Mr. Hanley : As indicated in my answer to the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) on 20 July 1993, Official Report, column 191, the Army invited applications from volunteers for the third phase of its redundancy programme which implements the reduction in the size of the Army under proposals first announced in 1990. These applications have now been considered against the requirement to achieve the required size of the Army for the nineties while retaining the right age and skill structure for the future, taking account of the manpower addback announced by the Secretary of State on 1 December last year. A total of 720 officers and 6,295 soldiers have now been selected for redundancy in 1994-95. Some 85 per cent. of these have volunteered for redundancy, but it will be necessary to select 142 officers and 953 soldiers for compulsory redundancy. All those selected for redundancy will be notified on 24 February 1994.
Mr. Hanley : As part of our continuing programme of assistance in Belize, my Department has identified a substantial package of equipment which we plan to hand over to the Government of Belize, once it is no longer needed by British forces based there. We expect the provision of this equipment will greatly assist in the development of the Belize defence force. In accordance with normal practice, my Department has today laid before the House a departmental minute giving notice of our intention to make this gift.
Mr. Aitken : Project Definition studies for the landing platform dock--replacement--are due to complete this spring when we will make a decision on the issue of an invitation to tender for the design and build of the first of class. A contract has recently been awarded for further project definition work on the command system for the vessel.
Mr. Aitken : The Government plan to replace the type 42 destroyer with the common new generation frigate around the turn of the century and intend to replace fully the capability currently provided by the type 42 destroyers.
Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to commence the project definition phase for the replacement of the Invincible class aircraft carriers ; and when these replacements will come into service.
Mr. Aitken : Under current plans, the Royal Navy's Invincible class aircraft carriers will continue in service well into the next century. Although concept studies for a replacement have commenced, project definition work is unlikely to begin before the end of the decade.
Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how long the (a) RFA O class, (B) T class and (c) Rover class fleet auxiliaries have been in service with the Royal Navy ; and what plans he has to procure new fleet auxiliary vessels.
(a) The RFA O class consists of two fleet tankers, one of which came into service in 1965, the other in 1966 ;
(b) The RFA T class are no longer in service with the Royal Navy ;
(c) The RFA ROVER class consists of three fleet tankers, one of which came into service in 1970, the other two came into service in 1974.
In addition to the two new auxiliary oiler replenishment ships, Fort George and Fort Victoria, which are due to enter service in the next few months, we expect to invite tenders shortly for a feasibility study for the replacement of the O class front-line tankers. The study will look at a wide range of procurement options, with the replacement ships currently planned to enter service around the turn of the century. Additionally, a suitable tanker taken up from trade is planned to enter service before the end of the decade.
Mr. Nicholas Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the vessels in the Royal Navy that are currently operational, including fleet auxiliaries ; and what was the date of construction of each vessel.
Mr. Hanley : As construction dates are not readily available, the attached list of vessels currently operational gives either the date vessels were accepted from builders by the Royal Navy or the royal fleet auxiliary--new build vessels--or the date ships were commissioned--vessels taken up from trade.
sel taken up from trade-date given is commissioning date.
Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many contracts were placed by his Department in the financial years 1991-92 and 1992-93 ; and how many were subject to increases in cost caused by delays.
Financial year |Number --------------------------------------------- 1991-92 |73,326 1992-93 |79,593
Information as to the numbers of contracts subject to increases in cost caused by delays is not held centrally and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why the annual Royal Marine arctic warfare exercise is not to be held in Norway this year ; where it will be held : at what saving to public funds ; whether he plans to resume Royal Marine exercising in Norway in 1995 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : The annual Royal Marine arctic warfare training exercise is currently taking place in north Norway : 42 Commando Group is participating, with Sea King helicopters from 846 Naval Air Squadron, and the royal fleet auxiliary ships, Sir Tristram, Sir Galahad and Sir Bedivere. The training will culminate in 42 Commando Group participating in the Norwegian Brigade North exercise Arctic Express. On current plans, the annual training will continue in 1994.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 7 February, Official Report, column 112, what further delay has arisen to the deployment of HMS Birmingham to the Adriatic as a result of the failure of her Sea Dart system ; what are the operational implications for the carrier group of the continued detachment of HMS Coventry to embargo operations ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : HMS Birmingham's departure for the Adriatic was delayed by a further six days because of problems relating to her Sea Dart missile system. HMS Coventry will continue to fulfil her Stanavforlant duties until HMS Birmingham's imminent arrival in theatre. HMS Coventry's continuing detachment has no operational implications for the carrier group as she would be released for national tasks if required.
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 7 February, Official Report, column 112, what has been the outcome of the discussions between the United Nations, Croatian customs authorities and the master of RFA Sir Geraint over the error in the ship's manifest relating to munitions ; whether any costs fall to be paid by Her Majesty's Government ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : This matter was resolved following discussions between United Nation's officials and the Croatian Government ; no blame has ben attributed to the Master of RFA Sir Geraint. The incident did not result in any costs being incurred by Her Majesty's Government.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to discuss the deployment of additional military forces in Bosnia with his NATO and UN counterparts ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence will continue to discuss the possible deployment of additional forces in Bosnia with his NATO and UN counterparts. It remains our view that contributions to the United Nations force in Bosnia should be drawn from a wide range of countries.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 11 February, Official Report, column 519, what requests he has received from the United Nations for the provision of mortar-locating radar ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : The United Kingdom, together with a number of other nations, has received a request from the UN to provide military personnel and equipment to help support the demilitarisation of Sarajevo. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 17 February 1994, the British Government has agreed, a part of its assistance package, to provide a 60-strong Cymbeline mortar-locating troop. The troop deployed from the United Kingdom, through Vitez to arrive in Sarajevo on 22 February 1994.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 11 February, Official Report, column 519, what detailed information he has relating to the deployment of Dutch, Malaysian and Pakistani forces in Bosnia ; and if he will make a statement.
