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The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): We have received one representation from the Northern Ireland Executive concerning lighthouses in Ireland and Northern Ireland only.
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The directive was adopted on 20 November 2001. Officials at the Department of Transport are in the process of completing initial consultations requesting views on the proposed method of implementing it into UK legislation. We are proposing to integrate the requirements of the directive into a consolidation of existing bus and coach regulations to make them simpler and easier to understand. It is hoped to implement this consolidation in the latter half of 2003.
The directive will have no effect on the use of existing double-decker buses operating in the UK. Our regulations will permit the current design of low-floor, accessible double-decker buses to continue to be produced.
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: The aggregate amount is £19,038,000 of which £100,000 will be retained as discretionary grant for special projects and special events deemed of benefit to the wider emergency planning community in England and Wales.
The grants have been allocated in the same way as last year, but with each authority receiving an equal share of the additional £70,000 available. Every authority thereby receives a slight increase in grant of £386.
|Local Authority||Grant Allocation 200304 (£)|
|Barking and Dagenham||75,969|
|Bath and North East Somerset||90,011|
|Blackburn with Darwen||70,658|
|Brighton and Hove||81,172|
|Corporation of London||60,145|
|East Riding of Yorkshire||72,166|
|Greater Manchester FCDA||64,060|
|Hammersmith and Fulham||76,719|
|Hull (Kingston upon Hull)||72,265|
|Isle of Wight||72,230|
|Isles of Scilly||53,708|
|Kensington and Chelsea||74,788|
|Kingston upon Thames||67,654|
|Neath Port Talbot||70,259|
|Newcastle Upon Tyne||102,823|
|North East Lincolnshire||71,624|
|Redcar and Cleveland||69,693|
|Rhondda Cynon Taff||82,319|
|Richmond upon Thames||69,424|
|South Yorkshire FCDA||84,356|
|Telford and Wrekin||72,385|
|Tyne and Wear FCDA||34,892|
|Vale of Glamorgan||72,385|
|West Midlands FCDA||60,386|
|West Yorkshire FCDA||61,593|
|Windsor and Maidenhead||66,796|
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): When the destroyer HMS "Nottingham" grounded in Australian waters on 7 July 2002 she sustained severe damage and flooding in the forward part of the ship. She is now on passage to the UK on a heavy lift ship and is expected to arrive in United Kingdom waters on 7 December. She will then be unloaded and towed into HM naval base at Portsmouth where a contract has been placed for her repair with Fleet Support Limited. The repair workwhich will cost around £26 million, including all materials supplied by the departmentis expected to last up to 18 months. HMS "Nottingham" is expected to return to operational service in November 2004.
HMS "Nottingham" is a highly capable Type 42 destroyer designed to provide area air defence either independently or as an integral component of larger joint or coalition maritime task groups. Her key weapons, sensors and command system were significantly ungraded during an extensive refit in
To ease the short-term programming gap in the fleet created by HMS "Nottingham's" unavailability, HMS "Glasgow", an older and less capable Type 42, is being regenerated from a planned state of lower readiness. An alternative solution which would have given HMS "Glasgow" a similar capability upgrade to that received by HMS "Nottingham" was deemed to provide best value for money.
Lord Bach: On 25 April 2002 (Official Report, cols. 42627W), we informed the House in another place that the problem of mistaken taxation of some service invalidity pensions were more extensive than previously understood. We reported that we had set up an internal review, independent of the staffs involved, to establish the extent of the taxation errors and expose any related problems. This review is now complete.
The review has established that the taxation problem is more extensive than we indicated in April. It is now clear that some RAF pensions are affected, and that RN pensions affected are not limited to the period 197399. In addition, the review has found that further work is needed on Army pensions; this is required both to re-examine more thoroughly certain cases adjudged when first reviewed as correctly taxed, and to examine for the first time some other cases previously not thought to be at risk.
The findings of the review mean that the number of files needing examination has proved considerably larger than we stated previously. We now expect it will not be possible to complete a comprehensive check for all three services before next summer. We regret that this work cannot be done faster, but it is vital that it be done accurately by suitably cleared staff who are also familiar with the relevant documents. The pace of the work is also affected by the lack of comprehensive
We are very much aware of the importance of giving as much priority as possible to examining the cases of our oldest pensioners. Although over 70 per cent of errors identified so far affect younger pensioners, discharged in or after 1990, we anticipate that errors still to be found will include some affecting the oldest age-group. We much regret that in several of the cases recently re-examined a pensioner, previously misadvised that his pension was correctly taxed, has died before an error was recognised. In such cases the tax refund is to be paid, with due apology, to the pensioner's widow or estate.
A further problem brought to light by the review is that some of the pensions taxed in error were also affected by an underpayment of Armed Forces pension scheme benefits. Over 350 pensioners have so far been identified in this category, most of whom were discharged in the 1990s. The average underpayment in these cases was around £4,500. The cost to date of rectifying tax errors has been some £5 million, which happens also to be an average of some £4,500 per pensioner.
The review includes a full analysis of the causes of errors and the necessary remedial action; the latter is already in hand. The procedures used in the conduct of the review have been validated by the National Audit Office. The NAO's letter of validation and the report of the review have been placed in the Library of the House.
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