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NATO (Central Front)

97. Mr. David Shaw : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there are any proposals to alter the current force-to-space ratio on NATO's central front.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : NATO's forces in the central region are kept under constant review within the normal force planning cycle. In due course, the Alliance may need to take account of any changes in force structures agreed as a result of the current negotiations on conventional forces in Europe.

Cavalry Officers

101. Mr. Marlow : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the importance of horsemanship skills for cavalry officers.


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Mr. Archie Hamilton : Good equestrian skills are essential for all cavalry officers in units which have a mounted ceremonial role.

Trident

104. Miss Widdecombe : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he intends altering the Trident programme.

Mr. Tom King : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Mr. Powell).

Crown Proceedings Act

105. Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the annual number of service people likely to benefit financially from the repeal of section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act ; and at what annual cost.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Since the repeal in May 1987 of section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947, we have received more than 700 claims. Of these, about 100 have so far been settled at a cost of around £550,000. A further 450 cases are still under consideration. It is not possible to provide an accurate estimate of either the annual number of service people likely to benefit from the repeal, or the cost to the Department.

Fishing Boat--Submarine Incidents

107. Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received about incidents involving fishing boats and submarines ; and what action he is taking.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : My Department has received a number of letters from fishermen's organisations and from other interested groups or individuals about various incidents in which submarines are alleged to have been involved. Though naval vessels have been involved in only a small number of incidents, the Royal Navy regards the avoidance by submarines of fishing vessels and their nets as a matter of considerable importance and is establishing closer links with fishermen's associations in order to promote mutual understanding. The Navy is also actively investigating methods of reducing the likelihood of such incidents.

Tanks

110. Mr. Kilfedder : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information he has on the numbers of battle tanks, in the European theatre, of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and Warsaw pact forces ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Tom King : The numbers of main battle tanks of NATO and Warsaw pact in the European theatre are shown in the 1989 "Statement on Defence Estimates", as 16,400 for NATO and 51,500 for the Warsaw pact.

Recruitment

108. Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the rate of recruitment for the armed forces.


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Mr. Archie Hamilton : Total recruitment into the armed forces in 1988-89 was a little above the level achieved in the previous year, though it fell short of the targets set. This year we are taking measures to stimulate recruitment, including greater expenditure on advertising, some changes to entry requirements and the opening up of additional areas of employment to women. In addition a wide range of measures are being taken to improve retention.

Procurement (Savings)

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he has for further savings on his budget for defence procurements.

Mr. Alan Clark : We will continue to seek value for money through a commercial approach to procurement, including the use of competition to the maximum extent possible. Potential savings or additions to the programme itself are considered each year as part of the long-term costing process.

Procurement Project Managers

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many procurement project managers are in post ; what are their grades ; what salaries attach to each grade ; and where is the work location of each.

Mr. Alan Clark : There are 153 project managers in post in the equipment procurement branches of the Procurement Executive. The civilian project managers are in unified grade 6, while their military equivalents are captain (RN), colonel and group captain. Their current salary scales are :


                          |£ per annum                      

------------------------------------------------------------

Unified Grade 6           |<1>21,633-28,170                 

Captain RN                |32,346-33,196                    

Colonel and Group Captain |32,346-35,748                    

<1> Under review.                                           

Additional allowances are payable in London, and civilian staff may receive additions to their salary for consistent good performance. The main work locations are London (86 staff), Bath (38), Weymouth (13) and Portsmouth (13).

Collaborative Projects

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the value to United Kingdom companies or research bodies of the collaborative projects set out in table 6, page 32 of Cm. 675 I ; and what was the proportion expended in (a) Scotland and (b) south-east England.

Mr. Alan Clark : In 1989-90 the proportion of the United Kingdom equipment budget spent on collaborative projects, including contracts placed with United Kingdom industry, was about 15 per cent. of the total £8,258 million. The further information requested could be made available only at disproportionate cost.


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RAF Chivenor

Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will take steps to ensure that helicopters with search and rescue night flying capacity are stationed at RAF Chivenor ;

(2) if he will make it his policy to ensure that helicopters with a search and rescue night flying capacity are stationed at RAF Chivenor.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : We have no plans to do so.

Warsaw Pact Helicopters

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of current Warsaw pact helicopter capability for offensive warfare.

Mr. Tom King : The Warsaw pact has a large fleet of helicopters, about 4,000 in Europe alone, most of which can be armed with a variety of weapons systems. They could present a formidable offensive threat when used as part of a combined arms operation.

Marilyn Report

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action he has now taken in the light of the recommendations of the Marilyn report.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : Work continues on a number of measures aimed at improving recruitment and retention in the Army. I told the House during the Army debate on 8 June 1989, at column 389, that additional funds have been devoted to recruitment publicity. This has resulted in a welcome increase in both inquiries and applications. Work continues in a variety of areas described in the Marilyn report, for example the introduction of a remedial physical development course has enabled over 200 recruits, who would otherwise have failed to meet Army fitness standards, to complete their basic training and begin Army careers.

We have also successfully introduced a policy facilitating transfers between corps and regiments. The number of servicemen who were unhappy in their original choice of arm and have opted to transfer within the Army rather than to leave altogether has risen by almost 26 per cent.

