§ Mr. Bob Russell
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the number and proportion of Ministry of Defence homes currently vacant in Colchester; how many homes the Ministry of Defence has sold in the past year, and to whom. 
§ Mr. Spellar
There are 1,361 properties pon the Colchester family quarters estate of which 138 (10.1 per cent.) are currently vacant. Of the 138 properties, 75 have been allocated to incoming families; nine have been set aside for major refurbishment and 36 have been identified for possible short-term leasing. The future of the remaining 18 remains under review.
Within the past year, nine family quarters have been sold on the open market by the Defence Estates Organisation. I am withholding information on the companies and individuals involved in this sale for reasons of commercial confidentiality under exemption 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government information.
A further 46 houses were sold freehold to Annington Homes Ltd. as part of the asset sale in November 1996.