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Mr. Rifkind: In my statement on 14 July 1994, I announced that further work was in hand to examine whether the joint service command and staff college should be located at Camberley or Greenwich and whether junior command and staff training should take place on the same site. This work has now been concluded and I am satisfied that Camberley is by far the most appropriate and cost-effective site for both activities, and that staff training at Bracknell and Greenwich should cease. I have decided that this proposal should be the basis for consultation. A consultative document will be issued in the next few weeks.
I recognise the need to ensure that fitting occupants are found for such an important site as the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. We are now considering a number of potential candidates to occupy these buildings, including a restructured defence school of languages, for which Wilton Park, Beaconsfield is unlikely to remain an appropriate home. Work is continuing to determine which would provide the best balance of suitability and compatibility. I hope to be in a position to announce a proposal for the future of Greenwich early next year, on which we will consult separately.
Unless there is an alternative defence use for the RAF staff college at Bracknell, my intention would be to dispose of it. Similarly, if work in hand at present determines that there is no longer any need to retain Wilton Park, Beconsfield, that will also be disposed of.
Further work is under way to determine the effect on staff numbers of these proposals. Once final proposals for Greenwich can be made, we shall consult separately on the specific staffing impact on Greenwich, Beaconsfield and any other site affected. Every effort will be made to minimise the need for redundancies.
Mr. Soames: It is too early to be confident that such a transfer will be possible on terms which will satisfy our requirements. Nonetheless, the initial work undertaken for us by NatWest Markets, the investment bank, has been productive and encouraging. We therefore now intend to progress to development of comprehensive proposals aimed at achieving the transfer in financial year 1995 96. A decision on whether to proceed will not be taken until worked-out proposals are available in the first part of next year. Meanwhile, however, following completion of the initial study, we are proceeding to competitive selection of financial and other advisers to help us prepare for and effect the transfer.
Mr. Soames: During the "Front Line First" medical study consultation period, my Department received more than 230 responses to our proposals for the future of the defence medical services. All of these responses have received careful and sympathetic scrutiny. Understandable local concerns and support have been expressed for fine military facilities with a proud history of service to their civilian communities. No significant new defence-related arguments have, however, emerged, nor have any new suggestions bee made which have caused us to alter our original proposals.
I can therefore confirm that we shall now move to develop our plans, working closely with the relevant NHS authorities, along the lines indicated in "Front Line First". We shall establish a single tri-service core hospital to provide the future secondary care needs for the armed forces in the United Kingdom. I can conform that we have decided that this facility will be established at the current royal naval hospital Haslar in Gosport. This hospital will be supported by a continuing presence at the Duchess of Kent military hospital at Catterick and by Ministry of Defence medical staff working in three Ministry of Defence hospital units. One of these will be located at the Derriford district general hospital in Plymouth; the remaining two sites will be chosen over the next three months. All secondary care will be managed by a tri-service Defence Agency, which will continue to develop increasingly close links with the NHS, and will be headed by a chief executive reporting through the surgeon general to the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff responsible for personal matters.
The Princess Mary's RAF hospital Akrotiri in Cyprus will also form part of the tri-service secondary care agency. The future of the two service hospitals in Germany will be considered further following the completion of the current market testing programme. We are also examining the case for market testing the defence services medical rehabilitation unit at RAF Headley Court, and shall be examining the need for the RAF's central medical establishment to be in central London and the scope for alternative uses of the Royal Army medical college at Millbank. We shall be bringing dentists from all three services into a single, tri-service agency and subsequently submitting the business to a market test.
Primary care will be provided by the most cost-effective combination of the NHS, the private health care sector, and MOD military and civilian staff, to the greatest extent consistent with providing peacetime employment for those uniformed personnel required to deploy for operations and war.
