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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 11 January 1995


Strategic Development Scheme

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish for each county and local authority the allocation of funding that has been made under the strategic development scheme and its predecessor schemes, including the urban programmes, rural initiatives, projects of national and regional importance and special projects, for each of the last four years and for 1994 95.

Mr. Curry: I assume that the hon. Member's question relates to the single regeneration budget, which brings together 20 Government initiatives, including the urban programme, directed at urban and other areas. As the SRB includes programmes and projects which operate across local authority areas, information is not available in the form sought. However, the Department's 1994 annual report included details for all the SRB component programmes of total expenditure in each of the last four years and planned expenditure for 1994 95. Details of all successful bids for new SRB funding were sent to the hon. Member on 5 December.

Councillors' Allowances

Mr. Hawksley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what changes he intends to make to the system of councillors' remuneration allowances following the consultation exercise he undertook earlier in the year.

Mr. Curry: In the light of the comments that we received during the consultation, my right hon. Friend will bring forward amending regulations which will give local authorities in England and Wales much greater discretion to decide how much councillors should be paid in allowances.

The current system of allowances is too prescriptive and places an unnecessary burden on local authorities. The changes to the system we propose to make will remove that burden and will encourage people with a wide range of skills to serve as councillors.

The draft regulations will:

(a) remove the overall limit on what may be spent by authorities on their allowances schemes;

(b) remove the requirement on local authorities to pay a special responsibility allowance or allowances and, where they decide they will pay such allowances, remove the upper limit on the level of allowances which can be paid to individual councillors; where special responsibility allowances are paid, the requirement that at least one member of a minority group on each authority should receive a special responsibility allowance will continue;

(c) require the payment of a basic allowance to all councillors--but will not specify the level of allowance to be paid;

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(d) permit the payment of attendance allowances and specify a range of single member duties which will be eligible for the payment of attendance allowances--these will be limited to statutory duties which councillors must perform but for which, currently, they are not able to claim attendance allowances if they perform them alone --including visits to children's homes, other social services residential establishments and special schools; and

(e) require local authorities to publish details of the allowances schemes they make and to publish an annual report of the payments made to individual councillors under the scheme in order to ensure accountability.

My right hon. Friend will shortly consult local government about draft regulations which will implement the new system. The new allowances system will be in place from 1 April 1995.

Vacant Dwellings

Mr. Gallie: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress local authorities are making in reducing the numbers of vacant dwellings which they own.

Mr. Robert B. Jones: I am pleased to announce that, in response to the Government's encouragement, local authorities have maintained the progress made in recent years. For the ninth successive year, there has been a drop in the number of empty homes.

As at 1 April 1994, the total number of empty council homes stood at some 70,300, representing 1.9 per cent. of the stock. This is a 40 per cent. reduction since 1985, when the number stood at over 116, 000.

Within the overall total "management vacants"--those ready for occupation immediately or after minor works--stood at some 40,600. Management vacants provide an indication of the empty homes available to meet housing need. I am placing in the Library a list of local authorities ranked on the basis of the numbers of management vacants as at 1 April 1994.

I want to see the best use of existing council stock. An empty home is a wasted resource which could provide a home for people who need it.

I look to local authorities to sustain their efforts to keep their own empty dwellings to a minimum and to develop strategies which help to bring empty properties in all tenures back into use.

Mineral Permissions

Mr. Mans: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make public the results of consultation responses on the document "Old Mineral Permissions 1948 1981", issued by his Department in March 1994.

Sir Paul Beresford: Yes. I have today placed copies of a list of all those who responded to the consultation together with a summary of their views in the Libraries of the House. A copy of any individual response can be inspected in the library of my Department.

Local Government Commission

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish the representations he has received on the recommendations of the Local Government Commission; and if he will make a statement.

