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Trident

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reply he has made to the representations on the safety of Trident by Scottish CND ; and if he will commission an evaluation of them.

Mr. Hanley : My right hon. and learned Friend has been sent copies of CND's document dated February 1994 entitled "The Safety of Trident". The document contains no new information of real significance, but includes many speculative assumptions and presents a misleading picture of the safety of the United Kingdom Trident programme.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration his Department has given to reducing the number of crews planned for the Trident submarines.

Mr. Hanley : Consideration is being given to the consequences of establishing a crewing level for the Trident force below the two crews per boat allocated to the Polaris force. No final decisions have yet been taken.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the differences between the Polaris and Trident systems in terms of their operational nature.

Mr. Hanley : It has been the policy of successive Governments not to comment on the operational or technical capabilities of our nuclear weapons.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what additional contribution to the United Kingdom's deterrent posture air- delivered bombs provide over and above that provided by Trident ballistic missiles.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the sub- strategic warhead intended for the Trident submarines is the same as its planned strategic warhead.

Mr. Aitken : It is not in the interest of national security to disclose details of the configuration of nuclear weapons.

Eurofighter 2000

Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made regarding Eurofighter 2000.

Mr. Aitken : The first Eurofighter 2000 development aircraft, DA1, made a successful first flight from the Deutsche Aerospace flight test centre in Manching, Germany, on 27 March 1994. The flight of approximately 40 minutes duration incorporated system handling checks ; and the sophisticated quadruplex digital fly-by-wire control system, necessary for this unstable configured aircraft, performed exactly as expected. This achievement represents a significant milestone in the development programme.

The second development aircraft, DA2, is expected to fly very soon at British Aerospace, Warton.


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Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the costs of the Eurofighter 2000 are within budget.

Mr. Aitken : I can confirm that there is sufficient provision within the Ministry of Defence's forward programme for the currently estimated cost of EF2000.

Missile Systems

Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the latest position is regarding Trident, Rapier, Field Standard C and the Warrior.

Mr. Aitken : The Trident programme continues to progress to time and within budget, with the first submarine due to enter service around the turn of the year. The development of Rapier Field Standard C is substantially complete and deliveries of production equipments are under way. Deliveries of Warrior vehicles are due to be completed by the end of the year.

Joint Projects, Europe

Mr. Jim Cunningham : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what new joint defence projects are being developed with the United Kingdom's allies in Europe.

Mr. Aitken : I refer the hon. Member to the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1993" table 12. This lists collaborative projects in which the United Kingdom is involved with our allies. This list will be updated in the "Statement on the Defence Estimates 1994", which will be published shortly.

Residential Properties

Mrs. Roche : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the current average weekly rent for his Department's residential properties, how many of them are empty ; how many empty properties are awaiting sale ; and what is the average period for which those empty properties awaiting sale have lain empty.

Mr. Hanley : Married quarter charges vary according to the type and grade of the property and level of furnishing, while rent for Ministry of Defence civilian houses depends on the size of the property and the terms of occupation. The current overall average weekly rent for my Department's residential properties could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, I can give the following information on the various married quarter charges which are effective from 1 April 1994 :


                         Daily Rates £                  

MQ              |Type   |Grade 1|2      |3              

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

I               |8.83   |8.02   |5.61   |3.54           

II              |7.97   |7.24   |5.07   |3.23           

III (Officers)  |6.99   |6.37   |4.48   |2.87           

IV              |6.14   |5.59   |4.07   |2.59           

V               |5.38   |4.92   |3.53   |2.33           

                                                        

D               |4.28   |3.92   |2.86   |1.85           

C               |3.95   |3.60   |2.63   |1.72           

B (Other Ranks) |3.63   |3.32   |2.42   |2.42           

A               |2.78   |2.54   |1.89   |1.29           

These figures are for fully furnished quarters and therefore represent the highest level of charges. Quarters are also avaialble on an unfurnished or part furnished basis.


