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Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will give the latest figures for economic inactivity in Wales for (a) men between 16 and 64 years and (b) women between 16 and 59 years of age.
Mr. Redwood : According to the autumn 1993 labour force survey there were 177,000 males in Wales aged 16 to 64 who were economically inactive, representing 19.7 per cent. of all males aged 16 to 64. The corresponding figures for females aged 16 to 59 were 265,000 and 32.4 per cent. respectively. Many of these people are fully engaged in looking after homes or children.
Mr. Macgregor : I have today announced that the railways board will shortly be advertising the availability of a memorandum describing the business, with a view to soliciting formal expressions of interest and commencing discussion with short-listed bidders. Our objective is to transfer Freightliner to the private sector as a going concern. We encourage bidders to come forward with proposals to develop the rail intermodal freight network. Purchasers will wish to develop plans to reduce costs and improve efficiency, to manage the transition to the private sector. The Government have also introduced specific measures of support, including the new rail freight facilities and track access grants and the 44-tonne lorry weight concession for intermodal transport.
Mr. Cummings : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement concerning the future funding of the Army Cadet Corps, Naval Cadet Corps and RAF Cadet Corps in the Easington constituency ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : The arrangements for providing support for the cadet forces do not distinguish between units on the basis of parliamentary constituency. The cadet forces, like all other support functions of the Ministry of Defence, have been reviewed as part of the defence costs study. Proposals are currently being considered and we hope to make announcements before the summer recess.
Mr. Aitken : It has been the policy of successive Governments not to reveal details of arms sales to individual countries. However, "Defence Statistics 1993", a copy of which is held in the Library of the House, gives information on the value of sales by region in table 1.11.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 25 April, Official Report, column 86, if he will give details of all design developments of the capital projects for (a) Minley/Chatham barracks, (b) Dishforth and (c) Tidworth ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : Once a project specification has been agreed, responsibility for minor design changes which do not alter the basic specification of the project in question are delegated to the project manager and project sponsor. Comprehensive records of such changes are not held centrally.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the total amount of costs involved in the partial closure of RNSD Copenacre in each of the next three financial years ; what consideration he gave to the total closure of RNSD Copenacre ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Hanley : Both the total closure and partial closure options for RNSD Copenacre were given full consideration prior to our announcing proposals for partial closure. Continued refinement of plans during the consultation period confirmed that partial closure only would avoid expensive reprovising of facilities elsewhere and would achieve considerable running cost savings. The overall costs for the next two financial years of implementing the partial closure of RNSD Copenacre are estimated to be some £2 million and £1,900,000 respectively. It is estimated that overall savings of some £2,800,000 will be achieved in the third year.
Column 188decision to acquire MV Polar Circle as the replacement ice patrol ship ; and what effect his decision had on the operational capabilities of British armed forces.
Mr. Hanley : At the time of the purchase of Polar Circle, the Government made clear their commitment to retain the ice patrol task previously discharged by HMS Endurance, whose structural condition made it no longer safe for her to operate in ice. Polar Circle, now re-named HMS Endurance, had been chartered by the Government in October 1991, and the charter contract gave the Government the option before 24 January 1992 to buy the ship or to extend her charter. An investment appraisal was undertaken of the options available for retaining the use of the ship for the longer term, and this concluded that outright purchase of the vessel would be better value for money than either long-term charter or lease. The Government were also satisfied, after an extensive assessment of her operational performance in the Antarctic, that Polar Circle was fully capable of performing the tasks demanded of her. Although a further survey of the merchant shipping market would normally have been conducted before the decision to exercise the purchase option was taken, the limited time available before the simultaneous expiry of the charter and the option to purchase was judged to preclude such an exercise. This decision had no impact on the operational capabilities of the British armed forces.
Dr. David Clark : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 22 March, Official Report, column 174, what factors contributed to his decision to place an order for Challenger 2 as the replacement for the remaining two regiments of Chieftain tanks ; and what effect his decision had on the operational capabilities of British armed forces.
Mr. Aitken : As the then Minister of State for Defence Procurement made clear in announcing the decision on 21 June 1991, a large number of factors were taken into account in deciding to procure Challenger 2 as Chieftain replacement. These included technical merit, risk, contract conditions, time scale, cost, the balance of
interoperability considerations, stretch potential, logistical implications, employment and overseas sales. The advantage of maintaining a single ammunition type across the smaller post-"Options" tank fleet was an important consideration. As was also made clear, following the introduction into service of Challenger 2, the Army's tank fleet will be well placed to meet its commitments.