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Mr. Curry: We intend that when we lay implementation orders for each area where the Local Government Commission recommends change to the structure of local government, we will place in the Library a summary of the representations we have received about the recommendations. We will also, on request, make available the individual representations where the writers have indicated that their letters may be published; where necessary, we will ask public bodies who make representations whether they are willing for us to release those representations. Where individual members of the public write to Ministers in the expectation that their views will be treated in confidence, we believe that expectation should be respected. We will therefore regard those representations as not intended for publication unless there is a clear indication to the contrary.



Mr. Spearing: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish, as soon as is practicable after the publication of each twice- yearly national railway timetable, details of changes involving disadvantage to the public travelling on any route of railway which is: (a) a reduction in the quality or extent of the service and (b) a change in the general or particular level of each category of fares changed, including that of concessionary or travel card arrangements.

Mr. Watts: This is a matter for British Rail at present. In the future, franchise agreements will include provisions to limit the extent to which service levels and, where appropriate, fares may be changed. Within those limits changes will be a matter for franchisees.

Automatic Train Protection

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what revision he has made, or is considering, or what proposals he has received from the Health and Safety Executive concerning a revision to the acceptance by Her Majesty's Government of the recommendations of the Hidden inquiry into the Clapham rail accident for the installation of a system of automatic train protection on all lines now the responsibility of Railtrack.

Mr. Watts: My right hon. Friend has recently received advice from the Health and Safety Commission on the report on automatic train protection which British Rail submitted last year. Copies of the BR report are available in the Library of the House.

We expect to receive Railtrack's comments on the report soon. We will consider the views of the Health and Safety Commission and Railtrack carefully, and respond as soon as possible.

Highway Inquiries

Sir Terence Higgins: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is the effect of the revised rules governing highway inquiries.

Mr. Watts: Revised Highways (Inquiries Procedure) Rules and Compulsory Purchase by Ministers (Inquiries Procedure) Rules were laid before the House by my right

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hon. and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor on 20 December 1994. The consultation document prompted over 80 responses. The proposals to update the inquiry rules governing highway inquiries were widely welcomed. The main changes in the new rules are:

--pre-inquiry meetings will have a formal standing;

--inspectors will be allowed to set a timetable for the inquiry; --specific time targets can be set to ensure that the inquiry is held as quickly and as efficiently as possible;

--written proofs of evidence will be submitted before the inquiry with summaries if the main proofs are long;

--only these summaries will usually be read out at the inquiry; -- inspectors will have the right to refuse irrelevant or repetitious evidence.

The new rules, which came into force on 10 January, eliminate bureaucratic procedures without affecting people's rights to object to road schemes.

In future transcripts will be taken at all inquiries expected to sit for more than 16 days.

A summary of responses to the consultation document which lists the main points arising from the consultation process, and gives the Government's response, has been placed in the Library.


GP Fundholding Steering Committee

Mr. Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from the GP fundholding steering committee concerning the participation of GP fundholders in the achievement of "The Health of the Nation" objectives.

Mr. Redwood: None. "The Health of the Nation" does not apply in Wales.

Cash Limits

Mr. Sweeney: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what changes he proposes to make to the European regional development fund and local authority capital cash limits for his Department for the current financial year.

Mr. Redwood: The European regional development fund cash limit-- WO/ERDF--will be reduced by £7,000,000 from £55,000,000 to £48, 000,000. The local authority capital limit--WO/LACAP--will be increased by £7,000,000 from £483,215,000 to £490,215,000.

The reduction in the WO/ERDF cash limit results from a lower than expected take-up of ERDF provision during the year.

The increase in WO/LACAP provides for additional housing supplementary credit approvals for mandatory renovation and disabled facilities grants.

Neither of these proposed changes will add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Four Motors Programme

Mr. Ron Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how Wales is represented in material publicising the Four Motors programme; and if he will make a statement about Wales's role in the programme.

Mr. Redwood: Wales is not a member of the Four Motor grouping. However, given progress to date in

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bilateral relations with the group members, Wales is being invited to participate in what are otherwise Four Motor initiatives and events. Where Wales does participate, the host region ensures that Wales is included in the promotional material. When Four Motor events occur in Wales, such as the environmental impacts seminar held in Swansea in November 1993, Wales deals with any publicity for the event.