The Army has decided to expand significantly the role of women. This could in due course result in up to 10,000 regular and reserve posts currently filled by men becoming available to women for the first time. The measures will provide the opportunity for women to join regiments and corps which until now have been all male.

Warsaw Pact (Military Observers)

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what results during the last five years have been obtained by British military observers in Warsaw pact countries, under the auspices of the Stockholm agreement.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The Stockholm document was signed in September 1986 and came into force on 1 January 1987. Our experience has been that Warsaw pact exercises have been in compliance with the provisions of the Stockholm document.


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NATO Nuclear Planning Group

Mr. Turner : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the NATO nuclear planning group last met ; and what items were on the agenda.

Mr. Tom King : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Lewisham, Deptford (Ms. Ruddock).

Channel Tunnel

Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his assessment of the defence implications of the construction of the Channel tunnel.

Mr. Archie Hamilton : The Channel tunnel is not at present included in our reinforcement plans, which continue to be based on the use of ferries with a line of communication through the low countries. The tunnel itself does not in our view pose a significant threat to the security of the United Kingdom. Plans to defend it in an emergency are being drawn up.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Irradiated Food

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the seminar on food irradiation, sponsored by the Agriculture and Food Research Council's Institute for Food Research, held on 18 September.

Mr. Maclean : The seminar was organised by the Institute of Food Research in view of the widespread current interest in food irradiation. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food agreed to give the opening address. The seminar brought together United Kingdom and international experts in all aspects of the subject. Their review and evaluation of effects of the process confirmed the safety, wholesomeness-- including the nutritional value--of food in line with the Government's recent decision. There was widespread acceptance of this overall conclusion and a general recognition of the useful part that food irradiation could play by killing such micro-organisms as salmonella, listeria and camplyobacter.

Farmers

Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has to increase the number of working farmers (a) aged under 40 years and (b) entering the industry at any age.

Mr. Maclean : The numbers of those becoming working farmers is entirely a matter for individual choice in response to personal circumstances and market forces.

Straw Burning

Mr. David Porter : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received in the current year about straw stubble burning ; and if he is proposing to take steps to ban the practice.

Mr. Maclean : By 20 October 1989, I had received 508 letters covering 744 representations on straw and stubble


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burning. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has already announced a far-reaching review of this matter in which we will be taking account of these and all the other representations received by my Department.

Pesticides

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for which of the following pesticides he has given approval : (a) aldicarb, (b) camphechlor, (c) chlordane, (d) heptachlor, (e) chlordioleform, (f) DBCP, (g) DDT, (h) aldrin, (i) dieldrin, (j) endrin, (k) EDB, (l) HCH/BHC-olindane, (m) paraquat, (n) ethyl parathion, (o) methyl parathion, (p) pentachlorophenol and (q) 2-4-5- T ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : I refer the hon. Member to Her Majesty's Stationery Office reference book 500 "Pesticides 1989" which lists those pesticides approved under the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 and is available in the Library of the House.

Abattoirs

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list for each of the last 10 years the amount of European Community money which has been used to upgrade abattoirs ; how many abattoirs have received this aid ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : It is entirely a commercial matter for the companies concerned whether or not they decide to upgrade their abattoirs. Over the last 10 years a number of red meat abattoirs have been upgraded to European Community-approved status with financial assistance from the European Community, but because of the way in which the funds are paid by the European Commission the information sought by the hon. Member is not readily available in the form requested. It will be supplied as soon as possible.

Laboratories

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the name and location of any of his laboratories he has closed since March ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : Since March to date the subordinate microbiology laboratories of the ADAS farm and countryside service at Accrington, Newcastle and Wye have closed. Arrangements are in hand to maintain a full laboratory service to the areas affected.

Dr. David Clark : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the names and locations of the following : veterinary laboratories, including outstations and investigation centres, the Agricultural Development Advisory Service farm countryside laboratories, including the facilities for milk testing, the Agricultural Development Advisory Service research and development laboratories and fisheries research laboratories ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maclean : The information requested is as follows :

State Veterinary Service Laboratories

Central Veterinary Laboratory, Weybridge


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The Cattle Breeding Centre, Shinfield

Lasswade Veterinary Laboratory, Edinburgh

Veterinary investigation centres in England and Wales

Aberystwyth

Bangor

Bristol

Cambridge

Carmarthen

Lincoln

Newcastle

Norwich

Penrith

Preston

Reading

Shrewsbury

Starcross

Sutton Bonington

Thirsk

Truro

Winchester

Worcester

Wye

Farm and countryside service laboratories

Bristol

Caernarfon

Cambridge

Carmarthen

Evesham

Kirton

Leeds

Llanishen, Cardiff

Newcastle

Reading

Rhydymwyn

Starcross

Trawsgoed

Wye

Research and development service

The Central Science Laboratory has sites at the following locations :

Harpenden

Slough

Tolworth

Worplesdon

There are also small units at Norwich and Stroud.

Fisheries laboratories

(a) Directorate of Fisheries Research Lowestoft with outstations at:

Conway

Whitehaven

Burnham on Crouch

Weymouth

(b) Torry Research Station

Aberdeen


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