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Mr. Battle: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much research into the causes and treatment of Alzheimer's disease was funded by the Government in 1993 94; and what is the expected level of expenditure in 1994 95 and 1995 96.
Mr. Horam: In the last financial year for which figures are available--1993 94--the Medical Research Council, which receives its funding from my Department, spent £4.5 million on research projects directly related to Alzheimer's disease and a further £5.3 million on projects which may in part have some relevance to the condition. It is not possible to provide figures for the council's future funding of research proposals as this will depend on the quality and nature of research applications received. However, the council is always willing to discuss and consider sound, scientifically based proposals for research into Alzheimer's disease.
The universities and medical schools may also be funding research into Alzheimer's disease, although this information is not held centrally.
The Department of Health does not at present fund research specifically into the treatment of the disease.
Mr. Battle: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how much money the Medical Research Council plans to spend in 1995 96 and 1996 97 on (a) research into epilepsy and (b) research which may be relevant to the condition.
Mr. Horam: It is not possible to provide figures for the Medical Research Council's future funding of research proposals as this will depend on the quality and nature of research applications received. The council is always willing to discuss and consider sound, scientifically based proposals for research into epilepsy.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what recent changes have been made in the definitions of the security classifications "confidential" and "commercial in confidence" in the light of the Government's commitment to open government; and what guidance has been circulated to civil servants on the use of such classifications.
"Information and material the unauthorised disclosure of which would be damaging to the interests of the nation".
Until the same date, "commercial in confidence" was one of a number of privacy markings and its purpose was to enable appropriate protection to be given to information relating to a commercial undertaking's processes or affairs and which may have been of commercial value to its competitors or to speculators. Following a review of protective security, the classification system and the privacy marking system were replaced by a harmonised system of protective markings.
The new definition of "confidential" is:
"The compromise of this information or material would be likely: materially to damage diplomatic relations--ie cause formal protest or other sanction-- to prejudice individual security or liberty; to cause damage to the operational effectiveness or security of UK or allied forces or the effectiveness of valuable security or intelligence operations; to work substantially against national finances or economic and commercial interest; substantially to undermine the financial viability of
Column 342major organisations; to impede the investigation or facilitate the commission of serious crime; to impede seriously the development or operation of major government policies; to shut down or otherwise substantially disrupt significant national operations".
Privacy markings, such as "commercial in confidence", have been abolished. They have been replaced by descriptors which can be used, normally in conjunction with any one of the four protective markings--top secret, secret, confidential, and restricted--to indicate what sort of sensitive material--commercial, staff, management, and so on--is being protected. Guidance about the use of the protective marking system has been issued to departments and agencies as part of wider guidance on protective security.
The new protective marking system is consistent with the code of practice on access to Government information. The guidance on interpretation of the code of practice, which has been issued to all Departments and agencies subject to the code and has been placed in the Library, makes it clear that the arrangements for marking information help to ensure the physical security of information which is exempt from disclosure under the code. It also makes clear that information does not need to be protectively marked to be exempt from disclosure under the code, and that a protective marking cannot be taken, without further examination, to mean that all the information contained in a document is properly exempt from disclosure.
Mr. Freeman: My Department's vehicles and their drivers are entitled to various exemptions under a wide variety of road traffic regulations. It is our policy, however, to comply with all regulations where operational effectiveness is not impaired. No central record of the exemptions is maintained and this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Freeman: My Department is aware of the need to seek positive ways to combat sickness absenteeism. At present, initiatives include: a thorough absence reporting system; procedures for dealing with excessive absence; courses and seminars on stress management; a comprehensive welfare service; and education for line managers in occupational monitoring and improving staff attendance rates.
Column 343Albania has requested from the United Kingdom in the last five years.
Mr. Freeman: It is not our normal practice to make public the substance of intergovernmental discussions on potential military assistance. In the case of assistance to Albania, no decisions have yet been taken.
Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total amount of time that Messrs. Harris and Wilmott were suspended from their posts as press officers in Plymouth; and what level of pay they received during their suspension;
(2) what was the total amount of money in dispute in the expense claims of Messrs. Harris and Wilmott which led to their suspension as press officers in Plymouth;
(3) what was the total cost of the investigation by his Department into the expense claims of Messrs. Harris and Wilmott who are employed by his Department in Plymouth as press officers; and who was responsible for conducting the inquiry;
(4) if he will place in the Library the report into the investigations of Messrs. Harris and Wilmott, press officers in his Department.
Mr. Freeman [holding answer Thursday 2 March 1995]: Mr. Harris and Mr. Wilmott were suspended from duty from 20 April 1994, until 8 November 1994 and 19 January 1995 respectively. They were paid full salaries during these periods.
Both cases involved investigation by the Ministry of Defence police, which, until 12 January 1995, was a mandatory requirement in cases that involved alleged fraud. Since then, line management has been granted a degree of discretion on police investigation and this is no longer mandatory in minor cases of alleged fraud. It was established, following independent inquiry, that no indication to defraud had existed in these cases. The length of time taken in these cases was partly accounted for by postponements of the hearings at the request of the defendants, and partly by the need for consultation between line management and MOD personnel specialists following the hearing to ensure fair treatment for both officers.
The total cost of the investigation could not be separately identified, but each was chaired by a member of staff outside the management structure of the officers concerned. It is not my Department's practice to make available confidential information on staff matters.
(2) where the Crown Housing Trust currently operates from; and where the Defence Housing Executive will be based.
Mr. Soames: The original proposal to set up a housing trust encountered difficulties, and the trust was therefore never formally established. The Defence Housing Executive is on course to assume responsibility for the management and maintenance of the married quarters estate from 1 April 1995. The staff initially recruited to set up the housing trust were originally accommodated in
Column 344Ministry of Defence offices in London. From 1 August 1994, the staff involved, who have subsequently been working on setting up the Defence Housing Executive moved to other Government offices in central London. The Defence Housing Executive is also in the process of appointing regional and area staff throughout the country; as existing service or Ministry of Defence civilian personnel, these staff are accommodated in either Defence or common user estate property. It is expected that these arrangements will continue.
Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) who was responsible for appointing the employees of the Crown Housing Trust; and who will be responsible for appointing the employees of the Defence Housing Executive;
(2) if the chief executive of the Crown Housing Trust is eligible for consideration for the post of chief executive of the Defence Housing Executive.
Mr. Soames: The chief executive, designate, housing director, designate, and finance director, designate, of the trust were appointed by my Department following open competition and in accordance with the recommendations of an appointments board chaired by the First Civil Service Commission. Other staff of the embryo trust organisation were serving civil servants and agency support staff. Arrangements for the appointment of a chief executive for the Defence Housing Executive have yet to be finalised. The other staff of the executive are being drawn from the Department's civilian and service personnel resources; it is envisaged that a limited number of appointments will in due course be made by means of open competition where the required expertise is not available within Government personnel resources.
Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department will be setting annual targets for the Defence Housing Executive for the number of vacant dwellings among Ministry of Defence-owned properties.
Mr. Soames: In common with all Government Departments holding residential property, my Department agrees annually with the Department of the Environment a target for a reduction in the number of void properties it holds. Achievement of the target to be agreed for my Department for 1995 96 will be the responsibility of the Defence Housing Executive.
Mr. Soames: Arrangements for the appointment of a chief executive for the Defence Housing Executive have yet to be finalised. The other staff of the executive are being drawn from my Department's civilian and service personnel resources; it is envisaged that a limited number of appointments will in due course be made by means of open competition where the required expertise is not available within Government personnel resources.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the total cost of renting office accommodation for his Department's housing trust and Defence Housing Executive; where are the offices; and for how long they have been rented.
