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Service Accommodation

Mr. Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 21 January 1997, Official Report, column 552, when the Treasury initially introduced the non-movers package; when responsibility for relocation expenses was transferred to Government Departments; and what additional changes to the terms originally on offer they are permitted to make. [20209]

Mr. Soames: The arrangement for civilian staff that is not known in the Ministry of Defence as the non-mover's package was first introduced by the Treasury in 1989.

The Treasury delegated to Departments the responsibility for determining relocation expenses for civil servants in May 1993.

Departments have a degree of flexibility to make changes within the rules laid down in the civil service management code.

Nuclear Test Programme (Participation)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what account he has taken of (a) the case of Kenneth McGinley and EE v. United Kingdom and (b) the ensuing report of the Europe Commission of Human Rights in determining his policy towards compensating participants in the nuclear test programme. [19136]

Mr. Soames: The European Commission of Human Rights concluded in its report on the case of McGinley and EE v. UK that there was a violation of article 6(1) of the convention because, in its opinion, the applicants' lack of access to "relevant records", defined as yield and radiation level records contemporary with the nuclear tests, prevented effective access to the pensions appeal tribunal. It is normal for the Commission to make proposals for compensation to provide "just satisfaction" for a breach of the convention. The Commission's proposals on compensation, however, expressly did not relate to a finding of increased mortality, cancers or other illnesses with participation in atmospheric nuclear tests. As the Committee of Ministers has referred the case to the European Court of Human Rights, the question of compensation no longer falls to be considered at this stage. Compensation would be a matter for the court to decide should it determine a violation of the convention. The Government intend to contest the case.

Departmental Legislation

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Bills his Department has sponsored in each of the last 15 years; and how many have been passed by Parliament. [19765]

18 Mar 1997 : Column: 513

Mr. Soames: The number of Bills sponsored by my Department in each of the past 15 years is as follows:

All the Bills were passed by Parliament.

Retirement Pensions

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the names of each former two-star appointment and above in (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Air Force and (c) the Royal Navy who is currently in receipt of a retirement pension and the date of their retirement. [20056]

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

Gulf War Syndrome

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 6 March, Official Report, columns 710-11, if the organophosphate pesticide investigation team report has been sent to the organisations which represent service men and women who served in the Gulf war; and if he will list the main conclusions of the report. [20342]

Mr. Soames: The OPPIT substantive report--Parts One to Three--which contains details of what is now known about the use of organophosphate pesticides by British service personnel during the Gulf War, was published on 10 December 1996 and a copy was placed in the Library of the House. Copies were requested by and sent to a number of Gulf veterans, but not specifically to any veterans organisations. Further copies are available from the Ministry of Defence. The report contained 14 findings and eight observations.

Otterburn Training Area

Mr. Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how many years the (a) multi-launch rocket system and (b) AS90 self-propelled gun are planned to be in service in the Otterburn training area. [20553]

Mr. Soames: The multiple-launch rocket system is due to remain in service until 2025. The AS90 is expected to remain in service until at least 2020. The Army has made proposals for the development of the Otterburn training area to provide facilities for training regiments equipped with MLRS and AS90 throughout their in-service lives.

18 Mar 1997 : Column: 514

The notice of proposed development of Otterburn is now subject to a non-statutory public inquiry which commences on 22 April.

Defence Estate Organisation

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the future of the Defence Estate Organisation. [21121]

Mr. Soames: The Defence Estate Organisation will launch as a defence agency of the Ministry of Defence, on 18 March 1997. The agency will be responsible for assisting MOD in managing the optimum estate of land, buildings and installations to meet the operating needs of the Department. While the management of the estate will remain the responsibility of the occupying MOD budget holder, the DEO plays a vital role in: supporting budget holders estate staff; improving MOD's stewardship of the estate; ensuring MOD receives best value for money for estate services, property management and new works procurement; acting as MOD's centre of estate expertise; and maintaining a strategic overview of the defence estate.

The DEO agency has about 1,400 staff in offices throughout the UK and abroad. The DEO's new headquarters will be at Sutton Coldfield.

The DEO's chief executive, Mr. Brian Hirst, is a widely experienced chartered surveyor recruited from the private sector, who has considerable public sector experience. He has been set the following key targets to be achieved by March 1998, by the end of DEO's first full year of operation:

I have arranged for copies of the agency's framework document and corporate plan to be placed in the Library of both Houses.

18 Mar 1997 : Column: 515

Gulf War (Carcases)

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the carcases of camels, sheep and other animals killed during the Gulf war were (a) flow to Boscombe Down airfield, (b) transported thence to the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment at Porton Down and (c) tested for the causes of their deaths, indicating the results of the tests. [19518]

Mr. Soames [holding answer 10 march 1997]: At present my Department has no verified information concerning reports of dead animals being found during the Gulf war. The Chemical and Biological Defence sector of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, situated at Porton Down, has no record of any dead animals being received or analysed in connection with the Gulf war. However, a search for information relevant to this subject is currently underway.


Official Visits

5. Sir Michael Neubert: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to make an official visit to Romford.[19196]

The Prime Minister: During the next few weeks, I hope to visit all parts of the United Kingdom.

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