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22 Oct 2002 : Column 141W—continued

Asbestos

Mr. McWalter: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions when he will lay regulations on the control of asbestos in the workplace. [76868]

Mr. Nicholas Brown: Draft copies of the regulations and a Code of Practice are available for hon. Members in the Vote Office. This issue is the subject of a debate on a Government motion on 24 October.

Housing Benefit

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the average administrative cost was of delivering housing benefit for each London borough in each of the last three years; how many outstanding applications there are; and how many complaints were recorded. [76328]

Malcolm Wicks: The available information has been placed in the Library. Information on the number of complaints made to local authorities about their Housing Benefit administration are not collected centrally.

However, in his Annual Report for 2001–02, the Local Government Ombudsman reported that complaints to him about Housing Benefit administration in England fell by a quarter on the

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previous year. Particular mention was made of the London Boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Lambeth which had accounted for 65 per cent. of complaints in the previous year. Complaints against those authorities dropped dramatically in 2001–02. Those against Hackney and Islington Councils fell by around a half, whilst those against Lambeth Council fell by nearly a quarter.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment has been made by his Department of the performance of contractors in delivering housing benefit; and if he will publish it. [76329]

Malcolm Wicks: The Department has commissioned a review of the impact and effects of outsourcing on the efficiency of Housing and Council Tax Benefit administration and delivery.

We expect the findings to be published in the summer of 2003.

DEFENCE

Job Locations

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many jobs under the remit of his Department in (a) the core department, (b) arms of the armed forces and their support staff, (c) non-departmental public bodies, (d) executive agencies and (e) independent statutory bodies, organisations and bodies financially sponsored by his Department and other such organisations, are located in (i) Scotland, (ii) England, excluding Greater London, (iii) Greater London, (iv) Wales, (v) Northern Ireland and (vi) overseas, broken down by (A) whole time equivalent jobs and (B) the percentage per individual department, body or organisation. [72742]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 24 July 2002]: The available information is given in the table below: As at 1 April 2001

Department/Body/OrganisationScotlandLondonRest of England Wales Northern Ireland Overseas
No. (FTE)%No. (FTE)%No. (FTE)%No. (FTE)%No. (FTE)%No. (FTE)%
Core Departments3,1308.24,84012.623,22060.67101.93,0608.03,3608.8
Armed Forces(2)15,0807.26,4303.1136,61065.53,2201.58,3904.038,90018.6
Non-Departmental public bodies25064.614036.2
Executive Agencies6,29010.83,2905.743,47074.74,0707.01000.29601.7
Independent Statutory BodiesInformation Not Available
Total24,5008.014,8104.8203,44066.68,0002.611,5503.843,22014.1

Notes:

1 Figures in the breakdown exclude 1875 MoD civilian staff, for whom allocation to a specific region is not possible.

2 April 2001 figures for UK based Service staff are not available and these have been taken as at 1 July 2000, this conforms with previously published data in UKDS 2001

3 The information required for the ''Independent Statutory Bodies'' can only be obtained at disproportionate costs.

4 Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.


Creche Facilities

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 25 March 2002, Official Report, column 557W, regarding creche facilities provided by his Department, how much money was contributed in (a) 2000–01 and (b) 2001–02 to the costs of childcare schemes by (i) the Ministry of Defence and (ii) the Civil Service Modernisation Fund. [50341]

Dr. Moonie: The information regarding the Ministry of Defence's contribution towards the costs of childcare schemes is not held centrally and could only be provided

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at disproportionate cost. I regret I am therefore unable to provide a substantive answer under the terms of Exemption 9 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

The Ministry of Defence has allocated some #900,000 of its Civil Service Modernisation Fund diversity grant to childcare related projects: #150,000 in 2000–2001 and #750,000 in 2001–2002.

HMS Nottingham

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects HMS Nottingham to return to its port of destination in the UK; if it will be repaired in the Naval facilities in Portsmouth; and if he will make a statement. [75446]

Mr. Ingram: On current plans, the Type 42 Destroyer HMS Nottingham is expected to arrive in the United Kingdom on, or about, 12 December 2002. While a decision on the ship's future has yet to be made, there is no reason at this time to suppose that repairing her will not be worthwhile. We have therefore invited those UK shiprepair companies with the necessary in-depth knowledge and experience of maintaining and repairing Type 42 Destroyers and their systems to visit the ship to make their own assessments of the damage and tender for any repair work. This invitation has been issued without any commitment from the Ministry of Defence to proceed with the repairs should it not be cost effective to do so. One of the companies invited to visit Nottingham on this basis is Fleet Support Limited, the commercial operators of the Naval facilities at Portsmouth.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) to ask the Secretary of State what has been the cost of salvaging HMS Nottingham since she ran aground, excluding costs of repairs to the ship once in dry dock in the UK; and if he will make a statement; [75447]

    (2) what the cost was of berthing HMS Nottingham in Newcastle; and if he will make a statement; [75441]

    (3) what the cost was of towing HMS Nottingham from Lord Howe Island to Newcastle; and if he will make a statement; [75440]

    (4) what the cost was of bringing HMS Nottingham back to Britain on the heavy lift Swan; and if he will make a statement. [75438]

Mr. Ingram: The estimated cost of salvaging HMS Nottingham since she ran aground, excluding the costs of any repairs to the ship once in dry dock in the UK, has been some #9 million. This includes approximately #1.4 million to tow Nottingham from Lord Howe Island to Newcastle and berthing-related costs in Newcastle of some #0.4 million. In addition, it is estimated that the cost of returning Nottingham to the UK on the heavy lift ship will be about #3 million.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the cost of flying home the crew from HMS Nottingham; and if he will make a statement. [75442]

22 Oct 2002 : Column 144W

Mr. Ingram: The total estimated cost of flying HMS Nottingham's crew home from Australia on commercial airlines is expected to be in the region of #200,000. Available RAF aircraft were also used to transport personnel back to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of the accommodation for the crew of HMS Nottingham in Australia; and if he will make a statement. [75439]

Mr. Ingram: Since the grounding incident, HMS Nottingham's crew have been accommodated in service accommodation belonging to the Royal Australian Air Force. The bill for this accommodation has not yet been received, but costs are expected to be modest. From 19 October until the ship leaves Australia, essential members of the ship's crew will be accommodated in hotels in Sydney at an estimated cost of around #30,000.

Plutonium

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much plutonium owned by his Department has been (a) considered for export and (b) exported to the Valduc facility in France as part of a joint project with the United States Department of Energy and the Commissariat . . L'Energie Atomique and Cogema in France, for test assemblies for plutonium MOX fuel rods, since 31 January 2000. [75459]

Dr. Moonie: None.


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