|Previous Section||Home Page|
Mr. Neubert : OSEX 16 (Offensive Support Exercise) is to be centred on the Elan valley, Powys, with related low flying in other parts of Wales and Cheshire. As usual for significant exercises, hon. Members in local constituencies, the local media, farmers' unions and landowners' organisations will be given advance notice of exercise activity likely to affect their areas.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the paper entitled "The Review of the Ministry of Defence's Compensation Arrangements near Military Airfields", by A. M. Boardman of the Ministry of Defence, published in the proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics, volume 8, part 4, 1986, pages 121 to 126, represents his Department's policy on this subject ; and if the measures outlined in the paper are current policy.
Mr. Neubert : In relation to the Ministry of Defence's compensation arrangements for the effect of noise near military airfields the paper by A. M. Boardman reflected departmental policy. The compensation arrangements described remain current. Additionally, the Ministry of Defence will consider claims for damage or loss where there is evidence that this results from military aircraft activity.
(2) if he will list in the Official Report the number of low-level flights in low flying area 16 for each year since 1979 ; (3) if he will list in the Official Report the number of low-level flights in low flying area 13 for each year since 1979 ; (4) if he will list in the Official Report the number of low-level flights in low flying area 12 for each year since 1979.
Mr. Neubert : Apart from flying within the range areas being used for the Mallet Blow exercises when aircraft are permitted to descend below 250 ft during the final approaches to a target, no low flying at less than 250 ft is currently carried out during the Mallet Blow series of exercises.
Mr. Neubert : Fixed-wing flying below 250 ft is not formally limited to particular aircraft types, but in practice approval for such flying is normally granted only for aircraft whose operational role requires such low level flights. Helicopters may operate below 250 ft anywhere in the United Kingdom subject to the constraints of the United Kingdom low flying system's regulations.
Mr. Neubert : The most appropriate location for exercises involving low-flying training are kept under continuing review in the light of the desirability of maximising training value and spreading potential disturbance as equitably as possible.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the speed, height and purpose of the low-level flight over the built-up area of Tranent at 2.51 pm on Tuesday 31 January.
Mr. Neubert : Without additional information concerning the incident, such as type--for example, jet, propeller driven, helicopter--and number of aircraft, I regret I am unable to provide the information requested. If the hon. Member would care to write to me with this information, I would be happy to have the alleged incident investigated.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measurements have been made of noise levels on the ground caused by military jet aircraft overflying at 100 ft and speeds of up to 550 knots.
Mr. Neubert : No recent measurements of these noise levels have been made, but I refer the hon. Member to my reply of 26 January 1989 to the hon. Member for Meirionnyd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) at column 753.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his policy towards compensation where dwellings are subjected to noise levels from military aircraft of 125 dB (A) or more.
Mr. Neubert : Should any dwelling in the vicinity of a military airfield be found to be subject to maximum noise levels from military aircraft of 125 dB (A) or more, departmental policy would be to seek to purchase the property. No such dwellings have been identified in any of the noise surveys carried out so far and it is considered unlikely that the situation will arise in the future.
Column 448(2) how many practice air attacks were made on the Spadeadam range in each year since 1979.
Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarines discharge contaminated reactor coolant water in the Clyde estuary ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : It is not our practice to comment on matters which would give information on the operation of the nuclear submarine fleet. So far as the release of radioactivity from RN submarines is concerned, I refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) on 24 January 1989 at column 554.
Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether Royal Navy nuclear submarines discharge contaminated reactor coolant water into the waters of ports visited which are not operational submarine bases.
Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarines are equipped with retention tanks to store excess reactor coolant water derived for operating the submarine inside United Kingdom territorial waters so that it can be subsequently dumped outside United Kingdom territorial waters ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : During the normal operation of the nuclear reactors in Royal Navy submarines, coolant water is retained within the system. Royal Navy submarines are equipped with tanks which can be used to store excess coolant water created when a reactor is shut down and then restarted, and are suitable for use when the submarine is on the surface. However, it is rarely necessary to use such tanks. It is likely that future RN nuclear-powered submarines will carry retention tanks which may be used when submerged. So far as the release of radioactivity is concerned, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) on 24 January 1989 at column 554.
Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether United States nuclear submarines or their tender ships operating in the Holy Loch discharge reactor coolants into United Kingdom territorial waters ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : I am informed by the United States authorities that funding has been approved for the deep space tracking system on a worldwide basis and it is not possible to isolate specific provision for the project at RAF Feltwell in particular years.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give (a) the date of commencement of works on the deep space tracking station to be built at RAF Feltwell, (b) the expected date of completion of these works and (c) the expected date of start of operations of the deep space tracking station at Feltwell.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Construction of the deep space tracking station at RAF Feltwell began on 12 September 1988. It is anticipated that the work will be completed late in 1989 with the station becoming operational in 1991.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if information gathered by the United States Air Force or any other United States service or agency at the proposed deep space tracking station at RAF Feltwell will, as a matter of routine, be shared with the United Kingdom and other NATO allies.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the construction of the deep space tracking station at RAF Feltwell is being undertaken in pursuit of a NATO force goal, or other NATO decision.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The construction of the deep space tracking station at RAF Feltwell will involve the employment of British contractors. Once complete, the station will be manned by United States Air Force personnel.
|Aircraft --------------------------- 1963 |3 1964 |3 1965 |2 1966 |4 1967 |1 1968 |5
(2) what was the average number of tracked Rapier surface-to-air missile systems stationed on the mainland of Europe in 1987.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : It is not our practice to disclose details of the numbers of such equipment. Both towed and tracked Rapier numbers are included in the total of 350 United Kingdom air defence systems given on page 16 of the NATO publication "Conventional Forces in Europe : The Facts", a copy of which is in the Library of the House. I refer the hon. Member to annexes B and C of volume one of the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1988" (Cm. 344-I) for more information on the location of our air defence forces.
Mr. Rogers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what items have been included in the current development costs for Rapier field standard C that were not included in the original estimate of the development cost.
Mr. Sainsbury : The items concerned reflect a wide variety of changes made to the Rapier field standard C development programme, in the period prior to incentiveness of the contract. A major change was the incorporation of a project contingency in the cost of estimates, other changes arose from the process of defining the requirement more closely.
Mr. Rogers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the increase in development costs for the Rapier field standard C is due to (a) unforeseen technical problems and (b) the restricted funding of development.
Mr. Sainsbury : As noted in the 47th report from the Public Accounts Committee on major defence projects, unforeseen technical problems and restricted funding of development together accounted for a 10 per cent. increase in development costs of Rapier field standard C between 1982 and 1986. Individually they accounted for 6 and 4 per cent. respectively.
Mr. Rogers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether all the Foxhunter radars currently in service perform to the specification that was agreed with GEC Marconi when they were first ordered.
Mr. Sainsbury : As we have stated on a number of occasions, the Foxhunter radar does not yet meet in full all the requirements of the Royal Air Force. Radars to an agreed interim standard are now in service in the Tornado air defence variant, which is already providing an operational capability superior to that of the aircraft it is replacing. The programme of work placed under firm price contractual arrangements with Marconi Defence Systems last year is expected to bring the Foxhunter radar up to the standard required.
Mr. Clay : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many applications for the dispatch of Army medals awarded in connection with the 1939-45 war are waiting to be processed ; and what is the average waiting time.
Mr. Neubert : There were 6,839 outstanding claims for medals at 31 December 1988. Of these 2,661 were awaiting more information from the applicants or other governmental Departments, 2,608 were awaiting documents from archives and 1,570 were awaiting assessment at the Army medal office. All applicants are told that they may expect to wait about eight months for their claims to be processed.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will now revise his estimated cost of £200 million per annum for improving the pensions of pre-1973 war widows to take into account the numbers of deaths of such widows since the figure was first calculated.
Mr. Neubert : The figure of £200 million remains a broad estimate of the annual additional cost of paying attributable widows pensions, on the same basis and rates as for current awards, to all those war widows who do not qualify for the revised provisions which were introduced into the armed forces pension scheme in 1973. The net reduction in the number of widows who would be affected, since that estimate was first made, is offset by the increase which would have occurred under index -linking arrangements in the rates of pension which would have been payable.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action his Department is taking to reduce the number of working days lost due to back pain ; what resources Her Majesty's Government provide for training employees to lift heavy weights ; what guidelines he gives to employers to ensure that weights to be lifted are not too heavy ; what guidelines are given in respect of office workers to ensure that office furniture and equipment do not contribute to back pain ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholls : On 31 October 1988 the Health and Safety Commission published a consultative document "Handling loads at work" containing proposals for regulations and guidance. The regulations would apply to all persons who handle loads at work, including office workers, and repeal existing fragmentary and outdated legislation. The proposals would give employers a clear strategy for reducing injuries. The guidance stresses the importance of establishing a safe system of work, taking into account the nature of the task and the load to be handled. The commission considers that excessive reliance on weight limits is inappropriate and cannot be justified on medical grounds. Training in handling techniques is likely to be effective only as a complement to a safe system of work, not as a substitute for one.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment (1) whether he will list the percentage rate of unemployed people in the Bonnybridge area for each month since the Bonnybridge part-time employment office was opened ;
(2) whether he will list the number of unemployed people in the Bonnybridge area for each month since the Bonnybridge part-time employment office was opened.
