HC Deb 13 February 2004 vol 418 cc330-2W
Mr. Dhanda

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment his Department has made of the distribution of grants between local authorities in 2003–04. [153302]

Mr. Raynsford

The new system for distributing formula grant to local authorities was introduced in 2003–04 following an extensive review involving both central and local government, and a full and open public consultation exercise.

The new system was designed to distribute grant to local authorities according to their relative circumstances—or relative need. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is satisfied that the new grant distribution system is both fair and sustainable.

Mr. Dhanda

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has received from local authorities in the current financial year in connection with the central Government grants they have received. [153303]

Mr. Raynsford

As part of the consultation on the provisional local government finance settlement 2004–05, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister received 454 written responses from 275 individual authorities, MPs and others. A further 34 arrived after the close of consultation. Ministers also met delegations from the Local Government Association, the Association of London Government and four groups of local authorities. Parliament has now approved the settlement which provides local authorities with a 5.5 per cent. increase in general grant.

Mr. Laurence Robertson

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will issue(a) regulations and (b) guidance to local authorities with regard to retrospective membership of pension schemes by part-time employees; and if he will make a statement. [155004]

Phil Hope

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is carefully considering the case for making regulations to empower local authorities to deal with any Local Government Pension Scheme cases which have not been referred to an Employment Tribunal but which constitute a valid claim in all other respects.

The Local Government Pensions Committee of the Employers' Organisation for Local Government, in consultation with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, have issued guidance to local authorities consequent on directions from the Employment Tribunal. Further guidance in relation to the Local Government Pension Scheme is being prepared. As a result, many claims lodged with Employment Tribunals have now either been struck out or are in the process of being settled by employing authorities. Some claims may be affected by certain legal issues which have yet to be resolved.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many copies of the leaflet entitled "How you can shape the future of local government in your area" have been distributed in(a) Cheshire, (b) Lancashire, (c) Cumbria, (d) Greater Manchester, (e) Merseyside and (f) the North West Region; and what verification has been carried out to establish how many leaflets have been received by (i) households in each of those areas listed and by what date they were delivered and (ii) electors on the electoral register in the areas listed in (a) to (f), with reference to (A) date of the register and (B) date of receipt. [155626]

Mr. Raynsford

The conduct of local government reviews, including consultation on the draft recommendations, is a matter for the independent Boundary Committee.