Mr. Soames: The staff initially recruited to set up the housing trust were originally accommodated in Ministry of Defence offices in London. From 1 August 1994, the staff involved, who have subsequently been working on
Column 345setting up the Defence Housing Executive, moved to other Government offices in central London. The rental cost to the end of February 1995 is some £191,000. The Defence Housing Executive is also in the process of appointing regional and area staff throughout the country; as existing service or Ministry of Defence civilian personnel, these staff are accommodated in either defence or common user estate property. It is expected that these arrangements will continue.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will specify the total payments to date made to (a) Coopers and Lybrand, (b) NatWest Markets and (c) Savills for work carried out in respect of his Department's plans for the married quarters housing stock; and whether this work is still continuing;
Column 346(2) if he will provide a breakdown for the total cost to date of his Department's plans for the married quarters housing stock; (3) what is the total annual cost of legal advice for work associated with the Defence Housing Trust and Defence Housing Executive.
Mr. Soames: The total cost to date of work on new arrangements for the married quarters estate is some £5.4 million. Much of this investment is being realised in the establishment of the Defence Housing Executive, and much of it is also relevant to any form of transfer of the married quarters estate to the private section. The breakdown of these costs is as follows:
£ thousand |Financial year|Financial year|Financial year|Financial year |1991-92 |1992-93 |1993-94 |1994-95 |Total ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Internal costs |- |- |312 |857 |1,169 External costs Legal advice |- |3 |102 |825 |930 Other professional fees |8 |13 |462 |2,852 |3,335 Total |8 |16 |876 |4,534 |5,434 Notes: 1. All costs shown are outturn prices exclusive of VAT for external costs. VAT is refunded to the Department on "contracted-out services" such as legal advice, agency staff and other professional services. 2. Internal costs are primarily salary costs and office accommodation, but cover also such items as office machinery, computers and stationery. 3. External costs for financial year 1994-95 take account of invoices received to date.
Payments to individual companies are commercially confidential. The possibility of further work for such companies depends on the outcome of the competitive selection of financial and other advisers which we are at present carrying out, and on any future need for advice which may be identified.
Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give details of all cases in which employees of his Department have received severance payments in excess of (c) 100,000 after less than 12 months service for each of the last three years.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many GCHQ staff have been placed at Menwith Hill station in each year since 1992, to date and on what basis; what are their primary duties; to whom do they report; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Soames: There is a significant GCHQ presence at Menwith Hill station. It is not Government policy however to give more detailed information on the deployment of GCHQ staff. I refer the hon. Member to the Adjournment debate of 25 March 1994 concerning Menwith Hill station, Official Report , columns 609 16.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will permit right hon. and hon. Members to visit Menwith Hill station in north Yorkshire to inspect the station and to be briefed on the activities currently undertaken there; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the progress by the National Security Agency of America, in respect of complaints made by Ms Lindis Percy, of Bradford, about her treatment by American military personnel when detained by them at Menwith Hill station; what rights Ms Percy has to take legal action against American military personnel; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Soames: I am unaware of any incidents at Menwith Hill station in which Ms Percy has been detained by American military personnel. It is not for my Department to advise Ms Percy on her legal rights.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what types of hospitality members of his Department have been forbidden to receive from companies bidding for defence contracts; on what date the restriction was imposed; and if he will specify the instructions provided to members of his Department concerning hospitality and receiving gifts from defence contractors.
Column 347gifts and hospitality have been in place for many years. They are brought to the attention of all staff in a publication which is issued annually. Staff must not accept hospitality which includes overnight accommodation, transport costs, or offers of such things as holidays and the use of vehicles. Invitations of a social kind should normally be declined unless attendance can be demonstrated to be in the interests of the Department. Trivial gifts may be retained, where they are occasional and where acceptance would not give rise to public concern.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what occasions in the last year he has met (a) his French and (b) his German counterparts to discuss his Department's ideas for the development of the Western European Union; and what were the outcomes of these meetings.
Mr. Soames: My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has regularly met his French and German counterparts over the past year to discuss a wide range of issues that have on occasion included matters concerning the Western European Union.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will specify the actions his Department are promoting to develop the Western European Union's planning and command and control capacities.
Mr. Soames: The actions we are promoting are those stated in the memorandum on the United Kingdom's approach to the treatment of European defence issues at the 1996 inter-governmental conference, a copy of which is in the Library of the House. These includes provisional offers of assistance in developing the handling of intelligence and the creation of a situation centre.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the reasons which led his Department to reject the German Government's proposals in December 1993 for a nuclear weapons register; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Soames: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary on 13 December 1994, Official Report, columns 621 22.
