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Annual Leave Review

Mr. DuncanSmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when his Department's review of the rules relating to annual leave for non-industrial civil servants will report; what the terms of reference of the review are; and if he will publish the results of the review. [115922]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence is not undertaking a formal review of annual leave arrangements for its civilian staff. All conditions of service are kept under regular scrutiny and changes made as appropriate to meet statutory and Departmental requirements. We are currently looking at the provisions for various forms of special leave (paid and unpaid) to see if any changes are necessary.

Submarine Research (Goats)

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many goats have had to be killed on humane grounds after being used in the submarine escape and rescue research programme in the last six months; and if he will make a statement; [115812]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 22 March 2000]: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member.

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Letter from Sir John Chisholm to Mr. Norman Baker, dated 23 March 2000:

    You asked whether goats that fail to respond to training for the research programme are culled. In fact, the training for the animals is very effective and no animal has ever failed to respond. Training consists of familiarising the animals with the environment where they will be used. This not only minimises the stress to the animals but also improves the quality of the research by ensuring that the research results are unaffected by additional factors such as the animals being handled by people not known to them.

    Your second question asked how many goats have been killed on humane grounds in the last six months. The numbers are as follows:

DateNumber of goats

RAF Halton

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy for effecting the disposal of the families quarters at RAF Halton which are surplus. [115980]

Dr. Moonie: A number of surplus Families' Quarters at RAF Halton were sold to Annington Homes Ltd. (AHL) in November 1996 with the bulk of the Married Quarters Estate in England and Wales. Under the terms of the sale agreement MOD is committed to releasing a number of surplus properties to AHL for disposal. Any further surplus properties at RAF Halton will also be released to AHL, and 82 properties have been identified for disposal in this way over the coming months.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will state the locations of the families' quarters at RAF Halton which are surplus. [115988]

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Dr. Moonie: The surplus properties at RAF Halton are in the area known as the Hospital Site. The road names are:

    Longcroft Avenue

    Lambe Road

    Babington Road

    Trenchard Avenue.

Eighty of these properties are already void and will go back to Annington Homes Ltd. (AHL) for disposal under the terms of the contract agreed with the Ministry of Defence at the time of the sale of the Families' Quarters Estate. Two further properties are currently used for purposes other than housing and will also be offered to Annington Homes for disposal in due course.

Land Assets

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what land and property his Department owns in Torquay. [116198]

Dr. Moonie: There is only one property owned by the Ministry of Defence in Torquay. This is the Army Careers Information Office, 180 Union Street, Torquay.


Unification of Europe (Commemoration)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, if he will make a statement on the Commissioners' policy in respect of making use of resources in combination with other churches to commemorate the unification of Europe. [115563]

Mr. Stuart Bell: The Church Commissioners are required by statute to use their income for the stipends, pensions and housing of clergy of the Church of England. Their funds are therefore fully committed and are not generally available for other purposes.


Humber Bridge

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on imposing VAT on tolls, with particular reference to the Humber Bridge. [114899]

Mr. Hill: VAT is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Government have opposed the imposition of VAT on all tolled crossings, not just the Humber Bridge. Whether or not VAT applies to tolls is to be subject of a judgment of the European Court expected this summer.

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what was the level of debt on the Humber Bridge at the end of April 1997; and how much of the debt has been (a) written off and (b) rescheduled since that date. [114900]

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Mr. Hill: Of the debt of £359,307,192 at the end of April 1997, some £62 million owed by the Humber Bridge Board to the Public Works Loan Board was written off in July 1998. Of the balance, some £240 million owed to the Secretary of State was rescheduled and, on the remainder, interest charges were reduced.

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how much revenue was received by the Treasury from tolls on the Humber Bridge for each of the last five years. [114898]

Mr. Hill: The Humber Bridge Board have made the following payments into the consolidated fund as recorded in the Appropriation Accounts:


The figures for the first four years mainly include grant payments to cover interest that would not otherwise have been met since the bulk of the operating surplus was used to meet interest charges and capital repayments of debts owed to the Public Works Loans Board. Net of grant payments the above receipts were as follows:


Disabled Parking

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has to prevent able-bodied drivers from using parking bays designated for people with disabilities. [115046]

Mr. Hill: As I announced on 18 November 1999, the Orange Badge Scheme is to be reviewed this year, and one of the areas we will look at is the enforcement of the Scheme.

However, it is already an offence under section 47 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to park a vehicle which is not displaying an Orange Badge in an on-street designated disabled persons' parking bay.

The Orange Badge Scheme does not, however, apply to off-street car parks, whether local authority or privately owned, and enforcement of those disabled persons' parking bays is a matter for the car park operator concerned. In the case of local authority off-street car parks, normally their off-street parking place orders either make it an offence for someone not displaying a valid Orange Badge to park in a disabled persons' parking bay or make it subject to the payment of an "excess charge". In private car parks, we understand it is possible in law for the owners to agree with the local authority that a parking place order be made in respect of that car park.

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Conditions of use can then be enforced as if it were a local authority car park, with penalties or excess charges levied on offenders.

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