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Miss Widdecombe : Government offices are currently finalising contracts with training and enterprise councils for 1994-95 budgets and the information is not yet available.

The information must remain commercially confidential while TECs are negotiating with their providers, and for this reason I am not prepared to give information about individual TEC budgets for 1994-95 until after the beginning of October.

With regards to TEC budgets since their inception, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 13 December 1993, Official Report, column 512, to my hon. Friend the Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Hunter). This provides details of TEC budgets agreed with the Employment Department for the last three years in cash and real terms using prices from the first year's funding.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Advice Quality

Mr. Raynsford : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what representations he has received from the Consumers Association on the quality of advice available from local social security offices ; and if he will make a statement on the action he proposes to take in response.

Mr. Hague : The quality of advice available from local social security offices is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member. Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. Nick Raynsford, dated 20 April 1994 :

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the quality of advice available from local social security offices.

You will be aware of the recent article in the Consumer Association's WHICH magazine. The article drew conclusions


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about standards of customer service available in Benefits Agency offices, based on a survey of their own members and on observations from a small sample of local offices. Although it cannot be said to be representative of the level of service provided by all Benefits Agency offices it is important that the comments are acknowledged. The Benefits Agency recognises that customers expect a professional, efficient, quality service which provides prompt and accurate benefit payment. Whilst there are areas in which improvements could be made, considerable progress in this area has already been achieved. One of the major contributing factors to this improvement is our willingness to listen to customers and to respond to their comments.

For this purpose the Agency have produced two leaflets ; "Let's be Fair" explains the Benefits Agency's policy on the customer's right to fair and equal treatment ; "Have your say" explains the complaints procedure to customers.

In addition, the Agency commission annually a national indpendent survey of its customers. In 1993, 3,428 customers were interviewed face to face, selected from a random postal sift of 17,000 households. The results of this survey are due to be published on 25 April 1994 and show that 84 per cent. of customers are satisfied with the standard of service provided by the Benefits Agency, against the Secretary of State's target of 85 per cent. This is an improvement on the corresponding figures for1992 when 82.3 per cent. were satisfied.

It is important, that as an Agency we are constantly aware of, and responsive to, the needs of our customers. The ongoing process of customer research helps to identify any improvements that are necessary and the areas highlighted by the WHICH article will be considered as a part of this process.

I hope you find this reply helpful.

Child Support Agency

Mr. Dewar : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many staff are presently employed by the Child Support Agency.

Mr. Hague : The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Ros Hepplewhite, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Mr. Donald Dewar, dated 20 April 1994 :

I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the number of staff currently employed by the Child Support Agency.

At 31 March 1994, the Agency had 5,200 staff in post in Great Britain. You may also wish to know that at the same date there were also 626 Northern Ireland civil servants based in Belfast engaged in work relating to parents with care who live in mainland Britain. I hope this reply is helpful.

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will place in the Library copies of all internal bulletins relating to the Child Support Agency.

Mr. Hague : The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Ros Hepplewhite, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Mr. David Blunkett, dated 20 April 1994 :

I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the placing of internal Child Support Agency bulletins in the Library of the House. Operational guidance for Agency staff is contained in the Child Support Manual, copies of which are already available in the Library. Relevant internal operational bulletins are incorporated as amendments to the Manual.

I hope this reply is helpful.

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) what guidance has been issued with regard to


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permanent maintenance orders in relation to deduction of earnings through the Child Support Agency ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what guidance he has given on the use of deduction from earnings orders in relation to interim maintenance orders through the Child Support Agency ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hague : The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for Ros Hepplewhite, the chief executive. She will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Ros Hepplewhite to Mr. David Blunkett, dated 20 April 1994 :

I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Questions to the Secretary of State for Social Security about the guidance issued by the Child Support Agency on the implementation of deduction from earnings orders.

The imposition of a deduction from earnings order is a discretionary decision made by a Child Support Officer having considered the needs of the parent with care, and the children involved and any representations made by the absent parent. Instructions to staff in relation to deduction from earnings orders are contained in the Child Support Manual.