Boards of Visitors

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the policy of his Department in informing people seeking to be members of boards of visitors in prisons in England and Wales of the reasons for any delay that may occur in the consideration of their appointment.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: I am aware that there have been too many delays in appointments in the past and I have asked for the system to be streamlined. However, some delays will continue to occur because of the need to obtain security clearance.

Market Testing

Mr. Straw: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the estimated internal cost of each market testing exercise within his Department since 1991.

Mr. Michael Forsyth: Up to 30 September 1994, the estimated internal costs of conducting the market tests in the non-prisons programmes and the resulting estimated annual savings in delivery of these services were as follows:


                                         |Cost       |savings                

Market test                              |£          |£                      


Statistics data collection               |236,009    |182,962                


Central training services                |126,720    |245,355                


Central typing services                  |99,749     |1,186,125              


Reprographic and design and illustration                                     

  services                               |140,086    |1,016,444              


Departmental computer services           |1,196,881  |4,785,333              


Immigration and nationality department                                       

  security guards                        |107,940    |304,973                


Internal audit                           |163,735    |245,355                


Record storage and retrieval             |105,251    |186,442                


Immigration and nationality department                                       

  typing services                        |102,619    |n/a                    

n/a=Information not yet available                                            

Information on individual Prison Service market tests is not available, but the overall estimated internal cost of managing the Prison Service "Competing for Quality" programme, which includes strategic contracting out, from April 1992 to September 1994 was £3, 134,000. The estimated annual savings are £15,062,854.

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Police Authorities

Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many names of people from ethnic minorities were included in the lists of suggested independent members of police authorities forwarded to him by the selection panels of these authorities.

Mr. Maclean: A total of 808 people were nominated by the local selection panels for appointment as independent members of the 41 new police authorities; 57 were from ethnic minorities.


Sir Ivan Lawrence: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the current reconviction rates for persons commencing probation orders and community service orders and for persons discharged from custodial sentences.

Mr. Howard: The information is as follows:

Percentage of offenders reconvicted <1>       

within a two-year period                      

following commencement of an order in 1987-90 

or discharged in                              

1987-90 from a custodial sentence             



Probation order         |54                   

Community service order |56                   

Custodial sentence      |54                   

<1> Reconvicted of a serious offence as       

defined by the standard list in appendix 4 of 

Criminal Statistics England and Wales 1993.   

Comparisons between different types of sentence are affected by differences in the age, sex, previous convictions and other characteristics of the offenders receiving the sentences, as described in the forthcoming Home Office Research Study, "Explaining reconviction rates: a critical analysis".

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many male and female asylum seekers have since the beginning of the war in former Yugoslavia (a) been sent back by British officials at a United Kingdom port of entry to a safe third country, listing the countries (b) been refused visas at any British embassy or consulate in the former Yugoslavia, Austria, Hungary or Poland and (c) been deported from the United Kingdom to any part of the former Yugoslavia.

Mr. Nicholas Baker [holding answer 10 January 1995]: The table gives the available information on the number of removals and voluntary departures of asylum applicants from the former Yugoslavia for 1992, 1993 and 1994.

Removals and voluntary departures of asylum applicants  

from the                                                

former Yugoslavia, excluding dependents, 1992 to 1994   

                                     Number of persons  



Port cases                          |120 |126 |66       

Illegal entry and deportation cases |3   |3   |7        

Information on the destination of those nationals of the former Yugoslavia removed or voluntarily departed is only available for the period 26 July 1993 to 31 December 1994, and is given in the following table.

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Destination of former Yugoslav asylum applicants, removed or                        

voluntarily departed, 26 July 1993-31 December 1994                                 

Number of persons                                                                   


                                    |Country other                                  

                                    |than the former|Former                         

                                    |Yugoslavia     |Yugoslavia                     


Port cases                          |62             |51                             

Illegal entry and deportation cases |5              |6                              


Total<1>                            |67             |57                             

<1> The 67 former Yugoslavs removed or voluntarily departed to a country other than 

the former Yugoslavia comprised 50 males and 17 females; the 57 removed or          

voluntarily departed to the former Yugoslavia comprised 41 males and 16 females.    

