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28 Oct 2003 : Column 205Wcontinued
Keith Hill: Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidy is payable to all housing authorities who retain control of their housing stock, including those who have set up an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) or entered into a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract. HRA subsidy entitlement is calculated on the basis of assumed need. An authority that has no housing stock, and has closed its HRA, will not therefore be entitled to HRA subsidy.
Funding provided to support housing investment by local authorities is based on indices which reflect a range of housing needs including the renovation backlog in the council housing stock. Again, these indices will be adjusted when stock is transferred to a registered social landlord.
Mr. Raynsford: Figures for the average Band D council tax for each parliamentary constituency in England are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. This is because the boundaries of most constituencies do not coincide with those of local authorities, and figures are not collected in such a way as to allow reliable estimates for constituency areas to be produced.
It is possible, however, to provide figures for the average Band D area council tax for 200304 for each of the billing authority areas lying partly or wholly within each English parliamentary constituency. A table giving this information is available in the Library of the House.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister pursuant to the answer of 20 October 2003, Official Report, column 403W, on councillors (tenure), when he expects to bring forward legislation to extend the tenure of those councillors affected. 
Mr. Raynsford: The Government will shortly be launching a consultation paper on drafts of the relevant Statutory Instruments. It hopes to be able to lay a final draft before the House by the end of this year, and subject to parliamentary approval, make the order by the end of January 2004.
Bob Russell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) how many family houses for rent he estimates will be built in the Colchester constituency in the next two years from the funds he has provided for the east of England; 
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Keith Hill: It will be for Regional Housing Board to prioritise the use of resources the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has provided to the east of England amounting to £330 million over two years (200405 to 200506). Where funding is being provided by the Housing Corporation, registered social landlords (RSLs) will be expected to bid for funds in line with both regional and local priorities, the latter being set by the local authorities.
Keith Hill: There are no recommended standards for occupancy but the "bedroom standard" has been used as a statistical measure of under-occupancy/overcrowding since the 1970's. Using data from the Survey of English Housing, averaged over the years 200001, 200102 and 200203 in order to provide a sufficiently large sample, the estimated number of households in overcrowded accommodation (i.e. one or more bedrooms below the standard) in the east of England was 35,000 households or 1.6 per cent. of all households in the region. For the whole of England there were estimated to be 501,000 households i.e. 2.4 per cent.
Mr. McWalter: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will take steps (a) to conserve the green belt in Hertfordshire and (b) to ensure that towns to the north of the M25 retain their distinctive character and are not joined together by ribbon development. 
Keith Hill: Hertfordshire is an area with strong housing pressures and very high house prices. Much of the county is covered by green belt. Through the Communities Plan the Government are committed to addressing the housing shortage in the greater south east by ensuring house building rates in existing plans are met and, where appropriatewith a strong emphasis on the growth areassuch rates are increased.
Government policy is that the essential characteristic of green belts is their permanence, that established boundaries should only be reviewed in exceptional circumstances, and that at the regional level the extent of green belt should at least be retained.
Notwithstanding the presumption that capacity within urban areas should be used first and the exemplary approach of Hertfordshire county council towards developing urban capacity, we accept that in the Hertfordshire context some limited local releases of green belt are likely to be required. The location of these will be defined through the regional planning and local
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Mrs. Calton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the real terms percentage change in (a) local government formula and (b) one-off grant funding was, broken down by (i) spending area and (ii) council, in each year since 199798. 
Keith Hill: The New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) was responsible for maintaining the Dome, and decommissioning its contents, from its closure on 31 December 2000 to end of June 2001. During this period, NMEC incurred expenditure of £8.2 million funded by the Lottery, although partially offset by net income of £3.9 million from the sale of assets following closure.
English Partnerships (EP) took over responsibility in July 2001, since when it has incurred expenditure of £6.3 million on maintaining the Dome, up to the end of August 2003. EP has also incurred expenditure of £6.7 million on decommissioning the Dome's contents and site preparation for its long-term use, and £7.4 million in connection with the current sale process, from February 2001 to the end of August 2003. £6.7 million was spent by EP on the earlier competition to find a long-term use for the Dome, which began in March 1999 and ended in February 2001. EP has received income, net of VAT, of £0.9 million for events held at the Dome since it became available for such use at the end of 2001, thereby reducing the amount of public money used to support the Dome. The remaining EP expenditure, and their future costs, will be recovered from eventual sale proceeds.
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Bob Russell: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will grant local authorities more powers to refuse applications by mobile telephone companies to erect telephone masts; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Raynsford: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is aware of the concerns about the current width of band A from people who live in lower value dwellings like park homes. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has announced that it will have a council tax revaluation in England in 2007 based on 1 April 2005 values and ahead of that will listen to the views of local government and taxpayers about council tax bands. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will decide on any changes to the banding structure nearer to the time of the revaluation.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what plans he has to introduce legislation to regulate park home sites, with particular reference to the purchasing and selling of homes; and if he will make a statement. 
Keith Hill: The Select Committee's report on the draft Housing Bill recommended that the Government should commit to introducing new legislation on park homes within the next two years. I cannot pre-empt the Government's response to the Select Committee's report, which will be published next month, nor the contents of the Queen's Speech.
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