Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160 - 179)



  160. Sorry, what was not agreed?
  (Mr Tebbit) A simplified process. You are talking about a simplified process.

  161. Are you saying you had investigated it?
  (Mr Tebbit) Yes.

  162. You agreed to investigate it?
  (Mr Tebbit) That is right.

  163. And you have investigated it?
  (Mr Tebbit) And we need to agree detailed dilapidations in order to ensure propriety and therefore we cannot simply speed it up if we are not able to ensure propriety.

  164. Are you saying you have investigated the possibility but you have found it was not a good idea?
  (Mr Tebbit) Some initial dilapidation claims have been six times the figure we finally settled on. That is my concern. I do not want to pay six times as much.

  165. If I may say so, you are not answering my question.
  (Mr Tebbit) Ask your question again.

  166. I asked you if you had done the investigation and, if so, what was the result. That was the question I originally asked of Mr Wilson and you answered for Mr Wilson. I now understand you think you can answer that question.
  (Mr Tebbit) It is my responsibility as accounting officer to answer it, and it is my answer, that this is not agreed, after looking at it, because Annington Homes themselves are not willing to simplify the process on the only terms that we could do so. We ourselves need to negotiate and agree detailed dilapidations in order to ensure financial propriety and to ensure we do not pay more for dilapidations than we need to.

  167. I think that is the best answer I am going to get, Chairman.
  (Mr Tebbit) That is the formal answer from the accounting officer.

Mr Gardiner

  168. I do not want to pursue dilapidations too vigorously because Mr Rendel has already done a very good job. Can I ask for a yes or no answer? Has the inquiry been done? Has the investigation been done?
  (Mr Tebbit) The investigation was done with that answer.

  169. The investigation was done?
  (Mr Tebbit) Yes, it was looked into by the Department. If you want more details of what that involved, I would have to give you a note on that because I honestly do not know how much detail was gone into.

  170. That was a long "yes". The investigation has been done?
  (Mr Tebbit) Yes.

  171. Can I ask on dilapidations, is there a cash limited budget for dilapidations payments?
  (Mr Tebbit) There is an amount for dilapidations but I would not like to tell you exactly how much it is because again that would give information to Anningtons.

  172. I did not ask for the amount, I asked whether there was a cash limited budget.
  (Mr Tebbit) Yes, cash limited negotiated.

  173. What I was getting at was that you know in any given year what your budget for dilapidations is?
  (Mr Tebbit) I know how much we are spending, yes.

  174. Does that mean there is a problem in speeding up the transfer of properties with dilapidations if you should then come up against your budget limit, so there is a limit to the number of dilapidated houses you can dispose of?
  (Mr Tebbit) In theory, I suppose you are right, we could reach that limit. In practice, the limit is reached more quickly over the problem of moving people mid-tour. The biggest constraint on releasing more property more quickly is that we would have to move people out of houses in order to release them in the middle of their tour. As I have explained, as it is they move every 18 months to two years.

  175. If the answer is, it is not a problem, then that is the answer.
  (Mr Tebbit) The main constraint is people, not money.

  176. What I want the Committee to be satisfied about is that there is no perverse incentive to actually reduce the number of transfers below that which would otherwise be desirable because of the limits of the dilapidations budget. You are giving us that assurance?
  (Mr Tebbit) Yes, I can. Giving stability to people is the main consideration.

  177. If I could now move to the question I really wanted to ask, how many properties are surplus and awaiting demolition? I think it is 632. How many have been demolished?
  (Mr Tebbit) I cannot tell you.

  178. What is the total of pregnant ghosts, if I might put it that way?
  (Mr Tebbit) For the current year there are 160 demolitions which will be achieved by the 31st March. A large proportion of those relate to Scotland, not to England, and therefore do not fall within the terms of the Annington Homes Agreement.

  179. I understood that there were 867 awaiting demolition as at 30/9/99.
  (Mr Wilson) I would have to re-check the figures. Some houses are due for demolition because there are new houses to be built on the site[11].

  (Mr Tebbit) I will be happy to let you have a note on the position of our demolitions.

11   Note by Witness: The figure of 867 properties for demolition has been checked and is correct as at 30 September 1999. Back

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