The Child Support (Collection of Enforcement) Regulations were amended in February specifically in relation to deduction from earnings orders on interim maintenance assessments. Detailed guidance for staff on deductions from earnings orders in such cases is in the course of preparation and will be incorporated in the Child Support Manual.

A copy of the Child Support Manual is available in the Library. I hope this reply is helpful.

Community Care

Mr. Austin-Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many community care grants were given from the Thameside office ; and how many were given to refugees in each financial year from 1991-92.

Mr. Scott : The administration of the social fund is a matter for Mr. Michael Bichard, the chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Michael Bichard to Mr. John Austin-Walker, dated 20 April 1994 :

The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the number of Community Care Grants (CCG) awarded by the Benefits Agency's Thameside office and the number awarded by the Benefits Agency's Thameside office and the number awarded to refugees.

I should clarify that the Benefits Agency does not have a Thameside office but does have a Thameside District which comprises of the offices of Woolwich and Bexley. I have, therefore, provided information relating to the Thameside District as a whole. The number of CCGs awarded in the District for each of the years 1991-92, 1993-94, which also include CCGs awarded on review, are given at Appendix A.

Information on the number of CCGs awarded to refugees in the District for the same periods is not collected as a matter of course. The information requested could only be gathered by the manual examination of all the Social Fund applications in the Thameside District and this would incur disproportionate cost.

I hope you find this reply helpful.


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Appendix A                                   

Number of Community Care Grants (CCGS)       

awarded in the Benefits                      

Agency's Thameside District                  

Financial      |Number of CCGs               

Year           |CCGs                         

               |awarded                      

---------------------------------------------

1991-92        |1,613                        

1992-93        |2,123                        

1993-94        |2,275                        

Saztec Ltd.

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what contracts his Department have placed with Saztec Ltd. since July 1992.

Mr. Hague : None.

Private Security Firms

Mr. George : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many private security firms have been employed by his Department for each of the last 10 years ; what has been the annual value of the contracts ; and if he will estimate how many guards have been employed for each of those years.

Mr. Hague : This Department and its executive agencies occupy over 500 sites throughout the country. Security at these sites is controlled locally and this includes the award of contracts to private companies either directly by the Department or, where appropriate, by facilities managers acting on our behalf. Information about contracts awarded is not collected centrally and therefore could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

VAT on Fuel

Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what arrangements have been made to pay pensioners allowances in respect of VAT on domestic fuel ; and what examinations he has made of the reasons where allowances have not been paid so far.

Mr. Hague : Extra help for pensioners in respect of VAT on domestic fuel is paid automatically as part of the 1994 increase in benefit rates which is effective from week commencing 11 April 1994. The date on which the first benefit payment at the increased rate is made available will depend on the method of payment chosen by the pensioner and the day of the week on which his or her pension is payable.

Incapacity Benefit

Mrs. Roche : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of how many claimants are expected to take up incapacity benefit within the Brighton borough council area from the introduction of the new benefit ; and what he expects the total benefits bill to be for incapacity benefit for claimants within the Brighton borough council area in the year following the introduction of the new benefit.

Mr. Scott : Estimates of the number of people who will receive incapacity benefit, and total expenditure of the benefit, cannot reliably be broken down by local council area.


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Housing Benefit

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what measures he proposes to promote the take-up of housing benefit.

Mr. Hague : Responsibility for the administration of housing benefit lies with individual local authorities which are in the best position to undertake local publicity about it. Information about housing benefit is also available at all Benefits Agency offices and unemployment benefit offices.

Latest estimates of housing benefit take-up, which are for 1990 and 1991, indicate that between 93 per cent. and 97 per cent. of available benefit is being claimed by between 90 per cent. and 95 per cent. of those eligible. Further information on take-up estimates can be found in "Income Related Benefits--Estimates of Take-up in 1990 and 1991" published on 25 March 1994, a copy of which is in the Library.

