The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is still considering a number of points of detail on how merger of Regional Housing Boards and Regional Planning Bodies is best effected, but hope to make a positive announcement shortly.
Regional Housing Boards provide advice to Ministers on the allocation of housing capital investment: final decisions rest with Ministers, as would be the case should Regional Assemblies take over their work.
Regional Assemblies are voluntary bodies and not therefore subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. However, "Guidance on the General Principles of Designation of Voluntary Regional Assemblies", issued by my Department in October 2004 states:
"The Assembly should conduct its proceedings as openly and transparently as possible, and should have policies and procedures in place to ensure the integrity of its decisions and activities. Although not subject to the legislation, the Assembly should be mindful of the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and should ensure that its constitution and activities are consistent with the spirit of the legislation".