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Rosie Cooper: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps her Department is taking to encourage local authorities to reduce the length of time they take to pay the invoices from small and medium-sized enterprises. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much funding her Department and its predecessor have given to the Local Government Information Unit in each of the last five years; and for what purposes. 
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government are taking to help local authorities prepare for local elections in areas where European elections will be held alongside those for local authorities. 
John Healey: The Government are working with the Electoral Commission, the Association of Electoral Administrators and other stakeholders including regional returning officers to ensure that all necessary legislation and guidance is in place for these elections. In particular in areas undergoing local government restructuring the Government legislated to enable those who will be responsible for the conduct of both local and European elections to begin preparations before 1 April 2009, the date new unitary authorities will become responsible for all local government services in their area.
John Healey: The Local e-Government Programme ended in April 2006 and recent steps are designed to build upon the e-government infrastructure that is now place across England to help transform local services to better meet citizens' needs and expectations. This is in line with commitments in the 'Communities in Control' White Paper and the cross-cutting Service Transformation Agreement published in October 2007. For example, as part of service transformation activity, Communities and Local Government is currently supporting the sector through its Efficiency and Transformation Capital Fund to develop second generation local authority websites which embrace Web 2.0 features such as social networking and information sharing.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what recent steps the Government have taken to promote local government services through the direct.gov portal. 
Mr. Khan: The Take-Up Campaign to encourage more people to use online council services was launched by Communities and Local Government on 8 May 2006. As part of campaign activity, a permanent destination page for local government services through the direct.gov portal has now been established at:
This page also supports the Local Directgov application, which takes users from the direct.gov website to the most relevant service page on their local council's website in just four mouse clicks, simply by entering details of their postcode, street, town or local authority name. Communities and Local Government also manages the Home and Community Franchise on the direct.gov portal, which covers a selection of local housing and neighbourhood services.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what statistics (a) her Department and (b) the Audit Commission collect on local authority chief executives pay. 
John Healey: Neither central Government nor the Audit Commission routinely collect the information requested on the salaries of local authority chief executives. The Commissions recent report on the labour market for council chief executives, Tougher at the Top?, drew on data from the Local Government Associations annual survey of chief executives and chief officers salaries. The report also used an Audit Commission database identifying rates of turnover, tenure length and sources of recruitment of single tier and county council chief executives since 1998. These data were collected specifically for the research. A copy of the report can be found on the Audit Commissions website:
Mr. Stewart Jackson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what retirement ages are set for members of the Local
Government Pension Scheme; and what estimate she has made of the number of scheme members eligible to retire at 60 years under the Rule of 85 test. 
John Healey: The Local Government Pension Scheme has a retirement age of 65 although members can choose to retire from age 60 when their pension may be subject to actuarial reduction. New benefit arrangements came into force from 1 April 2008, and as part of its development it was estimated that some 14 per cent. of members would be covered by the rule of 85 transitional protection up to 31 March 2016, and a further 6 per cent. by the removal of the tapered protection between 1 April 2016 and 31 March 2020.
Mr. Khan: Regional Ministers do not agree the regional transport funding allocations as this is the responsibility of the Transport Ministers. Regional Ministers however do work with regional partners to develop the regional priorities, providing advice and developing bids. They also support departmental Ministers to interpret the advice and have a role in disseminating messages in the region.
Mr. Khan: In February 2008, we announced a fund to manage the transitional impacts of migration which will be available to public services, including police forces, to promote innovative ways of working in this area. The fund will raise tens of millions of pounds and will start from April 2009.
John Healey: The Lyons Inquiry into local government considered the case for returning business rates to local control. Its analysis was that this would not be appropriate at the current time. The Government agreed. However, Sir Michael Lyons did recommend introducing a new local flexibility to set a supplement on business rates.
In October 2007, alongside the 2007 Pre-Budget Report and comprehensive spending review, the Government published Business rate supplements: a White Paper. The Business Rate Supplements Bill was then introduced in the House of Commons on 4 December 2008 and gives effect to the Governments proposals in the White Paper. The Bill provides the Greater London Authority and, outside London, upper tier local authorities with a discretionary power to levy a supplement on the business
rate and retain and invest the proceeds in additional projects aimed at promoting the economic development of local areas.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what account (a) local planning authorities and (b) the Planning Inspectorate will be required to take of national policy statements (i) before and (ii) after the Infrastructure Planning Commission is operational. 
Mr. Iain Wright: National Policy Statements (NPSs) will be statements of government policy. NPSs will provide a clear policy framework within which the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) will take decisions on nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs). NPSs may also set out policy which could have a bearing on smaller projects consented via other routes, including planning applications determined by local planning authorities (LPAs). Local planning authorities will have to take into account NPSs, as statements of government policy, when preparing their development plan documents, whether or not the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) is operational. Where development plan documents have not yet been updated to take account of a particular NPS, any relevant policy in the NPS should be taken into account by the LPA as a material consideration when making decisions on development applications.
The Planning Inspectorate will have to take account of national policy statements, as statements of Government policy, where they are relevant to a decision on a planning appeal, or when making a recommendation to the Secretary of State on applications which have been called in for determination by the Secretary of State. NPSs may be relevant to PINS cases whether or not the IPC is operational.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what funding her Department has provided for each Regional Centre of Excellence in the most recent year for which figures are available; and what the (a) title and (b) postal address is of each such centre. 
The Regional Centres of Excellence were subsumed with Regional Improvement Partnerships into Regional Improvemement and Efficiency Partnerships in April 2008. Due to the fact that Regional Centres of Excellence no longer exist there are no offices in place.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what the meaning is of the measurement ten rotor diameters of a turbine referred to in paragraph 76 of the Planning for Renewable Energy Companion Guide to PPS22; and what guidance has been provided on that meaning. 
Mr. Iain Wright: Shadow flicker from a wind turbine can be mitigated by siting it at sufficient distance from property likely to be affected. Flicker effects have been proven to occur only within 10 rotor diameters of a turbine. The minimum separation distance to avoid shadow flicker from a wind turbine is therefore derived by multiplying the proposed rotor diameter by 10. The Companion Guide to PPS22 provides a worked example (paragraph 76) and depicts diagrammatically (Figure 5, page 162) the measurement one rotor diameter.
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) of 29 January 2009, Official Report, column 711W, on rodents, what the timetable is for the publication of English Condition Survey research relating to the period after 2003-04. 
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government which registered social landlords (RSLs) operate cash incentive schemes to encourage under-occupying tenants to downsize; and how many RSL tenants have received money under this scheme in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in respect of how many individual properties in each local authority area records are held on the National Register for Social Housing. 
Mr. Iain Wright: The total number of dwellings recorded on the National Register of Social Housing database at 28th February 2009 and allocated to a local authority area was 2,437,927. The local authority area numbers requested have been placed in the Library of the House.
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