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Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, pursuant to the answer of 7 May 2002, Official Report, column 22W, on local authority capital receipts, concerning his intention to pool housing capital receipts from debt-free authorities (a) what proportion of the receipts will be pooled, (b) on what basis and to which other local authorities the money will be redistributed, (c) on what date this arrangement will be implemented; (d) how this arrangement will encourage existing debt-free authorities to remain so and others to become debt-free, (e) whether the new arrangements will apply to clawbacks from previous large scale voluntary transfers of council housing and (f) how these proposals will help those local authorities who have difficulties in providing additional affordable housing due to the high price of buildings. 
Mr. McNulty: Our consultation paper ''The Way Forward for Housing Capital Finance'', issued in August, sought views on the detailed mechanism of the capital receipts pooling regime. The consultation period ended last Friday and we will make a further announcement when we have considered the responses. As the then Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the member for Northampton, North (Ms Keeble) said in her reply on 7 May 2002, Official Report, Hansard (col. 2122W) these changes will be introduced alongside the wider changes to the local authority capital finance system which required primary legislation; the timing of this is still to be decided.
The proposal is about sharing out funding for investment fairly among local housing authorities. The current arrangements for redistributing the spending power of capital receipts do not apply to all authorities. Debt-free authorities are exemptthey retain all their capital receipts, and so finance substantially more investment from receipts than other authorities, regardless of their relative need to spend.
There is no good reason for this anomaly. Pooling will ensure that capital resources are better targeted, so that all housing authorities have the access they need to fund new affordable housing and bring their stock up to decent standard. Without this, either investment in housing by the most needy authorities would need to fall, or substantial increases in taxes would be necessary to make good the money that debt-free authorities retain.
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Mr. McNulty: The figures for the number of permanent dwellings completed in England since 198081 by Registered Social Landlords and Local Authorities are given in the table below. The total numbers of completions, including private enterprise figures have also been given for comparison purposes.
|Fin Year||Registered Social Landlords||Local Authority||RSL plus LA||All Dwellings|
ODPM Housing statistics
Mr. McNulty: Planning policies for affordable housing are set out in Planning Policy Guidance note 3, Housing, and in Circular 6/98, Planning and Affordable Housing. Local authorities are expected to plan to meet the housing requirements of the whole community, including those in need of affordable housing. To encourage mixed and balanced communities, local authorities should ensure that new housing developments help to secure a better social mix by avoiding the creation of large areas of housing of similar characteristics.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the Court of Appeal decisions in (a) R. v Brent London Borough Council and Others (b) R. v Oxfordshire County Council's Exclusion Panel and Another on planning guidance notes and what plans he has to withdraw paragraph 98 of PPG8 so that local planning authorities may be able to take into account health affects and concerns relating to telephone masts. 
Mr. McNulty: Planning Policy Guidance Note 1 ''General Policy and Principles'' clearly states that in principle any consideration which relates to the use and development of land is capable of being a planning
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consideration. Whether a particular consideration falling within that broad class is material in any given case will depend on the circumstances.
The Courts have also held that the Government's statements of planning policy are material considerations which must be taken into account, where relevant, in decisions on planning applications. These statements cannot make irrelevant any matter which is a material consideration in a particular case. But, where such statements indicate the weight that should be given to relevant considerations, decision-makers must have proper regard to them. If they elect not to follow relevant statements of the Government's planning policy, they must give clear and convincing reasons (E C Grandsen and Co Ltd v SSE and Gillingham BC 1985).
Current planning guidance on telecommunications is set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 8 (revised) (PPG8). PPG8 states that health considerations and public concern can in principle be material considerations in determining applications for planning permission and prior approval. Whether such matters are material in a particular case is ultimately a matter for the courts. It is for the decision-maker (usually the local planning authority) to determine what weight to attach to such considerations in any particular case.
However, it is the Government's firm view that the planning system is not the place for determining health safeguards. It remains central Government's responsibility to decide what measures are necessary to protect public health. In the Government's view, if a proposed mobile phone base station meets the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines for public exposure it should not be necessary for a local planning authority, in processing an application for planning permission or prior approval, to consider further the health aspects and concerns about them.
Martin Linton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the classes of key workers that have benefited and stand to benefit from the starter home initiative in London so far; and what decision he has made on which groups of key workers will benefit in the next round of funding. 
Mr. McNulty: #146 million Starter Home Initiative funding was allocated in September 2001 to help 4,600 key workers in London into home ownership by March 2004. The key workers in London benefiting from the Initiative are primarily teachers, police and health workers; and also some social workers, care workers, transport workers and fire fighters. We are considering, as part of our long term programme of action for housing, how key workers can best be targeted for housing assistance beyond March 2004, and will make an announcement about this at the turn of the year.
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Martin Linton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many homes for key workers, by London borough, have been built or are under construction through the starter home initiative; and how many start-ups are expected in 200304. 
Mr. McNulty: The majority of Starter Home Initiative (SHI) funding is helping key workers to buy existing properties on the open market. As at the end of September 2002, some 460 key workers across London had purchased homes with SHI assistance. A further 4,140 in London should be helped through the Initiative by March 2004.
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