Of the 62 former Yugoslav port cases. 45 male and 17 female, who were removed or voluntarily departed to a country other than the former Yugoslavia, the countries they were removed or voluntary departed to were:

Male                       |Female                                               


11 France                  |5 France                                             

7 Bulgaria                 |2 Bulgaria                                           

6 Germany                  |2 Italy                                              

5 Sweden                   |2 Sweden                                             

2 Turkey                   |1 Hungary                                            

2 Hungary                  |1 Norway                                             

2 Norway                   |1 Germany                                            

2 Italy                    |1 Czechoslovakia                                     

2 Spain                    |1 Turkey                                             

1 Saudi Arabia             |1 United States of America                           

1 Albania                                                                        

1 United States of America                                                       

1 Switzerland                                                                    

1 Austria                                                                        

1 Holland                                                                        

No nationals of the former Yugoslavia are being removed to war zones.

Information on the number of former Yugoslavs refused visas at British embassies of consulates in the former Yugoslavia, Austria, Poland or Hungary is not available.

Metropolitan Police

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department under what powers he has appointed his advisory committee for the Metropolitan police; how many of its members he has appointed directly, how many after the advice of the committee chairman and how many he has asked the chairman to appoint personally; how often he plans to meet the committee personally; how often he expects the committee to meet the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis; and if the agenda and minutes of the committee will be published.

Mr. Maclean: All the members of the Metropolitan Police Committee will be appointed by the Home Secretary, in consultation with the chairman. My right hon. and learned Friend expects to meet members of the committee personally from time to time, and for the committee to meet the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis or his representatives regularly. The committee's advice to Ministers will be confidential and it will be for the new committee to consider, once it is established, what reports it should make publicly

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available. My right hon. and learned Friend requires no specific power to appoint advisers.


Electronic Mail

Mrs. Anne Campbell: To ask the Prime Minister when he expects to be able to receive and respond to communications via electronic mail.

The Prime Minister: My office is currently studying options which would provide electronic mail access to Downing street. A decision on the feasibility of such a service will be made as soon as possible.


Mr. David Shaw: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about the plans of his Department to make information available on Internet and the documents which he intends to be made available on Internet over the next year which will be accessible via the world wide web server "open.gov.UK" or any specific departmental server.

The Prime Minister: My office is about to begin trials of a system that will connect Downing street to the Internet. The trial will examine the possibility of offering a World Wide Web service to Downing street. The trial will also examine ways of allowing users to electronically retrieve documents which would normally be available through more traditional sources. Any system chosen would not replace any of these normal distributions methods.


Inland Revenue Executive Offices

Mr. Matthew Banks: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the organisation of the executive offices in the Inland Revenue.

Sir George Young: The Inland Revenue has announced a further move towards a smaller number of executive offices.

With effect from 1 April 1995, the two regional executive offices--Inland Revenue Greater Manchester and Inland Revenue North West--will merge. The new headquarters will be in Bootle. The headquarters office in Stockport will close. From the same date, two executive offices which provide mainly internal services within the Inland Revenue--the financial services offices and the financial and management accounting systems office--will also merge.

Civil Service (Delegations)

Mr. Matthew Banks: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what delegations have been made in 1994 under the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992; to whom those delegations were made; and what were the main conditions that were attached to them.

Sir George Young: The table lists delegations made under the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act

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1992 since the last report to Parliament, Official Report, 13 January 1994, column 246. In some cases, for staff appointed by statutory office holders, Ministers were statutorily required to give consent to terms and conditions of service. For such staff, delegation has been effected by waiving that requirement, subject to the conditions attached to the delegation.

The delegation of terms and conditions of service applies generally across the civil service except where the answer makes it clear that this is not the case.

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List of Delegations made in 1994 under the civil service (management functions) Act 1992                                                                                                      

Delegation                            |Nature of delegation                 |Recipients                           |Main conditions                                                            


1. Boarding school allowance.         |Authority to determine the           |Ministers in charge of               |Schooling allowance will be                                                

                                      |eligibility for and amounts of       |departments and statutory and        |payable only:                                                              

                                      |assistance that may be paid to       |certain other office holders<1>.     |(i) when the officer has sole                                              

                                      |members of the home civil                                                  |parental responsibility for the                                            


                                      |child, or is accompanied on the      |

                                      |overseas posting at public           |

                                                                                                                  |has sole parental responsibility or                                        

                                                                                                                  |joint responsibility with the                                              

                                                                                                                  |officer; and                                                               

                                                                                                                  |(ii) if the department is satisfied                                        

                                                                                                                  |that the nature, place, timing and                                         

                                                                                                                  |duration of the officer's overseas                                         

                                                                                                                  |posting make boarding school or                                            

                                                                                                                  |other education in the UK                                                  

                                                                                                                  |desirable; and                                                             

                                                                                                                  |(iii) if the department accepts                                            

                                                                                                                  |that the officer incurs the                                                

                                                                                                                  |expenditure solely because of the                                          

                                                                                                                  |overseas posting; and                                                      

                                                                                                                  |(iv) on proof of actual fees by an                                         

                                                                                                                  |educational institution in the UK                                          

                                                                                                                  |at which the child (while under                                            

                                                                                                                  |the age of nineteen) pursues full                                          

                                                                                                                  |time academic or vocational                                                

                                                                                                                  |studies; and                                                               

                                                                                                                  |(v) when the costs of exercising                                           

                                                                                                                  |this delegation can be met from                                            

                                                                                                                  |within existing running costs and                                          

                                                                                                                  |cash limits.                                                               



2. Terms and conditions of            |Authority to set the terms and       |Ministers in charge of               |Departments and Agencies must:                                             

service of industrial                 |conditions of service of industrial  |departments and statutory office     |(i) continue to comply with                                                

employees.                            |employees in their respective        |holders, as appropriate for          |certain sections of the civil                                              


service management code.              |

                                                                            |HO                                   |to the terms and conditions                                                

                                                                            |DTI                                  |specified must provide value for                                           

                                                                            |DTp                                  |money and be made in a way                                                 

                                                                            |MOD                                  |which does not jeopardise                                                  

                                                                            |MAFF                                 |essential public expenditure                                               

                                                                            |DNH                                  |safeguards.                                                                








                                                                            |First Crown Estates                                                                                              




3. Recruitment and retention          |Authority to determine for home      |Ministers in charge of               |(i) The new recruitment and                                                

allowance                             |civil servants in their respective   |departments and statutory and        |retention allowance may be paid                                            

                                      |departments and working in the       |certain other office holders<1>.     |only to meet locational, posting,                                          

                                      |UK eligibility for and amount of                                           |discipline related or other                                                

                                      |new recruitment and retention                                              |recruitment and retention                                                  

                                      |allowance.                                                                 |problems;                                                                  

                                                                                                                  |(ii) Departments and agencies                                              

                                                                                                                  |must ensure that use of the RRA                                            

                                                                                                                  |represents value for money and                                             

                                                                                                                  |does not jeopardise essential                                              

                                                                                                                  |public expenditure safeguards;                                             

                                                                                                                  |(iii) the allowance must not                                               

                                                                                                                  |exceed £3,000 a year and must                                              

                                                                                                                  |not be paid above grade 4 level;                                           

                                                                                                                  |(iv) Departments and agencies                                              

                                                                                                                  |may decide to make it                                                      

                                                                                                                  |pensionable, non-pensionable or                                            

                                                                                                                  |part pensionable to reflect                                                

                                                                                                                  |different types of recruitment and                                         

                                                                                                                  |retention problems;                                                        