EDUCATION

Grant-maintained Schools

Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education (1) if he will list those schools outside the maintained sector that have approached his Department, the Funding Agency for Schools or the Grant- Maintained Schools Centre with a view to acquiring grant-maintained status ;

(2) how many inquiries his Department has received from independent schools seeking to become grant maintained ; and how many inquiries from parents' groups, or other groups, seeking to set up new grant-maintained schools.

Mr. Robin Squire : The Department has received over 370 requests for information about the establishment of new grant-maintained schools by promoters. Of these, one third have been from existing independent schools and two thirds from other groups. No formal proposals have been received from promoters, and it would be inappropriate to infer, from these initial inquiries, the promoters who may formally publish proposals for new grant- maintained schools in due course.

Surplus School Places

Mr. Faber : To ask the Secretary of State for Education how many surplus school places there are in Wiltshire.

Mr. Forth : The estimated surplus capacity of primary schools in Wiltshire as at January 1991 is as set out in the reply to the hon. Member for Warwickshire, North (Mr. O'Brien) on 31 January 1994, Official Report, columns 517-21. The estimated number of surplus places in secondary schools at that date is 9,987, representing 23 per cent. of capacity. This corrects the figure in the previous reply. Up-to-date information on surplus capacity in all LEA areas will be collected under regulations to be made later this year.

DEFENCE

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many parliamentary questions to his Department have not been answered because of


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disproportionate costs or because the information requested was not held centrally over the last five years ; how many could be answered now due to computerisation and/or more effective operational systems ; and if he will list each such question along with the name and constituency of the hon. Member who tabled it.

Mr. Hanley : My Department has answered nearly 14,000 parliamentary questions over the past five years, of which less than 250, or under 2 per cent., have not been answered because of disproportionate cost or because the information requested was not held centrally. No doubt as computer and operational systems continue to improve, there will be increased potential for this percentage to decline.

Service Ranks

Mr. Cann : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what ranks exist in (a) the British Army, (b) the Royal Navy and (c) the Royal Air Force ; and what is the number of personnel in each rank.

Mr. Hanley : Ranks in the Royal Naval Services, Army and Royal Air Force, and the number of personnel in each rank as at 1 January 1994, the latest date for which information is held, were as follows :


Royal Naval Services                         |Numbers                                  

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Royal Navy                                                                             

Admiral of the Fleet                         |-                                        

Admiral                                      |5                                        

Vice Admiral                                 |11                                       

Rear Admiral                                 |28                                       

Commodore                                    |37                                       

Captain                                      |328                                      

Commander                                    |1,125                                    

Lieutenant Commander                         |2,369                                    

Lieutenant                                   |3,158                                    

Sub-Lieutenant                               |1,067                                    

Officer Designate                            |256                                      

Warrant Officer                              |840                                      

Chief Petty Officer                          |7,521                                    

Petty Officer                                |6,624                                    

Leading Rate                                 |8,942                                    

Able Rate                                    |14,670                                   

Ordinary Rate/Junior                         |1,364                                    

                                                                                       

Royal Marines                                                                          

General                                      |-                                        

Lieutenant General                           |1                                        

Major General                                |2                                        

Brigadier                                    |3                                        

Colonel/Lieutenant Colonel                   |34                                       

Major                                        |102                                      

Captain                                      |195                                      

Lieutenant                                   |277                                      

Officer Designate                            |105                                      

Warrant Officer Class 1                      |43                                       

Warrant Officer Class 2                      |222                                      

Colour Sergeant                              |368                                      

Sergeant                                     |736                                      

Corporal                                     |1,658                                    

Marine 1st Class                             |3,126                                    

Marine 2nd Class/Junior                      |475                                      

                                                                                       

