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Lighthouses

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): We have received one representation from the Northern Ireland Executive concerning lighthouses in Ireland and Northern Ireland only.

European Bus Directive

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The directive was adopted on 20 November 2001. Officials at the Department of Transport are in the process of completing initial consultations requesting views on the proposed method of implementing it into UK legislation. We are proposing to integrate the requirements of the directive into a consolidation of existing bus and coach regulations to make them simpler and easier to understand. It is hoped to implement this consolidation in the latter half of 2003.

The directive will have no effect on the use of existing double-decker buses operating in the UK. Our regulations will permit the current design of low-floor, accessible double-decker buses to continue to be produced.

Civil Defence Grants

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The aggregate amount is £19,038,000 of which £100,000 will be retained as discretionary grant for special projects and special events deemed of benefit to the wider emergency planning community in England and Wales.

The remaining £18,938,000 will be allocated to individual authorities as set out in the table below.

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The grants have been allocated in the same way as last year, but with each authority receiving an equal share of the additional £70,000 available. Every authority thereby receives a slight increase in grant of £386.

Local AuthorityGrant Allocation 2003–04 (£)
Anglesey/Ynys Mon61,342
Barking and Dagenham75,969
Barnet80,694
Barnsley76,076
Bath and North East Somerset90,011
Bedfordshire136,511
Bexley78,758
Birmingham187,380
Blackburn with Darwen70,658
Blackpool66,662
Blaenau Gwent63,083
Bolton82,674
Bournemouth70,122
Bracknell Forest63,899
Bradford125,756
Brent86,592
Bridgend68,323
Brighton and Hove81,172
Bristol98,486
Bromley84,980
Buckinghamshire200,557
Bury71,195
Caerphilly73,088
Calderdale74,574
Cambridgeshire163,057
Camden84,175
Cardiff87,322
Carmarthenshire73,858
Ceredigion64,143
Cheshire189,969
Conwy64,811
Cornwall189,279
Corporation of London60,145
Coventry77,776
Croydon90,666
Cumbria216,116
Darlington63,899
Denbighshire71,434
Derby76,503
Derbyshire220,459
Devon217,294
Doncaster85,516
Dorset175,886
Dudley82,908
Durham213,601
Ealing90,344
East Riding of Yorkshire72,166
East Sussex208,288
Enfield88,198
Essex315,112
Flintshire77,741
Gateshead79,140
Gloucestershire189,960
Greater Manchester FCDA64,060
Greenwich86,482
Gwynedd67,698
Hackney88,145
Halton68,137
Hammersmith and Fulham76,719
Hampshire298,996
Haringey85,624
Harrow65,726
Hartlepool64,650
Havering77,685
Herefordshire70,229
Hertfordshire310,886
Hillingdon81,386
Hounslow80,742
Hull (Kingston upon Hull)72,265
Isle of Wight72,230
Isles of Scilly53,708
Islington83,424
Kensington and Chelsea74,788
Kent339,586
Kingston upon Thames67,654
Kirklees95,431
Knowsley74,359
Lambeth87,789
Lancashire315,233
Leeds172,987
Leicester88,896
Leicestershire192,957
Lewisham83,978
Lincolnshire212,793
Liverpool97,648
London FEPA151,825
Luton59,894
Manchester147,667
Medway81,547
Merseyside FCDA73,332
Merthyr Tydfil60,998
Merton72,053
Middlesbrough71,355
Milton Keynes81,404
Monmouthshire62,154
Neath Port Talbot70,259
Newcastle Upon Tyne102,823
Newham88,226
Newport68,616
Norfolk276,813
North East Lincolnshire71,624
North Lincolnshire69,532
North Somerset71,248
North Tyneside74,091
North Yorkshire244,523
Northamptonshire239,260
Northumberland188,122
Nottingham86,321
Nottinghamshire210,927
Oldham79,294
Oxfordshire202,459
Pembrokeshire66,735
Peterborough72,214
Plymouth81,708
Poole66,635
Portsmouth74,467
Powys85,886
Reading67,386
Redbridge82,566
Redcar and Cleveland69,693
Rhondda Cynon Taff82,319
Richmond upon Thames69,424
Rochdale77,310
Rotherham81,654
Rutland56,443
Salford72,386
Sandwell88,413
Sefton84,015
Sheffield96,386
Shropshire153,834
Slough68,566
Solihull73,716
Somerset164,359
South Gloucestershire76,183
South Tyneside71,516
South Yorkshire FCDA84,356
Southampton77,470
Southend71,966
Southwark77,343
St Helens73,333
Staffordshire226,842
Stockport79,992
Stockton-on-Tees73,877
Stoke-on-Trent74,413
Suffolk221,786
Sunderland101,107
Surrey297,388
Sutton73,126
Swansea78,933
Swindon71,355
Tameside77,310
Telford and Wrekin72,385
Thurrock68,666
Torbay67,440
Torfaen64,876
Tower Hamlets93,509
Trafford75,754
Tyne and Wear FCDA34,892
Vale of Glamorgan72,385
Wakefield86,667
Walsall83,639
Waltham Forest83,532
Wandsworth79,155
Warrington72,804
Warwickshire181,722
West Berkshire67,815
West Midlands FCDA60,386
West Sussex225,386
West Yorkshire FCDA61,593
Westminster86,804
Wigan84,497
Wiltshire194,786
Windsor and Maidenhead66,796
Wirral89,861
Wokingham66,525
Wolverhampton82,030
Worcestershire186,835
Wrexham72,926
York72,220

