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Mr. Sainsbury : Our policy is to seek the best long term value for money in our purchases and to use competition wherever possible to achieve this. Where there is a monopoly United Kingdom supplier it may be possible to seek competition from overseas. In those cases where overseas competition is not possible we aim to negotiate taut contract conditions with the prime contractor and ensure that there is the maximum competition at the sub-contract level.
Mr. Neubert : Most service men in the Falkland Islands are on four or six-month tours and are required to serve unaccompanied. The small number of personnel on 12-month tours are encouraged to take their families with them and are provided with married quarters.
58. Mr. Summerson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications for the level of Soviet troops in Europe of the recent withdrawal of such troops from Afghanistan.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The Soviet forces withdrawn from Afghanistan comprise a complete army of four fully manned and equipped divisions, one of which is an airborne division, and a large number of other units. The
Column 513whole force amounts to some 110,000 personnel. It is not clear whether any of the troops withdrawn from Afghanistan have been or will be transferred to the European theatre. The Soviets have given us no indication of their intentions.
59. Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total value of (a) spares, (b) food, (c) ammunition and (d) all other stocks held by his Department at the latest convenient date.
Mr. Neubert : The information cannot be provided in the exact form requested without disproportionate cost. For management purposes, stocks are categorised by equipment range or commodity. The value of stocks of spares held within each category is, however, not separately maintained.
The assessed total value of stocks held by MOD in major depots as at 31 March 1988 amounted to a total of £10,249 million, the breakdown of which, by supply management category, is as follows :
|£ million --------------------------------------------------- Ammunition and armament stores |3,109 Food |13 Fuel (including lubricants) |114 Clothing |127 General stores |273 Technical stores |6,604 Medical stores |9 |--- |10,249
The figures do not include the value of stocks held in units and establishments forward of the main stores depots, details of which are not maintained centrally.
Mr. Sainsbury : We receive frequent representations from the trade unions on matters affecting their members employed in the Ministry of Defence and these are handled in accordance with the normal Civil Service consultative procedures. Representations on defence matters are handled in the normal way as they arise.
Column 514additional 200 SS-25 inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are expected to become operational within two or three years. The ten-warhead SS-24 ICBM has been deployed, both in silos and on rail-mobile launchers, and a modified version of the SS-18 heavy ICBM is entering service. At sea, five Typhoon and four Delta IV nuclear- powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), carrying the multiple-warhead SS-N-20 and SS-N-23 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), are now operational, and a fifth Delta IV began sea trials during 1988. The SS-N-21 sea-launched cruise missile (SLCM) is now operational.
In the air, a new strategic bomber, the Blackjack, has entered service ; it can carry the AS-15 air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) as well as bombs and air-to-surface missiles. The AS-15 entered service in 1984 and is already deployed on the Bear H bomber, of which 70 are operational.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : For details of the continuing development of the Soviet Union's air capability, I refer my hon. Friend to the "Statement on Defence Estimates 1988" (Cm. 344-I), in particular chapter 6 and the essay entitled "The Conventional Balance". The Soviet air capability which could pose a threat to the United Kingdom is kept constantly under review. Details of such assessments are classified.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend expects to meet the Defence Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany at a meeting of WEU Ministers next month. In the normal way a range of matters of mutual interest will be discussed.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend last met the Defence Minister of the Federal Republic of Germany at the Anglo-German summit on 20-21 February 1989. A range of matters of mutual interest was discussed.
Mr. Sainsbury : My right hon. Friend met M. Chevenement last week and, although he has no immediate plans for a further meeting, he expects to have a number of opportunities to discuss matters of mutual interest in the course of 1989.
Mr. Neubert : I expect to visit RAF Upper Heyford when the full study into the costs and implications of realigning the runway at the base has been completed, which I hope will be shortly after Easter.
Mr. Neubert : Following the announcement in May 1988 of changes in the relationship between the Property Services Agency and other Government Departments, the Ministry of Defence has resumed overall responsibility for the management of its estate. Bringing together responsibility and accountability within a single Department will enable us to manage our estate more efficiently and cost-effectively. We regularly review the utilisation of our land and property holdings to identify areas which are surplus or may become surplus to requirements and a number of major studies are currently taking place with a view to further rationalisation measures.
92. Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the implications for his policies on competition and value for money on defence contracts of a situation where the United States prime contractor and the United Kingdom prime contractor are one and the same company.
Mr. Sainsbury : Our procurement strategy is intended to achieve the best possible value for money. We place our prime contracts as a result of competition wherever we can, but when this is not possible we aim to negotiate taut contract conditions with the prime contractor and ensure that there is the maximum competition at the sub-contract level.
93. Mr. Bellingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations on defence policy he has received from the Transport and General Workers Union ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Recent public statements by Warsaw pact leaders have stressed the defensive nature of the pact's military doctrine but its armed forces continue to maintain a capability far greater than that required for solely defensive purposes. We look forward to the implementation of measures, such as reductions in the strength of the pact's armed forces and in the defence spending of its members, that would indicate a genuine shift to a defensive doctrine.
Mr. Allen McKay : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will state the number of, and the duration for which, type 23 frigates are expected to be at sea without an integrated computer command and control system being in operation.
103. Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will state the number of and the duration for which, type 23 frigates are expected to be at sea without an integrated computer command and control system being in operation.
129. Mr. Galloway : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will state the numbers of, and the duration for which, type 23 frigates are expected to be at sea without an integrated computer command and control system being in operation.
131. Mr. McWilliam : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will state the number of, and the duration for which, type 23 frigates are expected to be at sea without an integrated computer command and control system being in operation.
Mr. Sainsbury : The use of private security firms in guarding establishments is an option open to MOD in those cases where their use can satisfy certain security criteria, and where it achieves better value for money.
Mr. Neubert : The process of consultation on service matters is a continuous one, both through the formal Defence Committee structure and official channels. In addition my right hon. Friend and hon. colleagues take up a number of invitations to visit Territorial Army conferences and units. In this way the Territorial Army has been the subject of much discussion, reflecting the importance that we attach to the vital role it plays in the defence of the nation.
|Number --------------------- 1986 |20 1987 |49 1988 |91
137. Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the latest estimate of Soviet nuclear military strength in short-range missiles and artillery west of the Urals ; and what evidence he has of any reductions during the last 12 months.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : I refer my hon. Friend to figure 19 of the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1988" (Cm. 344-I), which shows a total of 1,400 missile launchers and 6,800 nuclear-capable artillery pieces. Athough the Soviet Foreign Minister announced in January that there were to be some reductions in the numbers of short-range nuclear forces in Eastern Europe, these reductions have not yet taken place, and they will involve only 24 missile systems and about 220 artillery pieces. The Warsaw pact retains an enormous advantage in such short-range systems.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Britain's Polaris force remains fully operational and effective with at least one submarine on patrol at all times. Trident remains on programme to enter service in the mid-1990s.
Merchant Vessels (Emergencies)
Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give the figures for the availability in March 1989 of British merchant vessels suitable for naval deployment in time of emergency.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The figures for March 1989 are not yet available. The number of vessels available on the United Kingdom and dependent territory registers at 31 December 1988 in the categories required for defence purposes was as follows :
|Number ------------------------------------------------------ Fishing vessels (including large stern trawlers and offshore support vessels) |348 Product tankers |120 Break bulk cargo vessels |162 Cruise ships |5 Roll on-roll off ferries |69 Tugs |91
Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has any plans to convert offshore support vessels for the purpose of counter-mine operations in time of emergency ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Knowsley, South of Thursday 2 March on nuclear strategy, Official Report , column 254 , if he will identify the paragraphs which contain the requested information.