§ Mr. Viggers
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will compensate Gosport borough council for the loss of standard spending assessments in 1997–98 and 1996–97 resulting from errors in the population date relating to service personnel in Gosport. 
§ Sir Paul Beresford
The population data used in standard spending assessments are those estimated by the Registrar General, using the best information available to him at the time. Information on service personnel is provided to the Registrar General by the Defence Analytical Services Agency. I understand that, following consultations with DASA, the Registrar General's estimates took account of concerns expressed by Gosport borough council relating to service personnel, to the extent that they appeared to him to be valid. I am aware that the methods of deriving the components of the population estimates are continually being refined; consequently, it is sometimes possible to produce updated estimates which differ from those provided previously for the calculation of SSAs. In the interests of certainty in financial allocations to local authorities, it is our general policy not to take account of any such subsequent refinements to any indicators, once the data have been used in the calculation of SSAs.