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Call-Out of Reservists for Iraq

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): In line with our policy of employing reservists as an integral component of the armed forces, we shall shortly begin mobilising approximately 600 of them to replace existing reservists serving in support of our operations in Iraq (Op TELIC).
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Reservists currently deployed in Iraq carry out a range of activities including medical support, force protection duties and providing individual reinforcements to units. We anticipate that most of these tasks will continue. The callout will, however, involve fewer Reservists than our previous callout for Op TELIC announced in December 2004 (which involved 900 Reservists), due to a reduced number of individual reinforcements to regular units, and the replacement of the reserve field hospital with a regular one.

We plan to issue the callout notices for Reservists in phases and aim to give individuals 28 days notice of call-up (other than for those who may volunteer to be mobilised at shorter notice). As is customary, to ensure that we successfully mobilise the required number, we will need to issue a greater number of callout notices than the actual requirement. So, while this announcement calls for the mobilisation of about 600 reservists, it is by no means certain that all 600 will be deployed in Iraq.

Mobilisation will be followed by a period of individual, pre-deployment and collective training, integration into receiving units, and then a short period of pre-deployment leave. Deployment to theatre will begin in mid-October. The majority of those called out can expect a deployed tour of six months and a total period of mobilisation, including post-tour leave, of about 10 months, though for a few it may be slightly longer.

I would emphasise that this callout is part of our routine management of UK forces deployed on Op TELIC. We continue to consider, with our partners in the multinational force, the levels and dispositions of forces required in Iraq in the months ahead, to build the capability and capacity of the Iraqi Security Forces and support the transitional Government of Iraq through the process leading to the creation of a new constitution and full democratic elections in December 2005.

The next roulement of regular UK forces in Iraq is due to take place during October and November this year. We will make a further announcement covering this roulement once the details have been finalised.

Defence Procurement Agency

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): Five key targets have been set for the chief executive of the Defence Procurement Agency for the financial year 2005–06.

The first three key targets apply to all projects over £20 million which have passed their main gate approval but not yet achieved in service date (ISD). The fourth key target reflects the importance that the Department attaches to delivery of assets to the front-line. Key target 5 comprises three measures based on the utilisation of assets.

The Key Targets are:

Key Target 1: Key requirements compliance

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Key Target 2: Average in-year In Service Date slippage

Key Target 3: Average in-year cost growth

Key Target 4: Asset Deliveries

Key Target 5: Achievement of Planned Efficiency Measures

Defence Aviation Repair Agency

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): Key targets have been set for the chief executive of the Defence Aviation Repair Agency for the financial year 2005–06. The targets are as follows:

Key Target 1. Quality

Key Target 2. Business Performance and Efficiency

Key Target 3. Business Sustainability

Key Target 4. Efficiency


Decent Homes

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): I am today announcing 61 schemes, involving 34 local authorities, that will ensure social rented homes meet minimum standards of decency, and boost provision of new social rented homes. These schemes should deliver over £3 billion of investment, of which around £1.8 billion will be levered in from the private sector. They will tackle over 125,000 non-decent homes, and create around 1,400 new social rented homes.

These new schemes will set up housing transfers, Arms Length Management Organisations or PFI projects.

Eleven schemes have been awarded places on the transfer programme. These schemes are in Aylesbury Vale, Chorley, Derwentside, Sefton, Selby, South Gloucestershire, Taunton Deane, Waveney, and Waverley, with partial transfers in Islington and Sheffield.

A further 33 schemes have had places on the transfer programme held open whilst the level of gap funding is agreed. These schemes are in Brent (South Kilburn), Cannock Chase, Hackney (Woodberry Down), Islington (Packington), Lambeth (Ashmole Estate and Bolney Meadow Estate), Lewisham
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(Excalibur TMO and Bankfoot and Bellingham), Liverpool, North Lincolnshire, Pendle, Rossendale, and Tower Hamlets (21 schemes).

Ten schemes have been awarded places on the Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) programme. These schemes are in Doncaster, Gloucester, Hackney, Lambeth, Newham, Southend, South Tyneside, Stockport, Wear Valley, and Sheffield, where an existing ALMO will be extended. Schemes in Hackney, Southend and Wear Valley have yet to have their allocations finalised.

Together, the seven ALMOs with confirmed allocations will increase investment in council housing by £342 million in 2006–07 to 2007–08.

Seven schemes have been awarded places on the Housing PFI programme. Three of these—in Manchester, Oldham, and Lewisham—will focus on refurbishing or replacing non-decent homes. Four of the PFI schemes—in Guildford, Weymouth and Portland, Woking, and Medway—will focus on delivering new social rented units. We are making around £500 million in PFI credits available for these schemes.

These schemes mark our continuing commitment to ensuring that all social sector tenants have the decent homes that they deserve, and places the decent homes strategy firmly at the heart of the sustainable communities agenda.

Home Loss Payments

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Yvette Cooper): Following the annual review, the Deputy Prime Minister will today lay regulations to update the home loss payment thresholds in section 30 of the Land Compensation Act 1973 (as amended). Home loss payments are paid at a rate of 10 per cent. of the market value to owner-occupiers who are displaced from their homes as a result of compulsory purchase or certain housing orders. These are subject to maximum and minimum payments. Tenants receive a flat rate equal to the minimum payment to owner-occupiers.

With effect from 1 September 2005, the maximum payment to owner-occupiers displaced from their home will be increased from £34,000 to £38,000 and the minimum payment will be increased from £3,400 to £3,800. The flat-rate will be increased from £3,400 to £3,800.

The period of two months between laying the regulations and commencement will give acquiring authorities reasonable notice to revise their budgets for compensation. This is similar to the notice period given in previous years for revisions to the home loss payments thresholds.

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