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Conscientious Objection

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what policy is operated by the armed forces if serving personnel declare they can no longer, for reasons of conscience, undertake military duties. [46777]

Dr. Reid [holding answer 22 June 1998]: My Department has a well established appeal procedure for Service personnel who, for reasons of conscience, feel unable to continue service. These cases are first considered by the individual's chain of command, and if the conscientious objection is considered to be genuine, arrangements are made for the applicant to be administratively discharged on compassionate grounds.

If, after consideration, a conscientious objection is not assessed to be genuine, it will be rejected. Unsuccessful applicants are, however, advised that they may appeal to the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors. This Committee is independent of the MOD and its members are appointed by the Lord Chancellor. It conducts its hearings in public and tenders its advice to the Secretary of State for Defence's representative. A successful appeal to the Advisory Committee is invariably accepted by the Department and the applicant will immediately be granted a release from the Service.

Chemical and Biological Weapons

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what studies he is currently undertaking with the United States military on systems for the detection of chemical and biological weapons. [46545]

Dr. Reid [holding answer 22 June 1998]: The UK is already party to a trilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States and Canada on chemical and biological defence. Under the auspices of this MOU, my Department embarked upon a programme to develop a joint approach to chemical and biological defence and collaboration across a full range of defensive measures, including systems for the detection of chemical and biological agents. As part of this programme, we have undertaken joint tests and field trials

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with both the US and Canada to establish the effectiveness of available technology for the detection of chemical and biological agents.

I have recently agreed with the US Defence Secretary that we should increase co-operation to combat chemical and biological weapons. This will further deepen the existing close collaboration in this area.

Dundrennan Test Range

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library the most recent environmental and radiological survey undertaken at and around the Dundrennan, Kirkcudbrightshire, test range. [46783]

Mr. Spellar: The survey to which the hon. Member refers was conducted by the Radiation Protection Services section (DRPS) of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. Arrangements were made last June, through the Parliamentary Branch of the Ministry of Defence, for an updated list of all unclassified DRPS reports to be placed in the House of Commons Library. The list includes details of published reports of the most recent environmental and radiological survey undertaken at and around the Dundrennan test range in Kirkcudbrightshire. These are DRPS Report No 6/97, "1996 Environmental Depleted Uranium Baseline Survey Report DTEO Kirkcudbright" and DRPS Report No 10/97, "1996 Marine Environmental Survey Report DTEO Kirkcudbright". It was decided at the time that it was not a practical option to place reports (including DRPS Reports 6 and 10/97) themselves in the House Library but that copies would be available on a case by case basis on request. I understand the hon. Member has made such a request and that arrangements are in hand for him to receive copies of the reports in question.

Berlin Airlift

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps the Ministry of Defence Postal and Courier Services are taking to commemorate the Berlin Airlift; and if he will make a statement. [47076]

Mr. Spellar: The British Forces Post Office, BFPO, a part of the Defence Postal and Courier Services, is issuing a philatelic cover bearing a special handstamp on 26 June 1998 to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the start of the Berlin Airlift. These special commemorative philatelic covers will be available from the BFPO on that date.

Air Transport Procurement

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the leasing of four Boeing C-17 transport aircraft; and what effect this will have on the Future Large Aircraft; [47309]

Mr. Spellar: Our air transport requirement has been scrutinised closely in the Strategic Defence Review. Any decision on future air transport procurement will be made in light of the conclusions of the Review and of the responses to the Requests for Proposals.

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Defence Exports

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to protect British (a) public funds and (b) exporters where defence exports on a Government to Government basis are paid for in oil and gas; and how he seeks to protect the volume and value of such exports from falling oil and gas prices. [46468]

Mr. Spellar: There are no Government to Government defence projects which involve Her Majesty's Government taking oil or gas as payment.

CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT

Creative Industries

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what assessment he has made of the economic impact of the creative industries in (a) the North West Region, (b) Liverpool and (c) Merseyside in terms of (i) jobs, (ii) turnover, (iii) company formation and (iv) tourism. [46233]

Mr. Tom Clarke: The creative industries can be a powerful economic driving force in local and regional economies, but detailed statistics on the scale of their economic impact in particular parts of the country are not currently available. The Creative Industries Task Force has collated data which show that the creative industries nationally generate revenues of around £55 billion, contributing 4 per cent. to GDP, and employ some 1.5 million people. The Task Force is now turning its attention to assessing the position in different regions.

Tourism

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what are the aims and objectives of his policy on tourism; and what the achievements of these policies have been since 1 May 1997. [46663]

Mr. Tom Clarke [holding answer 19 June 1998]: We are in the process of developing a comprehensive strategy for tourism. We want to see quality tourism development which is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable, and which supports the Government's employment objectives and their wish to see a more inclusive society. Our aims and objectives for tourism will be set out in more detail when we publish the new strategy later this year.

Achievements since last May include the establishment of an expanded, fully representative Tourism Forum; and the establishment of new Working Groups on Strategic Planning, Widening Access and Domestic Tourism, with sub groups on Quality, Distribution and Sustainability. These have now reported, as have the Working Groups on Communications, Business Tourism, People and Visitor Attractions. In addition, we have launched Tourism--Towards Sustainability, a nationwide consultation exercise on sustainable tourism and have held the first sectoral conference on New Deal for the tourism, hospitality and leisure industry, which has led to a very positive response from the industry.

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LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Public Trust Office

34. Mr. Faber: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will review the operation of the Public Trust Office. [45605]

39. Mr. Hammond: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what plans he has to review the operation of the Public Trust Office. [45610]

Mr. Hoon: As the hon. Members are aware the Office will be subject to the usual five yearly review in 1999. This will be a comprehensive examination of all aspects of the Office's performance.

Community Disputes

36. Ms Rosie Winterton: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many times he has met local authority representatives to discuss uniformity of decision making in community disputes. [45607]

Mr. Hoon: I have not met local authorities to discuss this subject.

Barristers' Earnings

37. Mr. Winnick: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make a statement on the level of legal aid fees paid to senior Queen's Counsels. [45608]

Mr. Hoon: Criminal higher expenditure on QCs rose by 167 per cent. between 1991/92 and 1994/95, from £15m to around £40m. In the last three years total expenditure under this head has remained more or less at that level in real terms. Figures for civil legal aid are not available.


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