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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 26 January 1995


HMS Victorious

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the reasons for the failure of the launch of HMS Victorious Trident submarine at Barrow-in-Furness.

Mr. Soames: HMS Victorious' departure from Barrow-in-Furness, scheduled for Sunday 15 January, was delayed for two days due to bad weather. A combination of restricted visibility and heavy sea swell meant that the safe passage of the submarine through the shallow and extremely narrow channels at Barrow could not be assured. HMS Victorious was accepted at sea by the Royal Navy yesterday.


Mr. Temple-Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his latest estimate of the cost of the Trident programme; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Rifkind: The current estimate of the total project cost of the Trident programme is £11,682 million, if all expenditure, including payments already made, is brought up to current prices and a common exchange rate of £1 = $1.48, as assumed in the long-term costing of the defence programme. If payments already made are expressed at the prices and exchange rates actually incurred, the equivalent estimate is now £9,770 million. Expenditure on the Trident programme to 31 October 1994 represented some 78 per cent. of the overall hybrid estimate.

After allowing for the effects of inflation and exchange rate variations, the revised estimate of £11,682 million represents a real cost reduction of £211 million compared with that announced last year. The increase in cash terms is £51 million. The reduction in real terms since the original 1982 Trident II estimate, including the savings resulting from the decision to have United Kingdom missiles processed at the United States facility at Kings bay, Georgia, now stands at some £3.7 billion.

The proportion of the estimate for work undertaken in the United Kingdom has increased from 70 per cent. to 71 per cent., reflecting the effects of the change in exchange rate, price base and volume changes in the year.

I am pleased to confirm that HMS Vanguard entered operational service in December 1994, achieving the in-service date set when the decision to purchase Trident II was taken in 1982, and that the remainder of the Trident programme remains on schedule. I am, as in previous years, sending to the Chairmen of the Public Accounts Committee and of the Select Committee on Defence a more detailed report on the programme. I am also placing a copy of this report in the Library of the House.

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Defence Agency

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about Defence Agency status for the defence dental services and the defence medical supply organisation.

Mr. Soames: Following my announcement in the House on 8 December, in which I confirmed the recommendations made by the "Front Line First" medical study, it has been decided that, in addition to the defence dental services, the defence medical supply organisation is also to be considered as a candidate for agency status under the next steps procedure. An entry to this effect will appear in the February 1995 market testing bulletin and I should welcome comments from interested parties. These should be sent by 10 March either to Air Vice-Marshal J. Mackey RAF, director defence dental services, Ministry of Defence, room 102 Lacon house, Theobalds road, London WC1X 8RY in respect of comments on the Defence Dental Care Agency; or to Mr. G.R. North, deputy director of medical supply, Ministry of Defence, room 134, Lacon house, Theobalds road, London WC1X 8RY in respect of the Defence Health Care Supplies Agency.

Support Vehicles

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about progress in encouraging private sector involvement in the financing, acquisition, management and operation of support vehicles for the armed forces.

Mr. Freeman: Very good progress has been made. A study team is considering a range of possibilities and is consulting widely in the private sector. Over 175 companies have expressed an interest. Yesterday my Department held a very successful briefing seminar for the private sector at Aldershot. The private sector has been asked for proposals, to include radical and innovative ideas, and we will be evaluating these in the coming weeks. We expect to be able to announce the selection of contractors for a number of pilot schemes by the end of this year.

Gulf War

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many British service personnel involved in the Gulf war were administered with the combination of vaccines for anthrax, plague and nerve agent pre- treatment sets;

(2) how many servicemen refused to be administered with drugs and vaccines during Operation Granby.

Mr. Soames: Details relating to biological warfare

counter-measures available to British forces remain classified. The nerve agent pre-treatment set--NAPS--tablets were widely issued to British service personnel in areas and units judged to be under threat of chemical attack during Operation Granby. Taking NAPS is a personal responsibility and no information is available on the numbers of personnel, if any, who did not do so.

Junior Medical Officers (RAF)

Ms Corston: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what were the course requirements for junior doctors entering the RAF as junior medical officers in 1989.

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Mr. Soames: The course requirements for junior doctors entering the RAF as junior medical officers in 1989 were:

a. Officer training at RAF Cranwell.

b. Initial medical officer training (administration).

c. Initial medical officer training (aviation medicine).


Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps is he taking to counter bullying among members of the armed forces.

Mr. Soames: My Department takes a very serious view of bullying and it has been made clear throughout the services that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

Measures taken to counter bullying include the publication in July 1994 of the Navy's policy throughout the fleet to remind all ranks that there is an effective policy to deal with bullying. Officers and senior ratings were advised to be alert to the possibility of bullying, and victims were reminded of their rights of complaint. The Army has banned initiation ceremonies and has established additional posts in its training organisations to allow officers and non-commissioned officers to devote more time to their supervisory role. In 1993, the Army published a discipline and standards paper which included instructions to counter bullying.

The Royal Air Force published a policy letter on bullying and initiation ceremonies in 1989, and similar letters were published in 1992 and 1994. The Royal Air Force produces orders to be read and signed annually by officers and non-commissioned officers which specifically cover bullying. The Royal Air Force's policy on bullying and initiation ceremonies is repeated in quarterly standing orders which all personnel are required to read.

Planned Air Displays

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration underlay the decision to post key members who have planned past RAF premier air displays at Royal Air Force Finningley to Royal Air Force Waddington for a planned air display there on 1 and 2 July; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Soames: Preliminary plans drawn up for the purposes of consultation show that, should the decision be taken to close RAF Finningley following formal consultation, the station would not be capable of mounting a major air show in 1995. As the planning period for the air show is lengthy and complex it was decided, after careful consideration, that the air show should, for this year at least, relocate to RAF Waddington to ensure its continuance in the event of the decision being taken to close RAF Finningley. Two experienced staff from RAF Finningley have transferred to RAF Waddington, which has little experience of mounting such a complex event, to assist in the organisation of this year's show.

Market Testing

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list all of his Department's medical and health services which (a) have been or (b) are intended to be market tested; and if he will indicate the outcomes of market testing in those cases where the exercise has been completed.

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Mr. Soames: At this stage a number of medical and health services are being considered for competition but none is yet completed. The Department is currently involved in garrison market tests which include health services at Catterick, Aldershot, Salisbury Plain and Colchester and of all primary and secondary health services in British forces, Germany, with the exception of the provision of primary medical and dental care at RAF main operating bases--RAF Bruggen and RAF Laarbruch--and certain other locations remote from the main garrisons. Operational Army medical units are also excluded from the exercise.

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the timetable for market testing the services provided by the RAF hospital at Wegberg, Germany.

Mr. Soames: The Department is currently in the process of market testing the provision of health services in Germany, including those provided by the RAF hospital at Wegberg, and hopes to make an announcement on the outcome of this exercise by 31 July 1995.


Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement regarding the use of serving military personnel to provide security for private military, security and police exhibitions or conferences.

Mr. Soames: On occasion, service personnel may be provided to outside bodies or organisations on loan, to perform a variety of tasks. This is normally on the basis of full recovery of all the relevant costs involved. Service personnel are not normally provided for security duties at private military, security or police exhibitions and conferences.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement concerning the use of serving military personnel to provide security at the recent covert and operation procurement exhibition centre held at Sandown exhibition centre in November 1994; and what costs have been reimbursed by the exhibition organisers to his Department for security provided.

Mr. Soames: I am not aware that any serving military personnel were employed on security duties at the covert and operational procurement exhibition held at the Sandown exhibition centre in November 1994.

Electro-shock Devices

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision or training in the use of electro-shock devices is made in respect of (a) his Department, (b) the Army, and (c) special forces; and what guidelines control the deployment and use of such devices.

Mr. Soames: None.

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information his Department has in respect of the sale or arrangement of sale of any form of electro-shock weapon or equipment from the United Kingdom to a Gulf state in the last 13 years; and if he will supply details of such transactions.

Mr. Freeman: I am not aware that my Department has any such information.

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Aurora Prototype Aircraft

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Aurora prototype aircraft of the United States air force are based at the Machrihanish air force base in Argyll; and for what period permission has been given for basing these aircraft in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Soames: There are no United States air force prototype aircraft based at RAF Machrihanish and no authorisation has been given by Her Majesty's Government to the United States air force, or any other US body, to operate such aircraft within or from the United Kingdom.

