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Ex-Service Personnel: Rehousing

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Bach: The Ministry of Defence has committed £285,000 to preventative programmes to assist with the rehousing of ex-service personnel in the current financial year and has budgeted to commit the same resources in 2003–04.

These funds support the programmes run by the Joint Service Housing Advisory Office (JSHAO) costing £140,000 per annum, the Single Persons Accommodation Centre for Ex-Services (SPACES) costing £110,000 per annum and the Shelter Armed Forces project (AFP) at a cost of £35,000 per annum.

The JSHAO was established by MoD in 1992. The SPACES and Shelter projects arose from a joint Ministry of Defence/Office of the Deputy Prime Minister working group set up to assist the small proportion of service personnel who are vulnerable to homelessness. The working group developed a policy to ensure provision of assistance at three key stages: pre-discharge, to identify and help vulnerable people who need further support before they leave the Armed Forces; point of discharge, to develop and implement a basic housing resettlement package for vulnerable individuals; and post-discharge, to work with the voluntary sector to create an effective safety net for vulnerable and homeless ex-service personnel.

The objective of JSHAO is to provide (pre-discharge) housing information, advice and where possible placement to all service personnel and their dependants and ex-service personnel still occupying service accommodation.

The SPACES partnership with English Church Housing Group has the objective of providing single service leavers with a (primarily point of discharge) tri-service accommodation placement agency.

The Shelter AFP has the objective of providing (point of discharge) housing advice and information to those members of the services who are discharged from the Armed Forces after a period of detention at the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC).

In addition, MoD has recently formed a partnership with ODPM, Business In the Community, the defence industry, Training for Life and other organisations in the voluntary sector to try to address post-discharge homelessness among ex-service personnel. The initiative, called "Project Compass—The Ex-Service Ready for Work Programme", was launched in November 2002 and offers new opportunities to homeless ex-service personnel by providing motivational and self-esteem training, vocational training and work placements. Those with more complex needs will also be referred to specialist assistance. One of the outcomes of this 12-month pilot project, based in London, will be a template of methodology for similar projects around the United Kingdom. Project Compass is funded by contributions from partners in the defence industry—£40,000, and the ODPM Homelessness Directorate—£23,500.

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Sierra Leone Settlement Process

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United Kingdom remains committed to supporting the settlement process in Sierra Leone.[HL1799]

Lord Bach: The United Kingdom is committed to supporting the settlement process in Sierra Leone, which saw its first full year of peace for a decade in 2002. As part of a cross-departmental strategy agreed jointly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Department for International Development, the UK-led international military advisory and training team is helping to develop the Republic of Sierra Leone armed forces into a professional, effective and democratically accountable force.

As part of our ongoing commitment, a company group from the 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles will deploy to Freetown this week. This deployment also demonstrates the United Kingdom's ability to conduct such deployments notwithstanding our commitments elsewhere in the world.

British Tourist Authority and English Tourism Council: Redundancies

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many employees of the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourism Council have been, or will be, made redundant because of the merger of the two bodies.[HL1501]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): No posts at the British Tourist Authority (BTA) or the English Tourism Council (ETC) have yet been made redundant as a result of the reorganisation. The organisational structure of the relaunched national

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tourism organisation is currently under development. Once finalised, BTA and ETC will consult with staff and their trade union as necessary on any redundancies which may be contemplated as a result.

The Tote: Sale

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in view of the recent values achieved by the sale of betting shops they intend to offer the shops of the Tote for sale by competitive tender. [HL1693]

Baroness Blackstone: No. The Government intend to allow for the sale of all of the Tote's business to a trust representative of the interests of horseracing. We will bring forward legislation to provide for this at the earliest opportunity.

Mayoral Elections

Lord Waddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the present prescribed notices for guidance for voters at Greater London Authority elections are wrong insofar as they instruct voters to vote once for their first choice and once for their second choice at the mayoral election, there being no requirement in law to make a second choice as well as a first. [HL1314]

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: As indicated in the Answer given on 23 January 2003, (WA 125), the Government are currently consulting on aspects of the rules for London mayoral and assembly elections, including the present prescribed notices to which my noble friend refers. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will consider all responses received during this exercise before finalising the rules for the next elections.

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