The reorganisation of defence medical services, including the closures of the Cambridge military hospital and the Princess Alexandra's RAF hospital, is intended to be complete by April 1996. Because of this, the closure of the Queen Elizabeth military hospital at Woolwich will be brought forward to the spring of 1995, at which time we expect to transfer the hospital to the NHS although a service presence may remain for some months afterwards. The closure date for the Princess Mary's RAF hospital at Halton has also been brought forward to March 1996.
Column 305Much work needs to be done before the full reorganisation of defence medical services can become effective and we have therefore put in place a team to effect all elements of the implementation process. We shall continue to consult the trade unions on the details of our plans as they unfold.
Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence further to his statement of 14 July, Official Report , columns 1171 2 , if he has reached a decision on the future of minor war vessels based at Rosyth.
Mr. Freeman: Having given full and careful consideration to the representations made on the proposals promulgated on 14 July, we have decided to proceed with the redeployment of minor war vessels from Rosyth to Faslane and Portsmouth by April 1996 and the change in the role of Rosyth from a minor war vessel operating base to a Royal Navy support establishment within a similar time frame. In the same time scale, the non- operational functions of flag officer Scotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland will transfer to Faslane from Pitreavie. We will continue to consult with staff and the trade unions about the detailed implementation of these measures and their implications. My officials will also work closely with the Scottish Office, local authorities and other agencies to enable those areas of the base no longer required by the Department to be redeveloped for alternative economic use. Constructive dialogue between the Ministry of Defence and the Scottish Office is already under way with a view to securing co-ordinated disposal strategy for the site aimed at promoting the continuing economic development and diversification of the area.
Mrs. Currie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what independent research he has commissioned into the possible after effects of inoculations against anthrax, yellow fever, hepatitis, plague, polio and cholera, given singly or together or within a few day of each other to personnel serving in the Gulf war.
Mr. Soames: None. All known vaccine interactions are published in standard medical textbooks and the British national formulary. Short-term side-effects--sore arm, malaise--are very common after any vaccination procedure but there is no scientific or medical evidence to suggest that vaccines can interact to produce long-term adverse health effects. Furthermore, it is not unusual, in normal medicine practice, for a number of separate vaccines to be administered at the same time or over a short period.
Mrs. Currie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will issue regimental part I orders to all current service personnel requiring those who served in the Gulf war and who believe they may have suffered ill-effects to report to their medical officer.
Mr. Soames: Personnel from all three services who believe that they are suffering from ill health, for whatever reason, have been encouraged to report to their medical officer. The armed forces medical services have already established a medical assessment programme for those who believe their ill health is a result of their Gulf service. The existence of this assessment programme is well known in the services and the issuing of orders is not therefore considered necessary.
Mrs. Currie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what independent research he has commissioned into possible birth defects in children born to the families of service personnel who served in the Gulf war.
Mr. Soames: We are aware of no scientific or medical evidence to suggest that the incidence of genetic defects among babies born into the families of British Gulf veterans is any higher than that found among the civilian population. Given the lack of evidence, there are no grounds for commissioning independent research.
Mrs. Currie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research has been commissioned into leishmania tropica infection in service personnel who served in the Gulf war, with particular reference to viscerotropic leishmaniasis.
Mr. Soames: Tests for leishmaniasis are routinely performed on United Kingdom armed forces personnel whose service and personal history, symptoms and signs are suggestive of this disease. No case of any species of leishmania has been found in British armed forces personnel who served in the Gulf, and we have not therefore commissioned any additional research into the disease. We are aware, however, that the United States authorities have to date identified 31 cases of leishmaniasis among their personnel who served in the Gulf, including 12 cases of a disseminated disease not previously associated with the species leishmania tropica, which has been labelled viscerotropic leishmaniasis. The armed forces medical services will continue to monitor developments in the United States.
Mr. Soames: Around 45,0000 service personnel were deployed to the middle east in support of operation Granby. Details of the number still serving are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. According to central medical records, one Royal Navy, 44 Army and three Royal Air Force personnel have, to date, been discharged on medical grounds as a result of injuries or illness sustained as a result of incidents during Operation Granby. All were discharged for recognised medical conditions.