Joint Services Command

Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what basis he formed the views expressed in paragraph 10g of his consultation paper on the proposed joint services command and staff college about the respective merits of Camberley, Greenwich and Bracknell in respect of (a) local schools, (b) medical care, (c) provision for overseas students, (d) shopping and (e) other facilities.

Mr. Soames: The basis for paragraph 10g of the consultative document was consideration of the provision of domestic support to the families of students at the proposed joint services command and staff college. The availability of common facilities which can be used by a large proportion of the students' families would help in establishing a sense of community within both the college and its associated married quarters. This would be of particular benefit to the families of overseas students.

As explained in paragraph 10f of the consultative document, the married quarters serving Bracknell and Camberley are compact and relatively close to the colleges themselves and the extensive nearby facilities. By contrast, the married quarters serving Greenwich are dispersed and some distance from the college itself; the likelihood of families benefiting from common local facilities is therefore much lower.

Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the report from Building Design Partnership on the refurbishment costs and implications of works at Greenwich necessary to accommodate the proposed joint services command and staff college.

Mr. Soames: The Building Design Partnership option study report into the siting of a joint services command and staff college contains both information that is classified and which comprises advice to Ministers. It would therefore be inappropriate to place a copy in the Library of the House.

Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in undertaking the financial appraisal of options for the proposed joint services command and staff college, what assumption was made about the sale value of the Camberley site; and what figure has been included for this in the estimated costs of locating the college at Greenwich.

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Mr. Soames: This information is commercially confidential.

Amport House

Mr. Colvin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the sale of Amport house.

Mr. Soames: We announced, as part of the defence costs study our intention to form a tri-service chaplains' school. A study is at present under way to determine the location of the school, and Amport house is one of the sites under consideration. No decisions have yet been made. If Amport house was not selected as the site for the school, and no alternative defence uses were identified for it, our intention would be to sell it on the open market in the normal way.

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what actions and measures his Department has implemented in support of article 1 of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Mr. Soames: The nuclear non-proliferation treaty is the cornerstone of international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. My Department fully complies with the terms of article 1 of the NPT and works closely with other Government Departments to enforce export licensing procedures. This includes contributing to the work of the Zangger committee and the nuclear suppliers group.

Firearms (Trade Missions)

Mr. Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information his Department has in respect of and in what ways it is supporting trade missions to Latin American countries in January and February; what is the involvement of such trade missions in the sale or arrangement for sale of items classified under section 5 (1) (b) of the Firearms Act 1968; and if he will list the items which are so classified.

Mr. Freeman: There are no Ministry of Defence supported trade missions visiting Latin America in January or February 1995.

Tugboat Rotesand

Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about his Department's decision to engage the tugboat Rotesand for use at Devonport in Plymouth.

Mr. Freeman: The tug Rotesand was chartered to provide assured continuity of in-port services at Devonport during a period when two Devonport-based tugs of the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service were deployed to Barrow-in-Furness to assist the departure of HMS Victorious. The Rotesand was chartered on the open market and was the cheapest suitable tug available. The charter was originally for one week from 10 January but this was extended to 27 January after severe weather prevented the timely return of the RMAS tugs to Devonport.

Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what work has been undertaken by the tugboat Rotesand since its arrival at Plymouth; and how many times it has been used.

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Mr. Freeman: The tug Rotesand assisted HMS Westminster into port on 12 January. For the rest of the charter period it provided emergency cover for the safety of vessels at Devonport.

Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the estimated total cost to his Department of hiring the tugboat Rotesand for use at Devonport in Plymouth; and if he will provide a breakdown of the costs.

Mr. Freeman: The charter costs are commercially confidential.

Atomic Weapons Establishment, Cardiff

Mr. Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations he has had with the chief executive of the Atomic Weapons Establishment concerning the diversification of AWE Cardiff into production outside nuclear warhead production; and what efforts have been made in this regard.

Mr. Freeman: There have been continuing discussions between my Department and the managing contractor about diversification of work at the AWE Cardiff site, and my Department remains prepared to consider proposals for alternative work there.


