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Services Nationality Rules

Mr. Casale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to review the services nationality rules requiring parents, step-parents or guardians of applicants for employment to have been Commonwealth citizens or Irish citizens resident in the United Kingdom. [49350]

Dr. Reid: I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend for Stockton, South (Ms Taylor) on 18 February 1998, Official Report, columns 665-66.

Chemical Weapons

Mr. Livingstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Chemical Defence Establishment field trial reports series of documents (a) started and (b) finished; how many documents were produced in this series; and how many of these documents are currently unclassified. [49490]

Mr. Spellar: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to my hon. Friend.

Letter from John Chisholm to Mr. Ken Livingstone, dated 14 July 1998:



    The Chemical Defence Establishment which is now part of DERA's Chemical and Biological Defence sector at Porton Down published a series of field trial reports between 1969 and 1995. The series contained 114 documents of which 6 are currently unclassified.


    The titles of the unclassified documents are as follows:


    23 Trials of the non destructive test of air filtration units in HMS Berwick at Portsmouth, October 1971


    27 CR decontamination trial


    87 Noise propagation from commercial explosives


    89 A report of multiple smoke plume trials designed to establish some atmospheric statistics


    97 Field testing of the Canadian profire kit on CDE range


    127 Trial Madona--a field experiment to measure high resolution wind fields and concentration fluctuations over complex terrain


    I hope this is helpful.

14 Jul 1998 : Column: 172

Mr. Livingstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made by his Department in investigating the alleged chemical agent detections during the Gulf war on 19 to 21 January 1991 in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia; who is carrying out this investigation; when this investigation began; and when he expects this investigation to be completed. [49491]

Dr. Reid: As part of the New Beginning statement on 14 July 1997, Official Report, columns 1-5, I announced that my Department would be carrying out three reviews of specific events during the Gulf conflict. Work on the second of these reviews, which concerns the alleged chemical agent detections in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia between 19-21 January 1991, began in March this year, after the results of the first review into the tank of liquid found at a school in Kuwait had been published. The work is being conducted by the Gulf Veterans' Illnesses Unit in my Department, which is seeking to identify and analyse all available documentation relevant to this matter and to interview those personnel directly involved. The results will be made public as soon as the review is complete, which is expected towards the end of this year.

Mr. Livingstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a list of the titles of the unclassified papers produced in the Chemical Defence Establishment technical paper series since January 1996. [49493]

Mr. Spellar: The Chemical and Biological Defence Sector of DERA at Porton Down has produced 18 unclassified papers in the Technical Paper series since January 1996. A list of these papers has been placed in the Library.

Departmental Contacts

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will list the meetings held by (a) himself, (b) his ministers and (c) special advisers in his Department with people outside the Government on (i) 30 June and (ii) 2 July; [49548]

14 Jul 1998 : Column: 173

Mr. George Robertson [holding answer 9 July 1998]: Ministers, their Special Advisers and other civil servants meet many people in the course of their work. This properly includes meetings with interest groups outside Government; indeed, one of the specific functions of the Special Advisers is to liaise with such interest groups. This liaison is intended to help Ministers draw upon outside contributions--from academics, think-tanks, trade and industry associations, trade unions, lobby groups and others, as well as relevant experience from other countries--during the process of policy analysis and development. By convention it is not the practice of governments to make information on such meetings or their content publicly available--a principle reflected in the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information published in January 1997. Special Advisers and other civil servants must observe the requirements of propriety: for instance, they must not provide confidential information without authorisation or allow improper influence on policy. Any breach of these requirements could be a disciplinary offence.

Millennium Compliance

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contingency plans his Department is making in the event of the failure of computer systems to recognise the year 2000; when he expects them to be in place, and tested; and if he will make a statement. [48846]

Mr. Spellar: The Ministry of Defence recognises the risk posed to operational capability by the Year 2000 problem. While every effort is being made to ensure that all systems are Year 2000 compliant, some work will not be completed in time. The MOD is, therefore, developing contingency plans to ensure that we continue to meet our operational commitments and that essential Defence capabilities are maintained. The target date for completion of these plans is 31 December 1998, with testing continuing throughout 1999, and regularly thereafter to ensure that the plans remain valid for any similar problems which might arise in the future.

Turkey

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Turkish military personnel have been involved in military training in the United Kingdom during the last 12 months; and if he will list the type of military training that was given. [49285]

Dr. Reid: Training has been provided in the UK to members of the Turkish armed forces, as is normal practice between NATO nations. Between 1 July 1997 and 1 July 1998, 41 Turkish military personnel have been involved in military training in the United Kingdom. Training has included attendance at the Royal College of Defence Studies, the Advanced Command and Staff Course, the International Sub-Lieutenants' Course, the International Principal Warfare Officers' Course, the Maritime Warfare Course, the International Imagery Interpretation Course, and courses on the Principles of Computer Based Training, Instructional Techniques, Training Design, Quality Control, and English Language Training.

14 Jul 1998 : Column: 174

Service Personnel (Parental Leave)

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will grant unmarried partners in the armed forces the same rights to parental leave as married couples. [50400]

Dr. Reid: The Armed Forces offers maternity leave to which any pregnant servicewoman is entitled, whether married or unmarried, in accordance with the law. As a good employer the Services seek, whenever possible, to grant a serviceman annual leave (or compassionate leave if appropriate) to attend his partner, either during or, immediately after childbirth. Operational commitments may, on occasions, make it impossible for every serviceman to be released from his duties.

Foreign Policy Base Line

Mr. Maples: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his oral statement of 8 July 1998, Official Report, column 1080, in which paragraphs of the Strategic Defence Review the Foreign Policy Baseline is set out. [50443]

Mr. George Robertson: The foreign and security policy analysis on which the Strategic Defence Review is based is set out in Chapter Two of the White Paper, "Security Priorities in a Changing World" (paragraphs 17-43), and in the second of the Supporting Essays, "The Policy Framework".

NATO

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the impact on the United Kingdom defence budget of the proposed expansion of NATO. [50393]

Mr. George Robertson: NATO has estimated that the cost to its military common budgets of the accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland will be some $1.5 billion over ten years. The United Kingdom's share of this cost will, at current exchange rates, be some £110 million over the 10 years. On present expectations, the costs to the United Kingdom's defence budget will be met from within existing and planned provision.


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