Mrs. Currie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research he has commissioned into possible nerve end damage, whether permanent or temporary, in service men and women as the result of exposure to various agents during the Gulf war.
Mr. Soames: None. Any service man or woman whose medical history, symptoms and signs are suggestive of neurological--including nerve end damage--is thoroughly investigated in accordance with normal clinical practice. None of the 65 individuals so far assessed under the Gulf medical assessment programme have neurological damage, and we therefore see no reason to commission specific research into this matter.
Mrs. Currie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what checks have been carried out to establish whether service personnel with a history of asthma or hay fever may be particularly susceptible to nerve agent pre- treatment set or other products used for their protection during the Gulf War.
Column 307the protective measures used during Operation Granby. Individuals with a history of asthma could be susceptible to one of the protective measures, NAPS, the active constituent of which is pyridostigmine bromide. The administration of pyridostigmine bromide is not contra-indicated for known asthmatics, but caution is advised because the drug may exacerbate asthma symptoms. However, asthma is generally not compatible with service in the armed forces and potential recruits with a history of this condition would not be accepted for service. Furthermore, those already serving who develop asthma are required to be referred to a service consultant who assesses their suitability to be retained in the services. Those retained would normally serve in a reduced medical category which would preclude operational service.
Mrs. Currie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make available to ex-service personnel who served in the Gulf war their full medical records, including details of all injections and other protective measures given.
Mr. Soames: Service medical records are the property of the Department and can be released only to the patient concerned in accordance with the Access to Health Records Act 1990, which came into force on 1 November 1991. Under the provisions of this Act, which is not retrospective, medical records are normally released only to the individual whom they concern if they were compiled after 1 November 1991. For records compiled before this date, however, it has long been my Department's policy to release them on request to a former service person's GP or solicitor where they may be required for the management of a particular case.
Mrs. Currie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what independent research he has commissioned into the possible after-effects of exposure to a combination of two or more of inoculations against infectious diseases, NAPS tablets, organo-phosphorus pesticides and airborne pollution.
Mr. Soames: None. We are aware of no scientific or medical evidence which suggests that the combination of preventative medical procedures and individually non-harmful levels of other substances presents any increased risk to health which would warrant the commissioning of specific research.
Mrs. Currie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Gulf war veterans have presented themselves with illnesses since their return; and how many have, in the judgment of his Department, been suffering from identifiable complaints, whether or not linked to their service in Operation Granby.
Mr. Soames: The information is not available in the form requested as no central record is maintained of visits by armed forces personnel to service primary health case facilities, and responsibility for the health of those Gulf veterans who have left the services rests with the national health service. One hundred and eighty-five Gulf war veterans with concerns about their health have, however, come forward at our request for medical assessment by the armed forces medical services. Of these, 65 have so far been examined under the medical assessment programme and all have been found to be suffering from identifiable complaints, none of which are peculiar to service in the Gulf.
Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions during each of the last four years the proposed closure of a Royal Navy, Army or Royal Air Force base was made the subject of formal consultation; and in how many cases the proposed closure was subsequently reversed.
Mr. Soames: All proposals by my Department which affect civilian staff are subject to formal consultation with trade unions and other interested parties before final decisions are taken. As consultation is undertaken locally for all proposals affecting fewer than 25 staff, central records are not maintained, and the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. For those cases where records are held centrally, one proposal was altered, and two others are subject to fresh study. In other cases, alternative defence uses were found for some sites.
