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Written Ministerial Statements

Monday 8 May 2006



The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Tom Watson): I am very pleased to announce to the House that the Ministry of Defence has awarded the Project Allenby/Connaught contract to Aspire Defence Ltd. for the redevelopment and provision of services to Aldershot garrison and garrisons in the Salisbury plain area. This private finance initiative (PFI) project will provide modernised and fully serviced accommodation to the Army for35 years and is worth approximately £8 billion through the life of the contract.

This is the largest accommodation PFI project the MOD has ever undertaken. In all, this project will deliver modern living and working accommodation for 18,000 military and civilian personnel, including the provision of some 11,000 en-suite bedspaces. The total new build for the project will cover an area twice the size of Hyde Park, and there will be more than 200 individual construction sites across the project footprint. In all more than 350 new buildings will be constructed and a further 140 will be refurbished. The project will also involve the demolition of more than 400 buildings, many of which are either empty or uneconomical to maintain.

The agreement we have reached with Aspire Defence Ltd. is a highly significant one, especially given the scale of the project, and the number of people who will benefit from it—not just within the Army, but in the garrison areas as well. The project will generate many new jobs in the local areas, but will also provide benefits to the wider UK economy through extensive contracting and sub-contracting of work. Furthermore, the implementation of this project will create a large area of land in Aldershot, which will be disposed of. The availability of this land is key to the plans for the urban regeneration of the area, and this too will create many employment opportunities.

Work on the new barracks has already started in Tidworth garrison with other garrisons soon to follow; it is anticipated that all the major construction work will take place during the first nine years of the project. The project also includes the provision of a wide range of services, including catering, cleaning, vehicle management and utilities. Some of these services are currently provided within the public sector, and approximately 380 civil service posts will transfer to the new service providers. These transfers will be handled in accordance with existing legislation and the Ministry of Defence's TUPE code of practice. There will not be any redundancies arising out of this transfer. The trade unions have been involved throughout the process, and
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a formal consultation period is currently under way. In addition around 1,800 existing contractors staff will transfer, in accordance with TUPE legislation, to the Aspire supply chain.

This project delivers on the Government's pledge to provide our armed forces with modern and appropriately provisioned facilities. Furthermore,it demonstrates the Government's continuing commitment to private finance initiatives as a procurement option, where they are proven to offer a sensible and cost-effective way forward.

Trade and Industry

Industry Forum Adaptor Programme

The Minister for Industry and the Regions (Margaret Hodge): Today the Department is placing copies of a report on “The Industry Forum Adaptor Programme” in the Libraries of both Houses.

The report is published by the DTI in collaboration with the Industry Forum Network, and details the activities and achievements of the 15 industry forums throughout the UK. They have been instrumental in introducing global best practice into the production activities of a number of important UK industrial sectors, enabling participating firms to makesignificant productivity gains and to achieve marked improvements to their overall competitiveness. The15 industry forums are listed below, with the date they started work. The report details the activities and achievements of each forum. It presents case studies which underline the success of the programme's practical, hands-on approach to the transfer of best practice, including process improvement “master classes”, in which expert engineers help workforces to tackle issues of productivity and quality on the shop floor through the application of “lean” and other best practice techniques.

Forum Date

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Work and Pensions

Benefit Fraud Inspectorate

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mr. James Plaskitt): On behalf of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the Benefit Fraud Inspectorate (BFI) has today announced its phase 16 programme of work.

The authorities that will be inspected are: Caradon district council, Dumfries and Galloway council,
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Herefordshire council, North Lanarkshire council, Renfrewshire council and Southampton city council.

I am pleased to announce that the planned inspection of Slough borough council will not go ahead because the council has shown significant improvements in their performance.

BFI is an independent unit within the Department for Work and Pensions that inspects and reports directly to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the standard of benefit administration and counter fraud activity in local authorities and the Department itself.

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