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Trilateral Defence Agreement

Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the trilateral defence agreement with Poland and Ukraine. [40559]

Mr. Soames: I met the Polish and Ukrainian Defence Ministers in Poland on 2 and 3 September. We agreed to institute a regular process of trilateral meetings and to develop a programme of trilateral defence co-operation. Within this framework, we are examining the possibility of UK assistance to the joint Polish-Ukrainian peacekeeping battalion and of joint training exercises.

Unexploded Bombs

Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information his Department (a) holds and (b) has assessed in respect of unexploded bombs in London; how many unexploded bombs are estimated to exist in each London authority area; how many bombs are officially listed; what is the estimated risk associated with these; what contact his Department has had with planners, surveyors or their representative groups in this matter; and what contact his Department has had with planners, surveyors or their representative groups in this matter; and what action is planned to deal with the situation. [40563]

Mr. Soames: I will write to the hon. Member.

Services Sound and Vision Corporation

Mr. Colvin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his Department's relationship with the Services Sound and Vision Corporation. [40946]

Mr. Soames: The Services Sound and Vision Corporation is a registered charity and also a company limited by guarantee which supplies a range of goods and services to my Department and to other customers. It does not carry out any function of government as such. It is classified as a non-departmental public body sponsored by my Department because most of its income has derived from work which was automatically placed by my Department with the corporation on a non-profit basis, and the Ministry of Defence is represented by trustees in the higher organisation of the corporation. However, this arrangement has not provided MOD with the kind of control that it is appropriate for sponsoring Departments to exercise over their NDPBs. It has been decided that best value for money would be obtained if the relevant goods and services were obtained by normal contractual means. My Department intends, subject to any responses to the minute that it laid before Parliament on 14 October 1996, that all future work done for it by SSVC should be conducted under contract.

MOD's proposed contractual relationship with SSVC would be the same as its relationship with any commercial supplier, so it would be inappropriate for the corporation to retain its status as a NDPB. Therefore, subject to signing of the proposed contracts, it is intended that SSVC's NDPB status shall be revoked.

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In order to prepare for the proposed new relationship with MOD, SSVC reviewed its activities. As a result of this, the corporation decided not to compete for some types of work that it previously undertook for MOD. This decision, and restructuring to enable it to compete for other types of MOD work, led to the need to reduce the SSVC work force by some 25 per cent. or about 200 posts. My Department has honoured its consequential liabilities towards SSVC by funding the restructuring costs, which mainly consisted of redundancy payments.

Another effect of the new relationship between MOD and SSVC concerns residual contingent liabilities. MOD would, under the proposed contractual relationship, retain some liabilities arising from the NDPB arrangement. This is explained in greater detail in the minute laid before Parliament to earlier.

With the removal of SSVC's NDPB status there would be no reason for MOD to continue to be represented in the corporation's higher organisation and, given the new contractual relationship between MOD and SSVC, it would be preferable for the practice to end as soon as possible.

Following the restructuring of SSVC and the removal of its NDPB status, the corporation should be able to operate more efficiently and with greater freedom than in the past. Given this, and its expertise in the business activity it will continue to undertake, MOD believes that the corporation should flourish.

Intelligence and Security Centre

Mr. Hargreaves: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about defence agency status for the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre.[40947]

Mr. Soames: The defence costs study recommended that a single joint services defence intelligence and security training centre with a rationalised management and support structure be formed at one location and that this centre be considered for defence agency status.

Following detailed studies, I have agreed to the formation of the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre as a defence agency on 1 October 1996 at the former RAF Chicksands.

When collocation is complete, the DISC will comprise units formerly based at Ashford and Garats Hay stations, Royal Air Force North Luffenham and Wyton, and HMS Mercury. It will employ approximately 500 staff, comprising military personnel from all three Services and civil servants.

The chief executive will hold executive powers delegated from my Department to allow the agency to fulfil its responsibilities. The chief executive will also be directly accountable to my Department and Parliament for the propriety and regularity of the agency's expenditure, for the adequacy of its financial systems, and for the efficient and economical conduct of its business. I will arrange for copies of the agency's framework document and corporate plan to be placed in the Library of the House.

The aim of the agency is to train the armed forces and other intelligence agencies in intelligence, security and psychological operations disciplines and conduct after

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capture to contribute to effective and timely advice to the armed forces on appropriate intelligence and security policy matters, and to maintain an operational capability all in a cost effective manner.

The chief executive has been set the following demanding output and developmental key targets for the first six months of operation, taking into account that units will be moving to Chicksands during this period:

The output targets are:

For development of the DISC, the targets are:

    On training:
    by 31 March 1997 to evaluate quality control mechanisms across all areas of training including systems of measurement, target setting and customer interface, all in accordance with the systems approach to training and identify any corrective measures necessary.
    On advice:
    in consultation with the owner and customers, determine a formal assessment mechanism by which the effectiveness of the contribution made by DISC staff to formulation of MOD policy for appropriate intelligence and security matters can be made.
    Concerning resource management:
    to introduce interim systems for training and financial management in order to produce training information and full cost accrual accounting based resource accounts for the period 1 October 1996 to 31 March 1997, in accordance with the requirements of agency reporting and the accounts direction for trial audit by the National Audit Office.
    And also:
    to progress the implementation of the planned DISC rationalisation and collocation programme.

All these targets will encourage continuous improvements and efficiencies to intelligence and security training for the armed services and enable the DISC to develop into a cohesive corporate centre of excellence. The bringing together of these units will also enable efficiencies in manpower and support costs to be made and a saving to the defence budget of £5 million per annum once collocation has occurred.


St. Helena

Dr. Marek: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the figures for grant in aid for St. Helena for the past five years (a) in cash terms and (b) at constant prices. [40602]

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Dr. Liam Fox: The figures are:

£ million

Cash pricesConstant prices

Grant in aid, or budgetary aid, is only one element of the UK's wider aid programme to St. Helena.

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