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Column 280tackling homelessness. Normally, neither mainstream capital allocations nor the substantial grants in aid or other direct central Government subsidies given to public bodies are earmarked for specific activities.
Exceptions to this relating to homelessness are:
|1989-90|1990-91|1991-92|1992-93|1993-94 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hostel housing support grant |1.4 |1.3 |1.4 |1.6 |1.6 Urban programme |0.8 |0.8 |0.9 |1.1 |1.1
Mr. Kirkwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his policy in respect of the availability for use on appropriate ceremonial occasions of robes and regalia used by office holders in the former Scottish boroughs.
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 23 January 1995]: Following local government reform in 1975, ownership of the former burgh councils' civic robes, insignia and so on, passed to the new district councils. However, entitlement to the wearing of robes requires royal approval. The design and use of coats of arms on chains of office and other insignia are matters for the Lord Lyon King of Arms.
Mr. Soames: We have found no record of such an incident. There are, however records of an incident in the Al Jubayl area on 19 January 1991 when chemical agent monitor--CAM--and residual vapour detector--RVD-- indicated the presence of blister agent--mustard. Nerve agent immobilised enzyme alarm and detector--NAIAD--did not respond, however, thus ruling out the presence of nerve agent.
An immediate follow up by explosive ordnance device--EOD--and chemical reconnaissance teams failed to find any evidence of chemical attack, which if it had taken place, would have included ground contamination, blister is a persistent agent, and weapon debris. The identity of the compounds which caused the CAM and RVD to alarm on 19 January 1991 is therefore not known. It was assessed that the most likely cause of the incident was a damaged aircraft jettisoning JP4 fuel which is consistent with reports of air activity at the time.
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what extent the administration of nerve agent pre-treatment set, anthrax and plague inoculations would normally require a medical consultation with the patient to determine whether there are counter indications; to what extent these drugs were administered to military personnel involved in the Gulf war without such consultation; and for what reasons.
Mr. Soames: Standard peacetime medical practice is for consent to be obtained before immunisation with any vaccine. Specific details of anti- biological warfare medical counter-measures employed by British forces remain classified. However, in Operation Granby it was policy for vaccines against those biological agents identified as a threat to be made available to service personnel on the standard basis of informed consent. This entailed informing service personnel of the vaccines they were receiving, their purpose and their possible side effects. In the operational circumstances pertaining in the Gulf it is not possible to guarantee that this policy was universally adhered to.
Standard text books on immunisation detail no specific contraindications for the anti-biological warfare vaccines used during Operation Granby.
Column 281The universal and regular basis on which the nerve agent pre-treatment set--NAPS--has to be taken do not allow for individual medical consultation. However NAPS is a licensed drug and the safety and efficacy of its active ingredient, pyridostigmine bromide, in giving protection against chemical warfare agents is internationally medically recognised.
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when personnel at Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down, acknowledged that chemical detectors, nerve agent immobilised alarm detectors and chemical agent monitors, could be activated by substances other than the toxic chemicals they were designed to detect; and by what means military personnel involved in Operation Granby were expected to know when they should use their personal protective equipment;
(2) when a copy of the report by Major John Watkinson, the Officer Commanding 21 EOD squadron, was received by Major Parsons of M.O.1/MoD UK Army and Mr. P. Hearn of Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down; and when the memorandum written by Captain Michael Johnson, Commander of the US 54 Chemical Troop, dated 4 January 1994, was seen by MoD officials;
(3) what assessment the MoD has made of the availability of the plague and anthrax vaccines; and what are their common applications.
Mr. Soames: These are matters for the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down, under its framework document. I have asked the chief executive, CBDE, to write to the hon. Member. Letter from Graham S. Pearson to Mr. Peter Robinson, dated 25 January 1995:
Your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Defence asking when personnel at the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down, acknowledged that chemical detectors (NAIAD and CAM) could be activated by substances other than the toxic chemicals they were designed to detect, and by what means military personnel involved in Operation GRANBY were expected to know when they should use their personnel protective equipment has been passed to me to answer as Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment at Porton Down.
The role of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment is to carry out work to ensure that the British Armed Forces have the most effective protective measures possible against the threat that chemical or biological weapons may be used against them.
The staff of the Chemical and Biological Establishment have long recognised that any detection system for chemical warfare agents needs to have appropriate sensitivity and selectivity so as to respond to the chemical warfare agents and to minimise false alarms. The principal route by which chemical warfare agents attack the body is through the respiratory tract although some agents such as mustard and some nerve agents are percutaneously active. The aim in designing an effective detector is to obtain sufficient specificity without reducing sensitivity to a level in which personnel would be exposed to a harmful concentration prior to the detector responding. 4.
The British chemical agent detectors such as NAIAD and CAM are designed to be highly specific whilst having a sufficient sensitivity to ensure that those utilising such detectors receive a warning from the detector before they inhale a harmful concentration of chemical warfare agent. Although they like all other chemical warfare agent detectors can respond to substances other than chemical warfare agents, it is important to recognise that these other substances are very unlikely to be present on the battlefield in concentrations sufficient to produce an alarm. In practice, the use of more than one type of detector reduces the chance of possible false
Column 282alarms whilst retaining an undiminished capability for the detection of chemical warfare agents.