Civil Service

Sir Thomas Arnold: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether the Government are yet in a position to respond to consultation on the White Paper, "The Civil Service, Continuity and Change", CM 2627, and to the fifth report of the Treasury and Civil Service Committee, Session 1993 94, on the role of the civil service, HC 27; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mandelson: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to introduce a code of ethics concerning the operation of the civil service.

Mr. David Hunt: The Government are publishing today a Command Paper, Cm 2748, taking forward the policies on the civil service set out in last July's White Paper "The Civil Service: Continuity and Change", Cm 2627. The command paper incorporates the Government's response to the fifth report of the Treasury and Civil Service Committee, "The Role of the Civil Service", HC(1992 94). It also takes account of other responses to the invitation to comment on the proposals in "Continuity and Change". Comments were received from 50 individuals and organisations. Copies of the responses where confidentiality was not requested have been placed in the Library of the House.

In "Continuity and Change", the Government re-affirmed their commitment to the maintenance of a permanent civil service, based on the values of integrity, political impartiality, objectivity, selection and promotion on merit and accountability through Ministers to Parliament. This commitment has been widely welcomed--and was equally emphasised by the Select Committee in its report. The Government also welcome the Select Committee's belief that

"the commitment of the overwhelming majority of civil servants to the principle and practice of a politically impartial Civil Service is undiminished".

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The Command Paper announces further measures to underpin these values.

The Government have accepted the Select Committee's recommendation for a new civil service code, to apply to all civil servants and summarising the constitutional framework within which civil servants work and the values they are expected to uphold. A draft code, suggesting the changes which the Government think necessary to the text proposed by the Select Committee, with an associated commentary, is published in the Command Paper as a basis for further consultation. The proposed code incorporates, as recommended by the Select Committee, a new independent line of appeal to the civil service commissioners in cases of alleged breaches of the code or issues of conscience which cannot be resolved through internal procedures.

The Government also intend to enhance the role of the civil service commissioners as guardians of the principle of selection on merit. They will be responsible for the interpretation of the principles of fair and open competition on merit for all civil service recruitment. The commissioners will be responsible for approving all appointments from outside the civil service to the new senior civil service; and the next first civil service commissioner is to be given a new role in monitoring senior internal appointments. Consequently he or she will not hold the post as a serving civil servant.

The Command Paper re-emphasises the Government's commitment to maintaining the civil service as a good employer, ensuring equality of opportunity, maintaining a predominantly career civil service, and to the training and development of all staff. It also confirms the Government's intention to proceed with the other approaches set out in "Continuity and Change" to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the civil service, including the delegation of pay and grading below senior levels to Department, and the introduction of efficiency plans in place of the centrally-driven "Competing for Quality" programme; to establish the proposed new senior civil service; to carry out senior management reviews in all Departments to introduce new pay arrangements for the senior civil service, including permanent secretaries; and to introduce contracts for all senior civil servants.

The Government are also publishing today detailed responses to the "Review of Recruitment Responsibilities" and the "Review of Fast Stream Training" which were published in parallel with Cm 2627. Copies of the responses have been placed in the Library of the House.

The command paper charts a clear course for the civil service. The Government believe that Parliament, the public and particularly the civil service itself should be encouraged by the degree of agreement on the way forward, reflected in the very considerable sharing of views on key issues between the Government and the Select Committee, as well as by those who have given evidence to the Select Committee and have commented on the White Paper. There is wide recognition of the work of the civil service, the values it upholds and the progress it has made in improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the services it provides. This offers an excellent foundation on which to move ahead.

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Next Steps Agencies

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will set out for each of the next steps agencies in his Department, whether they have acquired their own headquarters buildings and, if so, at what purchase cost or annual rental; how many support staff they have required which were not required when their operations were within his Department; how many of them published periodical journals and at what annual cost; how many have fleets of executive cars or single executive cars and at what annual cost; how many have specially designed logos and at what cost; how many have corporate clothing and at what cost; and what is the cost of specially designed and printed corporate stationery.

Mr. David Hunt: I am responsible for six agencies: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Central Office of Information, Chessington Computer Centre (Chessington), Civil Service College, Occupational Health Service and Recruitment and Assessment Services. The details requested concern mostly operational matters and I have asked the chief executives to reply directly.

HMSO and COI are individual departments as well as being agencies. They already had their own headquarters and were self-contained for support staff.

