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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 15 March 2002

WORK AND PENSIONS

Hospital Stays (Benefit Claims)

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many people in Scotland have been claiming benefits whilst staying in long stay hospitals in (a) each of the past five years and (b) the current financial year; and what the forecast is for the next three years; [41834]

Maria Eagle [holding answer 11 March 2002]: The information is not available in the format requested.

Disability Living Allowance

Paul Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proposals he has to clarify the conditions of entitlement for the lower rate mobility component of disability living allowance. [44433]

Maria Eagle: Regulations have today been laid before Parliament together with copies of the Social Security Advisory Committee's report on them and the Secretary of State's response to that report.

The regulations make clear that for a severely disabled person to qualify for the lower rate mobility component of Disability Living Allowance on the grounds that fear or anxiety prevents them from walking out of doors on unfamiliar routes without guidance or supervision from another person most of the time, the fear or anxiety must be a symptom of a mental disability. This clarification is needed to remove uncertainty and the possibility of misinterpretation of the qualifying conditions in these circumstances. The regulations do not otherwise alter the conditions for entitlement to the lower rate mobility component, and severely disabled people whose physical or mental disabilities alone mean that they cannot walk out of doors on unfamiliar routes without guidance or supervision from another person most of the time will continue to qualify.

Minimum Income Guarantee

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much additional money, in total per year, would be paid to pensioners in North Norfolk if those not presently claiming the minimum income guarantee were to claim it. [43694]

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Malcolm Wicks: The information requested is unavailable.

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many entitled non-recipients of the minimum income guarantee there are in (a) the North Norfolk constituency and (b) England. [43695]

Maria Eagle: Estimates of the number of pensioners who may be entitled to but have not claimed the Minimum Income Guarantee are not available below national level. National estimates are contained in the publication "Take Up of Income Related Benefits: Statistics for 1999–2000". A copy is held in the Library.

PRIME MINISTER

Civil Servants

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Prime Minister if he will set out for each Civil Service grade within his (a) Department and (b) Department's executive agencies the (i) total number of staff employed, (ii) number aged (A) 16 to 25, (B) 26 to 35, (C) 36 to 45, (D) 46 to 60 and (E) over the age of 60 years, (iii) number of registered disabled and (iv) number of ethnic minorities. [39153]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office on 13 March 2002, Official Report, column 1072W.

Relocation Expenses

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister what his policy is on the payment of relocation expenses to staff in his office. [41017]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office on 14 March 2002, Official Report, columns 1207–08W.

Gender Pay Gap

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the extent of the gender pay gap amongst staff in his Office. [40942]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office on 12 March 2002, Official Report, column 956W.

Zimbabwe

Mr. Brady: To ask the Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral statement of 6 March 2002, Official Report, column 303, on the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, what plans he has to consult on the Zimbabwe's attendance at the Commonwealth Games, following the outcome of the Zimbabwean election; and if he will report the outcome if his consultations to Parliament. [43829]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 11 March 2002, Official Report, column 682W.

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DEFENCE

Private Simon Jeans

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions since 1997 he has made representations to his Croatian counterpart regarding the killing of Private Simon Jeans in Split, Croatia, in September 1996. [43302]

Mr. Ingram: The case was raised at Ministerial level with the Croatian Defence Minister, during his visit to the UK in March 2000. This was in addition to regular dialogue between the British Embassy and Defence Staff in Zagreb and Split, and the Croatian authorities, throughout the course of the trial of those accused of killing Private Jeans.

Colerne Airfield

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what long-term plans he has for Colerne Airfield; [43522]

Mr. Ingram: An internal study into the future location of 21 Signal Regiment (AS), currently based at Azimghur Barracks, has been completed recently. The study concluded that in principle there were sound operational and financial reasons to support a move of the unit to Gamecock Barracks, Bramcote where it would be co-located with 30 Signal Regiment.

Colerne Airfield is not part of this work and there are no plans for its closure. The two other units at Colerne—1001 Support Unit RAF and Bristol University Air Squadron—are also not part of this internal study, but as the hon. Member is aware, we are undertaking a separate review of University Air Squadron Flying.

Further work is required before any decision to move 21 Signal Regiment could be finalised, and it would be premature therefore to make a statement about the future of Azimghur Barracks at this stage. The Ministry of Defence will, of course, be consulting with the Trade Unions and the 81 civilian staff who support 21 Signal Regiment in due course. I will write to the hon. Member once a final decision in made and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many flights by Bristol University OTC there have been in each of the last five years from Colerne Airfield. [43520]

Mr. Ingram: The information is not held in the format requested. However, it is possible to provide the number of hours which Bristol University Air Squadron flew in each of the last four years from Colerne Airfield. The Tutor aircraft used by the University Air Squadron are also used by the No. 3 Air Cadet Air Experience Flight and the hours flown by them are also shown.

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Financial YearUniversity Air SquadronAir Experience Flight
1998–991,5802,825
1999–20001,6682,428
2000–011,5512,218
2001–02*1,3621,832

* to date

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of where Bristol University OTC will train if Colerne Airfield closes. [43521]

Mr. Ingram: There are no plans for Colerne Airfield to close, so no assessment of alternative locations for Bristol University Air Squadron to train has been undertaken. A review of University Air Squadron flying is being undertaken, but this is not specific to the Bristol University Air Squadron and the outcome of the review will not be known until the end of April at the earliest.

Harrier Aircraft

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost is of the Harrier GR7 upgrade; and if he will make a statement. [43634]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 13 March 2002, Official Report, columns 1166–67W.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Harrier GR7 will be upgraded to GR9 standard; and what the estimated completion date is of the upgrade programme. [43633]

Mr. Ingram: We currently plan to upgrade 68 Harrier GR7 aircraft to the GR9 standard with the work being completed during 2008.


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