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Housing Development (Ministry of Defence Land)

Sue Doughty: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discussions he has had with colleagues in the Ministry of Defence on the release of MOD-owned land in South East England for housing development; and if he will make a statement. [105749]

Mr. McNulty: My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has not had discussions with colleagues in the Ministry of Defence about the release of land in the South East himself. Officials of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have, however, had discussions involving Ministry of Defence, the regional agencies and English Partnerships over broad issues relating to Ministry of Defence land in the South East.

On a national level, my right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister has given English Partnerships a new strategic role for surplus public sector land across Government. They are now drawing up a register of surplus public sector land. Working with the RDAs, they will help ensure that wider Government objectives, such as housing and regional economic strategies, are factored into future site disposals.

Regional Government

Mr. Flook: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the responses he has received to Government proposals for a referendum on a regional assembly for the South West. [107147]

Mr. Leslie: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has so far received over 5,400 responses to it's soundings exercise about the level of interest in each English region in holding a referendum about an elected regional assembly. 540 have been identified as being from the South West.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will announce its decisions after the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill has received Royal Assent.

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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the publicly-owned travellers sites broken down by (a) local authority and (b) parliamentary constituences. [106023]

Mr. McNulty: The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister publishes an annual count of authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites in England, which is broken down into each local authority area. The annual sites count and bi-annual caravan count is also available through the website. The January 2003 sites count will be published in due course.

A copy of the latest sites and caravan count has been placed in the Library of the House.

Voluntary Organisations

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many grants have been paid in 2002–03 to voluntary organisations based in the Buckingham constituency from the Special Grants Programme. [105703]

Mr. McNulty: The Special Grants Programme (SGP) is administered by open competition. One funding application was received from a Buckinghamshire-based voluntary organisation during the 2002–3 SGP competition. This application was unsuccessful; consequently no grants were awarded within the Buckinghamshire constituency.

Walton Group Plc

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what progress has been made on the return of the Government grant given to the Walton Group plc in relation to Exchange Flags, Liverpool; and where the funds will be applied. [106997]

Mr. McNulty: Between November 1992 and July 1994, developers the Walton Group Plc and contractors Todd and Benn (Contractors) Limited were given £4,444,782 in a City Grant to renovate the disused Exchange Buildings in Liverpool. When English Partnerships (EP) claimed that the work was not completed, the Government sought the return of the grant plus costs incurred. The case was settled out of court last year.

Shortly before the final payment deadline of 1 April 2003, English Partnerships received a full and final cash settlement of just over £5.5 million. This represents the full amount of the original grant and all the costs expended.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 18 November 2002, Official Report, column 125W, the settlement terms allowed for interest to accrue under certain circumstances. This clause was triggered, and the sum received therefore also includes the full amount of interest due.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is now asking EP to work with the city council and the North West Development Agency—its partners in Liverpool Vision, the city's urban regeneration company—to identify appropriate projects that will ensure the original grant money can now be applied for the benefit of Liverpool City Centre.

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Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were arrested and not charged in each of the past five years; and how many of them had never been arrested previously. [106529]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Data given in the table are for arrests for notifiable offences within the financial years 1999–2000 to 2001–02. Information for earlier years is not available on a consistent basis.

Statistics on the number of people who following arrest are not charged, or those who have never been arrested previously, are not collected centrally.

Persons arrested for notifiable offences recorded by the police, from 1999–2000 to 2001–02

Year(41)England and Wales

(41) Total (estimated)

Asylum Seekers

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether asylum seekers serving prison sentences are able to apply for hard cases section 4 NASS support. [105962]

Beverley Hughes: Accommodation may be provided under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, as amended, in certain circumstances to asylum seekers whose claims have been finally determined as unsuccessful. Clearly, those in custody cannot obtain section 4 support. Similarly, asylum seekers who have not yet received a final decision on their claim for asylum are not eligible for accommodation under section 4.

We seek to deport failed asylum seekers and others without rights of residence in the United Kingdom on completion of a prison sentence. Section 4 support would only be available if it was not possible for them to leave the country or be deported.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many asylum seekers and their dependants are supported by (a) NASS, (b) local authorities and (c) the mainstream welfare benefits system. [106089]

Beverley Hughes: At the end of December 2002, 54,070 asylum seekers (including dependants) were being supported in The National Asylum Support Service (NASS) accommodation and 37,810 asylum seekers (including dependants) were in receipt of subsistence only support 1 . These statistics are available on the Home Office's immigration and asylum website:

From grant claims sent to the Home Office by English and Welsh local authorities, as at the end of December 2002,29,485 households were in receipt of local authority support(comprising 16,980 individuals and 12,505 families) 1 .

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At the end of December 2002, 3,865 asylum seeker households (comprising 1,295 individuals and 2,570 families, were being supported by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Civil Contingencies

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his Department's (a) responsibilities and (b) assets with regard to civil contingency planning; what funds are committed; what action he is taking within his Department to improve such planning; and what action he is taking in collaboration with other departments. [102621]

Mr. Blunkett: I am responsible for co-ordination arrangement on counter-terrorism and civil contingencies across Government. With regard to the first part of the question I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office (Mr Douglas Alexander) on 21 March 2003, Official Report, column 957W.

The Cabinet Office is the lead department for civil emergency planning. The Home Office leads on developing the UK's capability to respond to terrorist inspired CBRN incidents and does not hold assets for civil emergency planning. The Department is playing a leading role in the government's work to ensure that the emergency services have the equipment and the trained officers necessary to respond to civil emergencies particularly incidents caused by CBRN terrorism.

As Home Secretary, I have responsibility within the Government for domestic national security, including counter-terrorism policy, and also for our work relating to preparedness in the face of a terrorist attack. I chair two Cabinet Sub-Committees which deal with these matters, bringing together Ministers from all relevant departments to ensure that contingencies arrangements are in place. Each department, of course, takes responsibility for its own resilience in the face of terrorist attacks and other emergencies. I refer the hon. Member again to the reply given by the Minister for the Cabinet Office on 21 March for that department's role in co-ordinating these arrangements for resilience in government and the public sector.

I gave a full account of the Government's response to dealing with the consequences of a terrorist attack when I made a statement to the House during the debates on the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 on 3 March 2003, Official Report, column 72WS.

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