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MOD Land (Access)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the changes necessary to open up his Department's land to disabled people; and if he will make a statement. [44639]

Dr. Moonie: A pilot audit was undertaken using the BT millennium miles scheme that led to the upgrading of a track and path to improve wheelchair access, and more are planned. New paths have been constructed at Sennybridge, including one that will permit wheelchair access. This, together with paths at Lulworth, and Elstead Common, Longmoor, is promoted as "Easy-going Trails" in the fourth edition of "Walks on MOD Lands" and in the "Access" section of the DE website.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the public annually used the public access areas on his Department's land in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [44638]

Dr. Moonie: No comprehensive surveys have been carried out to establish the numbers of visitors who access the defence estate, However, in January 2002, as a first step in meeting the targets set by the estate strategy "In Trust and on Trust" (published in June 2000), pilot visitors surveys were carried out at the Aldershot training

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area and Willsworthy Ranges. These provided promising results, but need to be developed further before they are used elsewhere at suitable Ministry of Defence sites.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment has been made of public access to his Department's land; and if he will make a statement. [44637]

Dr. Moonie: There is a presumption in favour of access to the defence estate wherever this is compatible with operational and military training uses, public safety, security, conservation, and the interests of Ministry of Defence's tenants. This policy was set out in 2000 in the estate strategy "In Trust and on Trust" together with a number of objectives in respect of access and recreation.

A number of pilot studies have been carried out in furtherance of those objectives: at Willsworthy Ranges and Aldershot training area on visitor numbers, and two at Lulworth, on path conditions and applying the BT millennium miles scheme. This led to the upgrading of tracks at Lulworth to improve wheelchair access. Similar studies will be carried out elsewhere. A fourth edition of the booklet "Walks on MOD Lands", was published and the updated "Access" section of the defence estates website went live in November 2001.

These initiatives have been developed in conjunction with a variety of external stakeholders, and reflect the Ministry of Defence's continuing commitment to improving public access to the defence estate.

MOD Housing

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are taken to ensure that complaints from service personnel and their families about the suitability or condition of his Department's housing is investigated and dealt with; what targets the DHE has in dealing with complaints; what the level of achieving these targets was in the last year; what steps are being taken to improve the complaints procedure; and if he will make a statement. [44967]

Dr. Moonie: The Defence Housing Executive (DHE) has a formal procedure for investigating and resolving complaints about Service Families Accommodation (SFA), which is publicised in the Occupants Handbook. A copy is available in each family quarter. The current targets are to acknowledge written complaints within one working day and to send a full response within 10 working days.

In the first nine months of the current reporting year, which started on 1 April 2001, the DHE responded to 95 per cent. of all written complaints within the target times. Complaints procedures are currently under review as part of the development of DHE's customer care strategy.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many cases of suspected property fraud in the provision of his Department's housing have been taken to court in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement; [43006]

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Dr. Moonie: No cases of suspected fraud relating to the provision of housing by the Defence Housing Executive (DHE) have gone to court since 1997. However, a case of property fraud has been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service for advice, with a view to criminal prosecution. Two additional cases of suspected fraud have been referred to the Defence Fraud Analysis Unit (DFAU) for investigation and may come to court in the future.

No incentives are paid to private companies to detect and report suspected fraud. The Ministry of Defence has a policy of zero tolerance to fraud and this is impressed upon contractors. Companies are expected to produce their own anti-fraud policy statement when tendering for contracts.

To date, for the period beginning 1997, the MOD police have no record of any assets having been frozen in suspected property fraud cases associated with the provision of accommodation by the Department.

Golden Jubilee

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military officers are expected to be present at the Queen's Golden Jubilee festivities; of that number, how many will be there for the purpose of (a) protection/security, (b) marching in the parade and (c) performing music; and if he will make a statement. [44583]

Dr. Moonie: I am withholding details of protection or security operations in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. A Golden Jubilee Festival is due to take place in central London on the afternoon of the 4 June 2002 at which the armed forces will play an appropriate part. However the details are still being finalised with the organisers.


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for which MOD contracts Israeli companies are bidding as (a) prime contractors and (b) as teaming partners; and in the case of the latter, with which companies they are teamed. [45185]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Service Personnel Memorial

Dr. Vis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made with the memorial to service personnel killed since the Second World War; and if he will make a statement. [44480]

Mr. Hoon: Pursuant to the answer I gave on 20 March 2002, Official Report, column 313W, I regret that a paragraph was omitted from the answer in error. The

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answer should have included the following paragraph. Those members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Merchant Navy who were killed in conflict zones while in direct support of the armed forces will also be included on the memorial.


Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

David Winnick: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, if submissions are being made by the House of Commons Commission to the review being carried out by the Committee on Standards in Public Life on the future appointment of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and related matters; and if he will make a statement. [44996]

Mr. Kirkwood: The House of Commons Commission has been invited to contribute to the inquiry by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, and will do so.


Energy Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on energy costs incurred by his office in each of the last 10 years. [42446]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 19 March 2002, Official Report, columns 267–68W.

Local Elections

Mr. Kevin Hughes: To ask the Prime Minister what advice has been given to civil servants on the conduct of Government business during the forthcoming elections to local councils on 2 May. [46033]

The Prime Minister: The Government have issued guidance to civil servants on the principles which they should observe in relation to the conduct of Government business in the period before the forthcoming elections.

The guidance stressed that civil servants should conduct themselves in accordance with the Civil Service Code and is based on the need to maintain the political impartiality of the civil service and the need to ensure that public resources are not used for party political purposes.

The guidance will come into force on 11 April.

Copies of the guidance have been placed in the Library of the House, and are also available from the Vote Office.

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