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As at 31 December 1993 there were 10,108 vacant married quarters and 151 vacant MOD civilian houses. Of the married quarters, 2,450 were uninhabitable because they were undergoing or awaiting major works, 1,466 were held against future deployments, 1,973 were already allocated to service families who were due to move in shortly and the remainder were available for allocation or under consideration for disposal. In addition, 1,468 vacant married quarters and 25 vacant civilian houses were in the process of being sold. The calculation of the average time for which those empty properties awaiting sale have lain empty could only be carried out at disproportionate cost due to the frequency of service moves and the number of individual records involved.

War Museums

Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many ex-service men are employed in each war museum.

Mr. Hanley : Because of the large number of military museums, many of which independently manage and recruit their own staff, the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The number of curatorial officers employed directly by my Department in military museums is 30, nine of whom are ex-service men.

Field Marshall Sir Richard Vincent

Mr. Alan Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the NATO post being taken up by Field Marshal Sir Richard Vincent was last held by a British officer ; what is the cost of the accommodation in Belgium purchased for his use while holding this post ; what is the scale of the accommodation and what is its intended use ; what alternative accommodation was considered ; and what is the normal period of occupancy of this post.

Mr. Hanley : Prior to Field Marshal Sir Richard Vincent the last British officer to hold the post of CMC NATO was Admiral of the Fleet Sir Peter Hill-Norton from 1974 to 1977. The fully furnished house for Field Marshal Vincent was purchased for BFr 120,000, 000--approximately £2,200,000 at the then rate of exchange. It was not available for leasing unless accompanied by an obligation to purchase at a later date. There is no fixed scale of accommodation for this post which is considered to be an ambassadorial equivalent. The house was selected against the requirement to meet the high profile representational and social duties associated with the post and the security necessary for the most senior NATO and British officer in Brussels. In the process of finding suitable accommodation, 200 houses, either for rent or purchase, were identified and considered, of which 80 were inspected. An investment appraisal conducted at the time demonstrated that purchase of this property represented best value for money. The normal period of occupancy of the post is three years after which the property will be sold.

Kentigern House

Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much it will cost to decant all the staff from Kentigern house, Glasgow, while refurbishment takes place in order to accommodate the Army Personnel Centre in 1996.


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Mr. Hanley : The cost of decanting staff out of Kentigern house will depend on the cost of the alternative accommodation, the options for which are under construction.

Proton Cars

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Proton cars were purchased by his Department in each of the last 10 years for which information is available ; and at what cost.

Mr. Aitken : Information is available readily only from 1991 onwards. The following purchases of Proton cars have been made : 1991 -- Quantity three at an approximate cost of £20,000. 1992 --Quantity five at an approximate cost of £40,000.

1993 --Quantity five at an approximate cost of £35,000.

1994 --None to date.

Official Entertainment

Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total cost of official entertaining in his Department in each year since 1990-91 ; if he will list the receptions held in each year at his Department's expense ; and what was the cost of each reception.

Mr. Hanley : The total cost of official entertainment for the years in question is included within the running cost expenditure for my Department which is published every year in the departmental report ; figures for 1993-94 are not yet available. The entertainment budget is used for a variety of functions including receptions. Separate figures are not kept for individual functions.

Asbestos

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what regulations pertain to the employment of 16-year-old naval ratings on removing asbestos from the boilers of ships ; and when they were introduced.

Mr. Hanley : The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 1969 referred specifically to young persons under the age of 18 and stated that they should not be employed in work connected with asbestos. These were


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revised in 1987. In the revision, young persons were no longer treated as a special case but the provision of specialist training was required and the use of specialist, licensed contractors recommended. It is my Department's practice to use such contractors, and the Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 apply.

Defence Staff

Mr. Trotter : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 11 February, Official Report, column 517 , if he will place in the Library a list of the further service attache and dedicated support staff posts cut since February ; what plans he has to make further reductions in the Attache Corps ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : A table showing the number, location, service and rank of service attache s, defence advisers and support staff cut since 1 February 1994 is being placed in the Library of the House. The size and shape of the Attache Corps is kept under review by my Department and further reductions will be made should it be necessary to do so.

