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Area Defence Weapon

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the area defence weapon is due to enter service. [1074]

Mr. Arbuthnot: Current plans are to introduce an area defence weapon in the first decade of the next century. However, we are currently considering our future requirements for this nature of weapon and no firm decisions have been taken. Any such weapon introduced into service would have a self-destruct or self-neutralising capability and would fully meet the requirements of the international laws of armed conflict.

Multiple-Launch Rockets

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the multiple-launch rocket system phase 2 warheads, ordered by Germany in August 1991, are due to be delivered to his Department. [1076]

Mr. Arbuthnot: The British Army is currently taking delivery of the multiple launch rocket system phase 2--AT2--rocket ordered by Germany and the United

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Kingdom in August 1991. Deliveries of the United Kingdom's offtake of phase 2 rockets are planned to be completed in early 1996.

Empty Dwellings

Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many dwellings owned by his Department are currently unoccupied in the counties of (a) Hampshire, (b) Lancashire and (c) Avon; and how many dwellings owned by his Department have been unoccupied for six months or more in each of these counties. [1222]

Mr. Soames: As at 30 September 1995, my Department owned the following empty dwellings in the counties named:


Information on properties unoccupied for six months or more is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Jamieson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many dwellings owned by his Department are currently unoccupied; and how many dwellings owned by his Department have been occupied for six months or more. [1336]

Mr. Soames: As at 30 September 1995, my Department owned 14,098 vacant dwellings, of which 13,898 were service families quarters and 200 were MOD civilian houses. Of these, 3,202 vacant service quarters and 55 civilian houses were in the process of being sold. The majority of the remainder of the service quarters were either awaiting major maintenance work, held for unit deployments, already allocated to service families due to move in shortly or formed part of the management margin needed to ensure that accommodation is available to house entitled service personnel. The majority of the vacant civilian houses could not be disposed of for security reasons. Information on properties unoccupied for six months or more is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

From the total of 13,898 empty properties, a further number of houses is being identified for future disposal.

European Procurement Co-operation

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to discuss European procurement collaboration with his French and German colleagues; and if he will make a statement. [1340]

Mr. Arbuthnot: Discussions continue with my French and German colleagues in a variety of forums, both on specific projects and on general European equipment collaboration issues. In particular, my Department is currently involved in discussions on the possible establishment of a European armaments agency and on the prospects for participation by the UK in the planned Franco-German armaments co-operation structure.

Arcadia Land Plc

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the Arcadia Land company has expressed an interest in being involved in the privatisation or sale of

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surplus defence married quarters; and if he will make a statement. [1341]

Mr. Soames: Dr. David Hart, the independent adviser to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, is a director of Arcadia Land plc. As I made clear in my answer of 27 January, Official Report, column 445, no independent adviser assisting in the way ahead in a transfer of ownership of the married quarters estate will be permitted to have a financial stake in the outcome of the transaction. Arcadia Land plc has not made any expression of interest in respect of the disposal of surplus married quarters under the existing system.

Army Pay

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the average cost to the public funds per annum for each member of the British Army. [1646]

Mr. Soames: This information can be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, it is possible to quantify the Regular Army's current annual pay bill on an average basis. Including all members of the home service full-time element of the Royal Irish Regiment and the non-regular permanent staff of the Territorial Army, the figure for pay, earnings-related national insurance contributions, allowances and superannuation equates to £23,300 per person. This figure takes no account of variation attributable to rank or other factors and costs.

Ballistic Missiles

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the feasibility study by the Defence Research Agency into a domestically produced ballistic missile interceptor; and if he will make a statement. [1647]

Mr. Arbuthnot: No. The Defence Research Agency is carrying out work related to ballistic missile defence. Its reports are classified and it would not be appropriate to publish them.

Ministry of Defence Police

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will publish the results of his Department's study into the future of the Ministry of Defence police; [1648]

Mr. Soames: The overall manpower requirements of the Ministry of Defence police are kept under constant review. We will shortly be consulting the staff associations and trade unions concerned about proposals resulting from a number of studies on defence police and guarding requirements. Consultative documents will be put to them. I shall be sending copies to the House of Commons Defence Committee and to the hon. Members with particular consistency interests. I shall also place copies in the Library of the House.

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Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Mr. Livingstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Government plan at the appropriate time to make available to the public details of the declaration to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. [1608]

Mr. Arbuthnot: Yes. Details of UK's declarations required under the chemical weapons convention will be made available to the public when they are passed to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

Student Loans

Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what is the average debt of students on completion of their studies. [181]

Mr. Forth: The appropriate average debt to the Student Loans Company of borrowers who entered repayment status on 1 April 1995 was £1,415.

Mr. Bryan Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans she has to use the national insurance system to collect repayments of student loans. [1466]

Mr. Forth: The Government have no plans to use the national insurance system for this purpose.

Mr. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if she will list the financial institutions with which her Department has had discussions regarding reforms of the student loans scheme; and which of these has indicted interest in involvement in any new scheme. [1465]

Mr. Forth: Officials have had, and are continuing to have, discussions with a number of banks and building societies on this subject. Given the commercial nature of these discussions, it is not appropriate to say, at this stage, which institutions officials are talking to, nor which have expressed an interest.

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if she will estimate for each year since 1992 in constant prices the average level of indebtedness of university and college students; and if she will make a statement. [628]

Mr. Forth: Information on total student indebtedness is not collected centrally.

Public Interest Immunity Certificates

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if she will list all those in her Department who have authority to issue public interest immunity certificates; how many such certificates have been issued in each of the last five years; and what were the main reasons for them. [1391]

Mr. Forth: A claim to public interest immunity relating to departmental documents or information is normally made by the appropriate Minister.

There was one case in 1991 and one in 1992 in which a certificate was used inter partes in proceedings.

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The certificates were issued in respect of advice by Her Majesty's inspectorate of schools and officials in the context of appeals under section 8(6) of the Education Act 1981 in order to protect the confidentiality of full and frank advice given to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.


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