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Eastern European Asylum Seekers: Support Costs

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is as follows.

Between 17 and 27 October, 224 Czechs and 59 Slovaks arrived at the Port of Dover. Of these, 110 have been refused entry and removed. The Dover office of the Benefits Agency has received approximately 100 claims from the Czech and Slovak arrivals. A very broad estimate based on estimated average weekly benefit costs for asylum seekers is that the weekly benefit costs of these cases is in the region of £15,000 per week. Note: Cost arrived at by using the estimated average weekly benefit cost of asylum applicants: £202.90 for those with dependent children, and £73.20 for those with no dependent children. This is an estimate of average weekly Income Support, Income Based Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit, and Council Tax Benefit. These figures are based on the Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiries for May and November 1996 and the Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Management Information System 1 per cent. sample for May 1996, uprated to 1997-98 prices and benefit levels. Take-up is assumed to be 100 per cent. for those with children, and 85 per cent. for those without (based on the Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry for November 1996, and Home Office figures on the number of outstanding applications at the same date).

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War Pensions Claims: Assessment of Medical Incapacity

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many medical consultants, as opposed to general medical practitioners, are employed by the Benefits Agency Medical Service to assess medical incapacity for War Pensions' purposes.

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: None. For the purpose of claims for War Pensions, the question of whether disablement is due to or is aggravated by service, and the degree of disablement, are matters for Medical Advisers employed by the War Pensions Agency. The advisers are fully registered medical practitioners, some of whom have postgraduate medical qualifications and are trained to assess any such disablement arising from both physical and mental conditions. In order to make their assessment they call upon a variety of sources of medical evidence, including reports from consultants.

MoD Main Building

Lord Blease asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made with the Ministry of Defence's plans for the modernisation of the Main Building in Whitehall.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The Ministry of Defence continues to examine options, under the Public Private Partnership scheme, for the long overdue modernisation of Main Building and its subsequent support. The building was constructed in the 1950s and does not meet today's needs. A major programme of work is required to correct the many current deficiencies and to provide a modern working environment, flexibility for the future and more cost effective use of space.

Following the recently completed evaluation of outline proposals, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence approved the next stage of the project, which involves the issue of an Invitation to Negotiate to a shortlist of three consortia: Amey/Kvaerner, MoDeM (led by the Bucknall Group) and Mapeley Defence (led by the NationsBank).

We are keen to see the project proceed, and we are encouraged by the outline proposals put forward by the three selected consortia. The next stage challenges the consortia to work closely with the Ministry of Defence to demonstrate their ability to come up with a winning and good-value-for-money scheme.

Detailed responses from the consortia will be closely reviewed in the course of the next year as the competition proceeds. Final approval to sign a contract for the scheme will, of course, depend on satisfactory evidence that overall value for money can be achieved.

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Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on the Trident fleet and what is its relationship to their policy of seeking the elimination of nuclear weapons.

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Lord Gilbert: As the Government have frequently made clear, we are committed to retaining Trident to provide a minimum, but credible and effective, nuclear deterrent. This is wholly consistent with our objective of developing the stability in which we can take forward our commitment to achieving global, mutual, verifiable reductions in nuclear weapons.

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