Truck Cargo Vehicles

Mr. Frank Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the mechanical problems with, and alterations made to, the truck cargo heavy duty mark 2 vehicles over the last two years ;

(2) how many unscheduled stops there have been involving truck cargo heavy duty mark 2 vehicles over the last two years ; and if he will provide a breakdown of the circumstances which resulted in these unscheduled stops.

Mr. Hanley : Since they entered service and up to 30 March 1994, there were 20 occasions on which the truck cargo heavy duty mark 2 vehicles were obliged to make unscheduled stops to deal with technical problems. This resulted in some delays in the completion of a few journeys, the circumstances of which are described in the table. Modifications have been fitted, or will be fitted shortly, to rectify a small number of recurring faults on the vehicles. We are confident that the work in hand will improve in-service reliability.


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TCHD Mk 2-unscheduled stops since entering service                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Faults and rectification                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Cause                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Service                                                    |Date                                                      |Location                                                  |Fault                                                     |Quality                                                   |Design                                                    |Rectification                                             |Delay time                                                                                                           

Number                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

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

 1                                                         | 8 November 1992                                          |A68 south of Consett                                      |Overheating brakes                                        |-                                                         |X                                                         |Modify valve design to balance brake pressure             |1 hour 51 minutes                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  |Modification completed on all vehicles (warranty)                                                                                                                               

 2                                                         | 2 December 1992                                          |A602 north of Tonwell                                     |Fumes in cab                                              |-                                                         |-                                                         |Cold start fluid overfill (Operator error)                |25 minutes                                                                                                           

 3                                                         |11 December 1992                                          |A1 Diddington                                             |Alternator light suppressor                               |-                                                         |-                                                         |Alternator replaced but no fault found                    |25 minutes                                                                                                           

 4                                                         |17 December 1992                                          |Honington                                                 |False reading in electrical                               |-                                                         |-                                                         |No fault found                                            |46 minutes                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                 |system                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

 5                                                         |12 February 1993                                          |A404 south of J4 M4                                       |ABS warning light                                         |X                                                         |-                                                         |ABS module replaced (warranty)                            |27 minutes                                                                                                           

 6                                                         |18 February 1993                                          |Wittering                                                 |Air leak cab filter                                       |X                                                         |-                                                         |Filter replaced                                           |10 minutes                                                                                                           

 7                                                         |18 February 1993                                          |Near Burghfield                                           |Electrical system fault                                   |-                                                         |-                                                         |No fault found                                            |20 minutes                                                                                                           

 8                                                         |16 March 1993                                             |A1(M)-J8                                                  |Engine stop spring broken                                 |X                                                         |-                                                         |Spring replaced                                           |20 minutes                                                                                                           

 9                                                         |18 March 1993                                             |B6318 north east of                                       |Temporary warning light                                   |-                                                         |-                                                         |No fault found, fuse replaced                             |28 minutes                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                      |Corbridge                                                 |fuse blown                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

10                                                         | 5 April 1993                                             |A1 near Stilton                                           |ABS warning light fuse                                    |-                                                         |-                                                         |No fault found, fuse replaced                             |28 minutes                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                                                                 |blown                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

11                                                         |18 May 1993                                               |M6-south of J18                                           |Fuel pump shaft sheared                                   |X                                                         |-                                                         |Fuel pumps replaced all vehicles (warranty)               |3 hours 20 minutes                                                                                                   

12                                                         |18 May 1993                                               |A898(T) just north of                                     |Exhaust brake sticking                                    |X                                                         |-                                                         |Foot switch replaced. Stripped and cleaned by Foden       |2 hours 1 minute                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                      |Erskine Bridge                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

