Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information has been provided to Her Majesty's Government by the United States authorities on the size of United States chemical warfare stockpiles.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if, following the publication of the NRPB report into the incidence of cancers in British nuclear test veterans, he will take action to investigate test veterans' claims of genetic effects and inherited deformity ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : The findings of the NRPB report give no grounds for investigating the claims by participants in the nuclear test programme that their offspring suffer raised incidence of genetic effects or inherited deformities. I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to a similar question on 26 July 1988 at columns 228-30.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will release information relating to the decontamination undertaken to vessels and cargo of the special squadron as part of Operation Hurricane operating under Rear Admiral Torlesse in 1952 ; if he will give the level and nature of this contamination ; and how many personnel were on board HMS Tracker at the time it entered contaminated waters ;
(2) where decontamination of HMS Tracker was undertaken, after its contamination in the Pacific ; and whether this vessel remained contaminated on entering British waters.
Mr. Sainsbury : The two ships HMS Tracker and HMS Zeebrugge, which experienced low depositions of radioactive material during the Hurricane operation, primarily from fission products, at levels not significant to health, were subject to first stage decontamination and temporary fixative treatment at sea at the scene of the test. Further decontamination and stripping of fixative from the ships and items of cargo was conducted on return to Naval Ports in the United Kingdom. In this operation full decontamination was completed to levels at which no further treatment or precautions were necessary. With its crew and complement of scientists and other visitors, approximately 200 personnel were on board HMS Tracker when she entered mildly contaminated waters during the Hurricane operation. HMS Tracker did not take part in the tests conducted in the Pacific.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will provide information on the effectiveness of film badges and personal dosimeters in detecting the ingestion of particles emitting beta radiation when used by British military personnel during British nuclear tests in the Pacific in the 1950s ;
(2) what methods were used to detect levels of beta radiation during British nuclear tests in the Pacific in the 1950s ; (3) how film badges operated as indicators to overall body contamination of all forms of radiation when used by British military personnel during British nuclear tests in the Pacific in the 1950s.
Mr. Sainsbury : Information on the effectiveness of personal film badge dosimeters is readily available in standard textbooks on the measurement of radiation. Their purpose was to assess exposure to ionising radiations by measuring the radiation incident on a piece of photographic film, usually contained in a locket which had a number of "windows" of different thicknesses and filter materials. By examining the film density under these "windows" the health physicist can determine the amount and type of radiation reaching the film, whether it be gamma rays, beta rays or slow neutrons. By definition, it cannot detect radiation form ingested material unless the radiation is capable of penetrating the body and reaching the dosimeter. Nevertheless, by using more sophisticated instruments and detectors to determine the dose from other sources of non- penetrating radiation associated with radioactivity present in the environment, a judgment can be reached as to its contribution to the exposure. Film badge dosimeters can then be used to monitor exposure and allowance made as necessary for the other contributions.
During the United Kingdom test programmes, because strict control was exercised over entry to, and operation within, areas in which surface deposited radioactive material may have been present, uptake and deposition on skin did not lead to doses sensibly above zero.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the film badges issued to British personnel were given to military personnel during British nuclear tests in the Pacific during the 1950s.
Mr. Sainsbury : A full account is given in chapter 3 of the NRPB report of all information on the exposure of participants and of the numbers of service and civilian personnel for whom a record of exposure, or a likelihood of exposure exists. Since, as was explained in the answer to
Column 369the hon. Member on 31 October at column 529, the exact number of badges issued is not known, I cannot provide him with the information he seeks.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the implications of the absence of information on the number of film badges issued during British nuclear tests in the Pacific for the accuracy of estimated contamination levels for British military personnel serving in the Pacific during the tests.
Mr. Sainsbury : Lack of information on the precise numbers of film badge dosimeters issued has no implications for the estimated exposures of personnel to ionising radiation. Access to all areas in which the levels of surface deposited radioactive material were such as to require the wearing of film badge dosimeters was strictly controlled and I have no reason to believe that it was not effective (a) in controlling the exposure of personnel to ionising radiation and (b) in ensuring that the uptake of radioactive materials or depositions on skin did not lead to radiation doses sensibly above zero. The accuracy of dose estimation by current or contemporary standards was and remains acceptable for control purposes and for the dose levels experienced throughout the test programme for the few who were exposed.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British military personnel received war pensions following active service on Christmas Island during British nuclear tests there in the 1950s and 1960s.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if coconuts, posted home by British military personnel serving on Christmas Island during the 1950s and 1960s, were checked for radioactive contaminaton on Christmas Island and on arrival in Britain.
Mr. Sainsbury : The extensive environmental monitoring which was conducted throughout the operations in the Pacific showed that none of the indigenous products could be expected to be affected to a significant extent by deposition of surface radioactivity. No monitoring of coconuts or related products (such as Copra) was conducted.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what precautions were taken to monitor indigenous edible vegetation and other foodstuffs for radioactivity, during British nuclear tests on Christmas Island during the 1950s and 1960s.
Mr. Sainsbury : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 7 November 1988 at columns 32-33, which states that fish and sea water were monitored. The bulk of food supplies for service and other personnel were imported to the island and I am not aware that any significant amounts of local produce were used by them. The extensive environmental monitoring which was conducted throughout the operations in the Pacific showed that none of the indigenous products could be expected to be affected to a significant extent by deposition of surface radioactivity.
Column 370Island during British nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s used by British or other personnel on the island as a source of drinking water was monitored for radioactivity.
Mr. Sainsbury : Most of the construction vehicles used on Christmas Island were of British construction, though some vehicles, notably amphibious transport DUKWs, were of United States manufacture. None were buried, but parts of some may have been abandoned or dumped in the sea.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether, on the date of the test for Grapple Y, Mr. Andrew Dickson of Wakefield was among British personnel who were moved nearer to the test site ; on how many occasions similar such movements occurred ; and how many personnel were involved ;
(2) how checks were made to ascertain that service personnel were at a safe location during the Grapple Y test in 1958 ;
(3) where Mr. Andrew Dickson, service number 22999369, serving with the 12th Independent Field Squadron, Royal Engineers, was located on the date and time of the Grapple Y test on 28 April 1958 ; (4) what are the implications for the Ministry's ability to assure ex-Service men on Christmas Island in 1958 that they did not receive a dose of radiation of its inability to ascertain where each individual was at the time of a particular detonation ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 31 October 1988 at column 529 referring to the location of named individuals and to the closest distances at which personnel were located during each of the tests in the Pacific area. I have no information on the precise movements or whereabouts of Mr. Andrew Dickson except to state that he was at a safe location. The means by which the checks to ascertain that all personnel, service and civilian (including the local population) were at a safe location were to conduct a full roll call of all personnel know to be present. The countdown sequence to the firing could not continue until it was established that all personnel were at a safe location. The records which have been kept do not now permit the identification of each
Column 371individual at the time of each detonation. Nevertheless I am confident that the roll call checks were conducted scrupulously and therefore that all personnel were at safe locations at the time of each detonation.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the present status of the 12th Independent Field Squadron Royal Engineers ; and what was its major function during British nuclear tests in the 1950s.
Mr. Sainsbury : The 12th Independent Field Squadron (now known as 12 Field Squadron) is part of 25 Engineer Regiment stationed at Osnabruck, Germany. At the time of the tests its major function was building, construction and related works.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information he has as to the members of the 12th Independent Field Squadron Royal Engineers who served in British nuclear tests in the 1950s and are still alive.
Mr. Sainsbury : I have no information specific to the present vital status of members of the 12th Independent Field Squadron who served at Christmas Island. The NRPB study includes members of the squadron among the participants.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why members of the 12th Independent Field Squadron Royal Engineers, previously serving on Christmas Island during British nuclear tests, were later involved in a series of experiments conducted at Porton Down ; and what was the nature of these experiments.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how mortality amongst British nuclear test veterans is identified from general mortality ; who has overall responsibility for this investigative procedure ; and how the records are collated ; (2) what was the annual level of mortality amongst British military personnel serving on Christmas Island, during British nuclear tests undertaken in the 1950s and 1960s ; and what were the causes of these mortality levels.
Mr. Sainsbury : The NRPB together with its consultants from ICRF, Professor Sir Richard Doll and Dr. Sarah Darby, were responsible for analysing the mortality data on participants and a full account of the causes analysed is given in the NRPB report. As for the annual level of mortality in the 1950s and 1960s, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 31 October 1988 at column 529, where he asked for similar information for each year since 1958. The sources of mortality records are described in the NRPB report. The bulk of them came from National Health Service (NHS) and Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS) central records, but for those not traced in this way further searches were undertaken.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will release information as to how safe distances were calculated when positioning British military personnel, during British nuclear tests in the Pacific in the 1950s ;
Column 372(2) if he will release the information which led to the calculation of safe distances, beyond which the wearing of film badges was deemed unnecessary, for the Grapple Y test in 1958.
Mr. Sainsbury : The means by which it was established that the locations where personnel were situated at the time of each test were safe were based on standard methods described in textbooks such as "The Effects of Nuclear Weapons" published by United States Department of Defence and United States Department of Energy. These calculations took into account the expected maximum yield and altitude and the effect of the intervening air. These yields for the tests in the Pacific were within range given in answer to a question from the hon. Member on 31 October 1988 at columns 523 -26. Since the wearing of film badges was not a means of checking the exposure at these locations, they were not necessary for this purpose during any of the tests, including Grapple Y in 1958. What they were provided for was primarily to measure the exposure of personnel who might have access to areas where the radiation levels were high after the detonation.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the financial implications to the Trident programme following the delays incurred by the sonar suite component of the tactical weapon system.
1. an exhibition which will open in London and then tour a number of major centres throughout the country ;
2. a flag-raising ceremony at Northwood ;
3. a NATO item is proposed for the Royal Tournament ;
4. a NATO postmark which will be used by the Post Office for two weeks from 28 March 1989.
Mr. Sainsbury : During 1988 no landscaping work was carried out at AWE Aldermaston. However, some £61,000 has been spent to date in the current financial year on grass cutting and grounds maintenance.
Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the planned target level for defence research and development spending, in terms of (a) expenditure and (b) proportion of gross domestic product over the next three years.
Column 3731988-89. This is approximately 0.5 per cent. of GDP for that year, as estimated in the Autumn Statement. For expenditure in subsquent years to 1990-91 would refer the hon. Member to the statistical series in the "Annual Review of Government funded Research and Development for 1988." Table 2b to page 65, is however based on a somewhat different definition of R and D.
Mr. Sainsbury : The Ministry continues to pay very close attention to the level of public expenditure on defence research and development and our commercial approach to defence procurement encourages companies to invest their own money in R and D in order to remain competitive. In addition, we are developing a closer alignment with industry so that it understands our anticipated future requirements and where best to commit its own R and D resources. We also encourage industry to consider the defence export and civil potential of both commercial and MOD-funded R and D.
Mr. Macdonald : The ask the Secretary of State for Defence, (1) what agreements or understandings exist between the United Kingdom and (i) Holland and (ii) West Germany to compensate for damage caused by British armed forces to the private property of citizens of these countries on or in their respective territorial waters, airspace and land area ; (2) what agreements or understandings exist between the United Kingdom and other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states for compensation for damage caused by the armed forces of the latter to the private property of British citizens in or on British territorial waters, airspace or land area.
Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which officials of his Department were involved in press briefings given to journalists researching the SAS shooting in Gibraltar ; and on what dates such briefings were given.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Defence public relations staff at all levels dealt with inquiries from journalists researching the Gibraltar shootings on many occasions from 6 March. In responding to these inquiries press officers drew on the Foreign Secretary's statement to the House of Commons 7 March 1988.
Mr. Livingstone : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which officials of his Department met representatives from Thames Television to discuss the programme "Death on the Rock" ; and on what dates.
Column 374accommodation facilities for the observers invited to attend Exercise Keystone in October 1987 under the terms of the Stockholm conference on disarmament in Europe.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The cost to the United Kingdom was some £16, 000. Exercise Keystone was held in the Federal Republic of Germany, and under the terms of the 1986 Stockholm document the cost of transporting the observers from their point of arrival in the country to their accommodation was met by the Federal Republic.
Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the cost of providing transportation and accommodation facilities for the foreign observers invited to attend Exercise Purple Warrior in November 1987 under the terms of the Stockholm conference on disarmament.
Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Warsaw pact exercises British military personnel have observed at the invitation of Warsaw pact countries ; and what was the cost of sending observers to these exercises.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Thirty British military personnel have observed 15 exercises at the invitation of Warsaw pact countries under the terms of the 1986 Stockholm document, at a cost to the United Kingdom of some £4,500.
Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the cost of sending British military observers to the Soviet exercise in the German Democratic Republic in September 1987 ; whether those observers found that the exercise was not in breach of the agreement on confidence and security building measures reached at the Stockholm conference on disarmament in Europe in September 1986 ; and whether they reported difficulties with the arrangements for their inspection.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The cost of sending a British military inspection team to the Soviet exercise in the German Democratic Republic in September 1987 was some £12,000. The British inspection team was satisfied that the exercise was not in breach of the agreement on confidence and security building measures reached at the Stockholm conference on disarmament in Europe in September 1986. Some minor technical problems excepted, they reported no difficulties with the arrangements for their inspection.
Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the theatre nuclear force restructuring options currently being considered by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation include the deployment of additional United States air force aircraft that are capable of being armed with strategic air-launched cruise missiles.
Column 375Royal Navy ships was discussed in any of his communications with the Maltese Government prior to the visit to Malta of a Royal Navy detachment in June ;
(2) whether any undertakings were given to the Maltese Government regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons on board Royal Navy vessels prior to the visit to Malta of a Royal Navy detachment in June.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : It has been the invariable policy of successive British Governments neither to confirm nor to deny the presence of nuclear weapons in individual HM ships and no undertakings on this matter were given to the Maltese Government.
Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 15 December, whether he will state the number of written communications received by the Ministry of Defence from the British Nuclear Fuels plc team carrying out the programme audit at Aldermaston and Burghfield ; and on what dates they were received.
Mr. Sainsbury : The PE does not employ investigating officers as such. However, the Procurement Executive of my Department employs qualified accountants and technical cost estimators, whose principal tasks are to assist and advise in the pricing and post-costing of non-competitive contracts.
Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has had any consultations with (a) Plessey, (b) GEC-Marconi, (c) British Aerospace or (d) Ferranti regarding the development of closer links between European defence contractors.
Mr. Sainsbury : The Ministry has frequent informal discussions with United Kingdom industry on a wide range of topics, including links between defence contractors. Such links are also discussed within the independent European programme group and with the European defence industry group. Consultations between the Ministry and individual companies on matters of comercial sensitivity are treated as confidential.
Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to request all his grade 2 Crown servants and above to give their permission for their names to be revealed on a confidential basis to the Select Committee on Defence, it they apply for permission to accept an outside appointment.
Mr. Sainsbury : The Select Committee asked to be provided with information of this nature in its ninth report in the Session 1987-88. The Government expect to publish their response to that report early in the new year.
Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will outline the delays incurred in the Blue Vixen radar development programme since his answer to the hon. Member for Harrow, East of 26 January, Official Report, column 190 ; and if these delays will affect the in- service date of the Sea Harrier for the designated Royal Navy squadrons.
Mr. Sainsbury : A delay of some three months occurred earlier this year in the commissioning of the Blue Vixen A' model radar in the trials aircraft. This will delay the in-service date by about two months.
Mr. Sainsbury : The MOD is examining the implications for competition in defence procurement of the proposed bid by GEC and Siemens for the Plessey company, and I have no comment to make at this stage.
Mr. Sainsbury : In examining the defence procurement implications for the proposed bid by GEC and Siemens for the Plessey company, we would, of course, listen to any representations from the parties involved. Any such discussions would be confidential to the parties concerned.