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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 7 May 1998

DEFENCE

Multiple-launch Rocket System

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the artillery units and sub-units of the (a) Regular Army and (b) Territorial Army equipped with MLRS, giving (i) the peacetime strength and (ii) the actual strength in each case. [40662]

Dr. Reid: The artillery units and sub-units of the Regular Army equipped with MLRS are as follows:






















The Artillery units and sub-units of the Territorial Army equipped with MLRS are as follows:



    101 Regiment Royal Artillery (Volunteers)


    Establishment: 472


    Actual Strength: 418


    Sub-Units of 101 Regiment RA (V)


    203 Battery


    Establishment: 106


    Actual Strength: 90


    205 Battery


    Establishment: 106


    Actual Strength: 69.

Maritime Volunteer Service

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the Royal Navy will give formal recognition to the Maritime Volunteer Service; and if he will make a statement. [41376]

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Dr. Reid: In line with the Royal Navy's policy of fostering links with maritime organisations in the civilian community, they have today formally recognised the Maritime Volunteer Service, MVS. This recognition reflects the contribution of the MVS to the education and training of young people in nautical skills. The Royal Navy will advise the MVS on various maritime matters, including RN career opportunities. The Royal Navy's closer association with the MVS will also contribute to the Government's "New Deal" initiative by enriching the pool of training opportunities in the community, thus assisting young people to gain employment.

Ship Repair Contracts

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the ship repair contracts awarded to each United Kingdom shipyard in each of the last five years. [39304]

Mr. Spellar: I am arranging for a list of the ship repair contracts awarded to each United Kingdom shipyard in the last five financial years to be placed in the Library of the House. I have restricted the list to those contracts with a value of £100,000 or more. Below this level, the contracts, estimated to be over 400 in number, tend to be for much smaller packages of work on small craft, some with a value as low as £100. The list includes contracts for work allocated to the Royal Dockyards at Devonport and Rosyth as well as those placed following competition.

Astra Group

Mr. Campbell-Savours: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates Iraqi military personnel entered the United Kingdom to attend training sessions at Astra Company training facilities. [38861]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 20 April 1998]: I refer my hon. Friend to paragraph D7.92 of the right hon. Sir Richard Scott's Report of the Inquiry into the Export of Defence Equipment and Dual-Use Goods to Iraq and Related Prosecutions.

Military Assistance

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list each of the countries in receipt of United Kingdom military assistance for each of the past 10 years and the annual cost of assistance to each country. [40388]

Dr. Reid: I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Territorial Army

Mr. Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the average percentage of soldiers who leave the TA within one month of joining; and if he will list the 10 TA units with the (a) best and (b) worst retention record over the last three years. [40924]

Dr. Reid: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Chevaline Warheads

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Chevaline warheads from Polaris submarines have so far been dismantled; by what date

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his Department expects to complete dismantling all the Chevaline warheads; and if he will make a statement. [40815]

Dr. Reid: Chevaline warheads are currently held in secure storage in a non-operational state. The Polaris missiles on which they were formerly deployed have all been destroyed. Dismantlement of Chevaline warheads will commence on completion of the current programme of WE177 dismantlement. I am withholding details of warhead dismantlement plans under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information relating to Defence, Security and International Relations.

Defence Council and Air Force Board

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates (a) the Defence Council and (b) the Air Force Board have met since 1 August 1997. [40669]

Dr. Reid: The Defence Council has met on the following dates since 1 August 1997.







The Air Force Board has not met since 1 August 1997. It last met on 17 July 1997 and will next meet on 17 June 1998.

Strategic Defence Review

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to place in the Library the digest of the submission by Service and Ministry of Defence civilian personnel to the Strategic Defence Review. [40667]

Dr. Reid: A digest of submissions by Service and Ministry of Defence civilian personnel to the Strategic Defence Review is being prepared to support the White Paper which will set out the conclusions of the Review. The digest will be placed in the Library of the House when the White Paper is published. We shall also be offering copies of the digest to the same libraries to which we are offering copies of external submissions to the Review.

ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS

Electric Railbus, Bristol

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment his Department has made of the Ultra Light Transit Electric Railbus scheme recently introduced in Bristol in terms of its (a) cost and (b) environmental impact; and if he will make a statement. [41094]

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Ms Glenda Jackson: No application has been made to my Department for funding, or for powers under the Transport and Works Act 1992, for this scheme and therefore no assessment has been done of its costs or environmental impact.

Watford Rail Crash

Mr. Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what action he is taking to ensure that Railtrack respond to the recommendations of the Health and Safety Executive's report on the Watford rail crash. [40904]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The Health and Safety Executive will follow up all the recommendations contained in its report on the Watford rail crash. HSE has asked Railtrack for a formal response within two months.

Automatic Train Protection System

Mr. Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment he has made of the benefits of the automatic train protection system. [40905]

Ms Glenda Jackson: My right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport has made it clear to the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that he should produce any formal proposals that he considers necessary on train protection systems. I understand that HSE officials are working on such proposals with a view to publication in the near future.

Rail Users (Complaints)

Mr. Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the report from the Southern Region Rail Users consultative committee on complaints for the year ending March 1998; and what action he intends to take to ensure services are improved. [40907]

Ms Glenda Jackson: The latest complaint figures from the Southern England Committee point to increasing passenger dissatisfaction with train operators' performance. It is clear that passengers are still not getting the best deal from the privatised railway. Our forthcoming White Paper on integrated transport will explain how we intend to improve the performance and accountability of the railway system.


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