13                                                         |25 June 1993                                              |A43 near Stamford                                         |Exhaust brake sticking                                    |X                                                         |-                                                         |Foot switch replaced. Stripped and cleaned by Foden       |4 hours 14 minutes                                                                                                   

14                                                         |14 August 1993                                            |A74 near Moffat                                           |Compressor oil pipe leaking                               |-                                                         |X                                                         |Improved design fitted to all vehicles                    |1 hour 30 minutes                                                                                                    

15                                                         | 9 September 1993                                         |A45 east of Cambridge                                     |Wiper arm loose                                           |X                                                         |-                                                         |Are re-tightened                                          |10 minutes                                                                                                           

16                                                         | 6 October 1993                                           |M1 north of J28                                           |Throttle spring broken                                    |X                                                         |-                                                         |Spring replaced                                           |20 minutes                                                                                                           

17                                                         |15 October 1993                                           |Near Burghfield                                           |Brakes pulling left                                       |-                                                         |-                                                         |Due to driving through water, operator error              |20 minutes                                                                                                           

18                                                         |25 November 1993                                          |A1(M) south of                                            |Fuel pump drive failure                                   |X                                                         |-                                                         |Fuel pump replaced                                        |1 hour 32 minutes                                                                                                    

                                                                                                                      |Durham                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

19                                                         | 9 December 1993                                          |M25 south of J18                                          |Secondary alternator failure                              |-                                                         |-                                                         |Tractor unit replaced. Alternator replaced. Failure under |2 hours 13 minutes                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  |investigation                                                                                                                                                                   

20                                                         |29 January 1994                                           |M1 north of J23                                           |Fan belt shredded due to two                              |-                                                         |-                                                         |Tractor unit replaced. Failure under investigation        |1 hour                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                 |detached alternator cooling                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                 |fan blades                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                 |Pressurisation failures:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                 |(Replacement tractor unit)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                                 |1. Damaged plastic stub                                   |Umbilical connector replaced. Improved design to be fitted                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                                                 |pipe in umbilical connector                               |to all vehicles                                           |42 minutes                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                                 |2. Air leak from valve in                                 |2. Leak sealed                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

                                                                                                                                                                                 |cab                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Nuclear Warheads (Transportation)

Mr. Frank Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he has to investigate the possibility of transport nuclear warheads currently transported by road convoys by (a) sea and (b) other forms of transport.

Mr. Aitken : I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 14 December 1993, Official Report, column 633, to the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan).

Air Training Corps

Mr. Llwyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been (a) the total spending on the Air Training Corps and (b) spending on the Air Training Corps as a percentage of the overall defence budget in each of the last five years, at constant prices.

Mr. Hanley : Total expenditure by my Department on the Air Training Corps is available only for the last three financial years. The figures, at financial year 1993-94 prices, are as follows :


Financial year |£ million                    

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

1991-92        |29.2                         

1992-93        |30.0                         

1993-94        |29.1                         

As a percentage of the overall defence budget this represents the following percentages :


Financial year |Per cent.                    

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

1991-92        |0.117                        

1992-93        |0.123                        

1993-94        |0.124                        

Local Government Legislation

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the Acts of Parliament and consolidation Acts that affect local government which have been introduced by his Department since 1990.

Mr. Aitken : Since 1990 my Department has sponsored the following Acts, none of which have a direct effect on local government : Atomic Weapons Establishment Act 1991

Armed Forces Act 1991

Army Act 1992

Representation of the People Act 1993

Swan Hunter

Dr. Hampson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information he has regarding the relationship of the French company, Constructions


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Mechaniques de Normandie bidding for Swan Hunter, and the Triacorp International Company and the financial property of the latter's owners and action taken in respect of them by the Bank of France ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Aitken : As a company new to United Kingdom defence contracting, the owners of CMN have been asked to provide my Department with details of the proposed company structure, lines of finance, company background and other information on their financial and other status in respect of their prospective bid for Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd., in administrative receivership. I await their response.

