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Mr. Tredinnick : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had recently with NATO Ministers about the modernisation of NATO's short-range nuclear weapons ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Buchan : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies about levels of (a) conventional arms and (b) tactical nuclear forces in Europe.
Mr. Younger : I hold regular discussions with my NATO colleagues on a wide range of defence issues. We last met at the nuclear planning group on 19 and 20 April ; and we shall be meeting again next month in the defence planning committee.
Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what further assessment he has made in the light of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report of the implications for defence procurement of the GEC/Siemens bid for Plessey ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Sainsbury : The Monopolies and Mergers Commission concluded in its report that the bid for GEC and Siemens for Plessey could proceed provided certain undertakings were secured. The MOD's view of the implications of the bid were clearly stated in the MMC report. My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry placed responsibility on the MOD to secure two of these undertakings. Discussions to this end are now in hand.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The nine-year Soviet occupation of Afghanistan inevitably provided the Soviet Union with an extensive opportunity to learn practical lessons on the battlefield. The nature of the irregular warfare in Afghanistan forced the Soviet armed forces to adapt their traditional, heavily-mechanised tactics to suit local conditions and they recognised the requirement for greater flexibility in thought and action. Nevertheless, overall the lessons learned by the Soviets in Afghanistan have limited application in the NATO area.
Mr. Sainsbury : A series of 19 firings from a land-based launch pad was completed in January. 15 were complete successes, and one a partial success. The first test firing from a submarine on 21 March was terminated four seconds into the flight by the missile's self-destruct mechanism. The United States investigation into the cause of the failure has identified the need for modifications to the first stage thrust control system. It is planned to trial these modifications during the next submarine-launched test flight towards the end of July.
Mr. Sainsbury : Security measures at Britain's defence nuclear establishments are designed to provide protection against a range of potential threats, principally espionage, sabotage, terrorism and subversion. However, it is not possible to identify that part of the total cost of protection which is attributable to the activity of protesters.
Mr. Younger : I enjoyed a most successful and interesting visit to Sweden from 23 to 26 April. I saw the full range of the Swedish defence forces' impressive capabilities and had useful discussions on matters of mutual interest with Mr. Carlsson, the Defence Minister.
Column 420industry, with the support of the DESO, that Britain maintains her position in the world as a major exporter of defence equipment. A broad overall view of United Kingdom successes is given in the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989" which records that new contracts signed in 1988 are expected to be worth £3,500 million--a sign of the competitiveness of the British defence industry.
103. Mr. Douglas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the nature of the contacts between his Department and the relevant United States and Russian authorities in relation to co- operation in the event of accidents to nuclear-powered naval vessels.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The Ministry of Defence would, where possible, lend whatever assistance was requested in the event of an accident involving a nuclear-powered naval vessel belonging to another country.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : We have no evidence that the Soviet Union has abandoned the deep strike element of its offensive doctrine. The concept of the operational manoeuvre group, which is to maintain the momentum of attack throughout the entire depth of its operational area, remains an integral part of that doctrine.
Mr. Sainsbury : Three Nimrod AEW airframes have been broken up for spares to support the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft fleet. A fourth is a ground instructional aircraft at RAF Finningley. The remaining aircraft are currently at RAF Abingdon. Following careful consideration, we have concluded that there is no viable alternative use for five of these airframes, and they are now being used for spares to support the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft fleet. The future use of the last two airframes is still under consideration.
Mr. Neubert : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has reviewed the possible deployment options for 36 Engineer Regiment. Having carefully considered the range of factors involved, he has concluded that the regiment should remain based at Maidstone.
Mr. Conway : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the results of the environmental radiation monitoring which is carried out by his Department in connection with nuclear-powered submarine operation.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The Defence Radiological Protection Service will publish the results of environmental radiation monitoring carried out around nuclear-powered submarine berths in the United Kingdom, in the form of an annual report. With the agreement of the United States Government, results of monitoring carried out by the United States Navy in Holy Loch will also be included. The first published report, covering 1988 monitoring results, should be available in the summer of this year.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his counterparts in West Germany and other NATO countries about nuclear and conventional arms in recent weeks ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Younger : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave earlier to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Provan (Mr. Wray). We shall be discussing conventional defence matters at a meeting of the NATO defence planning committee in June.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish a table showing (a) the total number and explosive capacity, respectively, of all nuclear warheads removed from deployment, (b) the total number and description of all chemical weapons removed from deployment and (c) the total number of conventional weapons and descriptions of each type removed from deployment by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation since 1959 ; and whether the withdrawals were made by unilateral or multilateral decisions.
(a) In 1979, NATO Defence Ministers agreed to reduce by 1,000 the number of nuclear warheads stockpiled in Europe, and in 1983 (at Montebello) agreed to reduce the stockpile by a further 1,400 warheads.
Column 422These two actions brought the NATO nuclear stockpile in Europe to its lowest level since 1969. This level is being further reduced as warheads are removed in association with the implementation of the INF treaty.
(b) There are no chemical weapons declared to NATO. The United Kingdom abandoned its own chemical weapons capability in the late 1950s. The United States has only a limited retaliatory capability and has announced at the opening of the CFE talks in March 1989 that it would accelerate the withdrawal of its CW stocks from the Federal Republic of Germany, previously planned to be completed by 1992. Moreover, the United States has destroyed some 15 million pounds of chemical agent since 1970.
(c) We do not hold comprehensive information on all the past modernisation and disposal measures which have been carried out by our NATO allies.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the last sea dump of radioactive waste arising from military uses of nuclear materials took place ; what was the total quantity of radioactivity contained in radioactive waste packages of military origin nuclear waste disposed of at sea ; what volume of such radioactive waste has been disposed of at sea ; and if there are any plans to renew the sea disposal of radioactive wastes arising from defence programmes.
Mr. Sainsbury : It has not been the Government's practice to provide a detailed breakdown between civil and military sources of the drummed radioactive wastes disposed of at sea in the operations up to and including 1982. As required under the London dumping convention (LDC), global figures have been given to the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy informed the House on 26 May 1988 at column 233, the Government have decided not to resume sea dumping of drummed radioactive wastes, but intend to keep open this option for large items arising from decommissioning operations.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy, Official Report, 17 March, column 379, whether the Condor II ballistic missile under development by Argentina has the capacity to be fitted with nuclear warheads.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : We cannot rule out the possibility that Condor II could be technically capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. We have, however, seen nothing to suggest that Argentina currently has a nuclear weapons programme.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any plutonium placed up to 1 April 1969 in the defence stockpile managed by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority has since been used in a nuclear test explosion.
Mr. Sainsbury : It is not our practice to comment on the nature or source of fissile material used in nuclear test explosions other than to say it has been material manufactured for defence purposes outside safeguards and free of end-use restrictions.
Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will place in the Library, copies of all environmental impact statements prepared for the United States Congress to cover United Kingdom military bases leased to, or made available to, United States military forces based in the United Kingdom ;
(2) what plans he has to initiate legislation to cover (a) the production of environmental impact statements to cover all United Kingdom military bases in the United Kingdom and abroad, and (b) the removal of Crown immunity from United Kingdom military bases.
Mr. Neubert : While the Town and Country Planning Acts do not apply to Crown development, the MOD follows the provisions of DOE circular 18/84, Welsh circular 23/88 and Scottish Development Department circular 21/84.
Similarly the requirement for environmental impact assessments is set out in DOE circular 15/88, Welsh Office circular 23/88 and Scottish Development Department circular 13/88. The MOD follows these provisions. No environmental impact assessments have been produced on behalf of United States forces based in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the failures of implementation of Her Majesty's Government's defence policy since May 1979 ; and if he will make a statement on why policy failures have occurred.
Column 424or other institutions of higher education, which are currently being funded by his Department, are in each classification of secrecy.
Mr. Sainsbury : The MOD has currently 757 agreements and 96 contracts with United Kingdom universities and other higher education institutions. Four agreements and one contract are classified confidential ; the remainder of the agreements and contracts are unclassified.
Ms. Gordon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many contracts and agreements have existed in the past five years between his Department and universities and other institutions of higher education for research related to the verification of arms control treaties by seismology ; from which Ministry of Defence research establishment contracts or agreements originated ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : We estimate that the overall economic impact of United States military forces based in the United Kingdom is about £700 million for 1988, but no separate assessment has been made for Scotland.
Mr. Sainsbury : Efforts to improve the process of defence procurement, aimed at achieving better value for money, will continue unabated. We shall continue to stress the importance of competition and a more commercial approach to contracting, and we will continue to encourage the widest possible range of companies to compete for our business. In particular, the new suppliers service, launched in November 1988 to extend the range of the highly successful work of the small firms advice division, encourages new suppliers of any size and background to bring their products and services to the 20attention of the MOD.
We are continuing to implement the recommendations of the Jordan/Lee/Cawsey report "Learning From Experience" including those concerning a fully professional approach to project management. We are encouraging our allies, through the NATO conference of national armamaments directors (CNAD), also to adopt a more commercial approach to defence
Column 425procurement. Within Europe, we wholeheartedly support the work of the Independent European Programme Group (IEPG), which we currently chair, which aims to promote a more open market in defence goods.
Mr. John Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what improvements in efficiency have been achieved since his Department adopted a policy of increasing the number of contracts subject to competitive tender.
Mr. Sainsbury [holding answer 27 April 1989] : The increased use of competitive tendering is at the heart of the MOD's more commercial approach to defence procurement. This approach continues to bring substantial cash savings, and to encourage better quality and more timely delivery of equipment. It also continues to promote improvements in the efficiency and competitiveness of the British defence industry, contributing to its recent export successes, and its position as the world's third largest defence exporter. The use of competitive tendering for defence services, since 1979, has led to a net financial saving now running at some £50 million a year, has improved efficiency and has permitted service manpower to be redeployed to front-line tasks. Large savings have been made in areas such as cleaning, catering, grounds maintenance and security guarding, but contractors also manage many other support activities and facilities for the services, including the royal dockyards. More details are given on page 35 of the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989".