Airfields |Expected disposal |timetable --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- DRA Bedford (Thurleigh Airfield) |Completion of sale anticipated June 1995. RAF Bentwaters |Disposal projected for FY 95/96. RAF Binbrook |Disposal projected for FY 95/96. RAF Greenham Common |Sale of airfield anticipated summer 1995. Old Sarum Airfield |Freehold of airfield expected to be sold in February/March 1995. St. David's Airfield, Dyfed |Completion of sale anticipated 31 December 1995. RAF Sculthorpe |Disposal projected for FY 95/96 subject to confirmation of no |further Defence use. RAF Swinderby |Disposal projected for FY 95/96 subject to confirmation of no |further Defence use. RAF Upper Heyford |No timetable available at present as the method of |disposal is still to be decided. Wroughton Airfield |To be transferred to the National Museum of Science |& Industry 31 March 1995
The table below gives details of airfields that have been declared surplus to requirements but which are still in use and/or under consideration for alternative Defence use. Airfields |Status --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- RAF Alconbury |USAF to vacate by September |1995. Disposal projected for FY 96-97. RAF Binbrook |Projected disposal dated FY 96-97. RAF Chivenor |Under consideration for |alternative Defence use. HMS Daedalus |Due to close in April 1996. |Disposal is projected for FY 96-97. DRA Farnborough |Currently operational but |expected to be accepted for |disposal in April 1995. The |disposal of the airfield is linked |to that of the "factory area" |which is not expected to become |surplus until early 1997. RAF Newton |Under consideration for |alternative Defence use. RAF Swanton-Morley |To be released 1995. |Disposal projected for FY 96-97. RAF Upwood |USAF Contingency Hospital. |Site (minus Clinic) to be handed |back to MOD in September |1995. Disposal projected for FY |96-97 subject to confirmation of |no further Defence use. RAF West Raynham |Closed Autumn 1994. Under |consideration for alternative Defence use. RAF Woodbridge |Station closed. Under |consideration for alternative |Defence use.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the total number of approvals given per officer rank in the armed forces since 1984 to take up appointments with companies in the defence industry.
|Approvals ----------------------------------------- Admiral of the Fleet |1 Admiral |30 Vice Admiral |5 Rear Admiral |54 Commodore |8 Captain |88 Commander |258 Lieutenant Commander |287 Lieutenant |89 Field Marshal |2 General |16 Lieutenant General |6 Major General |65 Brigadier |77 Colonel |71 Lieutenant Colonel |125 Major |159 Captain |32 Lieutenant |6 Marshal of the RAF |1 Air Chief Marshal |13 Air Marshal |19 Air Vice-Marshal |49 Air Commodore |51 Group Captain |92 Wing Commander |187 Squadron Leader |174 Flight Lieutenant |48
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what occasions since 1979 civil servants in his Department have been asked to draft speeches of a constituency nature for use in a Minister's own constituency.
|Houses --------------------------------- County Antrim |5 County Armagh |3 County Down |110 County Fermanagh |- County Londonderry |55 County Tyrone |8
Of these houses, all but 18 are either being refurbished or are being held vacant in preparation for the arrival of replacement units in early 1995.
Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will review the requirement for additional accommodation at the Royal Engineers camp in Antrim in the event of other suitable alternative accommodation becoming available in the Antrim area.
Column 311a number of changes in practice, in areas such as competition and contracting procedures, made since the period in which Foxley was active had reduced the risk of a recurrence. We have also taken steps to reduce the time for which individuals serve in commercially sensitive posts. Further changes will be considered in the light of the progress of our investigation.
Mr. Soames: There have been no recent substantive discussions with France and Germany on the Eurocorps, although in the course of normal bilateral exchanges French and German Ministers generally inform their UK opposite numbers of significant developments concerning the corps.
No replacement costs arise for these aircraft since there is an attrition reserve from which aircraft are taken to replace those lost. Records are not maintained centrally of other costs that may arise from an accident, such as aircraft salvage or third party claims.
Mr. Soames: The safety of aircraft in service is monitored continually by the RAF. The safety record of the Tornado compares favourably with other fast-jet types operated in a similar environment. Overall, the Tornado has had a low loss rate since it entered service.
Column 312the accident on 30 April 1990 in Canada, modifications were made to the Tornado's RB199 engine to improve fire protection.
