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Mr. Archie Hamilton : The military doctrine seminar which concluded in Vienna on 5 February, and which involved representatives of all the 35 states of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) process, was an important and useful opportunity to exchange views, put forward our own thinking, and explore that of other nations.
Mr. Neubert : The Government remain committed to maintaining a force of about 50 destroyers and frigates, and we will place sufficient orders to meet that commitment. We announced an order for three type 23 frigates on 19 December 1989, col. 197. We hope to invite tenders for a further batch of type 23s later this year. A decision on the size and timing of an order will be made once tenders are submitted by shipyards.
61. Mr. John Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action has been taken in response to the report by Peat Marwick McLintock on recuitment of ethnic minorities into the armed services.
91. Mr. Ashton : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many recruits to the armed forces in 1989 year were of Afro-Caribbean or Asian origin ; and how many service personnel of similar background left.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The provisional results of the survey of ethnic origins of applicants to the armed forces during the financial year 1988-89, the latest period for which figures are available, indicate that 121 recruits classified themselves as Caribbean, 26 as African and 64 as Asian. Figures for those who left the armed forces are not available.
98. Mr. Cartwright : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to review the planned level of defence spending in the light of the changing situation in the USSR and eastern Europe.
55. Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will next meet his NATO counterparts to discuss the military implications of the reforms currently taking place in eastern Europe.
114. Mr. Livsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next intends to meet the Secretary-General of NATO to discuss future NATO strategy in the light of the Vienna talks on conventional forces in Europe.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend regularly meets the Secretary-General of NATO. The next scheduled meeting is at the NATO nuclear planning group in early May, when a wide range of issues of mutual interest will be discussed.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The Ministry of Defence is always willing to respond positively to requests for military assistance in disaster relief at home and abroad. For an account of the part played by the armed forces in disaster relief operations during 1989, I refer my hon. Friends to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Stevens) on 24 October 1989 at column 430. With the recent spate of bad weather, all three services have been engaged in a range of military assistance to the civil community tasks. Much effort has been directed at helping electricity boards to clear roads blocked by trees toppled during the gales, mobile generators have been supplied for a variety of purposes and service accommodation has been made available to house the
Column 600homeless. Should it be needed, military units are standing ready to provide assistance to communities at risk from flooding.
Mr. Alan Clark : Figures for the overall value of defence exports are calculated on an annual basis. New contracts signed in 1988 are expected to be worth some £3,500 million. The figure for 1989 is not yet available.
66. Mr. Hood : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice is given to armed service personnel and their families about their eligibility for social security and housing benefits and poll tax rebate.
94. Mr. Frank Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what advice is given to armed service personnel and their families about their eligibility for social security and housing benefits and poll tax rebate.
68. Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement concerning the implications for British defence policy of progress in the talks for the reduction of strategic nuclear weapons.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : We support the efforts of the United States and Soviet Governments to achieve deep cuts in strategic offensive nuclear weapons. The Government's policy remains as set out in paragraph 215 of the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1989 Cm. 675-1.
Column 601Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend has no current plans to do so.
74. Mr. Harry Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many mid-air collisions have happened between low-flying aircraft that were not part of the same formation for each of the last 10 years.
|Numbers ------------------------ 1980 |0 1981 |0 1982 |1 1983 |0 1984 |1 1985 |2 1986 |0 1987 |1 1988 |1 1989 |1 1990 |1
117. Mr. Beith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many aircraft have been written off as a result of accidents in low flying training since 1979 ; and what has been the total cost of these aircraft at 1989 prices.
Mr. Neubert : Since 1 January 1979 104 British military aircraft have been written off as a result of accidents while undertaking low flying training. As my hon. Friend the Member for Hove (Mr. Sainsbury) announced on 14 December 1987 (col. 411 ), it is no longer our practice to publish unit production costs. This precludes us from giving the total cost of military aircraft destroyed in accidents over any specified period since, by varying the period, commercial in confidence information could be deduced.
77. Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Department's research contracts are currently placed with United Kingdom universities and other institutions of higher education.
Mr. Neubert : The Ministry of Defence has currently 745 research agreements and 106 research contracts placed with a wide range of United Kingdom universities and other institutions of higher education.
80. Mr. Martlew : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information he has regarding the United States fiscal year 1991 military construction budget for bases and facilities in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : I understand from information provided by the United States authorities that funding approval is being sought from their fiscal year 1991 budget for the following military construction projects in the United Kingdom :
High Wycombe Air Station
Add to and alter dormitories
Add to and alter physical fitness centre
Conventional munitions shop
Field training facility
Satellite communications facility
Add to and alter dormitory
Alter munitions storage
Add to physical fitness centre
Joint Analysis Centre
88. Mr. Ian Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the possible centralisation of the sea systems controllerate and other procurement executive staff within the travel-to- work area of Keynsham and Bath.
Mr. Neubert : Studies have been carried out into the relocation of the procurement executive's land and air systems controllerates and associated staff away from central London, and into the collocation of the sea systems controllerate. We are now consulting the MOD trade union side on the results of these studies, as is usual in such matters. A final decision will be taken only in the light of the outcome of these consultations and a full statement will be made at the appropriate time.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : NATO is considering a number of options for adjusting its remaining nuclear forces following the signature of the INF treaty. These options include the possible deployment to Europe, including the United Kingdom, of longer-range dual capable aircraft from the United States. However, no decisions have yet been taken.
Column 603Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend will be meeting Dr. Stoltenberg in Scotland later this month. I expect that a wide range of issues of mutual interest will be discussed.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Further work is continuing in the light of the Ministry of Defence's consideration of the study by Peat Marwick McLintock into future arrangements for canine and equine-related training in the services.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend has met a number of his principal NATO colleagues over recent weeks. NATO's agreed position of maintaining an appropriate mix of adequate, effective and up-to-date nuclear forces was among a number of items discussed.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : At the request of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and as part of Her Majesty's Government's package of assistance to the Colombian Government, training is being provided to the Colombian law enforcement authorities in a number of areas including bomb disposal, close protection of VIPs and riverine patrolling. Royal Navy vessels in the area are also periodically deployed to provide maritime surveillance assistance to Colombia.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The complement of an infantry battalion varies between about 590 and 680 officers and men according to its specific task at the time. As at 30 November 1989, the average strength across all infantry battalions was just over 580. These figures do not include Gurkha battalions, which have four rifle companies rather than the usual three, or infantry personnel employed in areas outside line battalions.