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will publish in the Official Report the terms of the assurances his Department has been asked to give in the context of Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie's prospective bid for Swan Hunter. (2) if he will publish in the Official Report the terms of all the assurances his Department has given in the context of Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie's prospective bid for Swan Hunter.

Mr. Aitken : In respect of the owners of CMN's constructive bid for Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd., in administrative receivership, I have been asked for assurances and have given the following response : We have no objection, in principle, to foreign ownership of Swan Hunter and that, in the event that CMN should purchase Swan Hunters, we would require CMN to guarantee that all MOD designated build, outfit and refit work would have to be carried out in the United Kingdom ; that we would expect CMN to form a properly constituted and adequately managed United Kingdom subsidiary to operate the business ; that this company should be adequately funded and provided with acceptable parental company or bank guarantees of performance to match the level of work bid for and that the company would need to satisfy our national security procedures and MOD quality assurance requirements and provide information on their financial status. Subject to the above, the new company would be eligible to bid on equal terms with other United Kingdom companies for future MOD warshipbuilding and refit work but that MOD could only place orders with Swan Hunter if the company is on a sound financial footing and is able to offer acceptable terms and conditions and guarantees of performance. MOD orders will only be placed on the basis of competition and that they therefore need to make competitive, fully compliant bids if they are to win orders.

We are prepared, in principle, to novate the Type 23 frigate contract subject to our company ownership conditions being satisfied and the agreement of satisfactory contractual terms and conditions. We will continue to support Swan Hunter's efforts to win export orders for warships of United Kingdom origin.

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made as to whether Constructions Mecaniques de Normandie can meet each of the conditions required of companies seeking to be allowed to compete for his Department's contracts.


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Mr. Aitken : The prospective purchasers of Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd., in administrative receivership, have been asked to provide the information which we would normally seek from a company wishing to contract with my Department for the first time. I await their response.

RAF Benson

Dr. Reid : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total cost to his Department, including value added tax, of refurbishing McKee house at RAF Benson.

Mr. Hanley : The total cost, including value added tax, of refurbishing and extending McKee house at RAF Benson was £265,739.

Dr. Reid : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the costs incurred by his Department during the refurbishment of McKee house at RAF Benson, including value added tax, were allocated to (a) the construction of an extension, (b) soft furnishings, (c) light fittings, (d) alterations to bathrooms and (e) alterations to the kitchen.

Mr. Hanley : The proportion of costs, including value added tax, incurred during the refurbishment of McKee house at RAF Benson for each criteria is as follows :


£                                            |per cent.                    

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

Construction of extension                    |66,593   |25.6               

Soft Furnishings                             |21,519   |8.1                

Light Fittings                               |2,536    |1.0                

Alterations to Bathrooms and Kitchens                                      

 (including rewiring, replacement of Central                               

  heating and new boilers)                   |150,414  |56.6               

                                                                           

The remaining expenditure was as follows:                                  

Contractor Fees                              |20,959   |7.9                

External Works                               |3,718    |1.4                

Dr. Reid : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the size of the original budget approved by his Department for the refurbishment of McKee house at RAF Benson.

Mr. Hanley : As there was no existing official service residence at RAF Benson, it was necessary to convert and extend married quarters for the purpose. There was no specific budget for this work but the original estimate of costs in March 1993, including value added tax and fees, was £117,800. The project was financed from the property management allocation for RAF Benson, which included funds to cover the additional property management costs, including the refurbishment of McKee house, incurred as a result of the move of Headquarters 1 Group RAF to RAF Benson.

Competitive Tendering

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish in the Official Report the conditions which industrial companies must satisfy before they are allowed to compete for his Department's contracts.

Mr. Aitken : Officials in my Department would aim to invite tenders only from companies considered competent to carry out the resulting contract. The criteria that they


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would use would vary depending on the nature and value of the work to be performed but would usually include the need for a proper quality management system--for example BS5750--and, for larger -value contracts, some check on the company's financial standing.

