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Land Mines

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the (a) designed maximum timed life and (b) self-destruct reliability of scatterable mine systems due to enter service with the armed forces in 1999. [392]

Mr. Arbuthnot: The designed maximum timed life of the land mines for the vehicle launched scatterable anti-tank mine system which is due to enter service with the Army in 1999 is classified. The design aim for the self destruct reliability of these anti-tank mines is 99.9 per cent. Testing to date has demonstrated that this is being met. Additionally, mine detonation relies on a short-life battery and any mine that fails to self-destruct will deactivate within a further short time.

Departmental Property

Mr. Spellar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the terms of reference for agents undertaking the sale of his Department's property. [205]

Mr. Arbuthnot: The terms of reference for agents undertaking the sale of my Department's property depend upon the particular circumstances of the sale in question. The details of the sales contract are negotiated with the relevant agent.

30 Oct 1996 : Column: 174

Pilots and Navigators

Mr. Allason: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will examine the reintroduction of senior non-commissioned officers as pilots and navigators on transport aircraft and helicopters; and if he will assess the performance of their equivalents in the Army Air Corps. [836]

Mr. Soames: The Royal Air Force has no plans to extend the role of airmen (aircrew), who are non-commissioned officers, to encompass the role of pilots or navigators.

Personnel Training (Bermuda)

Mr. Allason: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will scrap the policy of charging the Bermuda Government for the training of personnel. [838]

Mr. Soames: No. It is our policy to recover the costs of providing training for outside customers, except in cases where the benefit to the United Kingdom is such that a subsidy can be justified.

Recruitment

Mr. Allason: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect of the recruitment of British dependent territory citizens on British forces. [839]

Mr. Soames: No specific assessment of the effect of recruitment of British dependent territory citizens on British armed forces has been made.

Bermuda Regiment

Mr. Allason: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to incorporate the Bermuda Regiment into the British Army's order of battle. [840]

Mr. Soames: There are no plans to incorporate the Bermuda Regiment into the Army's order of battle.

Merchant Vessels

Ms Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the number of merchant vessels chartered for use in military exercises or operations involving United Kingdom forces, the flag nationality of those vessels, and the total cost of these charters, over the past five years. [1029]

Mr. Soames: During the past five years--1992 to September 1996--143 vessels have been chartered for exercise/operations. These were:

NationalityNumber
Danish49
German18
Norwegian16
Swedish12
Spanish7
Ukrainian6
Maltese5
Swiss4
Panamanian3
Bahamian3
Finnish3
Italian3
Dutch2
Greek2
Luxembourg2
Polish2
French1
Swiss1
Cypriot1
Dutch1
Liberian1
British1

30 Oct 1996 : Column: 175

The total cost of chartering these vessels was £43,816,794.

Pregnancy Dismissal Cases (Legal Fees)

Ms Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the cost of legal fees incurred by Her Majesty's Government in relation to the armed services pregnancy dismissal cases defended by his Department in respect of legal advice and work, separately identifying advocacy provided by lawyers in private practice; and what was the average (a) daily and (b) hourly rate contracted for the advice and work. [851]

Mr. Soames: The total cost of legal fees to date in the armed forces pregnancy dismissal litigation, including disbursements and VAT, is £6.8 million, the majority of which--£6.3 million--has been paid to the Treasury Solicitor's Department. Barristers in private practice have been used as advocates in the 360 cases which have proceeded to an industrial tribunal--7 per cent., of all cases--but their fees cannot be separately identified in the overall figure of £1.9 million, including VAT, which the Treasury Solicitor's Department has disbursed in respect of counsel's fees. It is not possible to calculate a meaningful average daily or hourly rate for the variety of advice given and work done.

Proof and Experimental Station, Inchterf

Mr. Tom Clarke: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what future use he is considering for the former proof and experimental station at Inchterf, Auchenreoch; and if he will preclude its use as (i) a private shooting range or (ii) an explosives testing ground. [853]

Mr. Soames: The former proof and experimental station at Inchterf has been marketed on the basis of a planning brief agreed with the local authority. This does not envisage the site being used as an explosive testing ground nor as a private shooting range. We are not aware that any of those who have expressed interest in the site intend to use it for those purposes.

Air Traffic Movements (Northolt)

Sir Michael Shersby: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what were the number of military air traffic movements at RAF Northolt in (a) 1989 and (b) 1994; and if he will estimate the number of such movements for the year ending 31 December 1996; [855]

30 Oct 1996 : Column: 176

Mr. Soames: The following table provides the information requested on military and civilian movements at RAF Northolt. The 1996 estimate for military movements includes those by civil aircraft on Government business, such as MOD charters.

198919941996(12)
Military9,5007,3198,450
Civilian5,6005,4256,450

(12) Estimate.


RAF Fast Jets (Maintenance)

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to improve quality control in the maintenance of RAF fast jets by contractors. [898]

Mr. Soames: The MOD aims to place full responsibility on its contractors for the quality of the products and services which they supply. It is MOD policy to place contracts only with those suppliers who have been assessed by an accredited body to an appropriate quality management standard.

Computer Hacking, Fraud and Theft

Mr. George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cases of computer hacking, fraud and theft, including theft of computer chips, his Department has recorded in the last five years. [800]

Mr. Soames: Consolidated records of computer hacking, computer fraud and computer theft have only been maintained across the Department since 1 April 1995. Since that date 152 known cases of theft of computers or computer equipment, including two cases of chip theft, have been recorded and there have been no reported instances of computer fraud.

In respect of hacking I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) on 17 June 1996, Official Report, column 364.

These figures do not include cases under current active investigation or sub judice.

Computers

Mr. George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many computers are held by (a) the Ministry of Defence and (b) the individual services. [799]

Mr. Arbuthnot: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Beef Purchases

Mr. Ainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how much non-United Kingdom produced beef was purchased by his Department in 1995-96; and how much has been purchased in the current financial year; [910]

30 Oct 1996 : Column: 177

Mr. Arbuthnot: The procurement of food for the armed forces is contracted to the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes NAAFI. My Department does not specify the source of origin from which NAAFI should obtain beef or any other meat, but expects them to seek the best market price for the product. The majority of our requirements are for frozen beef, which is not readily available from the British market.

In the financial year 1995-96 and in the first six months of the current financial year NAAFI purchased some 1.45M kg of non UK beef, valued at £5.2 million. This was sourced primarily from South America, New Zealand and Australia.


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