Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Prime Minister what record his Office has of telephone conversations held between his predecessor and Mr. Frank Machon of Glasgow in (a) October 1988, (b) February 1989 and (c) March 1989.
The Prime Minister : This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall be having further meetings later today.
Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what medical evidence he has received from the doctor accompanying the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) on his recent visit to Iraq, from Harvard medical school, and from the hon. Members for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway) and for Linlithgow ; and if he will reconsider his policy on United Nations sanctions against Iraq.
The Prime Minister : We have received various reports about the health conditions in Iraq and are aware that they continue to deteriorate. No medical evidence was passed to us by the doctor accompanying the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath) on his recent visit to Iraq.
Medical supplies have never been subject to sanctions. Our quarrel is not with the people of Iraq but with Saddam's regime.
The Security Council again concluded on 18 January that there were no grounds for lifting sanctions against Iraq.
Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Prime Minister what public funds are currently made available (a) through the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and (b) through other channels to finance the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body ; what has been the level of such fundings in each of the years since it commenced ; what is the purpose of those funds ; what information he has relating to the expenditure by that body upon travel, hotel accommodation and refreshments in each of those years ; by whom that expenditure was incurred ; and if he will make a statement.
The Prime Minister [holding answer 17 January 1994] : The British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body is funded jointly by the British Government, through a grant in aid from Her Majesty's Treasury administered by the British group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and by the Irish Government's Department of Foreign Affairs. The body was established in 1990 to provide a forum for British and Irish parliamentarians to discuss Anglo-Irish relations. Twenty-five Members of Parliament and 25 members of the Oireachtas belong. Two plenary conferences are held each year, one in the United Kingdom and one in Ireland. There is a steering committee and four separate committees tasked to study and prepare reports on a range of issues including political, economic, social, cultural, educational and environmental matters. Since 1990 British Government expenditure has been as follows :
| £ ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1989-90 Total expenditure |46,757 Accommodation |7,006 Travel/transport |1,442 Refreshments |8,489 1990-91 Total expenditure |64,998 Accommodation |639 Travel/transport |10,826 Refreshments |2,539 1991-92 Total expenditure |98,310 Accommodation |16,150 Travel/transport |23,280 Refreshments |11,214 1992-93 Total expenditure |78,352 Accommodation |9,616 Travel/transport |13,798 Refreshments |4,814 1993-94 Final expenditure figures for the year are not yet available but are forecast to fall within the budget.
Mr. Tyler : To ask the Prime Minister when he will reply to the letter of 18 January 1993 from the hon. Member for North Cornwall on the subject of compensation for Gulf war widows ; and if he will give reasons for the delay.
Column 813from my principal private secretary and from me. I am aware, however, that a decision is awaited on the matter at issue and I hope that conclusions can be reached shortly.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many land mines were exported to the former Yugoslavia from 1975 to the imposition of the trade embargo ; and what information he has as to their deployment.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the benefits to the United Kingdom of continued membership of (a) NATO, (b) the Western European Union and (c) politico- military co-operation within the European Union ; and what is the annual cost of United Kingdom participation in each defence organisation.
Mr. Hanley : This Government are committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation--NATO--which remains essential to peace and stability in Europe, and is the principal guarantor of our security. We also support the development of a European security and defence identity compatible with NATO, and will therefore continue to play a full part in developing the Western European Union--WEU--as a means of strengthening the European pillar of NATO and as the defence component of the European Union. As a member of the European Union, the United Kingdom will participate in the development of a common foreign and security policy--CFSP. Under the terms of the treaty on European Union, issues with defence implications are for the WEU to elaborate and implement. Decisions in this area must be compatible with the security and defence policies of NATO.
As to the annual costs, I will write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information he has regarding the total quantity of military grade fissile materials in the Ukraine ; and what are the comparable data for the United Kingdom stockpile.
Mr. Aitken : We do not believe that weapon-grade fissile material is held in Ukraine other than that embodied in former Soviet nuclear warheads still on Ukrainian territory. It would not be in the national interest to make public details of the amount of weapon-grade fissile material held by the United Kingdom. We do not hold significant stocks of fissile material which is not required for our operational stockpile of weapons.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many letters he has received from members of the public on the export of arms, military and dual-use equipment to Iraq and Iran since November 1990 ; and what has been the average length of time taken to respond to the inquiries.
Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many questions to him for (a) ordinary written answer and (b) priority written answer have been answered within one working day since October 1993.
Mr. Hanley : From 18 October 1993 to 13 January this year, 49 questions for ordinary written answer have been answered within one working day of the day on which they are tabled for answer. Within the same time scale, 306 questions for priority written answer or for answer on named days have been answered within one working day.
Mr. Hanley : A number of options remain under consideration for the long term accommodation of the Naval Support Command headquarters. The decision on the way forward will be taken in the light of the outcome of the defence costs study currently in hand.
Mr. Hanley : Studies have shown that the integration of functions which are presently geographically dispersed into the Naval Support Command headquarters will produce significant operational and financial benefits. The business case for this change remains robust, and I see no reason to reconsider it. Options for housing the collocated headquarters in the Bath area include making use of existing MOD sites.
