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Submarine Nuclear Reactor Cores

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what communications he has had with the nuclear transport licensing authorities regarding the temporary use of commercial containers to transport used submarine nuclear reactor cores.

Mr. Aitken : The contract to procure two commercial containers to transport used submarine nuclear reactor cores requires the contractor to provide the containers fully licensed for the purpose required. As such the request and approval of a licence is a matter between the contractor and the nuclear licensing authority.

Aldermaston

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what functions the A45 building at Aldermaston will carry out once the A90 building is fully operational.

Mr. Aitken : It is not our general policy to disclose details of the role and function of individual buildings at Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston. Howevever, manufacture of a variety of components and assemblies not being transferred to building A90 will continue to be produced in A45.

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the radiation leak at AWE Aldermaston on 24 March.

Mr. Aitken : On 24 March 1994 during planned maintenance in a laboratory a quantity of radioactive material was disturbed. Monitoring of protective clothing worn by the two individuals involved revealed that there was slight radioactive contamination on their overshoes. Subsequent monitoring by AWE medical staff has confirmed that the two individuals received radiation dose levels equivalent to a small fraction of the annual permissible dose limit. External monitoring outside the building has confirmed that there was no release of radioactive material into the environment. As part of normal procedure the Health and Safety Executive has been informed.

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the last full safety assessment of the A45 building at Aldermaston was made.

Mr. Aitken : The safety of all buildings at AWE Aldermaston, including A45, is under constant review. A full safety assessment of building A45 was conducted in late 1988 and further safety reviews of the facility have been carried out at regular intervals.

Ammunition

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what use has been made by United Kingdom forces since 1981, of 155 mm ammunition rounds.

Mr. Hanley : There are two types of 155 mm ammunition currently in use with the British Army. They are the United States designed M107 and the European designed--United Kingdom/Germany/Italy L15. Although records of usage are not available for the period in question, it is estimated that some 44,000 L15 rounds have been used since 1990 and some 223,000 M107 rounds since 1985.


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Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether British tank forces use 105 mm and 120 mm rounds.

Mr. Hanley : No, to the former ; yes, to the latter.

Service Pensions

Mr. Lidington : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his estimate of the cost to public funds which would be incurred by uprating all service pensions in payment to the level of such pensions awarded today.

Mr. Hanley : The information which would be necessary to make this calculation is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at inordinate cost.

Optical Surveillance Technology

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether satellite and related optical surveillance technology represents a strategic national security interest.

Mr. Hanley : Yes.

David Hart

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether David Hart has any access to (a) confidential papers and (b) facilities and resources of his Department.

Mr. Hanley : Mr. David Hart is one of a number of advisors from outside the Ministry of Defence who provide informal advice to the Secretary of State, and who are involved in the work of the defence cost study. These outsiders may see classified papers under strictly controlled arrangements where this is directly relevant to the work they are doing. Such advisors have no independent call on the facilities and resources of the Department, although they do discuss matters with Departmental officials.

Offset Programme

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if projects approved as part of the offset programme are subject to export licence, COCOM and missile technology control regime controls.

Mr. Aitken : Yes.

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates delegations to Saudi Arabia were organised by the Offset Office ; and if he will list the members of those delegations.

Mr. Aitken : The British Offset Office has arranged two high-level visits to Saudi Arabia to promote Al Yamamah Offset. The members of the first delegation, which visited from 16-21 February 1990, were : Mr. Roy AllenICI

Mr. Cedric BrownBritish Gas

Sir James CraigSaudi British Bank

Mr. Alec DalyGKN

Sir Ronald GriersonGEC

Mr. George Moody-StuartBooker Tate

Mr. Alan NickallsNEI International Ltd.

Mr. Gilbert PhillipsPilkington

Mr. Michael RouseBritish Aerospace

Mr. Richard TurnerSTC

The second delegation visited from 3 to 9 May 1991. Its members were :


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Mr. Richard BarnesBritish Aerospace

Mr. Tony BelisarioDowty Defence and Air Systems

Mr. Antony BruceJohn Brown

The Hon. David Douglas-HomeMorgan Grenfell International Mr. John ElliottBurmah Castrol

Mr. John HillWessex Water

Mr. John LawrenceThorn Security

Mr. Jake StewartBritish Steel

Dr. Brian TempestGlaxo

Mr. Damien TurnerBritish Aerospace

Mr. Peter UsherVosper Thornycroft UK

In addition the British Offset Office organises ad hoc visits to Saudi Arabia for companies as required.

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the membership of the British Offset Committee in each year that committee has existed, together with the principal business interest of the private sector members.

