|Gerry Steinberg MP||In the House...|
Speeches and parliamentary questions in the House of Commons, 2003-4While speaking in the chamber of the House is a high profile activity for an MP, much other work is done elsewhere, such as Gerry's work on the Public Accounts Committee and others, as well as a large casework load for constituents.
18/11/04 Hunting Bill [18 Nov 2004]
29/06/04 Public Accounts [29 Jun 2004]
29/04/04 Durham fire authority
28/04/04 Abbas Mirzael
31/03/04 Government Policy, Immigration - PMQ
09/03/04 Defence Contractors
02/03/04 Council Tax
02/03/04 Occupation of Iraq
01/03/04 Procurement Contracts
12/02/04 Public Accounts Debate
05/01/04 Maintenance Loan
15/12/03 Higher Education
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. A number of hon. Members are confused about the first vote. What would happen if the amendment in the name of the Opposition spokesman, on which we are now voting, gains a majority? Would there be a further vote, or would the other amendments fall?
Mr. Speaker: We would then vote on the Minister's motion, as amended, because the amendment being voted on is an amendment to the main motion.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): Is the Minister aware that Durham fire authority has one of the best records in the whole country, but has now been one of the worst-resourced authorities for many years? Is he also aware that, on a number of occasions, my colleagues and I have met Ministers who agree that Durham has a problem, mainly because of pension payments that come from the revenue fund? We now have a situation in which the Government will not adequately fund the service in Durham and will not allow the fire authority to fund itself. If there is an unforeseen problem because of underfunding in Durham, who will take the blame? Who will be responsible - an efficient fire authority that has done its best in difficult circumstances, or Ministers who won't damn well listen?
Mr. Raynsford: The Government are funding fire authorities, including Durham, which received a 3.5 per cent. increase in grant this year. Like other fire authorities, Durham is also benefiting from the substantial investment that the Government are putting into the new dimension programme to equip fire brigades far more effectively to cope with the new dimension of terrorist threats. The fire authority has been put forward for nomination, which means that it will not be required to cut its budget in the current year. We are proposing to nominate the authority, and depending on what evidence it gives to us in the next 21 days - as I have made it clear, we are open to representations from authorities in that period - we will decide how to take things forward.
I assure my hon. Friend that we are committed to enabling all fire authorities to deliver their service effectively, and in a cost-effective way that does not impose unreasonable burdens on council tax payers.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will (a) reply to the three letters from the hon. Member for City of Durham regarding Abbas Mirzael ref: M1009147 and (b) return the fee and application form TD 112 requested on 18 November 2003. 
Mr. Browne [holding answer 19 April 2004]: Officials replied to my hon. Friend's letters of 18 November 2003 and 6 February on 2 April. I sent a further reply to my hon. Friend's letter of 9 March on 28 April.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): I have two questions and I do not know which one to ask, really.
Does my right hon. Friend agree with me that if the policies of the Government at the time had been similar to the policies of the present Opposition, neither the Leader of the Opposition nor I would be in the House today?
The Prime Minister: I think I will take the other one.
I am sure that that applies to the vast majority of Members, in one way or another, over the generations.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the evidence of the Permanent Secretary to the Committee of Public Accounts on 21 January, which foreign contractor, after winning a defence contract, refused to supply the goods; for what reasons; and whether others have done so in the last two years. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 5 March 2004]: In respect of the evidence given by the Permanent Secretary to the Committee of Public Accounts on 21 January, I presume my hon. Friend refers to the contract for the supply of ammunition for Underslung Grenade Launchers. In this case, there was no known instance of the contractor (RUAG) refusing to meet the contract, though deliveries of ammunition were suspended by the Swiss Government during the major hostilities in Iraq.
As regards identifying any other foreign contractors who have refused to meet defence contracts in the last two years, the information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the total grant received from his Department is in Durham to compensate for loss in revenue from council tax consequent on student exemption from council tax. 
Mr. Raynsford: There is no separate grant in respect of council tax revenue foregone through student exemptions.
The main central Government support for spending by the City of Durham is through redistributed business rates and Revenue Support Grant, together known as Formula Grant. The amount of Formula Grant for Durham City depends on Durham's Formula Spending Share, Durham's share of the assumed national council tax, Durham's council tax base, and the operation of the floor and ceiling damping mechanism. Where there are student exemptions this will reduce the council tax base and so result in additional Revenue Support Grant.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average daily cost has been of the occupation of Iraq. 
Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence identifies the costs of Operations in terms of the net additional costs it has incurred. The costs that the Department would have incurred regardless of the operation taking place, such as wages and salaries, are not included. Savings on activities that have not occurred because of the operation - training exercises for example - are taken into account in arriving at the net figures.
Costs are not incurred on a regular daily basis and force levels have fluctuated considerably during 2003-04. As a result, to attempt to provide daily average costs would be misleading.
However, you may wish to know that outturn information for 2002-03 on the cost of operations in Iraq has been published as part of the MOD's Annual Report and Accounts. Operating Costs for 2002-03 for operations in Iraq total £629.531 million. Expenditure on Capital equipment amounts to £217.680 million. The grand total is, therefore, £847.211 million.
For 2003-04, funding voted at Winter Supplementary Estimates amounted to £1.2 billion and covered the cost of peacekeeping and associated Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs). The MOD has sought a further £300 million at Spring Supplementary Estimates to cover primarily the cost of the Recuperation of the Department's operational capability. Thus, the total sought in 2003-04 will be £1.5 billion.
It is too early to say what costs might be incurred after 2003-04.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which foreign contractors after winning a defence contract have refused to supply the goods in the last five years; and what the reasons given for doing so were in each case. 
Mr. Ingram: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost (Exemption 9 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information).
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many contracts for the production of ammunition have been awarded to foreign companies in circumstances where a British company has bid for the contract in the last five years; and who the (a) successful and (b) unsuccessful companies were in each case. 
Mr. Ingram: Over the past five years some 44 contracts for ammunition have been placed with foreign companies. However, we are unable to verify whether British companies bid for these contracts as the information on unsuccessful bidders is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
The successful contractors by country were as follows:
Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which foreign contractors after winning an ammunition contract have refused to supply the goods in the last five years; and what the reasons given for doing so were in each case. 
Mr. Ingram: There have been no known cases in the last five years of foreign contractors refusing to supply ammunition which they were contracted to do so.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to his answer of 15 December, Official Report, column. 666W, on higher education, at what level of parental income students will no longer be eligible for the full maintenance loan; and at what level of parental income students will be eligible for no more than 75 per cent. of the maintenance loan. 
Alan Johnson: For English and Welsh students attending institutions in the UK in academic year 2004/05, the required information is set out in the following table:
|Full year||Final year|
|Support covered||Household residual income||Household residual income|
|Entitlement to 100 per cent. loan||31,973||31,973|
|Entitlement to 75 per cent. of the loan at:|
|Parental home rate||39,668||38,670|
Alan Johnson: All students, regardless of their family income, will be eligible for some financial assistance under the Government's proposals. The non-means tested element (75 per cent.) of the maintenance loan will continue to be available to all students, while the remaining 25 per cent. will be linked to family income. We do not intend to means-test loans for fees, which are to be introduced from 2006-07. Additional support will, as now, be available on a means-tested basis in the form of tuition fee remission and, from 2004-05, a new higher education grant will be introduced for those from poorer backgrounds. This financial assistance is in addition to existing targeted support for specific groups such as disabled students or student parents.
Reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO