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77. Mr. Loyden : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the implications for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's defence strategy of President Gorbachev's proposed reductions in Soviet forces stationed in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

88. Mr. Benn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the implications for United Kingdom defence policy of President Gorbachev's proposed military reduction.

89. Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the implications for United Kingdom defence policy of President Gorbachev's proposals to reduce the numbers of tanks, combat aircraft and artillary systems.


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Mr. Archie Hamilton : I refer the hon. Members and my hon. Friend to the answer I gave today to the hon. Members for Denton and Reddish (Mr. Bennett), for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan), for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) and for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett).

Free-fall Bombs

69. Mr. Patchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are his latest plans for a nuclear replacement for the Royal Air Force's free-fall bombs.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 22 December to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Barnes) at column 364 .

NATO Eurogroup

76. Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when last he attended a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Eurogroup.

Mr. Sainsbury : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence attended a meeting of the Eurogroup in Brussels on 30 November 1988.

Defence Producers

25. Mr. Terry Fields : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications for defence procurement of the trend towards trans-national co-operation and merger among major defence producers.

55. Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications for defence procurement of the trend towards trans-national co-operation and merger among major defence producers.

57. Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications for defence procurement of the trend towards trans-national co-operation and merger among major defence producers.

63. Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications for defence procurement of the trend towards trans-national co-operation and merger among major defence producers.

Mr. Sainsbury : The Ministry monitors trans-national co-operative arrangements and mergers among major defence producers and assesses them on a case-by-case basis.

Air Cadets (Venture Fleet Replacement)

26. Mr. Bill Walker : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which motor glider type has been selected to replace the Venture fleet of the Air Cadets.

Mr. Sainsbury : Invitations to tender for the supply of 53 modern GRP motor gliders are to be issued later this month. A decision on the choice of glider is not expected until July 1989, after evaluation of the tenders and flight and engineering systems checks.


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Armed Forces (Civilian Manpower)

27. Mr. Ron Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilians are currently employed by the combined armed forces.

Mr. Sainsbury : Details of MOD service and civilian manpower are provided in section 4 of volume 2 of the annually produced "Statement on the Defence Estimates" (Cmd. 344-II). The latest available figures (at 1 November 1988) are 142,237 United Kingdom-based civilians and 31,534 locally engaged civilians overseas.

Tucano Aircraft

29. Mr. McCartney : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he now expects all Tucano aircraft to be in service with the Royal Air Force.

74. Mr. Ronnie Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he now expects all Tucano aircraft to be in service with the Royal Air Force.

83. Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he now expects all Tucano aircraft to be in service with the Royal Air Force.

Mr. Sainsbury : I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Eastham) on 21 December 1988.

Chemical Weapons

30. Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he last had consultations with his United States counterpart on the deployment of chemical weapons.

40. Mrs. Clwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he last had consultations with his United States counterpart on the deployment of chemical weapons.

86. Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he last had consultations with his United States counterpart on the deployment of chemical weapons.

Mr. Neubert : I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Gateshead (Ms. Quin).

Army Air Corps

31. Mr. David Evans : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the future role of the Army Air Corps.

Mr. Neubert : The principal role of the Army Air Corps (AAC) will remain the direct support of the ground battle by the provision of armed (principally anti-armour) action, reconnaissance, direction of fire, and command and control. For this purpose the AAC is equipped with a range of rotary and fixed wing aircraft. The corps will also support 24 Brigade in its new airmobile role operating both anti-tank and utility Lynx helicopters. Further support to 24 Brigade will be provided by the RAF's larger troop-carrying and logistic helicopters.

Royal Ordnance plc

32. Mr. McAvoy : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why no specific valuation was placed on Royal Ordnance plc intellectual property rights at the time of their sale.


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45. Mr. Graham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why no specific valuation was placed on Royal Ordnance plc intellectual property rights at the time of their sale.

Mr. Buckley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why no specific valuation was placed on Royal Ordnance plc intellectual property rights at the time of their sale.

Mr. Tony Banks : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why no specific valuation was placed on Royal Ordnance plc intellectual property rights at the time of their sale.

Mr. Sainsbury : When the shares in Royal Ordnance plc were sold to British Aerospace plc the sale was made on the basis of the price offered by the highest bidder for the whole enterprise, including the intellectual property rights. No specific valuation was necessary as the ultimate return to public funds was determined by the open market's assessment of the value of the whole business, including all of its assets and liabilities.

RAF Flight Training (Germany)

33. Mr. Conway : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what restrictions have been placed on the Royal Air Force's flight training in West Germany.

Mr. Neubert : The Royal Air Force, together with the air forces of our allies, as an exceptional measure suspended temporarily flying training in the Federal Republic of Germany on 9 December 1988 as a mark of respect for the victims of the tragic accident at Remscheid the previous day. The Royal Air Force resumed normal training in the FRG on 3 January 1989.