                                                                                                                  |(v) Departments and agencies                                               

                                                                                                                  |must take the cost of                                                      

                                                                                                                  |pensionability into account in                                             

                                                                                                                  |considering whether the RRA                                                

                                                                                                                  |should be pensionable or not;                                              

                                                                                                                  |(vi) details of the RRA                                                    

                                                                            |arrangements, including                                                                                          

                                                                                                                  |pensionability provision, must be                                          

                                                                                                                  |given to all staff and made clear                                          

                                                                                                                  |to new staff in letters of                                                 




4. Recruitment and retention          |as above                             |Ministers in charge of               |as above                                                                   

allowance for staff                                                         |departments and statutory and                                                                                    

overseas.                                                                   |certain office holders.                                                                                          



5. Delegation of pay and certain      |Authority to determine pay and       |Ministers in charge of               |(i) The recipient must continue to                                         

conditions of service.                |certain pay-related conditions of    |departments and statutory            |comply with certain sections of                                            

                                      |service of civil servants below      |officeholders<1>, as appropriate, for|the civil service management                                               

                                      |the senior open structure (with      |the following organisations:         |code.                                                                      

                                      |the exception of retirement and      |Agricultural Development and         |(ii) Changes made to terms and                                             

                                      |redundancy, the reinstatement        |Advisory Service                     |conditions must provide value for                                          

                                      |and re-employment of persons in      |Social Security Benefits Agency      |money and be made in a way                                                 

                                      |the service and the                  |Social Security Contributions        |which does not jeopardise                                                  

                                      |re-deployment of staff between       |   Agency                            |essential public expenditure                                               

                                      |departments). Agency chief           |HM Customs and Excise                |safeguards.                                                                

                                      |executives are also excluded         |Defence Research Agency                                                                                          

                                      |from the scope of the                | Driver and Vehicle Licensing                                                                                    

                                      |delegations.                         |  Agency                                                                                                         

                                                                            |Driving Standards Agency                                                                                         

                                                                            |HM Stationery Office                                                                                             

                                                                            |HM Prison Service                                                                                                

                                                                            |Health and Safety Executive                                                                                      

                                                                            |Social Security Information                                                                                      

                                                                            |   Technology Service                                                                                            

                                                                            |   Agency                                                                                                        

                                                                            |Meteorological Office                                                                                            

                                                                            |Queen Elizabeth II Conference                                                                                    

                                                                            |   Centre                                                                                                        

                                                                            |Royal Mint                                                                                                       

                                                                            |Scottish Prison Service                                                                                          

                                                                            |Vehicle Inspectorate.                                                                                            

1. Statutory and Certain Other Office Holders

First Parliamentary Counsel

Government Actuary

Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies

National Debt Commissioners/National Public Works Loan Commissioners

Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce

Board of the Inland Revenue

Commissioners for Customs and Excise

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, Wales

The Franchising Director, Office of Passenger Rail Franchising The Rail Regulator

Director General of the National Lottery

(i) Recruitment and retention allowance delegation does not apply to departments which have delegated authority over pay and pay-related functions on 1 April 1994.

(ii) Also received in 1994 delegation of minimum recruitment criteria made originally to Ministers in charge of departments and certain other office holders in 1993.

Staff of Bodies Covered by Statutory Provisions

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Crown Estate Office (CEO)

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)

Office of Fair Trading (OFT)

Office of Gas Supply (OFGAS)

Office of Electricity Regulation (Offer)

Office of Her Majesty's chief Inspector of Schools, Wales Office of the National Lottery (Oflot)

Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)

Office of Telecommunications (Oftel)

Office of Water Services (Ofwat)

Office of Passenger Rail Franchising (OPRAF)

Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR)

Procurator Fiscal Service (PFS)

Serious Fraud Office (SFO)

(i) Also received in 1994 delegations on travel, overseas accountable entertainment allowance, United Kingdom relocation expenses and rents for key staff occupying government-owned residential properties made originally to Ministers in charge of departments and certain other office holders in 1993.

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