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Mr. Archie Hamilton : Exercise Migrant Merlin is 15 Infantry Brigade's annual exercise and will be held between 7 and 21 October on Salisbury plain. It is designed to provide battalion and brigade level training in essential wartime tasks. These include area defence, observation, patrolling, and limited attack exercising. A maximum of 3,000 troops are expected to participate at any one time ; with the exceptions of the brigade headquarters, these will all be Territorial Army personnel.
Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress is being made in his Department's review, with Treasury guidelines, of the potential for the further relocation of Civil Service posts outside London and the south-east ; and when he expects the review to be completed.
The proposed move of 1,500 quality assurance posts from Woolwich and Bromley to Teesside was announced in the House on 9 March 1989. Consultations are continuing with the trade union side about the move, which would take place over the period 1993-95.
A feasibility study report of relocating some 3,500 posts in the land and air systems controllerates is currently with Ministers. Given reasonably early agreement on site selection, the effective date for these moves could be in the timescale 1993-95.
Additionally, a number of smaller moves, totalling about 1,000 posts from London, have been agreed (and some have taken place) since the 1988 relocation initiative.
The MOD will continue to pursue a policy of relocating work from London and the south-east to less advantaged regions whenever possible and the TU side will continue to be consulted on all relocation studies.
Mr. Neubert : Following the transfer of former Department of Energy depots to the Ministry of Defence on 1 April 1989, there are now some 44 RAF petroleum supply depots at various locations within the United Kingdom. However, it would not be in the public interest to give details of these sites.
Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the reasons for the increase in project cost for the Sonar 2054, set out in the major equipment projects tables in the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989" and the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1988".
Mr. Alan Clark : I presume that the hon. Gentleman is questioning the difference in the figures given in the Statement on the Defence Estimates (SDE) 88 and SDE 89. The £310 million given in SDE 88 represents the then approved programme. The £400 million given in SDE 89 includes further production orders and pay and price variations.
Mr. Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the reason for the slippage of one year in the in-service date for the type 2400 submarine, set out in the major equipment projects tables in the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989" and the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1988".
Mr. Alan Clark : The slippage of one year to the delivery date for the type 2400 submarine is due, first, to industrial action at VSEL during 1988 ; and secondly, because of the number of technical problems with new to service equipment on this, the first of a new class of diesel-electric submarines.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he has given to the provision of a constant speed drive generating unit on the new European fighter aircraft ; whether he has considered the Lucas system and that of Bendix/Ferranti ; and if he has considered the respective weights and efficiency of power supplies in reaching a decision between the competing systems.
Mr. Alan Clark : The United Kingdom and our EFA partners, in conjunction with the EFA prime contractor (Eurofighter), are in the process of evaluating the merits of the competing bids for the EFA main generating system development contract. All relevant factors, including those mentioned by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton), are being taken into account and a decision is expected in the very near future. In the circumstances it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the respective merits of either bid.
Mr. Rogers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration has been given to the development and production of two different versions of the European Fighter Aircraft, based upon two different radar systems.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what studies have been carried out at RAF station Finningley, along the lines of those carried out at RAF station Manston, in respect of using RAF station Finningley as a joint military-civil airport ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neubert : RAF Finningley is a busy training station and the scope for civil flying is limited. My Department has not undertaken any studies on the greater civil use of the airfield but remains ready to discuss any viable proposals with the appropriate authorities.
Sir Hugh Rossi : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the guidelines issued by the Property Services Agency containing advice on the use of chlorofluorocarbons on the Government estate extend to cooling systems for munitions storage, Her Majesty's ships and submarines and communications network ; and what plans exist to ensure the safe disposal of chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant material and chlorofluorocarbon 11 from such cooling systems.
Mr. Alan Clark : The guidelines issued by the Property Services Agency (18 May 1989) on the use of CFCs in Government estate contain principles which were already being implemented within MOD. Government policy is being applied to CFCs in Her Majesty's ships and submarines and communications network. The means of ensuring the safe disposal of CFCs already in MOD possession is the subject of current discussion.
Mr. David Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how military and reconnaissance aircraft were disposed of at sea, following British nuclear tests ; and what purposes were served by such dumping.