Mr. Aitken : The Al Yamamah Offset Committee met for the first time in March 1987. Its members were :

Chairman

Sir Colin Chandler--Head of Defence Export Services, MOD

Members

The Hon. David Douglas-Home--(Morgan Grenfell International Ltd) representing COMET--Mr. Alan Titchener

DTI--Dr. Maurice Dixson--British Aerospace

Dr. David Mitchell--Rolls Royce

Mr. Philip Curry--MOD

The following changes to membership took place at subsequent meetings.

December 1987

Mr. John Weston (British Aerospace) replaced Dr. Dixson. Mr. Colin Craig (Schroder Asseily) joined the Committee ; Mr. Curry (MOD) left the Committee.

September 1988

Mr. Ian Dixon (DTI) replaced Mr. Titchener.

Mr. Richard Spink (FCO) joined the Committee.

February 1990

Sir Alan Thomas (MOD) replaced Sir Colin Chandler.

The Hon. David Gore-Booth (MOD) joined the Committee.

Mr. Michael Rouse (BAe) replaced Mr. Weston.

Mr. Petter (DTI) replaced Mr. Dixon.

May 1991

Mr. Michael Janner (MOD) replaced Mr. Richard Spink.

April 1992

Mr. Damien Turner (British Aerospace) replaced Mr. Rouse. September 1992

Mr. John Hill (Saudi British Bank) replaced The Hon. David Douglas-Home as representative of COMET.

May 1993

Dr. Noel Brehony (Rolls Royce) replaced Dr. Mitchell.

December 1993

Mr. Ian Cliff (DTI) replaced Mr. Petter.

Mr. David Hewitson (British Aerospace) replaced Mr. Turner.

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the projects (a) approved and (b) commenced under the offset office programme.

Mr. Aitken : Projects currently approved, but not yet commenced, under the Al Yamamah offset programme are :

Missile Engineering Facility

Rolls Royce participation in the Middle East Propulsion Company Oil seed manufacture


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Materials handling systems

Lightweight marble and granite manufacture

Water treatment equipment

In addition, the following projects have commenced implementation :

Glaxo pharmaceutical plant

Tate and Lyle sugar refinery

Vocational training facility

British Aerospace participation in Aircraft Accessories and Components Company (AACC)

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what links exist between the Offset Office and the Export Credits Guarantee Department ; and whether approval under the offset programme is always accompanied by Export Credits Guarantee Department approval.

Mr. Aitken : No special links exist between the Al Yamamah Offset Office and the Export Credits Guarantee Department. Cover arrangements are a matter for ECGD and participants in individual projects.

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when his Department set up an Offset Office for Saudi Arabia ; and what the costs of this office have been in each succeeding year.

Mr. Aitken : The British Offset Office was set up in 1987. It forms part of the Saudi Armed Forces Project Office in the Ministry of Defence, the costs of which are met by the Government of Saudi Arabia.

Falkland Islands Flights

Mr. Wiggin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the flights on which seats were for sale to civilians to and from the Falkland Islands in 1992 and 1993 and to date in 1994, and which arrived either at RAF Mount Pleasant or at RAF Brize Norton more than two hours late.

Mr. Hanley : The information requested is available only for flights into RAF Mount Pleasant, and is as follows :


                                         |1992   |1993   |<1>1994        

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

Number of flights with seats for sale to                                 

civilians                                |92     |80     |21             

                                                                         

Number delayed by two hours or more      |23     |13     |5              

<1>To date.                                                              

Information on the number of flights from the Falkland Islands arriving at RAF Brize Norton more than two hours late is not recorded centrally and figures could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Because of the length of the route, the unpredictable weather in the Falkland Islands and the limitations of en-route services such as air traffic control, a greater level of delays can be expected on the United Kingdom to Falkland Islands route than on many more widely used routes.

IMS Ltd.

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what records are maintained of the business activities of former employees of International Military Services Ltd.

Mr. Aitken : None.


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Conditions and Allowances Review

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what savings he envisages will be made through the review of conditions and allowances in the armed forces.

Mr. Hanley : As is made clear in the terms of reference for this independent review, set out in my answer to the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Dr. Goodson-Wickes) on 30 March, Official Report, columns 752-53, the primary purpose is not cost cutting but to ensure that we have structures appropriate to the needs of the services in the 21st century. No estimate has therefore been made of the scope for any savings but the independent review is, naturally, also required to identify the resource implications of its proposals and to seek to contribute to the reduction over the longer term of the overall resource cost of manpower.

Mr. Menzies Campbell : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what external consultancies will be assisting in the review of conditions and allowances in the armed forces.


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