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what period his Department requires between the closing date for the submission of tenders for his Department's contracts and the notification to all competing contractors of the outcome of the competition.

Mr. Aitken : There is no standard period : it is dependent on the circumstances of individual procurements.

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department takes to establish that, in cases where a non-United Kingdom -owned company is bidding for his Department's contracts, national security is adequately protected.

Mr. Aitken : A foreign-owned company based in the United Kingdom which is interested in bidding for an MOD clasified contract will be subject to specific security checks prior to the release of any classified information. It will also be required to comply with or implement such additional security procedures as may be required by my Department. This ensures that the classified information is protected from access by foreign nationals.

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in what circumstances his Department will place a contract on a basis other than for its normal value-for-money criteria.

Mr. Aitken : My Department places virtually all its contracts in accordance with our assessment of value for money in the broad sense. Possible exceptions to this would include the need to meet an urgent operational requirement and national security considerations.

Trident

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration his Department has given to maintaining the fourth Trident submarine in a state of extended readiness ; and what would be the likely cost implications.

Mr. Aitken : The Government remain committed to operating a four- boat Trident force. Estimates of the cost implications of placing a boat at extended readiness are therefore not available.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what strategic rationale exists, during peacetime, to maintain more than (i) one Trident submarine at sea at any one time or (ii) two Trident submarines at sea at any one time.

Mr. Hanley : It has been the policy of successive Governments to maintain at least one ballistic missile submarine on deterrent patrol at all times while not commenting on actual numbers at sea.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department will retain the capability to deploy more than its currently planned number of warheads on Trident should future circumstances require it.


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Mr. Aitken : Our announcement of a revised ceiling on the maximum number of warheads to be deployed on our Trident submarines does not affect the technical capabilities of the system.

Sir Bedivere

Mr. Colvin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to be able to announce the outcome of the competition to carry out the ship life extension programme for the landing ship Sir Bedivere.

Mr. Aitken : I hope to be able to make an announcement during the summer.

Polaris

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether the decommissioning of HMS Revenge involved the removal of Polaris missiles or nuclear warheads from operational service ;

(2) what work his Department has undertaken to dismantle Polaris missiles and warheads that have been withdrawn from operational service.

Mr. Aitken : No Polaris missiles or nuclear warheads have yet been withdrawn from operational service, although work on the disposal of surplus components has commenced. Preparatory work on the withdrawal of missiles and warheads is progressing.

WE177 Warheads

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when his Department expects to complete the dismantlement of those WE177 warheads that have been withdrawn from operational service ; what is the cost incurred to date ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Aitken : The dismantlement of those WE177 warheads that have been withdrawn from operational service is due to be completed by the end of next year. It is not our practice to disclose costs of nuclear warhead programmes.

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the continuing strategic rationale for maintaining the WE177 alongside the Trident submarines until 2007.

Mr. Aitken : Trident will have the capacity to contribute to the sub -strategic role on entering service, but we judge that in current circumstances WE177 will continue to make a worthwhile contribution to our overall deterrent posture for a number of years.

Nuclear Warheads

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the transfer of the United Kingdom's sub-strategic nuclear capability from air- delivered bombs to ballistic missiles will allow a reduction in the overall number of nuclear warheads deployed operationally by the United Kingdom.

Mr. Aitken : It has been the policy of successive Governments not to comment on the number of nuclear warheads deployed by the United Kingdom.

Defence Accounts Agency

Mr. Lidington : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has begun his review of the Defence Accounts Agency.


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Mr. Aitken : A review of the agency status of the Defence Accounts Agency--DAA is now under way. As a "next steps" agency the performance of DAA will be elevated and DAA activities will be subjected to the normal "prior options" tests set out in the 1993 "next steps review, Cm 2430.

Comments and contributions from those with an interest in DAA and its work would be welcome and should be sent by 3 June 1994 to Mr. Pat Fitzgibbon, DAA Review Project, Ministry of Defence, Northumberland House, Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5BP.


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