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The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): The day to day administration of the housing benefit and council tax benefit schemes is the responsibility of local authorities. The department has put in place a number of initiatives, including financial incentive and penalty schemes, to encourage local authorities to identify fraudulent applications. The Benefits Agency has introduced a security strategy to address fraudulent claims to other social security benefits. Investment of £305 million over the next three years will fund a range of measures designed to shift the emphasis from detection and investigation of fraud towards prevention and deterrence.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): The decommissioning schemes operate through a tendering system in order to obtain best value for money from the available funds. Therefore it is not possible to say in advance how many vessels will be decommissioned as a result of the additional funding. On the basis of experience with previous schemes, however, I would expect the results to make significant further contributions towards meeting the targets for capacity reduction in our multi-annual guidance programme.
Each member state is set its own MAGP target and the European Commission publishes an annual report on the programme. A copy of the 1994 report is in the House library. Member states are not obliged to rely solely on decommissioning in order to achieve their targets under their MAGPs. While decommissioning is available to French and Spanish fishermen details of the degree to which this will assist meeting French and Spanish MAGP targets are not currently available.
Lord Inglewood: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs announced to the House on 13 December 1994 (Official Report, columns 773774) that, following a review of aid and trade provision projects in the light of the judgment of the Divisional Court on the Malaysia Pergau Hydro-electric Dam project, arrangements would be made for outstanding commitments to certain projects to be met from funds voted by Parliament outside the scope of the Overseas Development and Co-operation Act 1980.
Financial aid for the Turkey Ankara Metro project, including the cost of monitoring, will be met from funds outside the overseas aid budget. Parliamentary approval to this new service will be sought in a Spring Supplementary Estimate for the Foreign and Commonwealth OfficeOverseas Development Administration: External Assistance Vote (Class II, Vote 5). Pending that approval, urgent expenditure, estimated at £4.627 million, will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.
Lord Inglewood: One policeman and two civilians were killed during the demonstrations in December 1994. There have been unconfirmed reports of two further civilian deaths in separate incidents in January. It is difficult to be precise about the total number of arrests. We believe that 500 or so have been detained, many of whom have now been released.
Lord Inglewood: We are not aware of a response by the Indonesian Government. With our European Union partners, we will carefully consider the special rapporteur's report, and any Indonesian reply, when the situation of East Timor is taken up at the current session of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Viscount Ullswater): The Government announced their strategic policies for managing air quality in the document Air Quality: Meeting the Challenge, published on 19 January. Copies have been placed in House Libraries. The Government's aim is to deliver sustainable improvements in air quality. It intends that plans should take into account the needs of urban and other areas as a whole, including needs for access. It will be the Government's policy to ensure that should plans for car-free zones and pedestrianisation be contemplated, there is appropriate consultation with relevant interests, including people with disabilities.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): Copies of a document which contains a full set of revised tables, corresponding to those in the Financial Statement and Budget Report 199596, are available today from the Printed Paper Office.
Lord Henley: A number of empty barracks in southern England were examined as potential sites for the offices located at Stanmore. The buildings considered proved to be unsuitable for modern office accommodation or the support of the new information technology required by the integrated Army personnel centre. Investment appraisal additionally demonstrated these sites to be more expensive than Kentigern House in Glasgow.
Lord Henley: Around 50 locations throughout the United Kingdom were initially identified as potential sites for the Army Personnel Centre and a total of 15 were examined closely. These included a number in southern England, but none were found to offer the economic advantages of co-location in Glasgow.
Lord Henley: The costs of establishing the Army Personnel Centre cannot be allocated to individual sites, and they are commercially confidential. The site at Stanmore is a Government owned freehold property and is not held on a lease. It is anticipated that the offices to be vacated will be occupied by other government departments.