Previous Section Index Home Page

14 Mar 2003 : Column 437W—continued


Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the disposal of minesweeper Pagham. [99782]

Mr. Ingram: The ex-HMS Pagham was formally gifted by the Ministry of Defence to the Stranraer Sea Cadet Unit on 1 May 1999 having been on loan to the unit since 1978. This decision was made in light of an assessment of the likely receipts from the sale of the vessel on the open market and other relevant factors, including the expenditure incurred by the Stranraer unit on maintaining and improving the vessel during the loan period. Other forms of disposal were not considered to be cost effective. The MOD no longer has any responsibility for the vessel.

Skynet 5

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the Skynet 5 Project. [101595]

Mr. Ingram: Negotiations leading to deal closure on the Skynet 5 PFI programme are nearing completion. We expect contract award to take place shortly.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the operational, technical and political benefits are to the UK of acquiring the planned unmanned aerial vehicle system; and if he will make a statement on the system's inter-operability with that of the Israeli Army. [101213]

Mr. Ingram: The general benefits of the Watchkeeper system, to which I assume my hon. Friend refers, comprising Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, their sensor packages and associated exploitation facilities, were outlined in my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence's written statement to the House on 7 February 2003, Official Report, columns 21 -22 WS. We expect to select a single successful Watchkeeper contractor by mid-2004. On interoperability, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth) on 24 February 2003, Official Report, column 312W. This indicated that our primary focus is on interoperability with NATO allies.

Water and Food Rations (Gulf)

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the water and food rations for armed service personnel operating in the Gulf region. [100861]

Mr. Ingram: Land and Air Forces in Theatre are provided with a fresh cooked breakfast and evening meal each day and the United States supplied MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) for lunch. Meals are cooked by military chefs, from field kitchens. Bottled water is supplied through reliable sources within the region, providing six litres of water per person per day. Personnel undertaking training outside the main operating bases are provided with 24 hour Operational Ration Packs. The Naval Forces have sufficient stock embarked to be self-supporting, with resupply available from Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships.

14 Mar 2003 : Column 438W


Cabinet Committees

Mr. Edward Davey: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list Cabinet Committee meetings he has chaired in the last 12 months. [101818]

Mr. Leslie: I refer my hon. Friend to the Written Ministerial Statement given on 6 February by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on Cabinet Committees. Official Report, column 19WS.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Steen: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister which local authorities in Devon have suffered a cut in real terms in central government funding on the basis of the new burdens principle; and if he will define the proposals and initiatives within the principle. [102042]

Mr. Raynsford: The Local Government Finance Settlement 2003–04 provides all authorities in Devon with an above inflation increase in formula grant. Three authorities in fact receive increases above 10 per cent. Where the Government have provided additional funds to those announced in SR2002 for specific new burdens, such as an extra £21.53 million for the End of Life Vehicles Directive, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has adjusted the 2002–03 baseline to enable a like for like comparison. This means that the above inflation grant increases we have guaranteed to all councils are over and above the extra money councils will be receiving for new burdens

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is committed to the new burdens principle which requires Government Departments to fully fund the extra costs on councils of any new initiative for which they are responsible. We looked with local government in the context of the Spending Review 2002 at the new burdens to be imposed on local government, along with the pressures on council expenditure and the scope for efficiency savings. This year's Settlement takes into account the outcome of that work and is reflected in the general grant increases over the next three years of 5.8 per cent., 4.9 per cent., and 6.9 per cent.

In addition, there were a number of new burdens on local authorities which could not be finalised at the time of the Spending Review. The following transfers were added to the Local Government Finance Settlement 2003–04:

Revenue consequence of Supplementary Credit Approvals for detrunked roads £1.444 million.

Rate Support Grant

Mr. Hurst: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much the rate support grant was in (a) Essex County Council and (b) Braintree District Council in each year from 1990 to 2002. [102727]

14 Mar 2003 : Column 439W

Mr. Raynsford: The amounts of revenue support grant paid to Essex County Council and to Braintree District Council in each financial year from 1990–91 to 2002–03 are given in the table.

Revenue support grant paid to Essex County Council and Braintree District
£ million

Essex County CountilBraintree District Council

(3) Between 1990–91 and 1992–93, all revenue support grant for shire areas was paid direct to the collection funds of district councils amounts for individual authorities were not separately identified.

(4) Responsibility for policing transferred from Essex County Council to Essex Police Authority on 1 April 1995.

(5) The area covered by Essex County Council was reduced on 1 April 1998, when Southend and Thurrock became unitary authorities


Figures are not necessarily comparable between years due to changes in function and responsibility. The main changes are listed.

Revenue support grant was not the only general grant paid to each authority by central Government during the period shown in the table. Other grants paid include redistributed non-domestic rates.

Residential Care (Funding)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the transfer of funding between social services departments when one department chooses to place residents into residential care in the area of another. [100540]

Jacqui Smith: I have been asked to reply.

In England, a council should provide social services to those who are assessed under section 47of the NHS and Community Care Act 1990 as needing such care services and are considered to be ordinarily resident within that council's area, in accordance with Local Authority Circular 93(7), a copy of which is available in the Library. Once a council has accepted responsibility for a service user, that council should provide and fund the appropriate services whether that service be provided within that council's boundary or outside. There is therefore no requirement to transfer funds between social services departments when one council chooses to place an individual in the area of another council.

14 Mar 2003 : Column 440W


Free Fruit Schemes

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what recent communication he has had with the organisers of free fruit schemes for schools; [99740]

Ms Blears: I have been asked to reply.

The Government have made a commitment to introduce a National School Fruit Scheme for four to six-year-olds across England from 2004. The scheme is being introduced through large scale region wide pilots in 2002–03 and 2003–04 with funding from the New Opportunities Fund. The scheme has been introduced in the West Midlands and London and is currently being introduced across the North West.

The scheme is voluntary for schools but our aim is to encourage all eligible schools to take part. The total number of schools currently participating is currently 4,411; around 88 per cent. of those eligible. This means that around 600,000 children are receiving free fruit each school day.

The total number of participating schools will increase as the scheme is expanded to new regions. In regions where the scheme has already been introduced, regional five-a-day co-ordinators and school fruit area co-ordinators are working with regional and local colleagues in health and education to encourage take up of the scheme by all eligible schools. The Department of Health has regular communication with the five a day and school fruit co-ordinators.

There are a number of locally funded projects which provide free fruit to schoolchildren outside the scope of the National School Fruit Scheme in England, although there is no information held centrally on how many schools or children are participating in such schemes.

As health is a devolved matter the Department of Health has responsibility for England only. However, officials have regular contact with their counterparts working on similar schemes in the devolved Administrations.

Next Section Index Home Page