Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160
MONDAY 30 OCTOBER 2000
TEBBIT, CMG, AIR
160. Sorry, what was not agreed?
(Mr Tebbit) A simplified process. You are talking
about a simplified process.
161. Are you saying you had investigated it?
(Mr Tebbit) Yes.
162. You agreed to investigate it?
(Mr Tebbit) That is right.
163. And you have investigated it?
(Mr Tebbit) And we need to agree detailed dilapidations
in order to ensure propriety and therefore we cannot simply speed
it up if we are not able to ensure propriety.
164. Are you saying you have investigated the
possibility but you have found it was not a good idea?
(Mr Tebbit) Some initial dilapidation claims have
been six times the figure we finally settled on. That is my concern.
I do not want to pay six times as much.
165. If I may say so, you are not answering
(Mr Tebbit) Ask your question again.
166. I asked you if you had done the investigation
and, if so, what was the result. That was the question I originally
asked of Mr Wilson and you answered for Mr Wilson. I now understand
you think you can answer that question.
(Mr Tebbit) It is my responsibility as accounting
officer to answer it, and it is my answer, that this is not agreed,
after looking at it, because Annington Homes themselves are not
willing to simplify the process on the only terms that we could
do so. We ourselves need to negotiate and agree detailed dilapidations
in order to ensure financial propriety and to ensure we do not
pay more for dilapidations than we need to.
167. I think that is the best answer I am going
to get, Chairman.
(Mr Tebbit) That is the formal answer from the accounting
168. I do not want to pursue dilapidations too
vigorously because Mr Rendel has already done a very good job.
Can I ask for a yes or no answer? Has the inquiry been done? Has
the investigation been done?
(Mr Tebbit) The investigation was done with that answer.
169. The investigation was done?
(Mr Tebbit) Yes, it was looked into by the Department.
If you want more details of what that involved, I would have to
give you a note on that because I honestly do not know how much
detail was gone into.
170. That was a long "yes". The investigation
has been done?
(Mr Tebbit) Yes.
171. Can I ask on dilapidations, is there a
cash limited budget for dilapidations payments?
(Mr Tebbit) There is an amount for dilapidations but
I would not like to tell you exactly how much it is because again
that would give information to Anningtons.
172. I did not ask for the amount, I asked whether
there was a cash limited budget.
(Mr Tebbit) Yes, cash limited negotiated.
173. What I was getting at was that you know
in any given year what your budget for dilapidations is?
(Mr Tebbit) I know how much we are spending, yes.
174. Does that mean there is a problem in speeding
up the transfer of properties with dilapidations if you should
then come up against your budget limit, so there is a limit to
the number of dilapidated houses you can dispose of?
(Mr Tebbit) In theory, I suppose you are right, we
could reach that limit. In practice, the limit is reached more
quickly over the problem of moving people mid-tour. The biggest
constraint on releasing more property more quickly is that we
would have to move people out of houses in order to release them
in the middle of their tour. As I have explained, as it is they
move every 18 months to two years.
175. If the answer is, it is not a problem,
then that is the answer.
(Mr Tebbit) The main constraint is people, not money.
176. What I want the Committee to be satisfied
about is that there is no perverse incentive to actually reduce
the number of transfers below that which would otherwise be desirable
because of the limits of the dilapidations budget. You are giving
us that assurance?
(Mr Tebbit) Yes, I can. Giving stability to people
is the main consideration.
177. If I could now move to the question I really
wanted to ask, how many properties are surplus and awaiting demolition?
I think it is 632. How many have been demolished?
(Mr Tebbit) I cannot tell you.
178. What is the total of pregnant ghosts, if
I might put it that way?
(Mr Tebbit) For the current year there are 160 demolitions
which will be achieved by the 31st March. A large proportion of
those relate to Scotland, not to England, and therefore do not
fall within the terms of the Annington Homes Agreement.
179. I understood that there were 867 awaiting
demolition as at 30/9/99.
(Mr Wilson) I would have to re-check the figures.
Some houses are due for demolition because there are new houses
to be built on the site.
(Mr Tebbit) I will be happy to let you
have a note on the position of our demolitions.
11 Note by Witness: The figure of 867 properties
for demolition has been checked and is correct as at 30 September