§ Mr. Don Foster
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what(a) number and (b) percentage of properties in his charge are empty; and what steps are being taken by his Department to reduce the number of such properties. 
§ Dr. Moonie
[holding answer 3 April 2000]: At 1 April 1999 there were a total of 13,962 unoccupied properties within the Services married quarters estate in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. This represented some 21 per cent. of total stock.9W
At 1 April 1999 the Defence Housing Executive held a stock of 62,420 married quarters in England, Scotland and Wales, of which 48,852 were occupied and 1,999 were in the course of disposal. Of the balance of 11,569 properties, 2,559 were under offer to Service families and were likely to be occupied within the next two months; 1,035 properties were vacant awaiting future Unit deployments or use as decant accommodation during the refurbishment programmes; 1,931 properties were empty awaiting modernisation and 6,044 were routine empty properties, i.e. a working management margin for some 22,000 family moves each year.
The majority of empty Service quarters are only temporarily so. The large number of Service family moves a year requires a management margin of empty stock ready for incoming occupants. Additionally, an ongoing modernisation programme and Defence reorganisation also demand that a considerable number of properties are empty while work is undertaken and future plans are clarified. Some 2,000 properties were released in 1999 and some 6,500 properties are planned to be released over the next two years.
The majority of the MOD housing stock in England and Wales is owned by Annington Homes. Properties identified as having no long term requirement to the Department are released to that company. Surplus MOD-owned properties are sold through Defence Estates.
In Northern Ireland a further 3,054 Service families quarters were owned by the Ministry of Defence at 1 April 1999 of which 394 were empty.
§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many properties in the United Kingdom earmarked for Army officers, Naval officers, and RAF officers are empty; how many have been empty for more than six months; what the figures are for Hampshire; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Dr. Moonie
Service Families Accommodation (SFA) is managed on a tri-Service basis and is made available according to entitlement, i.e. by rank and family size. A breakdown by individual Service is not available. At 31 March 2000 there were 2,288 unoccupied officers' SFA in England, Scotland and Wales. Of these, 1,161 have been empty for more than six months. There were 234 unoccupied officers' SFA in Hampshire at 31 March 2000 of which 96 had been empty in excess of six months.
Overall, 6,500 properties are planned for disposal during the next two years. Most of the MOD housing stock in England and Wales is owned by Annington Homes and underleased by MOD. Properties identified as having no long-term requirement to the Department are released to that company. Surplus MOD owned properties are sold by Defence Estates.
In Northern Ireland 50 officers' quarters were empty at 31 March 2000 of which 12 had been empty for over six months.