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ODPM: Property Sector Consultation

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister carried out an internal review to assess how we could more closely involve the property sector in developing and taking forward our sustainable communities agenda. We also wanted to see how we could more effectively fulfil our role in liaising with the property and development industries, taking account of recent consultation about how best to consult across government on property issues.

Among the major considerations in the review was the need to listen to the concerns of the property sector, to ensure that policy development takes account of market realities and to engage more fully with those able to deliver on our policy agenda. We decided that we need to overhaul our present machinery for consultation with the commercial property sector and to bring in those reponsible for funding and building new housing development, to ensure that we can address all aspects of our major plans for physical regeneration.

This led us to the conclusion that we should replace our two existing bodies for consulting the commercial property sector, the Property Advisory Group and the Property Industry Forum, with a single new group, the Property Consultative Group. The Property Consultative Group will consist of representatives of the existing bodies on the Property Industry Forum,

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together with those from several other bodies, including house builders and funders. The group will meet regularly, with a Minister in the chair.

The Property Consultative Group will be supplemented by working groups, which we will set up ad hoc to address particular issues in greater depth. The working groups will include other experts where this would be helpful as well as some of the members of the main group. They will give us continued access to high quality independent expert external advice, of the type that the Property Advisory Group has provided over a number of years. The scope to set up ad hoc working groups with a limited life span, and a membership specifically selected to address the remit of the group concerned, will give us more flexibility in obtaining advice on particular issues, especially those to do with the building of sustainable communities. Initially, we will be setting up working groups on funding and delivery mechanisms and on commercial property markets and leases.

My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Housing and Planning has paid tribute to members of the Property Advisory Group for their considerable help to the office. In particular, he has thanked Robin Broadhurst for chairing the group over the past five years. Mr Broadhurst's second period of appointment is now ending, and we considered this would be an appropriate time to make these changes. The Property Advisory Group has played an important part in telling us about developments in the property market and in helping to ensure that new policy takes account of market practice. Ministers are very grateful to members for all their hard work and commitment. We will want to include some individual members of the group on the new ad hoc groups we are establishing, and we look forward to working with them. The group's final meeting will take place on 8 July and we will shortly publish its final annual report.

The new Property Consultative Group will begin work on Monday 15 September, and the Minister of State for Housing and Planning looks forward to welcoming members to its first meeting. bjc

Iraq: Fatalities and Casualties

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the latest estimates to date of the number of:

    (a) civilians killed;

    (b) civilians wounded;

    (c) Iraqi service people killed;

    (d) Iraqi service people wounded;

    (e) coalition service people killed; and

    (f) coalition service people wounded as a result of military action since the beginning of the most recent war in Iraq.[HL2752]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): As of 30 June, 43 United Kingdom service personnel had died and 155

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had become casualties since the start of coalition military operations against Iraq.

Fatalities and casualties suffered by other members of the coalition is a matter for them to comment on.

We make every effort to minimise any impact on the Iraqi civilian population but we have no means of ascertaining the numbers of Iraqi military personnel or civilians were killed or injured during the coalition's military action.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the latest estimate of the number of civilians (a) killed and (b) wounded in Iraq, including the Kurdish self rule area, since the end of the recent major military activity, as a result of the detonation of unexploded ordnance; and whether they will review the use of cluster bombs in military operations.[HL2792]

Lord Bach: We have no means of ascertaining the number of civilians killed since the end of coalition's military action, but we are not aware of any proven instances of unexploded bomblets from cluster bombs dropped by United Kingdom aircraft causing fatalities.

Cluster bombs are lawful weapons and are used by UK forces in a manner consistent with our obligations under international law against legitimate military targets on occasions when they are the most appropriate weapons system.

We made every effort to minimise any impact on the Iraqi civilian population of the coalition's military action. UK aircraft employed cluster bombs only against fielded Iraqi military forces in the open or on the periphery of built up areas.

There are no plans to change UK's existing policy on cluster bombs.

RAF Fylingdales

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Bach on 3 June (WA 131–32), why Section XVII of the Defence Act 1842 was not complied with when the bridleway at RAF Fylingdales was closed.[HL3218]

Lord Bach: Section XVII of the Defence Act 1842 was examined before the order to stop-up the western bridleway was made. Legal advice to the department was that the section did not require an additional bridleway to be provided.

Whitehall Statues

Lord Mackie of Benshie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who is responsible for the area in Whitehall

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    containing the statues of three generals of World War II; and why the site is often full of litter.[HL3517]

Lord Bach: Responsibility for the area of grass between the Ministry of Defence main building and Whitehall rests with the PFI contractor for the redevelopment of main building, Modus Services plc. The paved area at the foot of the statues is the responsibility of Westminster City Council.

However, although every effort is made to maintain its appearance, due to the volume of visitors in the area, the absence of litterbins and the adjacent building site, the ground can from time to time become somewhat untidy. Nevertheless, this question has been brought to the attention of Modus.

Iraq: Withdrawal of British Military Forces

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their exit strategy from Iraq.[HL3622]

Lord Bach: Our military campaign objectives contained a commitment to withdrawal of British military forces from Iraq as soon as is practicable.

Nevertheless, we have committed ourselves to the long-term humanitarian, political and economic welfare of the Iraqi people. We will help them to restore effective representative government for all their people, to regain economic stability, and to reintegrate into the international community.

Defence Housing

Baroness Golding asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to carry out a business review of the management and delivery of defence housing.[HL3760]

Lord Bach: A business process review of the management and delivery of defence housing is to be carried out by the Ministry of Defence. Following a scoping exercise, the review will commence shortly, and will complete in December 2003.

The aim of the review is to examine the function, role, operation, funding and organisation of defence housing. It will seek to identify the most efficient and effective process to support the management and delivery of defence housing both in the UK and overseas.

The review team will consult with a range of stakeholders during the course of the review including single-service customers, TUs, other government departments and other relevant bodies. The MoD is interested also to hear the views of other organisations or individuals who would like to make a contribution to the review.

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Those wishing to do so should send their contribution by 31 July 2003 to:

    The Defence Housing Review Team

    Ministry of Defence

    2nd Floor

    St Giles Court

    1–13 St Giles High Street

    London WC2H 8LD

    Or by email:

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