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3 Dec 2002 : Column 697W—continued

Southern Africa

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what logistical support his Department has offered to address the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa. [85080]

Mr. Ingram: The Department for International Development (DFID) is the lead Department for humanitarian assistance by Her Majesty's Government. The Ministry of Defence has not received any requests to provide logistical support to those providing humanitarian assistance in southern Africa, but officials are in touch with those in DFID. The Ministry of Defence would naturally consider any requests for military assistance.


Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the order for the batch 2 Astute class submarines will be placed. [84376]

Dr. Moonie: A decision on the timing of future submarine orders is not expected before the first half of 2003.

Sustainability Strategy

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the sustainability strategy is for his Department; and if he will make a statement on how it has changed since the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. [83498]

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Dr. Moonie: Work is continuing on the development of a Ministry of Defence sustainable development strategy based on the Government's model, as set out in XA Better Quality of Life". The Strategy, which is to be taken forward by a Steering Group, chaired by Defence Estates, draws together a wide range of existing departmental activities into a single sustainability framework, comprising four separate but inter-related workstreams. These will address indicator development, appraisal tool development, training and awareness raising, and reporting.

Outcomes of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and first views on follow-up will be reflected in the annual report on United Kingdom progress on sustainable development for 2002. Our strategy will take account of these outcomes, where they are appropriate to, or impact on the activities of, the Ministry of Defence.

More information on our strategy is contained in the Sustainable Development in Government First Annual Report, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Vehicle Mounted Active Denials Systems

Mr. Pope: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for British forces to use Vehicle Mounted Active Denial Systems. [84005]

Dr. Moonie: There are no plans for British forces to use the Vehicle Mounted Active Denial System, although we continue to assess the developments in this field of technology.


Sellers' Packs

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the pilot carried out in Bristol on seller's packs for house sales. [84380]

Mr. McNulty: The Bristol Pilot Scheme provided valuable information in the development of our proposals for sellers' packs. The pilot was set up to test how easily packs could be assembled and how the information in the pack would be received and used. The results showed that packs can be assembled quickly. They also confirmed consumer support for the pack, demonstrated the tangible benefits that the pack can bring to the home buying and selling process and identified areas where further work needed to be done.

Census Forms

Mr. Laxton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many people have been prosecuted for not filling in their census forms (a) in Derby, North and (b) in the UK. [85079]

Ruth Kelly: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from J. Pullinger to Mr. Bob Laxton, dated 3 December 2002:

3 Dec 2002 : Column 699W

Coalfield Regeneration

Ms. Walley: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister (1) what additional resources will be made available to increase the capacity of former coalfield communities to develop projects and bid for funds under the coalfield regeneration programme administered through English Partnerships; [83911]

Mr. McNulty: The National Coalfield Programme, managed by English Partnerships, has an agreed budget of £385m to remediate up 98 coalfield sites and to bring positive change by encouraging new business and job creation. The programme also creates public open space, as well as leisure and social facilities.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has agreed new flexibility within the programme allowing English Partnerships to invest in projects outside of the immediate site boundaries where this approach offers greater benefit to that coalfield community. In these cases basic remediation of the programme site will still be carried out.

There is no system of bidding for projects under the programme. However, English Partnerships work closely with other stakeholders including local authorities, regional development agencies, the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and community groups in formulating proposals under the flexibility agreement.

Projects to enhance community capacity are supported separately by the coalfield regeneration trust, including the recent appointment of a second midlands regeneration manager to help develop the capacity of community groups.

Concessionary Travel

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will increase the level of subsidy provided to local authorities for pensioners bus passes. [84600]

Mr. Leslie: The provisional local government finance settlement will include £50 million announced by the Department for Transport on 27 February 2002 in respect of the cost to local authorities of equalisation of bus pass eligibility at age 60 for men and women. Resources for bus passes are not separately identified within the system.

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Fire Cover Task Group

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he expects the Fire Cover Task Group to make recommendations to the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council following the Pathfinder trials; and if he will make a statement. [82453]

Mr. Leslie: The Fire Cover Review Task Group agreed the text of its final report at the end of September 2002. The central Fire Brigades Advisory Council will consider the report at a future meeting.

Fire Service

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the cost is of the benefits that apply to a new entrant to the Fire Service; what financial and demographic assumptions are used to make this estimate; and when the mortality assumption for pensioners was last reviewed. [84905]

Mr. Raynsford: For the Review of the Fire Service Pensions published in 1998, the cost of the benefits under the Firefighters Pension Scheme was assessed at 34.75 per cent. of pensionable pay.The financial and demographic assumptions were based on the probabilities of firefighters leaving the service through various causes, their salary progression throughout their careers and their mortality rates once in receipt of benefits. The mortality assumption for pensioners was last reviewed in 1991.

Fire Service (Retirements)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the reasons for the incidence of retirement on ill health grounds in the fire service; and if he will make a statement. [84663]

Mr. Raynsford: The reasons for ill health retirements are collected and reviewed regularly. Figures for 1999–2000 and 2000–01 showing the percentages in the main categories:


Due to service (29.7 per cent.)Not due to service (70.3 per cent.)
Reasonof which:of which:
Muscular skeletal60.4337.44

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