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Electoral Abuse

Dr. Hendron: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what action he plans to take to counter electoral abuse in the forthcoming elections in Northern Ireland. [16467]

Mr. Ancram: As the hon. Gentleman is aware, countering electoral abuse at election time involves participation by a number of groups on a number of different fronts. My Department has already issued to all households in Northern Ireland a document reminding voters about specified identity documents. This serves to remind people to safeguard the integrity of their own documents. In the meantime, the chief electoral officer is in contact with the Royal Ulster Constabulary to ensure maximum awareness of the criminal offence of any voters being in possession of identity documents for the purposes of impersonation. The chief electoral officer and his staff will be particularly vigilant with postal and proxy vote applications and will pass to the RUC any evidence of abuse for investigation. The parties themselves will need to select and brief carefully those people they chose to act as their polling agents as these people have a particularly important role to pay in identifying abuse actually at the polling stations.

Environmental Audit (Departmental Buildings)

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the ways in which his Department has demonstrated the ability to improve efficiency and competitiveness through an environmental audit of (a) energy use and (b) waste management within those buildings his Department occupies; and if he will make a statement. [16431]

Mr. Moss: The central Government estate in Northern Ireland achieved a 13 per cent. improvement in energy efficiency by 31 March 1996 (against the Government target of 15 per cent.). This compares very favourably with other parts of the central Government estate in the UK.

This has been achieved by measures such as the promotion of energy efficiency through an inter-departmental committee; energy audits; staff awareness programmes; and buildings energy management systems.

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Waste management strategies are included in the green housekeeping action plans for all Government Departments in Northern Ireland. The strategies cover such issues as the disposal of waste paper and the recycling of other materials. The steps taken include a centralised contract for the disposal of waste paper, a Northern Ireland-wide procedure for the collection and disposal of confidential waste and recycling schemes for aluminium cans and toner cartridges.

Scottish Grand Committee

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been the cost to public funds of the attendance of (a) Ministers and (b) officials of his Department at meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee in Scotland since December 1994; and if he will list the meetings of the Committee which (a) and (b) have attended indicating the cost of attendance and the names of those who attended. [16577]

Sir John Wheeler: No Ministers or officials from the Northern Ireland Office and Northern Ireland Departments have attended a meeting of the Scottish Grand Committee.

Ulster College of Arts

Rev. Ian Paisley: To ask the Secretary for State for Northern Ireland what are the basic qualifications required for entrance into the Ulster college of arts; and what procedures ensure that the required standard for entrance is met. [17086]

Mr. Ancram: The university of Ulster's faculty of art and design (which subsumed the Ulster college) offers a comprehensive range of courses at different levels, the entrance requirements for which are set out in detail in the university's prospectus. Admission criteria are established and reviewed annually by the faculty and the central university authorities.

Irish and Ulster-Scots

Rev. Ian Paisley: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much was spent on the promotion and support of (a) Irish and (b) Ulster-Scots cultural activities excluding the Irish language expenditure, identified in his answer of 13 January, Official Report, column 57, in each of the past five years. [17084]

Mr. Ancram: Other than projects with a distinct language dimension, it is not possible to categorise objectively cultural activities which receive support as Irish or Ulster-Scots.

Rev. Ian Paisley: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much the promotion and teaching of the Irish language in English-medium schools cost in 1995-96, broken down by (a) teacher costs, (b) teaching materials, (c) inspectorate and examination costs, (d) teacher training, and (e) overhead costs. [17083]

Mr. Ancram: Teaching of the Irish language is an integral part of the curriculum in many schools. The breakdown of financial information in the form requested is not available.