Mr. Freeman: The management arrangements for each collaborative defence equipment programme are considered on their merits, with our partners, on a case by case basis. Where there is judged to be the most effective approach, a joint project office may be established.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his Department's policy concerning the use of capability and cost to determine a country's share of work in joint European procurement collaborations.
Mr. Freeman: In negotiations with partners in a collaborative programme, the Department takes into account a number of factors relating to workshares, on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the aim of obtaining value for money. The Department believes that this aim is best achieved by maximising competition in the programme, allowing companies in each partner nation the opportunity to win work on technical and commercial merit.
Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many ships were chartered by his Department in each of the last 10 years; and how many of these ships were registered in Britain in each of these years.
Mr. Soames: The independent nuclear forces of the United Kingdom are committed to NATO and already contribute to overall deterrence and security within Europe. This was recognised by all WEU members at the Noordwijk summit in November 1994.
Mr. Soames: Our policy is to be as open about our nuclear deterrent as is possible without revealing information which might diminish the effectiveness of the system and so the credibility of our deterrent.
Mr. Freeman: In principle, I welcome the closer ties which many United Kingdom defence companies are forging with those in Europe and north America. Industrial rationalisation is a process which is primarily for the companies and the markets, subject of course to regulation by the relevant competition authorities. My Department considers mergers which may be of interest to it on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the possible
Column 349effects on future competition and any security considerations.
Mr. Soames: There are no proven cases of fraud associated with Operation Granby. A number of suspected cases concerned with the supply of shipping have been investigated, some of which remain the subject of civil or criminal action.
Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel have been tested under the new compulsory drug testing procedures in (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Navy including the Royal Marines and (c) the Royal Air force; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Soames: The Army is the only service to have introduced a compulsory drug testing programme. Tests began in January, and by 1 March 436 Army personnel had been tested. The Royal Navy has recently completed an anonymous trial to determine whether there is a need for compulsory drug testing of naval personnel, including the Royal Marines, and a report will be submitted to the Admiralty Board shortly. The RAF does not consider that there is a need to introduce compulsory drug testing at present, but is keeping its position under review.
Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will list (a) the consultants, (b) the tasks for which they were employed and (c) the payments made to them from his Department's budget in (i) 1992 93 and (ii) 1993 94.
Mr. Freeman: In addition to those placed by the central contracts branches, consultancy contracts may be placed as part of a larger project and by individual budget holders where the overall value of the contract is low. Such contracts are placed under delegated contractual authority without reference to the central contracts branches and so cannot be identified centrally.
In view of this and the fact that the Department's central contracts branches have placed in excess of 500 contracts with consultants in each of the last few years, an answer to the hon. Gentleman's question could only be provided at disproportionate cost and effort.
Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of those service personnel who have served in Northern Ireland since 1969 are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; and if he will make a statement.
Column 350military aircraft outside weapons range areas in the United Kingdom over the last three years.
Mr. Soames: The information requested is shown. All four occurrences involved inadvertent release of inert practice weapons into areas where public access is controlled because of known military activity.
Date |Location |Circumstances ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Royal Air Force 25 January 1993 |RAF Marham |Practice bomb fell from |a Tornado GR1 during |take-off and landed on |the runway. Fleet Air Arm 6 October 1992 |English Channel |Drill missile released |(Portland Exercise |from a Lynx in error |Area) |during simulated attack. 30 March 1993 |English Channel |Drill missile released |(Portland Exercise |from a Lynx in error |Area) |during simulated attack. 19 May 1994 |Firth of Clyde |Practice torpedo slipped |(Clyde Exercise | Area) |transit by Sea King to |beaching site.
Mr. Soames: It is understood that the Royal Air Force Golf Association, which is a non-public body, is examining the possibility of constructing a golf course on surplus land at RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire. Should the association decide to proceed with this proposal, the costs, including the purchase of land from my Department, would be met by it.