109. Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received regarding incidents involving fishing boats and submarines in the Irish sea ; what action he has taken as a result ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 671the open market once existing facilities have been reprovided elsewhere. We are currently reviewing the boundary of the area to be released following the recent visit to Shoeburyness by the historic military buildings committee and will be consulting closely with Southend borough council when drawing up our plans for the disposal of the site.
122. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the respective levels of (a) conventional, (b) nuclear and (c) chemical weapons between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Warsaw pact countries ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : In respect of information on conventional and nuclear force levels, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave him on 29 November 1988 at columns 226-27. The broad assessment that I gave then has not changed. No equivalent information is available on chemical weapons, but it is clear that the Soviet Union is the world's largest holder of stock of such weapons, even from the levels of stocks which the Soviet Union has acknowledged possessing, which are, however, significantly below western estimates of the total Soviet stockpile.
125. Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the on-site inspections provided by the intermediate range nuclear forces treaty are working satisfactorily ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : To date, the system of on-site inspections provided for under the terms of the treaty on the elimination of United States and Soviet intermediate range missiles has operated satisfactorily in so far as it affects the United Kingdom. Both the United States and Soviet Governments have also expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the on-site inspections. Soviet inspectors have visited the United Kingdom three times since the treaty took effect on 1 June 1988 : on 19-22 July 1988 baseline inspections were conducted at RAF Greenham common and RAF Molesworth ; on 31 October to 2 November 1988 a short-notice inspection from their annual quota was conducted at RAF Molesworth ; and on 18-20 January 1989 a close-out inspection was conducted at RAF Molesworth, together with a short-notice inspection from their annual quota at RAF Greenham common.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : There have been a number of instances in the past year, both at home and abroad, where the armed forces provided emergency assistance to the civil authorities in disaster relief. In the United Kingdom, very extensive assistance was provided in the aftermath of the tragic air crash at Lockerbie in December 1988, and help was also provided following the air crash at Kegworth in January 1989.
Column 672In addition, RAF fixed and rotary-wing aircraft and Royal Navy ships and rotary-wing aircraft assisted in many rescue and recovery operations, including the Piper Alpha and Ocean Odyssey oil rig disasters.
Abroad, the Royal Navy were first on the scene to provide effective relief in the wake of hurricane Gilbert in Jamaica in September. The RAF flew in much needed supplies, and the Army spent three weeks on the island carrying out repairs to buildings and services. After the severe earthquake in Nepal in August, the British military hospital at Dharan treated over 700 Nepalese casualties, carrying out over 300 operations ; additional medical personnel and medical supplies were also flown in.
Following the damage which Cyclone Uma caused to roads and bridges in Vanuatu in 1987, a team of Royal Engineers has been carrying out a reconstruction programme.
Most recently, after the earthquake in Armenia in December, the Ministry of Defence supplied over 70,000 ration packs as part of Her Majesty's Government's £5 million relief package. Medical supplies were provided to the Red Cross, and the Army provided specialised microphones to detect people under the wreckage.
Mr. Sainsbury : The British defence industry has an excellent record of export achievement. We shall do everything possible within the necessary constraints of our national policies to ensure that this success continues.
Mr. Neubert : As at 1 January 1989, 1,564 serving personnel (960 airmen and 604 airwomen) had been accepted for regular service with the Royal Air Force following training under the armed services youth training scheme.
Mr. Sainsbury : It is anticipated that, subject to local planning permission, the construction of the Glengarry experimental extremely low frequency transmitter should take place in 1991 and 1992, but test transmissions are unlikely to start until the following year.
Mr. Sainsbury : The judgment by the House of Lords last year in the case of Mr. Melvyn Pearce made it possible for those who, like him, participated in the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons test programme in the Pacific, to pursue claims in the courts for damages. The Government cannot accept that the Crown is legally liable for the ill-health suffered by Mr. Pearce and others like him allegedly arising from their participation in the test programme, and proposes to contest the claims. Solicitors acting for both sides in the case of Mr. Pearce are currently discussing the disclosure of relevant documents for the purposes of litigation.
Mr. Sainsbury : Procurement policy for helicopters, as for other equipment, is aimed at meeting defence requirements in the most cost- effective way. The strategy adopted in individual cases will be determined against the criteria set out in Open Government, document 83/01, "Value for Money in Defence Procurement", a copy of which is in the Library.