Mr. Alan Clark : I am not aware that any British military or reconnaissance aircraft were disposed of at sea. However, it was noted that a Grumman Avenger aircraft from HMS Warrior at operation Grapple was lost overboard in an accident.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in what manner water was imported into Christmas Island during British nuclear tests there in the 1950s ; from where ; and how it was monitored.
Mr. Alan Clark : Royal Navy ships fitted with special distillation equipment delivered on average 100 tons of fresh water per day for use ashore on Christmas Island. This was in addition to the main source of supply of treated surface water in which no radioactivity associated with the nuclear tests was detected. I refer the hon. Member to the replies given on 7 November 1988 columns 31-32 and 31 October 1988 column 528 which answered similar questions. The RAF was mainly responsible for monitoring all water and ensuring that it met public health standards.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if Fijian forces have been studied by the National Radiological Protection Board ; and if he has received representations from the Fijian Government about the health and welfare of their nuclear test veterans.
Mr. Alan Clark : Fijian forces were not included in the study carried out by the NRPB and ICRF. I am not aware of any representations from the Fijian Government about the health and welfare of their nuclear test veterans.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what conclusions he draws with regard to his policy towards the compensation of British nuclear test veterans from the report of Dr. Karl Morgan of the health physics division of Oak Ridge national laboratory in Tennessee, dealing with the consequences of United States veterans' exposure during nuclear tests in the 1950s and 1960s.
Mr. Alan Clark : Government policy on this matter is based on the conclusions reached in the National Radiological Protection Board report released last year, which concluded that no harm due to ionising radiation was suffered by participants in the United Kingdom nuclear test programme. However, the Government would be ready to pay compensation to those participants who suffer ill health from a disease if it could be shown, even on a balance of probabilities, that the incidence of that disease was linked to participation in the United Kingdom nuclear test programme. Individual reports, such as that to which the hon. Member refers, will not change Government policy unless they influence the NRPB conclusions ; that is a matter for the NRPB who are the independent experts on these matters. I also refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 23 May 1989, at column 464 .
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the function of the RAF balloon unit during British nuclear tests in the 1950s; to what proximity members of the unit approached ground zero; and with what frequency.
Mr. Clark : The function of the balloon unit was to operate a balloon system for hoisting devices under test to the prescribed altitude ready for detonation. Members of the balloon unit were withdrawn to a safe distance of not less than 12.5 km from ground zero at the time of detonation. After detonation balloon unit personnel returned to ground zero only when the induced radiation had fallen to such levels that the exposures were not sensibly greater than zero.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which military unit or squadron spent the most time in active service in the Christmas islands, during British nuclear tests there (a) cumulatively and (b) consecutively.
Mr. Clark : HMS Resolution remained in active service in the Christmas islands during the British nuclear tests from December 1957 until June 1964. 73 E and M Squadron RE remained in service from December 1957 to January 1964 and the RAF Unit Christmas Island was present from October 1957 until June 1964.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who undertook the descaling of desalination tanks on Christmas Island, during British nuclear tests there in the 1950s; where these samples were taken for examination; and if the results of these examinations are publicly available.
Mr. Clark : The storage of drinking water at Christmas Island was the responsibility of the Army. The checking of the quality of fresh and raw water from ground sources and shore distillers prior to and in storage was the responsibility of the RAF medical service. There was no reason to descale the desalination tanks since they were only for the storage of clean potable water. The RAF medical service reports, under normal rules, would have been destroyed after two years.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why an operation/biopsy took place on Mr. Andrew Dickson of Wakefield during his active service on Christmas Island ; what was the purpose of this operation ; and why it took place on the island rather than via referral to Honolulu.
Mr. Alan Clark : It is not the policy of this Department to discuss the detail of individual medical cases, which are covered by the rules concerning medical confidentiality. This policy accords with that of the NHS.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what current proposals have been (i) discussed and (ii) agreed with the Saudi Government offset committee ; what are the estimated amounts involved ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Alan Clark : In addition to the venture proposals referred to by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement to the hon. Member on 19 June 1989, col 56, I am pleased to say that three further venture proposals have subsequently been put to the Saudi Government offset committee for its consideration.
