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Ms Fiona King

Mr. Mullin: To ask the Attorney-General what role Ms Fiona King played in preparing the Crown case in (a) the 1989 appeal of the three men convicted of killing Carl Bridgewater and (b) the 1987 and 1991 appeals of the six men convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings. [18257]

The Attorney-General: Miss Fiona King is away, but examination of her postings indicate that she has at no time been assigned to any part of the Crown Prosecution Service which had responsibility for preparing the Crown case in the 1989 appeal of the men convicted of killing Carl Bridgewater or in the 1987 and 1991 appeals of the six people convicted of the Birmingham pub bombings.

Payment of Bills

Mr. Betts: To ask the Attorney-General what percentage of bills to his Department were paid (a) in accordance with agreed contractual conditions and (b) within 30 days of receiving goods and services or the presentation of a valid invoice where no contractual conditions applied in the last year for which figures are available. [18818]

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The Attorney-General: I refer to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury on 17 December 1996, Official Report, columns 506-07. Additional or more recent information is as follows:







DEFENCE

Psychological Operations Units

Mr. Foulkes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many psychological operations units are established in the field army; how many personnel are assigned to these units; and what are his plans to expand or establish additional units for this role. [17987]

Mr. Soames: We have one psychological operations unit, to which two personnel are assigned permanently to provide instruction in the psychological operations role. This unit can be expanded when required. These arrangements are currently under review.

Military Provost Guard Service

Mr. George: To ask the secretary of State for Defence how many applications have been received to date for posts in the Military Provost Guard Service; how many individuals have been recruited to the Military Provost Guard Service; how many individuals have completed their training satisfactorily; what is the proposed Military Provost Guard Service complement, broken down by rank, for (a) Chicksands, (b) Chilwell, (c) Donnington and (d) Wilton; what is the rent which the Military Provost Guard Service staff will pay for their accommodation; and what services are provided for this rent. [18104]

Mr. Soames: Recruitment to the Military Provost Guard Service is proceeding satisfactorily. Some 507 statements of interest in the 118 MPGS pilot scheme posts have been received; 47 candidates have been attested to date and there are firm candidates for all but a few of the remaining posts. There have been no training failures. I have decided to withhold the details of the complements at individual sites under exemption 1 of the code of practice on access to government information, relating to defence, security and industrial relations. MPGS soldiers recruited to the pilot scheme will pay the same charges for service married and single quarters as general service personnel and will receive the same services.

Gulf War Syndrome

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date it was decided that the British forces involved in the liberation of Kuwait would take

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supplies of organophosphates to the Gulf for use as pesticides; when they were first used there; what additional supplies were purchased locally; when these additional supplies were used; and what checks were made about the safety of these additional pesticides before they were used. [18823]

Mr. Soames: Full details of what is now known about the use of organophosphate pesticides by British Service personnel during the Gulf war are contained in the organophosphate pesticide investigation team report which was published on 10 December 1996. A copy of this report was also placed in the Library of the House.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the extent of the outbreak and the period that MRSA was present at the Cambridge military hospital, Aldershot, the numbers of patients involved and whether it contributed to or caused death. [18992]

Mr. Soames: During the period from 1 to 25 May 1994, the Cambridge military hospital experienced a widespread infection of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. The strain of MRSA was unusual in that it was characterised by a rapid rate of spread but with low virulence. No patient at the hospital developed symptoms of MRSA infection, although a number became colonised with the organism.

The outbreak was rapidly and aggressively controlled. There were no admissions to the hospital between 16 and 24 May 1994. All hospital staff were screened for MRSA and, as the outbreak was widespread, were treated with an antibiotic. A thorough disinfection programme was carried out in the hospital. No evidence of MRSA was found in the hospital after 25 May 1994.

There are no indications that this outbreak of MRSA contributed to, or caused, death among patients at the hospital.

Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will provide a breakdown by project of PFI schemes for which his Department is responsible as identified in table 5.5 of the Red Book. [18927]

Mr. Arbuthnot: The figures in table 5.5 of the "Financial Statement and Budget Report" represent my Department's estimates of capital spending by the private sector under private finance initiative projects that had been agreed by October 1996. The projects include:








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For reasons of commercial confidentiality, it would be inappropriate to reveal details of these estimates against individual projects. I am, therefore, withholding this information under exemption 13 of the code of practice on access to Government information.

Payment of Bills

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of bills to his Department were paid (a) in accordance with agreed contractual conditions and (b) within 30 days of receiving goods and services or the presentation of a valid invoice where no contractual conditions applied in the last year for which figures are available. [18819]

Mr. Soames: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 17 December 1996, columns 506-7 by my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmonds (Mr. Spring). Additional information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Joint Services Command and Staff College

Mr. Mans: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at the time Ministers took decisions on the future of command and staff training what contribution that reorganisation was expected to make to the overall annual savings from 1996-97 arising from the defence costs study; what is the total cost in 1996-97 of those parts of single service command and staff training which will eventually be replaced by the joint services command and staff college; and what is his estimate of the costs of the JSCSC in 1997-98 and 1999-2000. [17057]

Mr. Soames: The proposals to form a joint services command and staff college was initially put forward in the "Front Line First" studies. These constituted internal departmental advice to Ministers, the details of which I am withholding under exemption 2 of the code of practice on access to Government information. Financial information at this stage was indicative only.

The decision to implement the JSCSC was based primarily on the operational need for enhanced joint training. Some savings were initially suggested but were on the basis of considerably reduced student numbers, which subsequent analysis found to be unrealistic.

The JSCSC came into being on 1 January 1997--part way through the financial year 1996-97--which also makes the year a typical in course programme terms. Accurate costs for the three single service colleges and the joint service defence college at Greenwich, even for the previous year, 1995-96, are not available because the MOD's cash accounting system does not enable a wide range of support costs to be disaggregated from larger sums covering more than one establishment, such as Camberley and Sandhurst, or from sums covering more than one function at the same location, as was the case at Greenwich. This should be addressed by the introduction of resource accounting and budgeting.

The estimated cost of the JSCSC in 1997-98 is £30 million. This applies to the JSCSC at its interim sites, mainly Bracknell, and for reasons similar to those given above is likely still to be slightly underestimated; 1999-00 is also atypical because the move from the interim to the permanent site is due to take place during

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the summer of 1999. The first full year of operation at the permanent site will be 2000-01 for which estimated costs, for the facilities and services provided by the contractor as well as MOD-provided teaching and directing staff, are also approximately £30 million.


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