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Rev. Ian Paisley: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people have been employed in each of the last five years by direct and indirect Government funding on the promotion and teaching of (a) the Irish language and (b) the Ulster-Scots language. [17085]

Mr. Ancram: The primary purpose of funding projects with an Irish language or Ulster-Scots language dimension is not employment creation. The information requested is not collated centrally and can only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Newcastle Disease

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the areas in Northern Ireland currently affected by Newcastle disease; and if he will make a statement. [17148]

Mr. Ancram: Newcastle disease outbreaks have currently been confirmed in the Lurgan, Dungannon, Larne, Coagh, Newtownards, mid-Antrim, Randalstown and Cloughmills areas of Northern Ireland.

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will estimate how many (a) farms and (b) birds have been infected with Newcastle disease in the recent outbreak; and if he will make a statement. [17147]

Mr. Ancram: At 20 February 1997 there was a total of nine premises in Northern Ireland infected with Newcastle disease. Approximately 356,000 birds have been slaughtered on these infected premises.


Army Tanks

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many tanks the British Army had at its disposal in (a) 1967, (b) 1970, (c) 1980, (d) 1990 and (e) currently. [14004]

Mr. Soames: Details of Army tank holdings are not available in the form requested across the period concerned.

Holdings of main battle tanks, excluding armoured reconnaissance vehicles and armoured vehicles Royal Engineers for the years 1967, 1970, 1980, 1990, and currently total 694, 658, 640, 699, and 388 respectively.

These figures exclude tanks held by training and research establishments, in store as the war maintenance reserve or awaiting disposal.

The size of the tank force has reduced sharply since the end of the cold war as the threat of massive conventional attack on our continental allies has all but disappeared and our emphasis has shifted towards rapid deployment in response to local or regional crises. However, the smaller tank force today benefits from the greater military effectiveness of the modern Challenger 1 tanks now in service and will be enhanced still further by the introduction to regimental service of Challenger 2.

Departmental Publicity

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will provide (a) his Department's

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budgeted expenditure on (i) advertising, (ii) publicity and (iii) public information campaigns for the period January to March 1997 and (b) the actual expenditure on (1) advertising, (2) publicity and (3) public information campaigns in the period January to March in each of the past five years. [13465]

Mr. Soames: The information is not available in the form requested. I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 6 February, Official Report, column 685, and 18 February, Official Report, column 469-70.

Ocean Wave 97

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list (a) the places to be visited by Ocean Wave 97, (b) the dates of the visit in each case, (c) which UK companies are using the visits to promote their business, and (d) the cost of the tour; and if all costs are being paid for by his Department. [15244]

Mr. Soames: The Royal Navy's Ocean Wave 97 deployment got underway on 13 January. Ships have already made visits to ports in France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Israel, and to Gibraltar and Djibouti. Diplomatic clearances have been granted by host authorities for visits to Turkey, India, the Maldives, Thailand, Brunei, Indonesia, South Korea, New Zealand, Malta and Corfu. On current plans two ships will detach temporarily from the task group to be in Hong Kong in June when the territory is handed back to China. The full Ocean Wave 97 programme has still to be finalised, and is subject to change, but we hope that in addition during the seven-month deployment, ships from the task group will be able to visit ports in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Pakistan, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Russian, the Philippines, Australia, and South Africa.

Ocean Wave 97 demonstrates the UK's continued commitment to the Asia-Pacific region after the handover of Hong Kong. It underlines our interest in promoting regional peace and stability, protecting the freedom of international trade, and supporting co-operation and joint working between military forces in the Asia-Pacific region.

The activities and exercises conducted during major Royal Navy deployments such as Ocean Wave, which take place every three to four years, are an important contributor to building up the operational capability which the Commander in Chief Fleet is tasked to deliver. Participating units benefit from the opportunity to train and develop the seamanship and warfare operational skills and tactics of an integrated force. Such interactive training is achievable only when a number of diverse assets are deployed together over a prolonged period. Ocean Wave will also develop the Royal Navy's interoperability with other nations. The task group has already participated in exercises involving the French, Spanish, Dutch and Egyptian navies, and a number of other exercises are planned for later in the deployment. Two of the largest of these will be Exercise Setia Kawan with the Royal Brunei armed forces; and Exercise Flying Fish with our five power defence arrangements--FPDA--partners, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore, which will be the first ever joint air-maritime FPDA exercise.

