|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans his Department has to re-house residents displaced by the volcanic activity in the south of the island of Montserrat. 
Mr. Thomas: Between 1997 and 2001, DFID funded over 1,000 housing units in Montserrat for displaced residents. Further housing assistance, agreed with the Government of Montserrat (GoM) in October 2001, focused on provision of 200 serviced residential lots, sheltered housing for the elderly and mentally ill, a self-build materials grant scheme for poorer households, and refurbishment of temporary housing. Additional support, including the preparation of serviced lots and the construction of 60 houses, is being funded by the European Union.
Most displaced residents, who remained on the island, now have satisfactory accommodation. However, some still live in sub-standard conditions; and inadequate access to permanent housing is cited as one of the major factors deterring displaced Montserratians overseas from returning.
DFID officials held talks in Montserrat in November about the outstanding needs, especially improving housing for the most vulnerable and those still living in shelters. We will be reviewing our assistance in the light of those discussions.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures have been taken to reduce the impact of future eruptions from the Soufriere Hills volcano on development plans in Montserrat. 
Volcanic activity on Montserrat is monitored on a day to day basis by the staff of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, which is run under contract by the British Geological Survey. Their reports are analysed at regular intervals by a Scientific Advisory Committee. The resulting information and advice is conveyed to the Governor and the Montserrat Government, as well as to residents, visitors and other interested groups. It is fully taken into account in all
6 Dec 2005 : Column 1191W
development plans. The most obvious outcome has been the focusing of development activities in the 'safe zone' in the north of the island.
Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps his Department is taking to control the environmental impact of the tourist developments occurring on the Turks and Caicos islands. 
The responsibility for such issues rests with the Turks and Caicos Island authorities. Between 2001 and March 2005, however, we funded an Environmental Adviser to the Protected Areas Department of the Turks and Caicos Islands Government. His responsibilities included provision of advice on tourism development control and the formulation of policies relating specifically to development activities within protected areas. The Turks and Caicos Islands graduated from the need for UK development assistance in March of this year.
6 Dec 2005 : Column 1193W
Mrs. McGuire: The Department has taken a range of steps in line with the recommendations in the report from the Ministerial Task Force for Health, Safety and Productivity, Managing Sickness Absence in the Public Sector", which was published in November 2004.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many air miles were accrued by ministerial travel in 200405, broken down by Minister; how many were (a) foregone and (b) donated to charity, broken down by charity; and whether air miles accrued by officials were required to be (i) foregone and (ii) given to charity. 
Mrs. McGuire: Ministerial travel is conducted in accordance with the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers. I can confirm that no air miles were accrued, foregone or donated to charity through ministerial travel by this department in 20042005.
The Department's Travel and Subsistence Guidance is clear that any air miles accrued by officials should be used solely against future business travel wherever possible. However the vast majority of our business travel is booked through a third- party contract and no air miles are accrued through this service.
Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what factors underlay his decision to propose changes to the system of medical examination for benefit claimants; and if he will make a statement. 
Jo Swinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of Child Support Agency cases which are being handled where the non-resident parent has yet to be assessed because their employer is being traced. 
Mr. Plaskitt: The ability to trace an employer does not in itself prevent a calculation or assessment from being made. This is because, in terms of calculating maintenance payments, the onus is on the non-resident parent to provide the Agency with verification of earnings.
Where this does not happen, a default maintenance decision (for new scheme cases) or an interim maintenance assessment (for old scheme cases) may be imposed. If the non-resident parent does not comply in paying this, the Agency will attempt to trace the employer so that a Deduction from Earnings Order can be considered.
In the event that the Agency is unable to verify earnings or trace an employer, the default maintenance decision or interim maintenance assessment will remain in effect and the Agency will consider alternative methods for enforcing the maintenance owed.
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will list departmental projects conducted by consultants in each year since 2000; what the cost was in each case; and what the total cost of employing consultants was in each year. 
Margaret Hodge: Information on departmental projects conducted by consultants in each year since 2000 and the costs in each case is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate costs.
|Management consultancy||IT consultancy|
Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department takes to ensure that consultancies do not claim excessive expenses while working for the Department and its agencies. 
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|