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Project Horizon

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the progress of Project Horizon; [51064]

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Mr. Spellar: The Programme Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, for the Common New Generation Frigate, Project Horizon, was signed by the United Kingdom, Italy and France in July 1994, with its supplement for Project Definition and Initial Design signed in March 1996. The Programme MOU for the vessel's Principal Anti-Air Missile System, PAAMS, and the supplement covering its Full Scale Engineering Development and initial Production, FSED/IP, were also signed in March 1996.

Since MOU signatures, negotiations on PAAMS FSED/IP have made progress and the tri-national contract is scheduled to be placed later this year. Project Definition studies on Horizon are well advanced with further work due to commence shortly and scheduled to be completed next year, with the next stage being the placing of the design and build contract for the nations' three first-of-class ships.

It is currently expected that 12 Horizon frigates will enter service with the Royal Navy.

European Defence Industry

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what international agreements he intends to negotiate to facilitate restructuring of the European defence industry. [51252]

Mr. Spellar: On 6 July 1998, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence signed a Letter of Intent with European Defence Ministers designed to facilitate the restructuring of the European defence industry. This Letter of Intent identifies potential obstacles to industrial restructuring in six key areas, together with possible means of removing them. The six areas are:







Expert working groups are being established to take forward detailed negotiations with the aim of removing the potential obstacles in each area. Solutions to the problems identified by the Working Groups will be set out in subsequent international agreements or arrangements. The legal status of these agreements has still to be decided. That said, I would hope the negotiations would be concluded within the next 12 months.

Russia (Joint Exercises)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates the Royal Air Force conducted joint exercises with the Russian Air Force during the last five years. [48576]

Mr. George Robertson: The Royal Air Force has not exercised with the Russian Air Force during the last five years, although RAF aircraft have exercised with Russian aircraft belonging to other parts of the Russian Armed Forces. The RAF contributed a C-130 aircraft and 19 personnel from the Tactical Medical Wing to the NATO Exercise, Cooperative Bear between 1-5 September 1997

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in Sweden, which also involved a Russian IL 76 aircraft and 32 medical personnel from the Russian Emergency Command.

Spring Quarry, Corsham

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer on 24 June 1998, Official Report, column 527, if he will list the functions which have been carried out in the underground part of the site at Spring Quarry, Corsham, since 1968. [51132]

Mr. Spellar: Since 1968, and until its closure in 1995, the underground site at Spring Quarry, Corsham was used by the MOD as a bulk storage area with both military and civil communication facilities. Other functions carried out on the site were in support of these tasks, for example the servicing of transport vehicles for use in the stores.

Atomic Weapons Establishment

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer on 25 June 1998, Official Report, column 569, on AWE, Aldermaston, if he will place a list of the titles of the 14 quarterly analysis reports produced by the Directorate of Quality Assurance at the Atomic Weapons Establishment in the Library, indicating the date on which each paper was produced. [51135]

Mr. Spellar: I am today placing a list in the Library of the House.

Asbestos

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the policy of his Department on the use of chrysotile asbestos in environmental projects for which his Department is responsible. [51240]

Mr. Spellar: It is Ministry of Defence policy not to use asbestos in projects or to make purchases containing asbestos. Exceptions may be approved only in rare instances where asbestos is essential for satisfactory performance or where the use of any alternative would be equally or more hazardous. In such instances the Department complies with the Statutory regulations governing the use of asbestos.

Eurofighter

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the annual budget for the Eurofighter from 1997-98 to 2002-03. [51757]

Mr. Spellar: Up to 31 March 1998 the UK's expenditure on the Eurofighter programme totalled some £3 billion. Future UK procurement expenditure is currently estimated at £12.9 billion. Figures are at average 1997-98 prices.

Year-on-year spending forecasts for particular projects constitute projections and assumptions which inform advice to Ministers on the affordability of the defence programme. I am, therefore, withholding this information under exemption 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Asset Disposals

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his target value for (a) the Defence

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Estate, (b) stocks of missiles and ammunition and (c) other stock-holding disposals for the current year and each of the next three years; and how this compares with income from asset disposals in each of the last three years. [51758]

Mr. Spellar: Over the next four years, estimated receipts from the disposal of MOD land and buildings amount to £700 million, including £200 million in the current year. Year by year breakdowns for future years are not yet available. Disposals over the last three years amounted to £75 million, £180 million and £140 million respectively.

Receipts from the sales of equipment, spares and munitions over the last three years have amounted to some £80 million per annum. This level is expected to be maintained over the next four years.

Departmental Holdings

Mr. Charles Kennedy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 13 July 1998, Official Report, column 22, on Departmental holdings, if he will also include in such consultations representatives of the Scottish and Welsh National Farmers Unions and the Farming Union of Wales. [51227]

Mr. Spellar: We would be happy to seek the views of these bodies and they will also be contacted later in the year.

TRACER Project

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much money the United Kingdom has spent on the TRACER project to date. [51061]

Mr. Spellar: Expenditure by the Ministry of Defence on the Tactical Reconnaissance Armoured Combat Equipment Requirement, TRACER, programme currently amounts to £7.3 million at 1998-99 prices. This does not include the cost of government research into systems which may come to be incorporated in the design of the vehicle, nor any costs incurred by the private sector.

Casualty Receiving Ship

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the in-service date of the primary casualty receiving ship which he proposes to purchase. [51065]

Mr. Spellar: Options for the procurement of two new primary casualty receiving ships are currently being explored. It is expected that a decision on the way forward, including estimated in service dates will be made early next year.

Smart Procurement Policy

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will introduce longer tours of duty for officers overseeing defence projects under his Smart Procurement Policy. [51076]

Mr. George Robertson: This option is already being looked at as part of the implementation of the Smart Procurement Initiative.

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European Aerospace Industry

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the proposals which he has received from European companies on the restructuring of the European aerospace industry. [51060]

Mr. Spellar: On 9 December 1997 the heads of Government in France, Germany and the UK issued a trilateral statement which recognised the urgent need for the European aerospace and defence electronics industries to rationalise, and urged industry to present their plans for restructuring and integration.

Proposals from industry on the restructuring of the European aerospace industry have been received in the strictest confidence. Details cannot, therefore, be divulged, in accordance with Exemption 13 to the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. The proposals are being carefully considered by officials who, while recognising that the detailed structure is for industry to establish, will seek to do all they can to help facilitate the process.


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