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HMS "Nottingham"

Lord Burlison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the repair of HMS "Nottingham".[HL371]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): When the destroyer HMS "Nottingham" grounded in Australian waters on 7 July 2002 she sustained severe damage and flooding in the forward part of the ship. She is now on passage to the UK on a heavy lift ship and is expected to arrive in United Kingdom waters on 7 December. She will then be unloaded and towed into HM naval base at Portsmouth where a contract has been placed for her repair with Fleet Support Limited. The repair work—which will cost around £26 million, including all materials supplied by the department—is expected to last up to 18 months. HMS "Nottingham" is expected to return to operational service in November 2004.

HMS "Nottingham" is a highly capable Type 42 destroyer designed to provide area air defence either independently or as an integral component of larger joint or coalition maritime task groups. Her key weapons, sensors and command system were significantly ungraded during an extensive refit in

3 Dec 2002 : Column WA97

1999–2000. These improvements will enable the ship to keep pace with the increasing demands of maritime air defence during the next 10 years and will aid interoperability with key allies, in particular the USA. HMS "Nottingham's" contribution will be crucial to bridging the air defence gap during the drawdown in Sea Harrier air defence aircraft beginning in 2005 and the introducton of the Type 45 destroyer from 2007.

To ease the short-term programming gap in the fleet created by HMS "Nottingham's" unavailability, HMS "Glasgow", an older and less capable Type 42, is being regenerated from a planned state of lower readiness. An alternative solution which would have given HMS "Glasgow" a similar capability upgrade to that received by HMS "Nottingham" was deemed to provide best value for money.

Armed Forces: Invalidity Pensions

Lord Howie of Troon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the internal review of mistaken taxation of some Armed Forces invalidity pensions has been completed.[HL372]

Lord Bach: On 25 April 2002 (Official Report, cols. 426–27W), we informed the House in another place that the problem of mistaken taxation of some service invalidity pensions were more extensive than previously understood. We reported that we had set up an internal review, independent of the staffs involved, to establish the extent of the taxation errors and expose any related problems. This review is now complete.

The review has established that the taxation problem is more extensive than we indicated in April. It is now clear that some RAF pensions are affected, and that RN pensions affected are not limited to the period 1973–99. In addition, the review has found that further work is needed on Army pensions; this is required both to re-examine more thoroughly certain cases adjudged when first reviewed as correctly taxed, and to examine for the first time some other cases previously not thought to be at risk.

The findings of the review mean that the number of files needing examination has proved considerably larger than we stated previously. We now expect it will not be possible to complete a comprehensive check for all three services before next summer. We regret that this work cannot be done faster, but it is vital that it be done accurately by suitably cleared staff who are also familiar with the relevant documents. The pace of the work is also affected by the lack of comprehensive

3 Dec 2002 : Column WA98

computerised information distinguishing invalidity pensions from others. This has made it necessary to handle tens of thousands of files which are not at risk in order to identify those that are. This difficulty continues to affect progress.

We are very much aware of the importance of giving as much priority as possible to examining the cases of our oldest pensioners. Although over 70 per cent of errors identified so far affect younger pensioners, discharged in or after 1990, we anticipate that errors still to be found will include some affecting the oldest age-group. We much regret that in several of the cases recently re-examined a pensioner, previously misadvised that his pension was correctly taxed, has died before an error was recognised. In such cases the tax refund is to be paid, with due apology, to the pensioner's widow or estate.

A further problem brought to light by the review is that some of the pensions taxed in error were also affected by an underpayment of Armed Forces pension scheme benefits. Over 350 pensioners have so far been identified in this category, most of whom were discharged in the 1990s. The average underpayment in these cases was around £4,500. The cost to date of rectifying tax errors has been some £5 million, which happens also to be an average of some £4,500 per pensioner.

The review includes a full analysis of the causes of errors and the necessary remedial action; the latter is already in hand. The procedures used in the conduct of the review have been validated by the National Audit Office. The NAO's letter of validation and the report of the review have been placed in the Library of the House.


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