As announced in a news release by my Department today the third proposal involves an imaginative series of potential collaborations from Royal Ordnance plc to develop jointly Saudi Arabia's defence industrial infrastructure. The fourth proposes that the United Kingdom company Technicare International Limited and the Saudi company Yusuf Bin Ahmed Kanoo collaborate on setting up a number of computer training centres in Saudi Arabia and number five is for a joint venture between Fryma Fabrics Limited of the United Kingdom and Nafa Enterprises of Riyadh to establish a manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia to produce polyethylene yarn and tape and also to knit the yarn into agricultural and horticultural netting. All five initial proposals are presently being considered by the Saudi Government offset committee.
All of the proposals will be the subject of further detailed feasibility studies before implementation and it is not yet possible to give an accurate assessment of the investment which will be involved. The present indication is that the total investment in the five project proposals should be in excess of £100 million over a period of 10 years or more.
Column 902statutory instruments that were issued by his Department ; how many were negative and how many affirmative ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Neubert : Since the aircraft entered service, 20 RAF Tornado aircraft have been damaged irreparably in accidents. The public release of aircraft accident statistics for other nations is a matter for the respective Governments.
Mr. Rogers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many senior officials in the Ministry of Defence procurement executive have had previous long-term experience of working in the defence industry or any other manufacturing industry.
Mr. Alan Clark : The information requested is not readily available. The majority of the senior staff in the procurement executive are career civil servants and comparatively few have worked for a prolonged period in industry. However, the commercial experience of staff in the procurement executive is steadily increasing as a result of a substantial programme of interchange with industry and through increased efforts to recruit those who have worked in the defence and other industries.
Mr. Rogers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has any plans to appoint more civilians who have had long-term experience working in defence-related industries to the procurement executive.
Mr. Alan Clark : Yes. We are already running continuous recruitment campaigns seeking to fill posts at the lower and middle management levels of the procurement executive with people who have worked in industry. At the more senior level, we shall shortly be seeking to recruit two or three project managers with industrial experience.
(2) what is the total number of civilian specialist computer science staff currently employed in the procurement executive ; (3) what the target for the employment of civilian staff in the procurement executive in each year between 1980 and 1989 ;
Column 903(4) what was the total number of civilian staff employed in the procurement executive in each year between 1980 and 1989.
(2) if he will list the RAF establishment estate or property that his Department intends to close or sell in the next five years ; (3) if he will list the Royal Navy and Royal Marine shore establishments, estates or property which his Department intends to close and sell in the next five years.
Mr. Alan Clark : A list of the collaborative equipment projects in which both the United Kingdom and France participate, reflecting the position as at 1 March 1989, appears at table 6, chapter 4 of volume 1 of the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989.
In addition, an Anglo-French reciprocal purchasing initiative was launched in September 1987. Under this initiative, we have set up machinery to establish closer links between the two countries and each now publishes its contract opportunities in bulletins available to industry in both countries.
Mr. Rogers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent study of the capability of the United Kingdom defence industry has been carried out by his Department ; and what judgment he has as to which area of domestic defence manufacturing capability should be preserved for strategic reasons.
Mr. Alan Clark : The Ministry of Defence keeps the capability of the United Kingdom defence industry under review. Our aim is to achieve value for money in the supply of equipment to our armed forces and our consideration includes, on a case-by-case basis, the advisability of ensuring a continuing United Kingdom source of supply.
Mr. Rogers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what records are kept by his Department of the number of senior Ministry of Defence officials and senior service personnel who have left his Department to take up appointments in defence-related industries.
Mr. Rogers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he or any other Minister in his Department last visited British forces in Hong Kong ; and when he or any other Minister from his Department next intends to visit.
Mr. Rogers : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the other helicopter options that are being looked at as an alternative to EH101 to fill the Royal Air Force's battlefield support requirement.
Mr. Alan Clark : In accordance with normal procurement practice, we shall consider all appropriate helicopter types, including--where relevant- -combinations of types, in order to determine whether the utility version of the EH101 helicopter continues to represent the most cost-effective solution for meeting the future requirement for support helicopters. This work will be taken forward during the project definition phase of the RAF EH101 programme, the first stage of which will be completed by April 1990.