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Police Officers

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on changes made to the recruitment criteria for police officers in England and Wales in the last five years; and what further changes he plans. [30451]

Mr. Denham: The Police Regulations 1995 (as amended) set out qualifications for appointment to a police force.

The Home Office provides medical and eyesight guidelines. These were issued in Home Office Circular (HOC) 9/95 and last revised in March 1998 by HOC 7/98.

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A Home Office project is under way to establish national recruitment standards (NRS) for the police service. It is reviewing all current entry requirements, to ensure they are job-related, evidence-based and non- discriminatory.

NRS guidelines on age, previous criminal convictions and tattoos were issued in October 2001.

We are putting in place a national fitness test for recruitment. The intention is that from 1 April 2002 recruits should be tested using the job-related fitness test (JRFT), against a set national standard.

A change to the nationality requirement for entry to the police service was published in the Police Reform Bill on 25 January. It will allow European Economic Area (EEA) and other foreign nationals who are living in the United Kingdom free of restrictions to join the police service.

As part of the NRS project the medical and eyesight guidelines are currently under review, with recommendations due this summer.

A review of the police initial recruitment test (PIRT) is also taking place to ensure that it is job-related, non-discriminatory and consistent with the national competency framework.

We are currently developing a common competency based application form and pack consistent with the national competency framework which will be used by all forces.

The NRS work is due to be completed by April 2003.

British Overseas Citizens

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what changes he plans to make to the special voucher scheme. [40868]

Angela Eagle: The special voucher scheme was introduced in 1968 in recognition of the specific hardship being suffered at that time by British Overseas Citizen (BOC) passport holders and their dependants, who were under political pressure to leave their countries of residence in East Africa, but who held no other citizenship and had nowhere else to go. Several thousand BOCs and other United Kingdom passport holders took advantage of the scheme and settled in the United Kingdom in the 1970s and 1980s.

However, the world political situation has now changed and BOCs are no longer under threat of expulsion. They have, over the intervening years, either settled with their families in the new independent East African countries or, alternatively, some have moved with their families to India. Their families have now grown up and have families of their own.

There are relatively few applications for special vouchers these days and those who do apply are not being pressured to leave the country in which they reside. The scheme no longer serves the purpose for which it was set up. The Government have therefore decided that the time has come to abolish the scheme, with immediate effect. No new applications for special vouchers will be considered.

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Attacks on Pensioners

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the estimated annual cost is of prosecuting individuals who have carried out criminal attacks on pensioners in each of the last three years. [38649]

The Solicitor-General: I have been asked to reply.

Such information is not collated and so could be found only involving a disproportionate cost.


Departmental Retirement Ages

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the retirement ages that apply to the employees of his Department and its agencies, including how many and which categories of employees are affected by each; and if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on flexible retirement. [32829]

Dr. Moonie: Two-thirds of the Ministry of Defence's civilian work force of some 90,000 employees, mainly support, technical and industrial grades, have the options to retire at any time between 60 and 65. The remainder, most of whom are in managerial, professional and technical grades, have a normal retirement age of 60. Following the publication of the Government's Code of Practice on Age Diversity in Employment the MOD, like other Government Departments, has been reviewing its retirement policy and we expect to announce the findings in the next few weeks.

MOD uses the full range of options for flexible retirement which are available under the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme to meet its business needs and in response to the individual preferences of employees where this is possible.

Mobile Telephones

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list, for 1997–98 and for each subsequent financial year, the amount spent (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) abroad by (i) his Department, (ii) its agencies and (iii) its non-departmental public bodies on (1) providing mobile telephone equipment, including handsets and other associated equipment, (2) telephone calls made using such equipment and (3) telephone calls made using privately owned mobile telephones but subsequently reclaimed by (x) Ministers and (y) staff. [34317]

Dr. Moonie: This information is not held centrally in the form requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. I am therefore unable to provide a substantive answer under the terms of Exemption 9 (voluminous and vexatious requests) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Nuclear Decommissioning

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what expenditure he incurred on the decommissioning and clean-up of nuclear materials, equipment and facilities in each year since 1997; and how much he expects to incur in this financial year. [37248]

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Dr. Moonie: Expenditure on the decommissioning and clean-up of nuclear materials, equipment and facilities for the past four financial years is shown in the table together with expected expenditure in this financial year.

£ million

(1) Expected expenditure

The figures include Ministry of Defence's contribution to BNFL and UKAEA waste management and decommissioning costs and the costs of running UK NIREX Ltd.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of refurbishing each ministerial private office was in each year since May 1997. [37820]

Dr. Moonie: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Relatively small costs, such as the ad hoc purchase of furniture, were involved as the offices are being redeveloped as part of the Main Building Redevelopment PPP contract signed in May 2000.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his estimate is of the cost of buildings refurbishment carried out by his Department between 1992 and 1997. [39466]

Dr. Moonie: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total cost is of the public private partnership for the redevelopment of his Department's main building in Whitehall. [39467]

Dr. Moonie: The costs to the Ministry of Defence will be some £55 million per annum at March 2000 prices over the 30 years of the public private partnership contract. This encompasses the short-term decant arrangements as well as the long-term provision of a wide variety of services to both the redeveloped Main Building and the Old War Office Building.

Defence Housing Executive

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many families are waiting for accommodation broken down by region; and if he will make a statement; [38231]

Dr. Moonie: The Defence Housing Executive (DHE) provides housing to meet the entitled Service applicants' required dates for accommodation. When DHE accommodation is unavailable, Substitute Service Families

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Accommodation (SSFA) is provided by DHE from the private rental market. In the quarter October to December 2001, the last period for which information is available, there were no known cases of entitled Service families, having applied for Service Families Accommodation, being left without accommodation. Each DHE Area Office holds details of DHE or SSFA properties that have been allocated to Service families and the families' planned move-in dates. If the hon. Member has a specific case in mind perhaps he would let me know.

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