1 Signals Battalion at HQ Bosnia-Herzegovina Command, Kiseljak, Bosnia.
Role : Communications and HQ Support.
1 joint Dutch/Belgian transport battalion at Santici near Vitez, Bosnia.
Role : Secondary Distribution of humanitarian aid.
50 UN Military Observers.
Total-- = 632.
2 Companies and Battalion HQ at Srebrenica, Bosnia.
1 Company at Zepa, Bosnia.
1 Logistic Support Company at Lukavac, Bosnia.
Role : Monitoring safe areas and supporting the provision of humanitarian aid.
Additional Total-- = 1,020.
The deployment of these troops is due to commence on 24 February and should be complete by 15 March. An advance party is already in place.
Column 226(b) Malaysian
1 Company at Sarajevo, Bosnia.
1 Company at Konjic, Bosnia.
1 Company and Battalion HQ at Medugorje, Bosnia.
Role : Support for provision of humanitarian aid.
20 UN Military Observers.
Total-- = 858.
30 UN Military Observers .
Pakistan is planning to send a battalion group in support of UNPROFOR in April/May. Details of numbers and locations are still to be confirmed.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 11 February, Official Report, column 519, if he will give details of all of the contacts he has had with his NATO counterparts relating to the situation in Bosnia in the last 14 days ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has had a number of contacts with his counterparts during the last 14 days to discuss the situation in Bosnia. In particular, on 21 February he met the Defence Ministers of the United States, France, Italy, and the Netherlands in Aviano, Italy, to review the operational readiness of their forces, the rules of engagement, and the plans for co-ordination between NATO air units and UNPROFOR ground units.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date and at what time he first learned of the offer by the Russian Government to deploy additional troops to the Sarajevo area ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : During the visits of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to Russia, they held discussions with Mr. Yeltsin and Mr. Grachev at which the Russian administration indicated its willingness to co-operate with the United Nations and assist UNPROFOR in its task. The possibility of contributing Russian troops to maintain the ceasefire and assist with the demilitarisation of Sarajevo was also discussed, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence was informed of these discussions on their return.
The Attorney-General : Sentences imposed for offences involving the incitement of racial hatred contrary to part III of the Public Order Act 1986 are not subject to my power of review under the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
Mr. John M. Taylor : It was estimated that in the current year expenditure would be £43 million lower than it otherwise would have been as a result of the eligibility changes. Volumes of legal aid certificates issued and green form bills paid are in line with estimates.
Miss Lestor : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many children aged nine years or above were represented in proceedings by the Official Solicitor in the latest year for which figures are available ; how many of them are known to have requested alternative representation ; and what were the results of their requests.
Mr. John M. Taylor : Between 1 January and 31 December 1993 the Official Solicitor represented 537 children aged nine years or above in family proceedings. Although the precise number who sought alternative representation could be established only at disproportionate cost, it is known that 15 children made such requests. Of these, eight were accepted and separate representation approved by the court, four were not proceeded with, two are still pending and one was rejected by the court on the grounds that the child was not competent to instruct his own solicitor.
The Council had a first discussion of the 1994 farm price proposals. The discussion was televised and relayed direct to representatives of the press. I expressed the United Kingdom's initial reaction to the proposals, noting in particular the need for the Council's decisions to accord with budgetary discipline. The Council will examine the proposals in greater detail at its next session.
The Council adopted unanimously two decisions permitting France and Italy to pay national aids for wine distillation in the 1993-94 marketing year. I took the opportunity to obtain confirmation from Commissioner Steichen that the Commission had initiated the procedure to confirm that one of the French national aids to the pig sector was incompatible with the treaty, and I pressed him to act quickly on the other.
Mr. Etherington : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans she has to ensure that additional resources will be made available to the nature conservation agencies for monitoring the special interest of special areas of conservation under the EC habitats and species directive.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 21 February, Official Report, column 77.
Mr. Etherington : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many cases of poisoning from (a) comfrey and (b) comfrey products have occurred for each year since 1983 and until the end of 1992 ; and if she will list the number of cases of poisoning reported each month during 1993 and the latest available figures for 1994.
There have been no reports of poisoning attributed to comfrey or comfrey products in England. However, comfrey contains substances known to cause liver damage and there have been reports in international literature of disease associated with its consumption. The national poisons information service has recorded 16 inquiries about the possible effects of exposure to comfrey or its products since 1983.
Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people were employed in the financial and business sector in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) each region in each year between 1983 and 1993.
Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what assessment he has made of the effect on companies in receivership of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981.
Mr. Michael Forsyth : The regulations give effect to the EC acquired rights directive. The directive and the regulations are both capable of applying to transfers of businesses or parts of businesses in receivership as well as to solvent undertakings. Insolvency practitioners have made many representations about the adverse effect of the regulations on the prospects for the sale of all or part of an insolvent business, whereby businesses which might otherwise have been rescued have been liquidated and jobs have been lost. The Government believe that this is a clear example of EC legislation having a detrimental effect on employment and have brought this to the attention of the European Commission.
Mr. David Hunt : None. In the United States of America individual states are free to set minimum wage rates above those provided under the Fair Labor Standards Acts 1938. This arrangement has resulted in a range of different minimum rates being set. Therefore, there is no single statutory minimum rate in the United States of America.
Mr. Eggar : The contract with N. M. Rothschild and Sons Ltd. for the provision of financial advice on coal privatisation commenced in May 1991. On grounds of commercial confidentiality, the cost of individual pieces of work in not released. Total expenditure by the Department of Energy in connection with the privatisation of the coal industry in 1991-92 was £3.3 million.