Queen Alexandra's Royal Navy Service                                                   

Commandant Nursing Officer                   |1                                        

Principal Nursing Officer                    |2                                        

Chief Nursing Officer                        |5                                        

Superintending Nursing Officer               |26                                       

Senior Nursing Officer                       |47                                       

Nursing Officer                              |10                                       

Warrant Officer RGN/Warrant Officer EN(G)    |1                                        

Chief RGN/Chief EN(G)                        |17                                       

Petty Officer RGN/Petty Officer EN(G)        |51                                       

Leading RGN/Leading EN(G)                    |232                                      

Student Nurse/Pupil Nurse/EN(G)              |185                                      

Probationary Nurse                           |70                                       

                                                                                       

Army                                                                                   

Field Marshall                               |1                                        

General                                      |8                                        

Lieutenant General                           |9                                        

Major General                                |55                                       

Brigadier                                    |210                                      

Colonel                                      |552                                      

Lieutenant Colonel                           |1,685                                    

Major                                        |4,851                                    

Captain                                      |4,776                                    

Lieutenant/2nd Lieutenant                    |2,643                                    

Officer Designate                            |471                                      

Warrant Officer Class 1                      |2,034                                    

Warrant Officer Class 2                      |5,304                                    

Staff Sergeant                               |6,807                                    

Sergeant                                     |12,241                                   

Corporal                                     |19,222                                   

Lance Corporal                               |19,458                                   

Private Classes 1 to 3                       |36,633                                   

Private Class 4/Junior                       |7,790                                    

                                                                                       

Royal Air Force                                                                        

Marshal of the Royal Air Force               |1                                        

Air Chief Marshal                            |5                                        

Air Marshal                                  |6                                        

Air Vice Marshal                             |39                                       

Air Commodore                                |105                                      

Group Captain                                |404                                      

Wing Commander                               |1,329                                    

Squadron Leader                              |3,603                                    

Flight Lieutenant                            |6,220                                    

Flying Officer/Pilot Officer                 |1,649                                    

Officer Designate                            |343                                      

Warrant Officer                              |1,719                                    

Flight Sergeant/Chief Technician             |5,088                                    

Sergeant                                     |10,381                                   

Corporal                                     |18,909                                   

Junior Technician/Senior Aircraftman/Leading                                           

   Aircraftman                               |26,857                                   

Aircraftman                                  |408                                      

Notes:                                                                                 

1. Figures exclude 5 star officers who remain on the active list but do not hold an    

appointment.                                                                           

2. Commodore (RN) and Brigadier (RM) are not substantive ranks but are appointments.   

Figures represent Captains (RN) and Colonels (RM) filling Commodore (RN) and Brigadier 

(RM) appointments.                                                                     

3. RGN-Registered General Nurse; EN(G)-Enrolled Nurse (General).                       

4. Members of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC) and Princess         

Marina's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS) hold the same ranks as other        

personnel serving respectively in the Army and Royal Air Force.                        

5. RN Chaplains do not hold Service Ranks, but have been included in the Naval rank    

equivalent of their class.                                                             

6. The term "Officer Designate" is used to describe university cadets and personnel    

under initial training or awaiting initial training at one of the Service officer      

training establishments.                                                               

7. I would also refer the hon. Member to the Tri-Service Personnel Statistics, a copy  

of which is placed in the Library of the House.                                        

Sonic Booms

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the dates, locations and results of investigations of reports of sonic booms over the United Kingdom since 1992.

Mr. Hanley : During the period 1 January 1992 to 31 January 1994, a total of 27 investigations of alleged


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sonic booms were conducted. Of these, only one incident was established as a sonic boom, 15 were identified as sonic or possible sonic events, in 10 cases the report was either withdrawn by the complainant or no sonic event established. One report is still under investigation. Details of the 17 investigations covering sonic booms/events and possible sonic events and the one outstanding case are as follows :


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Date                        Location                   Results of                                                                      

                                                       investigation                                                                   

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1992                                                                                                                                   

 5 March                   |Off the coast of Blackpool|Sonic boom                |BAe Tornado                                          

11 March                   |Kings Lynn                |Sonic event               |F-111 aircraft suspected                             

18 June                    |Great Yarmouth            |Sonic event               |F4 aircraft suspected                                

24 November                |Cambridge area            |Sonic event               |F15 aircraft                                         

19-20 November             |Lincoln area              |Sonic events              |F15 aircraft                                         

