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Disability Living Allowance

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will review the system for disability living allowance claimants to ensure claimants are properly informed at each stage of the review process as to the steps they need to take and what they are expected to prove. [12850]

Mr. Denham: We are reviewing all aspects of the Social Security system. One of our key aims is to improve the service provided to claimants and other customers.

The administration of disability living allowance is a matter for Peter Mathison, chief executive of the Benefits Agency. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Peter Mathison to Mr. Paul Burstow, dated 4 November 1997:




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DEFENCE

Low Flying

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many hours of operational low flying took place in each of the Borders and Northern Scotland areas in (a) the period 1 January to 31 December 1996 and (b) the period 1 January to 31 July 1997. [14009]

Mr. Spellar: The numbers of hours of operational low flying (OLF) flown in the Tactical Training Areas (TTAs) are as follows:

BordersNorthern ScotlandCentral Wales
1 January to 31 December 199631125761
1 January to 31 July 199711611619

The figures reflect the measures announced in August 1996 to redistribute the activity more equitably across the three TTAs, in proportion to their areas.


Military Equipment

Sir George Young: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received on the legality of joint weapons purchases through the West European Armaments Organisation and the Organisme Conjoint de Cooperation en Matiere d'Armaments; and if he will make a statement. [13787]

Mr. Spellar: I am aware that questions regarding the legality of these organisations were raised in recent media reports. I have no reason, however, to doubt that the arrangements envisaged are based on a sound legal footing.

Sir George Young: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the value of delivered military equipment between 1993 and 1996. [13788]

Dr. Reid: Statistics relating to payments for delivered equipment, as distinct from payments for work in progress on equipment contracts, are not available centrally. "Defence Statistics 1997", a copy of which is in the Library of the House, shows that total expenditure on equipment, including research and development, over the period was as follows:






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Sir George Young: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the value of offset agreements concluded to support military export sales between 1990 and 1996. [13792]

Mr. Spellar: Most offset agreements are concluded by British companies and the Ministry of Defence does not hold comprehensive records of their value.

Sir George Young: To ask the Secretary for Defence what is the value of current military equipment export orders. [13789]

Mr. Spellar: In 1996--the last year for which information is available--British companies won defence export orders worth £5.1 billion.

Sir George Young: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the value of offset agreements concluded as a result of United Kingdom purchases of foreign military equipment between 1990 and 1996.[13793]

Mr. Spellar: The value of UK offset, normally referred to as Industrial Participation, agreements concluded as a result of UK purchases of foreign military equipment between 1990 and 1996 is £4.4 billion.

WEU (Weapons Procurement)

Sir George Young: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if further extension of the Western European Union's authority to procure weapons will require renegotiation of the 1948 Brussels treaty. [13786]

Mr. Spellar: No.

Tax Advice

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the policy of his Department on the purchase of tax avoidance advice; and if he will make a statement. [13266]

Dr. Reid: The Ministry of Defence does not employ tax advisers for the purpose of tax avoidance. Occasional use is made of tax consultants to advise on compliance with and the implications of tax regulations.

Cash and Running Costs Limits

Mr. Alan Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement of changes to the class 1 cash limits and the Defence operating costs limit for 1997-98. [14187]

Dr. Reid: Following the recent announcement by the Government that the Defence budget for 1997-98 is to be reduced by £168 million on account of overspending its 1996-97 cash limit, the class 1 cash limits will change as follows:

£000s
Class 1 voteCurrent cash limitChangeRevised cash limit
110,145,386-49,25610,096,130
24,806,637-52,3004,754,337
36,175,530-63,0006,112,530
Defence21,127,553-164,55620,962,997


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The reduction of £168 million has been offset by £3.444 million to reflect the transfer of PES provision from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Ministry of Defence to meet the costs of the Department's annual subscription to the BBC World Service Monitoring Service on the organisation's move to subscription based funding in 1997-98. The costs fall to vote 1.

The impact of the reduction in the class 1 cash limits on the Defence operating costs limit will be as follows:

£000s
Class 1 voteCurrent operating costs limitChangeRevised operating cost limit
110,139,854-49,25610,090,598
24,806,637-52,3004,754,337
3735,976--735,976
Total15,682,467-101,55615,580,911

COPEX

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he plans to accept bookings for future COPEX events to take place on his Department's land. [14215]

Mr. Spellar: My Department would consider any such request on a case-by-case basis. I understand, however, that the 1998 exhibition has already been planned in a non-Defence establishment at Wembley.

Western European Armaments Organisation

Mr. Colvin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the legal status of the Western European Armaments Organisation. [13901]

Mr. Spellar: The Western European Armaments Organisation (WEAO) was established on 19 November 1996 when the Western European Union (WEU) Council of Ministers, meeting in Ostend, adopted the WEAO Charter, thereby granting the Organisation the status of WEU subsidiary body, in accordance with Article VIII(2) of the Modified Brussels Treaty. The WEAO constitutes an integral part of the WEU and, as such, shares in the legal personality of the WEU.

Mr. Colvin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the benefits to the United Kingdom of membership of the Western European Armaments Organisation, indicating the partnership projects and the countries with which these are undertaken. [13903]

Mr. Spellar: The Western European Armaments Organisation (WEAO) was established on 19 November 1996. Participants are the 13 nations, including the UK, of the Western European Armaments Group. Since 1 April 1997, the organisation has provided essential support to a pre-existing co-operative defence research programme known as EUCLID (European Co-operation for the Long Term in Defence). The UK is an active member of this programme, currently participating in over 40 co-operative research and technology projects. As yet, no partnerships have been established within the WEAO.

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