Strategic Defence Initiative

34. Mr. McKelvey : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the United States Secretary of Defence on the future development of the strategic defence initiative.

65. Mr. Jack Thompson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the United States Secretary of Defence on the future development of the stategic defence initiative.

82. Mr. Clay : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the United States Secretary of State for Defence on the future development of the strategic defence initiative.

Mr. Sainsbury : I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave on 20 December 1988 to the hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) at column 253.

NATO (Military Strategy)

35. Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with Mr. Manfred Wo"rner, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, on military strategy.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 22 December to the hon. Members for Pontefract and Castleford (Mr. Lofthouse) and for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) at column 364.


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Armilla Patrol

36. Mr. Quentin Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what lessons have been learned following the deployment of the Armilla patrol.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The success of the Armilla patrol has reinforced many lessons from the past. These include the importance of setting precise and realistic operational objectives, pursued in accordance with international law and as part of a firm foreign policy. In addition, Armilla has demonstrated the value of close co-operation and concentration of effort with our European and NATO allies in out-of-area operations. Above all, the professionalism of the Royal Navy, the high quality of its equipment, and the quietly effective way it has gone about its task have been shown to be vital to the successful achievement of Armilla's objective of protecting British shipping and contributing to the maintenance of freedom of navigation in the international waters in the Gulf. The Armilla patrol with its afloat support will accordingly remain in the Gulf without change to its mission as long as there is a job for it to do.

However, in the light of the continuing ceasefire between Iran and Iraq, the absence of any recent mining, the achievements of European and American minesweepers in removing mines from international waters, and the successful completion of the 300 mile route check by WEU navies known as Operation Cleansweep, we have decided that there is at present no suitable task for the Calendar MCM group of three Royal Navy mine countermeasures vessels which would justify replacing the present group when it sails home in early March. These vessels will therefore return to high priority tasks in home waters. We shall however keep three MCMVs earmarked for rapid return to the Gulf should circumstances warrant it.

United States Secretary of State for Defence

37. Mr. Stevens : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next intends to meet the United States Secretary of State for Defence ; and what subjects he expects to discuss.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) on 22 December at column 364.

Frigates

38. Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he now expects to place the next order for the type 23 frigate.

73. Mr. Morley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he now expects to place the next order for a type 23 frigate.

78. Mr. Ted Garrett : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he now expects to place the next order for a type 23 frigate.

81. Mr. Gerald Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next intends ordering further frigates for the Royal Navy.

Mr. Sainsbury : I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Members for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Brown) and for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett) on 29 November 1988 at column 217.


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SSN and SSBN (Decommissioning)

39. Mr. Douglas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a further statement of the progress he has made in relation to decommissioning the SSNs and SSBNs between 1988 and 2000.

Mr. Sainsbury : I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave the hon. Member on 24 May 1988 at column 160.

Tactical Air-to-Surface Missiles

41. Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the United States Secretary of Defence on the development and deployment of the tactical air-to-surface missile.

68. Mr. McTaggart : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the United States Secretary of Defence on the development and deployment of the tactical air-to-surface missile.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Doran).

Anglo-French Reciprocal Purchasing

42. Mr. McLoughlin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in Anglo-French reciprocal purchasing of defence equipment.

Mr. Sainsbury : Progress on this initiative, aimed at increasing co- operation to avoid the costly and wasteful duplication of development effort in conventional defence equipment, has been good. A framework of practical measures, including the publication of contracts bulletins in both countries, has now been established. In addition, there have been three equipment conferences, on land, sea and air systems to discuss possible areas of co-operation. These were well attended by industry and Government from both countries. Some contracts have already been signed and more tenders are under consideration on both sides of the Channel.

Defence Export Services Organisation

43. Mr. Bellingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the Defence Export Services Organisation plays in defence exports.

Mr. Sainsbury : The Defence Export Services Organisation provides invaluable assistance to British firms in helping them market and sell their defence products and services overseas.

Chieftain Tank Replacement

44. Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received on the Chieftain tank replacement.

Mr. Sainsbury : I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 20 December 1988. There have been numerous representations from hon. Members, from industry and from members of the public about the choice of a Chieftain tank replacement.


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Reservists

46. Mr. Carrington : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role reservists have in the defence of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Neubert : In addition to forming a major element of the reinforcement of NATO, reservists, both volunteer and regular, have a key part to play in the defence of the United Kingdom. The Royal Naval Reserve provides a minesweeping capability in home waters and provide personnel to organise and control merchant shipping worldwide, along with undertaking other tasks in support of the Royal Navy. The Territorial Army and home service force would play a major part in securing our home base, including the guarding of key points and the provision of reconnaissance and signal facilities. The Royal Auxiliary Air Force and the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, in addition to undertaking ground defence of airfields, would provide personnel to augment existing capabilities in a wide variety of roles, ranging from maritime communications to photographic interpretation. Where necessary, former Regular Service personnel with a liability to serve after their regular engagement may be called up, principally to reinforce formed units individually.