                                                                                                                                       

1993                                                                                                                                   

27 January                 |North Humberside          |Sonic event               |F15 aircraft suspected                               

 2 February                |Thurso                    |Sonic event               |Tornado aircraft suspected                           

 5 February                |Scarborough               |Sonic event               |Tornado aircraft suspected                           

26 February                |Bridgewater               |Sonic event               |Sea Harrier aircraft                                 

 8 March                   |Peterborough              |Sonic event               |F15 aircraft suspected                               

14 April                   |Peterborough              |Sonic event               |F15 aircraft suspected                               

16 July                    |Southwold                 |Sonic event               |F15 aircraft                                         

21 July                    |Lowestoft                 |Sonic event               |F16 aircraft                                         

11 August                  |St. Andrews               |Sonic event               |F15 aircraft                                         

22 October                 |Morpeth                   |Possible sonic event      |Tornado aircraft suspected                           

 7 December                |Norfolk                   |Still under investigation                                                       

                                                                                                                                       

1994                                                                                                                                   

25 January                 |Peterborough              |Sonic event               |F15 aircraft suspected                               

Notes:                                                                                                                                 

1. A sonic boom is caused by an aircraft travelling at supersonic speed.                                                               

2. A sonic event is caused when a small part of the airframe (such as the wing tips) exceeds the speed of sound. This usually occurs   

when an aircraft is conducting high energy manoeuvres.                                                                                 

Air Miss

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his response to the recommendations of the joint air miss working group report on the air miss between a Boeing 737 and three United States air force F 16s on 26 May 1993.

Mr. Hanley : The recommendations are currently being addressed by national air traffic services in conjunction with the appropriate staffs in MOD.

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what briefing the pilots of the United States Air Force F 16 aircraft involved in an air miss with a British Midland Airways Boeing 737 on 26 May 1993 had received on United Kingdom airspace and air traffic control procedures (a) from British military personnel or (b) from United States air force personnel prior to their flight.

Mr. Hanley : The F-16 aircraft, operating from their base at Spangdahlen in Germany, were participating in a joint Royal Air Force/United States air force exercise in the United Kingdom. The aircrew received a full briefing on all aspects of the United Kingdom airspace control procedures from United States air force (Europe) personnel. The USAF aircraft are required to adhere to the same flying regulations as those of the RAF.

Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence from which airfield the United States air force F 16s involved in an air miss over Midlothian on 26 May 1993 took off for the sortie ; and where they landed on completion of the sortie.

Mr. Hanley : The aircraft took off from their home base at Spangdahlen, Germany and returned to the same base at the end of the sortie.


Column 624

Atomic Testing

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the report of the National Radiological Protection Board regarding atomic testing.

Mr. Hanley : I have nothing further to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox), on 9 December 1993, Official Report , columns 360-62 .

Low Flying

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what implications the cancellation of tactical air-to-surface missiles have for the need to conduct low flying exercises.

Mr. Hanley : None.

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been claimed in total in compensation to farmers in Wales for loss of livestock, abortion and loss of production caused by low-flying aircraft ; how much of this total is of disputed claims ; how much has been settled ; and how much remains to be settled for each year since 1980.

Mr. Hanley : There can be no meaningful total of amounts initially claimed, because many claims are unquantified at the outset and may be repudiated without valuation. Settlement is reached after a process of valuation, usually on independent advice, and in consultation with the claimant. Reliable data on settlements are available only from 1988 onwards and since then the Ministry of Defence has paid the following amounts of compensation to farmers in Wales for livestock losses which have been attributed to low flying military aircraft activity :


Column 625


       |£            

---------------------

1988   |30,228       

1989   |31,584       

1990   |47,953       

1991   |59,160       

1992   |33,153       

1993   |30,000       

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement summarising the results of ground-level noise measurements for aircraft involved in low flying sorties ; and what changes there have been in the amount of noise nuisance since 1980.

