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RN Hospital, Haslar

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many consultants, employed by his Department, (a) work and (b) are based for the majority of their time at the RN Hospital, Haslar. [65779]

Mr. Doug Henderson: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him by the Chief Executive of the Defence Secondary Care Agency on 12 January 1999, Official Report, columns 146-47. All those listed are consultants with the exception of the Civilian Medical Practitioners, Specialist Registrars, Senior House Officers and Pre Registration House Officers.

All those listed work and are based at the Royal Hospital Haslar for the majority of their time.

Military Training

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the status of military schools and the means by which students in such schools are able to leave before completion of their studies; [66064]

Mr. Doug Henderson [holding answer 18 January 1999]: I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Astute Class (Submarines)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the crew number of the Astute Class of submarines. [66165]

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 448

Mr. Doug Henderson: The first 3 Astute Class submarines, out of a planned class of 5, are being designed and built under a Prime Contract awarded to GEC-Marconi in March 1997 with delivery expected in the middle of the next decade. Design work continues and the normal sea going complement is currently expected to be 98, although the submarine should be capable of taking up to 109 personnel to sea when required.

Millennium Compliance

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what budget has been allocated within his Department to deal with the millennium bug. [66881]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 21 January 1999]: The estimated additional cost of the total Year 2000 programme within MOD is £200m, which is being found from within existing defence provision by the rescheduling of other tasks. This sum does not include the cost of replacing or upgrading systems as part of a planned program.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of his Department's systems are currently not millennium compliant. [66751]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 21 January 1999]: Work to date has concentrated on identifying which MOD equipments are critical to our Defence capability, and ensuring that these systems will be compliant. Currently, around 60 per cent. of such systems are reported as compliant and programmes are in place to ensure that the remaining business critical systems are made compliant in good time.

Accommodation

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if it is his policy to provide single accommodation for all single service personnel. [66745]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 21 January 1999]: When we published the outcome of the Strategic Defence Review the supporting White Paper entitled "A Policy for People" stated that:



The Chief Executive of the Defence Estate Organisation is leading a study of the optimum approach to our single living accommodation improvement programme, which should report later this year. Our plans recognise the diverse needs and circumstances of our Service men and women and, whilst we aspire to single rooms for the majority, team-based accommodation may be more appropriate for some.

CS Sprays

Mr. Livingstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the names of the solvents which are used in CS sprays held by his Department. [67598]

Mr. Spellar: All the CS sprays currently held by the Ministry of Defence contain the solvent commonly known as methylene chloride.

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 449

Non-lethal Warfare

Mr. Livingstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what co-operation there is between Britain and the United States of America on non-lethal warfare; how many collaboration agreements have been signed with the United States of America; what are the names of these agreements; when the agreements were signed and for what reasons; and if he will make a statement. [67599]

Mr. Spellar: On 18 November 1994, the UK and US Defence Secretaries signed a UK-US Master Information Exchange Memorandum of Understanding on the subject of non-lethal weapons. The first information exchange, which covers "Non-lethal weapons systems", was signed on 2 February 1998.

International collaboration agreements help to inform our decisions on future strategies and equipment, as well as improving interoperability with our Allies and coalition partners.

Military Airfields (Private Companies)

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances private companies may export goods by air from military airfields. [68197]

Mr. Spellar: A private company wishing to export goods requires prior permission from HM Customs if the aircraft is to fly to a non-EU country from any UK airfield. The same rules apply regardless of whether the airfield is military or civilian.

Nitroglycerine

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the advantages of the retention of a United Kingdom based capability to manufacture nitroglycerine. [68077]

Mr. Spellar: There are nitroglycerine manufacturing facilities currently operating at the Royal Ordnance factories at Summerfield and Bishopton. The retention of an indigenous capability to manufacture multi-based ammunition propellants, of which nitroglycerine is a part, were considered very carefully as part of the Modular Charge System contract decision.

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the management of British Aerospace concerning the maintenance of a nitroglycerine manufacturing facility in the United Kingdom. [68078]

Mr. Spellar: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has met with the management of British Aerospace on a number of occasions since May 1997. The maintenance of a nitroglycerine manufacturing facility in the United Kingdom has not been a topic of discussion.

Project ASH

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the cost to date of Project ASH; to whom the contract was originally let; which companies have subsequently been involved; when the database and management aid for handling unexploded ordnance will be in service; and if he will make a statement. [68074]

1 Feb 1999 : Column: 450

Mr. Spellar: The cost to date of Project ASH is around £2.7m including VAT. A contract for development and production was placed with EDS Defence Ltd. in November 1994. Other companies which have been involved are Bactec International Ltd., for database population, VEGA Group PLC, providing technical support to the Ministry of Defence Procurement Executive, and Thompson-Thorn Missile Electronics Ltd., who are conducting work on training needs. Although ASH was accepted into service in October 1996, further work was required to be done to the database and for management aid for handling unexploded ordnance. Following user trials in February 1999 it is expected that an improved version of ASH will be accepted and subsequently deployed to Bosnia to assist Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams.

Scottish Procurement

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent in Scotland on defence procurement in the last year for which figures are available; how much of that was passed to sub-contractors (a) in total and (b) as a percentage of the total; and what estimate he has made of the percentage of sub-contracted work which remains in Scotland. [68076]

Mr. Spellar: The MOD spent £550 million, VAT-exclusive; to the nearest £50 million, on defence equipment from contractors based in Scotland during 1996-97. The MOD does not record payments made to sub-contractors and has not made an estimate of what those payments might be.

Propellants

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the munitions currently used by Her Majesty's forces which are propelled by products from Royal Ordnance, Bishopton; and what steps have been taken by his Department to secure supplies of propellants following the end of production at Royal Ordnance, Bishopton. [68080]

Mr. Spellar: The Armed Forces use propellant produced at Royal Ordnance Bishopton to fire a range of 105mm and 155mm artillery projectiles and 120mm tank projectiles, the Naval 4.5" Gun and rocket motors for the Royal Navy's Sea Wolf and Sea Skua missiles. It also produces raw propellant material used in a number of in-service missiles and small calibre ammunition manufactured at other locations. We have considered carefully the future supply of propellants currently made at Royal Ordnance Bishopton and are satisfied that, where necessary, sufficient and reliable alternative sources exist overseas to meet future MOD requirements should the facility close. Royal Ordnance remain responsible for meeting all its commitments under existing contracts with the MOD.


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