Mr. Soames: The RAF inspectorate of flight safety has not been tasked to produce a specific report on Tornado crashes. All RAF aircraft accidents are subject to an RAF board of inquiry, which conducts a comprehensive investigation into the circumstances of each accident. Summaries of boards of inquiry findings are placed in the Library of the House. The safety of all RAF aircraft types are, however, kept under constant review.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the purpose of the LSD experiments called Moneybags carried out at the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down; in which years the Moneybags experiments were conducted; how many service volunteers were tested under the Moneybags experiments; what were the lowest and highest doses administered to service volunteers during the Moneybags experiments; what were these volunteers required to do under these Moneybags experiments; how many animals were tested under the Moneybags experiments and what type of animals were used; what was the conclusion of the Moneybags experiments; and with which countries the results of these experiments were shared.
Letter from Graham Pearson to Dr. David Clark, dated 8 December 1994 :
1. Your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Defence about work carried out with LSD at Porton Down known as Moneybags has been passed to me to reply as Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment.
2. The role of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment (CBDE) is to carry out work to ensure that the UK Armed Forces are provided with effective protective measures against the threat that chemical or biological weapons may be used against them. As part of that programme, evaluation is carried out of chemicals that may be utilised by an aggressor as a chemical warfare agent.
3. Moneybags was one in a series of studies carried out in the 1960s to assess the effects of LSD on troops in a military setting where the behaviour of those volunteers who had been given LSD could be compared with those control volunteers who had not been given LSD. The aim of Moneybags was to determine how this psychotomimetic drug affected the military performance of men under simulated operational conditions. Some 20 Service Volunteers participated but not all were given LSD; 4 were screened out as being unsuitable to receive LSD. Of the others, some received no LSD whilst the lowest and highest doses were 75 and 200 g respectively. This was given orally in water. No animals were involved.
4. Moneybags was designed to reproduce a military exercise of an internal security nature, the scenario being that an "enemy" force had sought refuge on the Porton Down range. The volunteers were tasked to clear the relevant area and to capture prisoners and stores from the "enemy".
5. Moneybags showed that the effects of LSD were manifest within 10 minutes and within 15 minutes the efficiency of the volunteer unit was impaired. After 70 minutes the levels of
Column 313incapacitation and the breakdown of communication between sections of the unit was such that all activity was terminated. Two days after their exposure to LSD the volunteer unit showed no ill effects and a repeat of the exercise, in which an inactive placebo was given, was perfectly executed.
6. It was concluded that men given a drug such as LSD would be incapable of effective military action. However, the drug had been administered orally and it as far from clear whether it could be disseminated effectively as an aerosol and thus whether it would present a significant battlefield hazard.
7. The results from Moneybags formed part of the technology database held by the Establishment in the area of evaluation of the potential hazard to Service personnel from possible chemical warfare agents. This information was drawn upon during the 1960s and 1970s in the agreements with our NATO allies to exchange information and so promote collaboration and cooperation in areas such as research and development in chemical and biological defence. The agreements with the United States at that time included:
a. The Technical Cooperation Programme involving UK, US, Canada and Australia which had subsumed the earlier trilateral UK/US/Canada meetings.
b. America, British, Canadian and Australian Armies (ABCA) agreement Quadripartite Working Group (QWG) on NBC defence. c. The NATO Panel VII on chemical and biological defence.
Mr. Freeman: Competitive bids for refurbishment of the Hercules fleet will be sought formally if the Government decide, on the basis of the current detailed assessment, that there is an operational and value for money case in favour of pursuing refurbishment.
Mr Soames: Data held on the defence property list does not differentiate between minor sites and major locations. The total number of facilities attributed to single services are as follows: (a) NAVY = 223
(b) RAF = 276
(c) ARMY = 447
These figures include facilities such as training areas and ranges, but exclude facilities such as married quarters, career information offices, and facilities for the reserve forces.