Mr. Hanley : A series of trials, known as Exercise Luce Belle, to measure noise on the ground arising from military aircraft flying at low level has taken place at RAE West Freugh since 1990. The results of these trials have shown that at the speeds and heights normally flown in the United Kingdom low flying system no aircraft type generates a noise level on the ground in excess of 125 dB(A), a level at which research has indicated there is no significant risk to human hearing. A copy of the report on the first trial, which covered the main aircraft types, is available in the Library of the House. As my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Carlisle) announced to the House on 14 October 1991, Official Report, column 115, we aim to have reduced the amount of low flying by jet aircraft in the United Kingdom by around 30 per cent. by the end of this year.

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the mean (a) height above the ground and (b) velocity for aircraft during low flying sorties, and what change there has been in these figures since 1980.

Mr. Hanley : The information requested is not available.

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the average length of time from initial receipt of a claim to its payment by his Department in processing claims for compensation to farmers in the United Kingdom for loss of livestock, abortion and loss of production caused by low-flying aircraft.

Mr. Hanley : The time from claim to payment can vary greatly and as the data required to calculate an average length of time is not readily available, the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been paid out in compensation to farmers in the United Kingdom for loss of livestock, abortions and loss of production caused by low-flying aircraft during each year since 1979.

Mr. Hanley : Reliable data are available only from 1988 onwards. Since then the Ministry of Defence has paid out the following amounts in compensation to farmers in Great Britain--United Kingdom excluding Northern Ireland--for livestock losses caused by low flying military aircraft :


        |£              

------------------------

1988    |273,934        

1989    |160,039        

1990    |254,683        

1991    |293,301        

1992    |230,312        

1993    |299,503        

Public Record Office

Mr. Davidson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are being taken to ensure that additional staff resources are provided to clear any backlog of claims for disability pensions owing to restricted access to the Public Record Office archive at Hayes.

Mr. Hanley : In addition to the normal, full, staffing levels, a futher nine full-time staff are currently employed on casual contracts and will remain so while a backlog of claims exist. In addition, overtime is being worked seven days a week.

Mr. Davidson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there will be unrestricted access to the Public Record Office archive at Hayes to enable the backlog of claims for disability pensions to be progressed.

Mr. Hanley : There has been unrestricted access to the Public Record Office archive at Hayes since the end of February.

Mr. Davidson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many claims for disability pensions have been delayed as a result of the asbestos contamination at the Public Record Office archive at Hayes ; how many of these claims have been outstanding for more than (a) six months, (b) 12 months and (c) 24 months ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : The amount of war pension claims delayed as a result of the recent closure of the archives at Hayes numbered approximately 30,000 in total.

Apart from a small number of individual cases of particular complexity which could be separately identified only at disproportionate cost, the archives' backlogs are now rather less than six months and already as little as two months in some areas.

Defence Debriefing Team

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff are currently assigned to the defence debriefing team ; what consideration he has given to incresing the size of the defence debriefing team ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : There are currently some 40 individuals serving with the defence debriefing team, all of whom are military personnel. This is considered sufficient to meet the team's present task and there are no plans to increase its size, although that position is kept under review. During the course of its work the team has acquired information on alleged human rights violations and war crimes committed in Bosnia. This information has been passed to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for onward transmission to the United Nations commission of experts.


Column 627

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Animal Importation (Slaughter)

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many sheep and other animals are being imported annually for slaughter ; from where ; and to which destinations.

Mr. Soames : Data on the imports of live sheep for slaughter are not available separately from the total of all


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live sheep imports. For other animal types, data on live imports for slaughter are only separately available from the total of live imports for bovines and horses.

It is not possible to state the destination for the animals once they have been imported into the United Kingdom.

The table gives the total number of live imports by animal type for 1992, the latest year for which annual data are available. In addition, the second column gives the number of imports of live bovines for slaughter and the seventh column gives the number of imports of live horses for slaughter.


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