Column 815headquarters at Abbey Wood have been placed, and work is proceeding to time and cost. On current assumptions, occupation of the new facilities will begin in the autumn of 1995 and will be completed a year later.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times he and his predecessors have attended the annual general meeting of International Military Services Ltd. since 1984 ; on how many occasions he was represented by others ; and on how many occasions he was neither present nor represented.
Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when negotiations on contract specifications for the landing platform helicopter contract awarded in 1993 began ; how many proposed specification changes have so far been requested ; and how many of these changes were asked for by his Department.
Mr. Aitken : Post contract award discussions with VSEL have begun. As the design progresses, it is normal for a number of changes to the detail of the specification to be discussed. So far two minor changes have been agreed, one of which was requested by my Department.
Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make arrangements for the Data Protection Registrar to inspect relevant contracts with suppliers of IT services that involve the use of personal data held by his Department in order to check whether all appropriate arrangements in relation to the Data Protection Act 1984 have been made, and whether such contracts make provisions for the registrar to make random inspections in order to check the suppliers' compliance in with the eighth data protection principle.
Mr. Aitken : The Data Protection Registrar has a wide range of powers, under the Data Protection Act 1984, to ensure that all individuals and organisations holding personal data on computer systems are registered and observe the data protection principles as required by the Act. When IT services are contracted out by a data user, the contractor and the user will be subject to the application of the data protection principles, and the registrar's powers to
Column 816ensure compliance with them, as provided for in the Act. It is for the registrar to decide how he will use his powers under the Act, and I do not consider that further arrangements are necessary for him to discharge his duties effectively.
Mr. Hanley : The reduction of £25,000 in the cost of providing ministerial cars since 1990-91 is due essentially to the number of Ministers in the Department falling from five to four since 1990-91, resulting in a cost saving of £11,000, and the return to normal usage following heightened ministerial requirements during the Gulf conflict, which accounts for a reduction of £14,000.
Mr. Hanley : It is not the Government's practice to publish their assessments of the strengths of the armed forces of other states. The principal public source of such information is "The Military Balance", issued annually by the International Institute for Strategic Studies and widely regarded as authoritative.
Mr. Hanley : Assuming the hon. Member is referring to NATO's partnership for peace initiative, we expect the costs of the programme to be shared between allies and those states who chose to participate on terms which are being developed.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the locations in the United Kingdom low flying system where low flying regulations require aircrew to make radio contact with air traffic control at a civilian airfield prior to or during transit of a specified area ; and which civil airfields possess UHF radio facilities for this purpose.
Mr. Hanley : The low flying regulations require military aircrews to contact the following civilian airfields prior to or during transit of specified areas within the United Kingdom low flying system : Aberdeen, Dunsfold, Farnborough and Keevil. All these airfields possess UHF radio facilities.
Column 817flying routes. In accordance with the United Kingdom low flying regulations, such routes are replaced at regular intervals.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at what level of command assessments are made of the minimum amounts of low flying required to acquire and maintain the necessary skills ; what criteria are used in these assessments ; and if he will make a statement on the current specified minimum requirement for low flying training in the continuation training syllabuses for (a) the Tornado GR1 and (b) the Tornado F3.
Mr. Hanley : Assessments of the minimum amounts of low flying required to acquire and maintain the necessary skills are made by Service Command and Group Headquarters. The criteria used in such assessments include variations in average aircrew ability and experience, the type of aircraft, its role and projected changes in its role. The current minimum requirement for low flying continuation training for all military aircraft, including the Tornado GR1 and Tornado F3, is based on the experience of specialist air staffs taking these factors into account.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in what year the Hawk aircraft was first authorised for flight in the United Kingdom low flying system at less than 250 ft ; what is the current minimum authorised altitude for this aircraft type in the Royal Air Force ; and if he will make a statement on the nature of the operational requirement for flying at less than 250 ft by Royal Air Force Hawks.
Mr. Hanley : Hawk aircraft have not been authorised to fly at less than 250 ft ins the United Kingdom low flying system. The current minimum authorised altitude for the aircraft is 100 ft above ground level, but this is reserved for the synchronised pair of the Royal Air Force aerobatic team and would be flown only within an airfield traffic zone or temporary restricted airspace. An operational requirement exists for Hawk aircraft to fly at less than 250 ft within designated air weapons ranges, but this does not extend to the United Kingdom low flying system.
Mr. Hanley : As a result of experience gained during the Gulf conflict the air warfare centre--AWC--was formed on 1 October 1993. The AWC draws together several existing organisations to provide the focus for all RAF air warfare matters including the study of and training in air warfare doctrine.
Mr. Hanley : The Tornado GR1B squadrons will be declared to NATO in both the martime attack and overland strike/attack roles and as such aircrew will be required to maintain currency in all these roles.
Range and Types of Weaponry Approved for Release
Guided Missiles and Guns
Practice bombs and Inert bombs
Guns, Rockets, Practice bombs and Inert bombs
Garvie Island/Cape Wrath
Bombs and Guided Missiles
Guns, Rockets, Practice bombs, Inert bombs and Guided Missiles Larkhill
High Explosive bombs, Practice bombs, Guns, Rockets and Guided Missiles
Guided Missiles and Guns
Guided Missiles and Guns
Guns and Practice bombs
Rockets, Practice bombs and Inert bombs
Salisbury Plain Training Area
Guided Missiles and Guns
Guns, Rockets, Practice bombs and Inert bombs