French Defence Minister

47. Mr. Evennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next intends meeting the French Defence Minister ; and what subjects he expects to discuss.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence hopes to meet M. Chevenement early this year and, as usual, would expect to discuss a wide range of subjects of mutual interest.

NATO (40th Anniversary)

50. Mr. Watts : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has for celebrating the 40th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave on 22 December to my hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack) at columns 377-78.

WEU Defence Ministers

53. Mr. Franks : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next intends meeting the Western European Union Defence Ministers ; and what subjects he expects to discuss.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence expects to meet Western European Union Defence Ministers again in the spring for discussions on a wide range of defence issues.

NATO-Warsaw Pact (Nuclear Forces)

56. Mr. Burns : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will outline the current balance in short-range nuclear forces between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Warsaw pact.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The current balance in short-range nuclear forces between NATO and the Warsaw pact is illustrated in figure 19 of the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1988", Cm 344-I.


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Frigates

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications for the efficiency of type-23 frigates of the delay in provision of command automated control systems.

Mr. Allen McKay : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications for the efficiency of type-23 frigates of the delay in provision of command automated control systems.

60. Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications for the efficiency of type-23 frigates of the delay in provision of command automated control systems.

87. Mr. Norman Hogg : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications for the efficiency of type- 23 frigates of the delay in provision of command automated control systems.

Mr. Sainsbury : Following the cancellation of the CACS4 programme, two consortia were invited to conduct project definition studies in parallel for a new command system. The results of the competitive PD studies have been received and are currently being evaluated to decide which of the two consortia will continue alone into the development and initial production phase of the project. This will mean that some early type-23 frigates will enter service without a command system.

The lack of a command system will restrict the co-ordination of the weapons and sensors although each weapon and sensor will be capable of independent action. Without the full integration of the weapons and sensors the overall effectiveness of the ship will be reduced, particularly in a demanding multiple threat situation. Despite this, however, the type-23 will provide a very much more effective contribution to our maritime forces than the Leander class frigates that it will replace.

NATO (Military Strategy)

66. Mr. Bill Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had on military strategy with Mr. Manfred Woerner, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence last met Dr. Woerner at the meetings of the Eurogroup and defence planning committee in Brussels from 30 November to 2 December. They discussed a wide range of subjects of mutual interest.

NATO Secretary-General

67. Mr. William Powell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next intends meeting the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's secretary-general ; and what subjects he expects to discuss.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will next meet Dr. Woerner early this year. They are likely to discuss a wide range of defence and security matters of mutual interest.


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Support Services

90. Mr. Andrew Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what competition takes place in defence support services.

Mr. Sainsbury : In order to obtain the best value for money it is our policy to extend competition in defence support services to the maximum extent possible, consistent with operational requirements. The largest single example is the transfer of the royal dockyards to commercial management, but, in addition, over 120 separate functions and activities have been contracted out in various parts of the Ministry of Defence. Since 1979 and up to March 1988 contracting out of services, excluding the dockyards, has resulted in savings of over 13,000 mainly civilian public sector posts and net annual financial savings of some £50 million. Looking to the future, we have in train a rolling programme of market testing which will extend progressively to all parts of the support area.

Atomic Weapons Establishment, Burghfield

Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make it his policy to publish the results of any investigation into the causes of the explosion at the atomic weapons establishment at Burghfield on 2 December ; whether any work was carried out to improve the safety of the area in which the explosion occurred as a result of the report by Sir Edward Pochin in 1978 ; and when was the last time that the area in which the explosion occurred was tested for its safety of operation ;

(2) whether the incineration of conventional explosives at the atomic weapons establishment at Burghfield has now been suspended.

Mr. Sainsbury : I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) on 8 December for details of the explosion at AWE Burghfield. The Pochin inquiry of 1978 was concerned solely with the separate issue of the radiological safety of certain buildings at the Aldermaston site.

Arms Race (Symposium)

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if any Ministers or civil servants from his Department were invited (a) to give papers or (b) to be in attendance as observers at the international scientists symposium, "Ways out of the Arms Race", at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, in London from 2 to 4 December.

Mr. Sainsbury : No Ministers were invited. No MOD civil servants attended. Imperial college did issue over 100 invitations to MOD employees.

Royal Ordnance

Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has had any discussions with Royal Ordnance about the production of explosives, propellants and ammunition in the event of war.

Mr. Sainsbury : The MOD's procurement strategy for explosives, propellants and ammunition to meet both peace time and war time needs takes into account industrial considerations and, where appropriate, discussions with our suppliers, including Royal Ordnance.


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Mr. O'Neill : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why he is waiting for the outcome of the Royal Ordnance rationalisation plans before he discusses the retention of specific manufacturing capabilities with the management of Royal Ordnance.


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