodies is; and whether additional legislation will be required to effect this change. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The consultation on the Review of Sub National Economic Development and Regeneration included proposals to give regional development agencies, responsibility for regional planning. We intend to publish our response to that consultation shortly.
Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what funding (a) her Department and (b) the Government Offices for the Regions have given to regional loans partnerships; and how many such partnerships exist. 
Mr. Iain Wright: £10.2 billion has been allocated by my Department for 2008-11 for regional housing capital programmes including those which address the condition of private sector housing stock. Of this almost £2 billion is for improvements and regeneration to the existing stock (both local authority owned and private sector). We have issued guidance to Regional Assemblies which asks them to continue to prioritise those most in need with the expectation that packages of assistance including grants, loans, and equity release schemes are made available to individual homeowners.
Any loans scheme receiving public funding should have the long-term objective of becoming self-financing. Schemes should not necessarily operate within a single government office geographical region but should build on existing good practice, and have regional or sub-regional coverage.
|Number of rough sleepers in Cornwall based on rough sleeper counts by individual local authorities|
|Caradon||Carrick||Kerrier||North Cornwall||Penwith||Restormel||Total for Cornwall|
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many councils have applied for funding to buy vacant properties for local housing purposes in the last six months; and whether funding has been made available to local authorities on the same basis as to registered social landlords. 
Mr. Iain Wright: I refer the hon. Members to our 2 September 2008 statement on the package of measures responding to housing market conditions which confirmed that the social housing grant would be opened up to all stock-owning local authorities as well as local authorities with arms length management organisations. We are working with the Housing Corporation on the practicalities and the timetable for delivering this. No local authorities have applied for funding so far.
We have also introduced other measures to create incentives for councils to build and acquire new homes. S313 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 provides that councils can keep the full rental income from new council homes (including newly built and newly acquired properties). We also intend to make changes to the capital regulations, in order to allow councils to keep the full receipts from new council homes. We expect to consult shortly on the use of S313 power and the capital receipts regulations which aim to enable councils to benefit in full from rental income or sales receipts from properties that have been built or acquired since this planned change to these rules.
Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what inspections the Audit Commission has undertaken of Haringey Councils social services department since 2000. 
Hazel Blears: The chief executive of the Audit Commission has today written to the hon. Member explaining that although responsibility for inspecting social services lies primarily with other inspectorates, the Commission was represented on the Joint Area Review of childrens services in Haringey that reported in October 2006. The findings of the Joint Area Review were reflected in the Commissions corporate assessment of Haringey council, also published in 2006.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many attacks there were by insurgents against British armed forces in Helmand province in Afghanistan in (a) 2006-07 and (b) 2007-08. 
Mr. Hutton: The number of direct engagements (regardless of the instigator) involving the international security assistance force (ISAF) and insurgents in Helmand province for the last three years are as follows:
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