Mr. Lee : The table shows the number of unemployed claimants in the wards which cover the Bonnybridge area for each month from June 1983. Figures for wards are not available prior to June 1983. The figures are affected by the change in the compilation of the unemployment count in March 1986 to reduce over-recording and by the change in benefit regulations affecting under 18-year-olds in September 1988. Unemployment rates are not calculated for areas smaller than travel-to-work areas.
Unemployment in the Bonnybridge area<1> |Number of Unemployed |Claimants --------------------------------------------------------------- 1983 June |668 July |679 August |673 September |703 October |658 November |653 December |638 1984 January |695 February |745 March |705 April |672 May |685 June |690 July |694 August |682 September |705 October |716 November |705 December |696 1985 January |746 February |759 March |752 April |763 May |790 June |774 July |755 August |766 September |755 October |722 November |782 December |813 1986 January |840 February |826 March |799 April |802 May |758 June |769 July |764 August |752 September |780 October |779 November |779 December |770 1987 January |805 February |767 March |708 April |705 May |669 June |649 July |637 August |618 September |596 October |608 November |602 December |602 1988 January |609 February |579 March |563 April |540 May |507 June |512 July |488 August |483 September |477 October |434 November |441 December |439 <1> Denny and Dunipace wards.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will consult local authorities and local community organisations about his proposal to close the Bonnybridge part-time employment office.
Mr. Lee : This information is not available. Bonnybridge is a part- time unemployment benefit office outhouse and is not specifically involved in finding jobs for unemployed people. This function is currently performed by the jobcentre in Denny.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will make an official visit to the part-time employment office at Bonnybridge in order to discuss with local people, particularly unemployed people, his proposal to close the office.
Mr. Lee : The employment service is committed to helping the unemployed find pathways back to work and to offering an efficient enquiry and counselling service about both benefits and job-training opportunities. It is impossible to provide all these facilities in a small part-time benefit office such as Bonnybridge which is open for only two hours a week and is housed in inadequate premises. Following the closure of Bonnybridge part-time unemployment benefit office, members of the public will be asked to attend the full-time unemployment benefit office in Denny. New claims are already taken at this office and it is equipped with a computer system to speed up the handling of inquiries. More senior and experienced staff are available to assist and offer advice about both benefits and job- training opportunities and a full-time jobcentre is situated in the same building.
Although members of the public will have to travel a little further to sign -on', therefore, they will benefit from the comprehensive range of services available in Denny, and particularly from having regular access to information about job vacancies and training courses.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will arrange for the issue of a questionnaire to all people using the part-time employment office at Bonnybridge to ascertain (a) what use they make of the office and (b) whether they agree with his proposal to close the office.
Mr. Lee : There are no plans to issue a questionnaire to the people who use the part-time unemployment benefit office outhouse at Bonnybridge as there are alternative and more comprehensive facilities available nearby.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the estimated cost of additional travel expenses which will be incurred by clients at present using the Bonnybridge part-time employment office if the office is closed.
Mr. Lee : In most cases, clients who currently attend the part-time unemployment benefit office outhouse at Bonnybridge will be expected to travel to the nearest local office in Denny, which is three miles away. There is half-hourly bus service between Bonnybridge and Denny and the fare is £1 return. Clients who live six miles or more from the nearest local office and people with disabilities or those with significant travel difficulties will no longer be required to attend for their fortnightly claims but will be able to make these by post.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will list for each month since its opening, the number of people using the Bonnybridge part-time employment office for use of the freephone employment inquiry service ; and what is the cost of this service.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list, for each month since its opening, the number of people using the Bonnybridge part-time employment office for signing-on purposes.
Mr. Lee : The part-time unemployment benefit office outhouse at Bonnybridge opened in 1973. Information on the number of people using the office is no longer available for the months prior to January 1985. The number of people signing as unemployed in each month since January 1985 is given in the table.
|1985|1986|1987|1988 ----------------------------------- January |424 |416 |461 |315 February |421 |405 |453 |311 March |455 |411 |439 |242 April |451 |430 |439 |292 May |433 |413 |380 |295 June |433 |411 |383 |295 July |413 |423 |368 |278 August |405 |443 |345 |270 September |420 |444 |346 |242 October |412 |420 |339 |244 November |425 |448 |341 |231 December |402 |444 |351 |246
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will list, for each month since its opening, the number of people using the Bonnybridge part-time employment office for the job vacancy notice- board service ; how many job vacancies have been notified on the notice- board ; and how many have been filled as a result.
Mr. Lee : This information is not available. Bonnybridge is a part- time unemployment benefit office outhouse. Although it has a general noticeboard, it does not display job vacancies. Local job vacancies are notified to the jobcentre in Denny, which is responsible for advertising jobs and submitting people to vacancies.
Mr. Canavan : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the annual cost to his Department of leasing part of Bonnybridge community centre for the part-time employment office at Bonnybridge.