The other agencies are parts of the Cabinet Office, Office of Public Service and Science. All had their own headquarters buildings and were self contained for support services or very nearly so. Four additional support posts were created when they were launched as agencies. Since that time there have been further changes in the agencies to reflect levels of business and efficiency and productivity gains.

Within the Cabinet Office, excluding the agencies, there are now 25 fewer support staff than immediately prior to the launch of the first OPSS agency in 1989.

Letter from E. C. McCloy to Mr. Gerald Kaufman, dated 26 January 1995:

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service and Science (Mr. Robert Hughes) has asked me to provide, for my Agency, the information requested in your Parliamentary Question to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster about certain costs which might have been incurred by his Executive Agencies.

Since its inception in 1986, the structure and organisation of the Civil Service Occupational Health Service (OHS) has undergone little change. Between 1986 and 1990, when OHS achieved Agency status, it functioned as a free-standing unit within the Cabinet Office (Office of the Minister for the Civil Service). In 1989, the Headquarters was transferred from London to our present offices in Edinburgh as part of the government's programme of dispersal of Civil Service jobs. No additional costs were incurred resulting from the change.

Since 1990 the only addition to our support staff numbers has been the equivalent of one Executive Officer post which was added to our strength to take over accommodation and general support duties which had previously been undertaken by the Cabinet Office.

There are two or three editions, in each year, of a journal called "Health at Work" which is aimed at promoting health and safety within the Civil Service. The cost of each edition is approximately £9,000. "Health at Work" replaced previous journals which had been published before we attained Agency status.

Our logo was designed in 1987 before we became an Agency and our headed stationery also dates from that time.

We have no executive cars or corporate clothing.

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Letter from Michael D. Geddes to Mr. Gerald Kaufman, dated 24 January 1995:

There are two areas of the question that apply to Recruitment and Assessment Services (RAS).

In 1991 RAS paid a one-off sum of £20,000 to produce a corporate image for the Agency. This included choosing a name, logo design and preparation of a design manual with specifications for future use, ie a house style.

To supplement the use of the logo, RAS uses corporate stationery for a regular newsletter (Radius), for marketing and for tender documentation. This has cost £11,000 over the period late 1993 to date.

Letter from R. N. Edwards to Mr. Gerald Kaufman, dated 24 January 1995:

Chessington Computer Centre is an Agency of the Office of Public Service and Science. I have been asked to respond to you directly on the Parliamentary Question tabled on the costs of Agency. The costs were as follows:-

Headquarter Buildings--Nil, Chessington is wholly located at its single site in Surrey.

Support Staff--No additional support staff were added to the Chessington complement on becoming an Agency.

Periodical Journals--Chessington produces quarterly Newsletters to its customers. These were produced at a cost of £6261 in 1993/94, Chessington's first year as an Agency.

Executive Cars--Nil.

Logos--Chessington paid an amount of £5150 for professional consultancy and artwork in adopting a new logo as it became an Agency.

Corporate Clothing--Nil.

Cost of Specially designed Stationery--£7,500 in 1994/5. This included binders folders; headed stationery; compliment slips etc. Letter from Stephen Hickey to Mr. Gerald Kaufman, dated 25 January 1995:

I have been asked to reply to your question about the expenditure incurred by the Civil Service College since it has been a Next Steps agency. I will cover the points in the order that you raised them: Headquarter building

The College's main centre has been at Sunningdale Park since it was formed in 1971. No additional office accommodation has been created at Sunningdale because of the College becoming an agency. The current rent paid by the College totals £1.2 million per annum covering all the teaching, residential and office accommodation. Support staff

Three additional support staff were employed as a result of the College taking on new roles when it became an agency. Other increases in staffing since 1989 have been a result of the College's continuing success at expanding its business.

Periodic journals

We do not publish any periodic journals.

Executive cars

We do not have any executive cars.


The College has commissioned no specially designed logos since it became an agency.

Corporate clothing

The College issues no corporate clothing.

Corporate stationery

The College expects to spend £75,000 this financial year on corporate stationery. This includes headed letter paper, envelopes, ring binders, document wallets and financial stationery. All of these would have been required as part of the College's normal business, whether or not, it was an agency.

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