Consequently, British Service personnel serving in Operation GRANBY donned their personal protective equipment when they were judged to be under a possible chemical warfare attack. This is known as the Immediate Action Drill and is designed to ensure that Service personnel are protected should they be subjected to an attack in which chemical weapons may be used. Likewise, if a chemical detector such as NAIAD or CAM alarms then full protective equipment is donned. The information relating to the possible attack is then passed to the next high level of command at which a judgement will be made as to whether chemical warfare agents have indeed been used in such an attack. Such a judgement would take into account whether other techniques for detection and monitoring of chemical warfare agents have indicated the presence of a chemical warfare agent or not. The equipment provided to the British Armed Forces to detect and monitor chemical warfare agents is highly effective and is second to none. Letter from Graham S. Pearson to Mr. Peter Robinson, dated 25 January 1995:
Your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Defence asking when a copy of the report by Major John Watkinson, the Officer Commanding 21 EOD Squadron, was received by Major Parsons of M.O.1/MOD UK Army and Mr. P. Hearn of CBDE Porton Down; and when the memorandum written by Captain Michael Johnson, Commander of the US 54th Chemical Troop, dated 4 January 1994, was seen by MOD officials has been passed to me to answer as Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment.
The role of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment is to carry out work to ensure that UK Armed Forces are provided with effective protective measures against the threat that chemical and biological weapons may be used against them.
The report by 21st EOD Squadron was received in MOD in August 1991 and, in accordance with its recommendations, samples collected in Kuwait City were provided to CBDE Porton Down for analysis. 4.
A subsequent note from CBDE Porton Down to the Ministry of Defence dated 23 August 1991, prior to the receipt of the samples, stated that the brown fumes associated with the material, the destruction of the NBC suit material and the burns produced on skin suggests that the material may be fuming nitric acid, a highly corrosive oxidising acid which may be used as a rocket propellant. The damage to the NBC suit material and the brown fumes showed that the material was not liquid mustard.
The CBDE analytical report dated 24 September 1991 showed that the samples had a definite yellow/brown colour compared to the original white of the resin and were labelled Sample 1 dated 10 August 1991 and Sample 3 dated 10 August 1991. Analytical results showed that there was a high concentration of nitrate in the sample and a pH that was extremely acidic. Extraction of the resin with dichloromethane and analysis by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry showed the presence of no material of CW interest. The samples were entirely consistent with the contents of the tank being nitric acid and there was no evidence of any CW agent being present.
There is no record of a copy of the memorandum by Captain Michael Johnson of the US Army having been received by MOD officials.
Letter from Graham S. Pearson to Mr. Peter Robinson, dated 25 January 1995:
Your Parliamentary Question to the Secretary of State for Defence asking what assessment the MOD has made of the availability of the plague and anthrax vaccines, and what are their common applications has been passed to me to answer as Chief Executive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment at Porton Down. 2.
The role of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment is to carry out work to ensure that the British Armed
Column 283Forces have the most effective protective measures possible against the threat that chemical or biological weapons may be used against them. As part of this work the potential hazard of possible chemical and biological warfare is assessed and the effectiveness of medical countermeasures evaluated.
As part of this work, the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment carry out a continuing assessment of the availability and effectiveness of vaccines. Plague and anthrax vaccines are available from a number of countries which include the following: (a) Plague . This is available from Greer Laboratories in the United States of America and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in Australia.
(b) Anthrax . This is available from the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research at Porton Down and the Michigan Department of Public Health in the United States of America.
These vaccines are produced to protect individuals at risk from the respective diseases; these include persons working with these microorganisms in laboratories and the pharmaceutical industry or at risk from the natural occurrence of the disease.
Mr. Soames: Details of the specific medical countermeasures employed by British forces against the potential biological warfare threat during Operation Granby remain classified. All vaccines administered to British forces in Operation Granby were offered on the basis of voluntary informed consent. Any vaccines without a United Kingdom product licence were licenced in their country of origin, fully tested in the United Kingdom and cleared for use.
Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if licence No. 4537/0003 for pyridostigmine bromide, 30mg, granted to the MOD by the Medicines Control Agency governs (a) by whom the drug is supplied and (b) the chemical make up of the drug.
Mr. Soames: Yes. The licence specifies the manufacturer of the active substance as Raschig AG, Germany, and of the finished product as Duphar BV, Holland. The active constituent of the product is listed as pyridostigmine bromide and the other constituents are: pregelatinised starch, maize starch, lactose, colloidal silicon dioxide, talc and magnesium stearate.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information Her Majesty's Government have received as to the disposition of plutonium sent to the United States under the 1959 amendment to the Anglo- American mutual defence agreement on atomic energy co-operation of 1958, Cmnd 859; and whether all plutonium sent to the United States under this agreement since 1965 was transacted under the barter arrangement.