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The costs of such major deployments are taken into account in cyclical programming. The ships, aircraft, and personnel involved in Ocean Wave would be fully engaged in other activities anyway, and the directly attributable extra costs of the deployment are thus estimated at about £5.5 million. The main elements of this are port and harbour dues, Suez canal transit fees, operational support, additional fuel, and some air travel.

As is usual a deployment of this type, the Royal Navy is pleased to be able to help in the promotion of the UK's wider interests. To this end it will be participating in a number of Defence industry days. UK companies which will participate in Defence industry days, and defence exhibitions associated with Ocean Wave 97, include the following:
AGI Aeronautical and General Instruments, UK
Aircraft Materials
Arran Fire and Safety
Avon Inflatables Ltd.
Avon Polymer Products
Babcock Rosyth Defence Ltd.
BAe Dynamics
BAe Systems and Equipment
Barr and Stroud Ltd.
Basys Marine
British Aerospace Defence Ltd.
Brown Brothers,
SG Brown
Caley Ocean Systems
Chelsea Instruments
Chernikeef Logs
Clarke Chapman Marine
Cogent Defence Systems
Du Pont (UK) Ltd.
EDS Ltd.
Fairey Hydraulics
Ferranti Technologies Ltd.
Flagship Training Ltd.
Francis Searchlights (1990) Ltd.
J&S Franklin Ltd.
FR Aviation
Gearing and Watson
GEC Alsthom-Paxman Diesels Ltd.
GEC Marconi Avionics Ltd.
GEC Marconi Materials Technology
GEC Marconi Projects
GEC Marconi Radar and Defence Systems
GEC Marconi S31
GEC Marconi Underwater Weapons
GEC Marine
GKN Westland Helicopters
Hale Hamilton Valves

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Howden Airdynamics Group Ltd.
Hunting Engineering
Irvin Aerospace
Island Plastics Industries Ltd.
JJB Consultancy
Kelvin Hughes Ltd.
T. W. Kempton (Corporate Clothing) Ltd.
Kidde Fire Protection
Leyland Trucks
Mara Engineering
Marine Acoustics
Marine Data
Maritime Defence
Matra Marconi Space
Meggitt Avionics
Mitchell Bearings
ML Holdings
MSI Defence
Neptune Sonar
Park Air Electronics
Pain Wessex
Pearson Engineering Ltd.
Permali Gloucester
Pilatus Britten Norman
Pilkington PE Ltd.
Pilkington Thorn Optronics
Polaris International
Power Magnetics
Pyser-SGI Ltd.
Racal Acoustics
Racal Thorn
Redifon MEL/SPT
Remploy Textile Group
Rolls Royce Anstey
Rolls Royce Bristol
Rolls Royce Specialist Engines
Royal Military College of Science
RTK Marine
Shorts Missile Systems Ltd.
Siemens Plessey
Simrad Optronics Ltd.
Slingsby Aviation
Slingsby Engineering
Strachan and Henshaw
Tebbutt and Hall Ltd.
Thompson Valves
Thomson Marconi Sonar Ltd.
Thomson-Thorn Missile Electronics
Thorn Automation
W. and J. Tod
UK Safety Group Ltd.
Ultra Electronics, Command and Control
Ultra Electronics, Electrics Division
Ultra Electronics, Ocean Systems
Ultra Electronics, Sonar and Communications

24 Feb 1997 : Column: 105

UK Hydrographic Office
Vickers PLC
Vickers Propulsion Technology UK
Vosper Thornycroft (UK) Ltd.
Worcester Controls
Yarrows Shipbuilders

This list is subject to change as some of the events are still some way off. Companies participating in defence industry events on-board RN ships make a contribution towards the cost.

In addition to these defence-related companies, a number of other UK non-defence-related companies will be mounting commercial events in various locations, to coincide with Ocean Wave ship visits.

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