Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60
MONDAY 30 OCTOBER 2000
TEBBIT, CMG, AIR
60. I understand why you say that but if it
is your view that the balance is wrong, one would assume you would
at least enter into discussions with Annington about trying to
correct that. That may well mean you have to revalue whatever
financial arrangements are in place but has that been in any of
your considerations so far?
(Mr Tebbit) Yes. We do explore and are exploringforgive
me I do not want to go into detail but I would like to give you
the assurance we do keep talking to Anningtonwhether there
are more cost-effective ways of working the relationship, particularly
in this area of the cost of dilapidations and in the area of general
administration. It is not just with Anningtons, we are looking
at any other way of making the management of the estate more efficient.
It is not a static thing.
61. You mentioned the 58 per cent discount on
commercial rates, what is your actual gross payment of rent per
annum to Annington?
(Mr Tebbit) I seem to recall it is about 109 million
62. Can I ask first of all what proportion,
or what number, within the 60,000 or so properties are on secure
estates behind the wire?
(Mr Wilson) About 15 per cent.
63. So we are talking of around 10,000?
(Mr Wilson) It is a moveable issue insofar as where
we are undertaking large disposals at the moment, for example
at RAF Wyton and RAF Chicksands, we are actually moving the wire
to free up the estate so we can conduct future disposals more
64. How many of the wires could not be moved
so that all the housing became outside the wire?
(Mr Wilson) I do not think we have done that particular
exercise but there are a number of large military basesBlandford
comes to mindwhere there are a large number of married
quarters in the centre of the garrison well behind the wire. What
we have tried to do where we can, where those houses are of an
acceptable size, is modernise and put investment into those houses
which are behind the wire and then to dispose of further houses
outside the wire. It is part of the estate management process.
(Air Marshal Pledger) In terms of management risk,
we would not necessarily want to do that. If those houses are
part of the long-term core requirement that we define, we will
probably want to maintain that.
65. My question was really, I suppose, how many
could be put outside the wire, not how many would you want to
at this moment given your requirement. I was interested to know
how many were on the edge of estates and therefore could be put
outside the wire. How many of those 10,000 properties are currently
(Mr Wilson) I do not have an analysis of the rates
behind the wire and outside the wire separately. At the moment,
we are actually moving the wire over the next few months relating
to at least 400 properties.
(Mr Tebbit) I think that is important, if I may say
so. Having DHE as an agency helps to challenge some of the military
reluctance, which is quite natural. It is quite healthy to have
a military judgment which is that we want to keep everything where
it is and appropriately serviced so we are absolutely sure of
meeting our operational tasks, and a Housing Executive which is
incentivised to say, "We need to dispose of this, we need
to alter this, we need to change the wire where we can",
and that does happen.
66. How many tenants do you currently have who
are not eligible for that housing inside the wire, who have been
given properties that were empty?
(Mr Tebbit) I do not think that really happens because
we would not rent out properties inside the wire unless we thought
there was a fairly long-term possibility of staying, which is
unlikely, because otherwise we would try and get rid of it. There
is virtually none.
67. The reason they were not rented out was
because people would not want them.
(Air Marshal Pledger) They may not welcome the process
that they would have to go through in terms of security and checks.
68. Your indication was that the reason you
were not doing it was because people would not want it, not because
you did not want it. I am just trying to check out the reason.
(Mr Tebbit) I was talking about the Service families
who were being housed for operational requirement. You are talking
about people from the private sector who might otherwise rent
69. I am asking how many of these properties
that have become empty behind the wire are rented out and you
(Mr Tebbit) None behind the wire.
70. We had an indication earlier that people
would not want that.
(Air Marshal Pledger) It is because of operational
security. It is behind the wire. We would not be able to get them
the clearance in relation to short-term tenancies.
(Mr Tebbit) We are talking about mixed estates which
are not behind wires.
71. I am interested in mixed estates behind
(Mr Tebbit) There are none by definition.
72. Why not?
(Mr Tebbit) Because of operational security.
73. Why do you think you could not get operational
(Mr Tebbit) The purpose of military housing is to
enable the Ministry of Defence to deliver its function. If there
is a security requirement, then it would not be appropriate to
let it out to non-entitled people. However, there are some categories
of people who might not be in the Armed Forces, who are eligible
rather than entitled, defence civilians who may be working and
have a requirement to work and be available outside ordinary working
74. Those people have all gone through certain
checks. Why should you not put other people through those checks
and rent out the empty properties?
(Mr Tebbit) I would put it the other way around, why
should we really want to do that?
75. It would save you money.
(Mr Tebbit) If we have a requirement for that property,
then that property will probably be queuing up to have somebody
sent into it on deployment. If we do not have a requirement for
that property, we will be seeking to parcel it and make it available
to Annington's, and redefine the wire so we can let the parcel
76. You have already told us that the process
of parcelling up properties and then selling them off takes a
long time. Meanwhile you could have people in there for a year
(Mr Tebbit) They are more likely to be filled up by
people who are being accommodated outside their ordinary entitlement.
There is an opportunity for people to be housed outside their
formal scale, or it may go to other purposes, such as eligible
rather than entitled groups.
77. I would be delighted if you did, but I find
it rather worrying that you do not seem to know how many such
properties there are that are empty. There is a case to be made
for making much greater effort to make sure those are filled.
(Mr Wilson) One mechanism we are seeking to operate
at the moment is to offer flats behind the wire to single soldiers
where there is a shortage of barrack accommodation. There have
been several examples recently where that has been successful.
We are continuing to pursue that.
78. I am delighted to hear that. It would be
helpful to know how many such properties there are. It is the
absence of information that surprises me from those trying to
manage this particular problem.
(Mr Tebbit) I am happy to meet Mr Rendel's request.
79. I want to get on to the question of disposing
of property. How many homes did you aim to dispose of during last
year? How many did you dispose of during 1999?
(Mr Tebbit) Anything we aimed to dispose of we will
have disposed of once we have gone through the disposal process.
The only failure or delay would be in the time it takes to complete
dilapidations or to gain all of the necessary utilities requirements.
7 See Appendix 1, p 23. Back