Mr. Freeman: The disposition of plutonium supplied to the United States under the 1958 agreement is a matter for the United States Government. However, the United States Government gave an assurance in 1964 that plutonium originating from United Kingdom civil reactors would not be used in their weapons programme.
Most plutonium supplied to the United States under the 1958 agreement has been transferred under barter arrangements. However, some plutonium has also been transferred under separate loan arrangements.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what costs are expected to be incurred through the Atomic Control Office in implementing the 10-year extension to the 1958 United States-United Kingdom mutual defence agreement on atomic energy matter, Cm 2686.
Mr. Freeman: The articles of the 1958 mutual defence agreement that were recently amended have little bearing on the work load of the atomic control office, London. The additional costs that will fall to this office as a result of the amendment will therefore be negligible.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out details of the nuclear materials accounting and central arrangements to which the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Boothferry (Mr. Davis) made reference in the Official Report, 15 December 1994, column 1237.
Mr. Freeman: These arrangements involve bookkeeping and auditing systems, similar to those in the civil nuclear industry, to control and monitor movements and inventories of nuclear materials. For reasons of security, it is not our practice to reveal further details of such arrangements.
Mr. Soames: British troops in Gorazde are making a very effective and highly valued contribution to UNPROFOR's efforts to stabilise the situation on the ground and to assist in the delivery of humanitarian aid to the enclave. One of their current priorities is to facilitate the implementation of the four month cessation of hostilities agreement which came into effect on 1 January 1995.
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at what date the staff council was first elected at International Military Services Ltd.; and if it is his general policy to encourage such staff councils.
The staff of International Military Services Ltd., who were not civil servants, were not covered by the MOD Whitley councils. As a private company, International Military Services made its own arrangements for staff representation. The Ministry of Defence played no part in these arrangements.
Column 285Franco-British joint commission on nuclear policy and doctrine. The work of the commission has shown an identity of approach between the UK and France on fundamental policy issues. The detail of this work is, of course, confidential between the two Governments.
Mr. Soames: The staff college at Camberley occupies an enclave within the site of the Royal military academy, Sandhurst. The overall size of the site, including the married quarters, is some 883 acres. In addition, a training area serving the staff college and the academy occupies a further 1,176 acres.
Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) on how many occasions in the last four months of which he has knowledge any civil servants in his Department have been approached by commercial lobbying organisations on behalf of their clients at informal or unofficial engagements;
(2) on how many occasions in the last four months he or any of his Ministers have been approached by commercial lobbying organisations on behalf of their clients at informal or unofficial engagements.
Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent in 1993 94 to support the Combined Cadet Force in schools; what schools received support; and what was the amount awarded to each school.
Mr. Soames: Available records show that between January 1990 and December 1994 there were no deaths or serious injuries sustained by members of the Combined Cadet Force which were attributable to cadet activities.
Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the cost of running the Defence Export Services Organisation; and how many people were employed (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) overseas for each of the last five years for which figures are available.
Numbers employed by DESO: 1990-91 |1991-92|1992-93|1993-94|1994-95 ------------------------------------------------ 541 |626 |662 |673 |708 |<1>523 |<1>542 |<2>150 |<2>166 <1> UK based. <2> Overseas.
Information relating to the breakdown between United Kingdom-based and overseas posts is not available prior to financial year 1993 94. The net cost of the organisation in 1993 94 was £16.02 million. Changes in accounting conventions make exact comparisons difficult with earlier years.
Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total value of exports of United Kingdom military equipment to (a) all countries and (b) developing countries for each of the last five years in (i) cash prices and (ii) constant prices.
Mr. Freeman: Details of the value of exports of defence equipment by geographic region are contained in table 1.1 of "UK Defence Statistics". A copy of the 1994 edition has been placed in the House Library. The figures are published at current prices. There is insufficient data on the prices of such goods to enable satisfactory estimates to be made of defence exports at constant prices.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 19 January, what jurisdiction the Visiting Forces Act 1952 gives to American military personnel to take action against those entering bases to make a peaceful protest; to what extent the powers exceed those of the Ministry of Defence Police; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Soames: The Visiting Forces Act 1952 does not give United States service personnel jurisdiction to take action against United Kingdom citizens. In accordance with article VII of the NATO status of forces agreement, however, the United States visiting forces are entitled to police premises made available to them in the United Kingdom and, with due regard to United Kingdom law, to take all appropriate measures to ensure the maintenance of order and security on such premises.
United States service personnel do not have more legal powers over United Kingdom citizens in this country than the Ministry of Defence police.
Clayton-with-Frickley in South Yorkshire at approximately 09.32 hours on 12 January; if the sortie transgressed the low flying transit area in that locality; what airfield the aircraft took off from; where it landed at the end of its sortie; at which squadron or unit it was based; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Soames: A Tornado aircraft from the Standards Squadron at RAF Cottesmore overflew the village at approximately the time indicated. The aircraft, which was on a routine low flying training sortie; took off from and landed at RAF Cottesmore. We have no reason to believe the aircraft flew below the permitted height of 1000 ft within the low flying transit area.