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Housing (Key Workers)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many station houses have been provided for key workers in London in each year since 1997. [64371]

Mr. McNulty: The Government no longer allocate specific funding to local authorities for housing improvement grants. Each housing authority must decide how much it will allocate towards this purpose from the total capital funding provided to it by the Government each year.

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Total capital resources made available for housing purposes for all authorities in England for 2002–03 is £2.5 billion. For Gloucestershire the figure for 2002–03 is £16.6 million, an increase of 85 per cent. on 1997–98.

Homelessness (Castle Point)

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of the national allocation to tackle homelessness, announced in the March 2002 report, "More Than a Roof", has been allocated to Castle Point borough council. [64264]

Mr. McNulty: The Government are investing £125 million this financial year to tackle homelessness. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave, Official Report, (64265), which states that the Homelessness Directorate has not received an application for funding from Castle Point borough council towards implementing their homelessness strategy.

£8 million per annum has been provided to local authorities (through the local government finance settlement, with effect from 2001–02) to implement the Homelessness Act. A further £10 million will be allocated in 2002–03 to assist local authorities to deliver the priority need order. It has not yet been decided what proportion of this money will go to individual local authorities. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Local Government Association are currently considering how the money will be shared.

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if Castle Point borough council has submitted an action plan to show how it will reduce numbers and length of stay for homeless families with children in bed-and-breakfast accommodation. [64266]

Mr. McNulty: Based on 2001 statistics, Castle Point was not identified as one of the highest users of bed-and-breakfast hotels (B&B). The authority was not, therefore, required to submit a B&B reduction action plan in the first round of applications for funding to reduce numbers of families with children in B&B. However, the latest data from Castle Point indicates that is has 20 homeless households in B&B, of which 16 are families with children. We will be contacting the authority shortly to discuss their proposals to meet the commitment that, by March 2004, no homeless family with children is in B&B except in an emergency and even then for no more than six weeks.

Castle Point, like all authorities has been sent a 10-point check list of good practice, outlining the key 'building blocks' which we expect every authority to have in place to deliver reductions in B&B hotel use. In addition, the changes to housing benefit subsidies provide an incentive for authorities to lease private sector homes as a better quality alternative to B&B hotels.

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if the Homeless Directorate in his Department has received a bid for funding to help local homeless people, from Castle Point borough council. [64265]

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Mr. McNulty: On 14 March 2002, local authorities were invited to submit proposals to the new Homelessness Directorate in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for funding for local homelessness strategies. These are being considered at the moment. Castle Point borough council have not submitted any proposals for funding.

Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proportion of the additional money per year provided to local authorities in the revenue support grant to help them meet their new statutory obligations under the Homelessness Act 2002 has been allocated to Castle Point borough council. [64263]

Mr. McNulty: The Government added £6.5/8/8 million to the general grant for 2001–02 to 2003–04 to meet local authorities' new statutory obligations under the Homelessness Act 2002. General grant is distributed to councils through standard spending assessments (SSA) which take account of various broad social and economic factors such as population. It is not possible to estimate how much of an authority's SSA relates to additional provision for particular responsibilities. It is, of course, for local authorities to decide how to allocate their general grant. Local authorities' responsibilities under the Homelessness Act 2002 are within the Environmental, Protective and Cultural Services SSA Block.

Local Government Finance

Mr. Evans: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total cost of local government in the north-west was in the last financial year. [64541]

Mr. Raynsford: Local authorities within the north-west region have reported revenue expenditure 2001–02 budget figures totalling £8.3 billion. Revenue expenditure is expenditure funded by council tax, general Government grants, specific Government grants inside aggregate external finance and use of reserves.

The 2001–02 forecast figure for total capital expenditure in the north-west region is £1.5 billion.

Regional Policy

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many central Government Departments are not represented at a regional level within the network of Government offices; and what plans there are to increase the remit and responsibilities of regional staff. [63101]

Mr. Raynsford: The Government offices support the work of nine Departments: the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister; Department for Culture, Media and Sport; Department for Education and Skills; Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Department for Transport; Department for Work and Pensions; Department of Health; Department of Trade and Industry; and Home Office.

The Government will continue to look for further opportunities to integrate more closely other regional activities and networks within Government office structures.

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Forces Health (Afghanistan)

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures have been taken to prevent further outbreaks of illness among British forces in Afghanistan. [64489]

Dr. Moonie: An infection control specialist and infection outbreak investigation team were deployed during the outbreak. Their recommendations have lead to a tightening up of existing sanitary and hygiene measures.

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the field hospital at Bagram has re-opened following its closure as a result of illness. [64490]

Dr. Moonie: 34 field hospital at Bagram never closed although for a time it did not accept trauma patients, a measure that was lifted on 19 May 2002.

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on hygiene standards of sanitary facilities used by British troops in Afghanistan. [64488]

Dr. Moonie: Afghanistan is a challenging environment which does place some limits on the sanitary facilities that can be provided. For example, there is not an unlimited supply of water. However, basic sanitary facilities are in place. Troops have access to showering facilities and the medical advice is that the deep trench latrines that are in place do not compromise hygiene standards, if well maintained.

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the condition of the Royal Marines in Afghanistan who were struck down by illness during May. [64487]

Dr. Moonie: All British troops in Afghanistan who were suffering from winter vomiting disease during May have now recovered.

Seville European Council

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Prime Minister's statement of 24 June on the Seville European Council, if he will make a statement on the relationship between ESDP and NATO; and if it is the policy of the Government for NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe to play the central role in military planning to meet crises and contingencies for NATO and ESDP operations. [64810]

Mr. Hoon: The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) complements and reinforces NATO. The Government are continuing to work within both the EU and NATO to conclude agreement on the arrangements to enable the EU to have assured access to NATO's planning capacities. These arrangements, which cover the role of D/SACEUR, are crucial to the success of ESDP.

EU Rapid Reaction Force

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are for the extension of the EU Rapid Reaction Force's mandate to the fight against terrorism; and if he will make a statement. [64811]

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Mr. Hoon: There is no standing European Rapid Reaction Force. The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) seeks to enable the European Union to deal with the full range of conflict prevention and crisis management missions defined in the Amsterdam treaty, the "Petersberg Tasks". The European Council at Seville agreed a declaration concerning the contribution of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, including ESDP, in the fight against terrorism. This can already include the use of military forces if appropriate.

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