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Ministerial Meetings (US)

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many meetings his special adviser, Bernard Gray, and Deputy Chief of Defence Procurement (Support) held with members and officials of the US Administration during their visit to the USA on 4 and 5 March; with which US department they met at each meeting; and what was the purpose of their visit. [82247]

Mr. George Robertson: Meetings were held on 5 March with Department of Defence officials to discuss defence industrial co-operation. The meetings were positive. We expect these discussions to continue as part of MOD's normal dialogue with US officials on defence equipment business.

Yugoslav Air Force

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on (a) the level of Yugoslav air defence capability and (b) the threat to NATO aircraft from (i) non-portable, (ii) towed and (iii) self-propelled air defence weaponry, following the initial NATO air campaign. [82474]

Mr. George Robertson: The Yugoslav air defence capability has been and will continue to be damaged by the NATO air campaign. All Yugoslav operational air defence weapons are portable to a greater or lesser extent. Their towed anti aircraft guns present a limited threat to NATO's high altitude air attacks. These guns and their self-propelled air defence weapons still pose a credible threat to NATO aircraft, if operating at low level. NATO continues to take appropriate measures to minimise the threat.

5 May 1999 : Column: 376

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Yugoslav Air Force (i) MIG-29s, (ii) MIG-21s, (iii) ORAOs and (iv) Galebs are confirmed destroyed by NATO; how many were estimated non-operational before NATO operations over Serbia began; and if he will make a statement on the estimated impact of NATO action to date on Yugoslav Air Force capability. [82473]

Mr. George Robertson: We estimate that NATO has destroyed 70 out of 450 aircraft of all types. This includes seven MiG-29s, 16 MIG-21s and 35 ORAO/GALEB aircraft. Between 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. of their aircraft might have been non-operational before the NATO campaign began. The Yugoslav Air Force continues to fly a limited number of combat missions but NATO action has had a considerable impact on its capability.

Departmental Expenditure

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the basis of the calculation of the cash budget of the Chief of Defence Logistics in 1996-97 in his Department's expenditure plans 1999-2000 to 2001-02, Table 1A. [82515]

Mr. George Robertson: The Defence Logistics Organisation brings together the three single Service logistics commands: the Chief of Fleet Support, Quartermaster General and Air Officer Commanding- in-Chief Land Logistics Command. In order to show comparable figures for the new Chief of Defence Logistics Top Level Budget (TLB) for previous years, the budgets of those former TLBs, which under the earlier Estimates structure were shown on Vote 2 (Defence: logistics services), have been added together. In addition, the total figures for 1996-97 and 1997-98 have been adjusted by the amounts of the loans and grants to and repayments from the Hydrographic Office Defence Agency that had previously been contained within the Chief of Fleet Support TLB but which it has now been decided should be shown separately for all years in Supply Estimates (Vote subhead 1N) and, therefore, in Table 1a of The Government's Expenditure Plans 1999-2000 to 2001-02: Ministry of Defence.

Efficiency Savings

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the (a) efficiency savings and (b) purchasing reductions which have been (i) identified and (ii) achieved in his Department's cash plan (A) 1998-99 estimated outturn and (B) the 1999-2000 expenditure plans in the Class VI Estimates, Vote 1, for each of votes 1A to 1P, excluding Vote 1N. [82557]

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

Depleted Uranium Weapons

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has held with his NATO counterparts regarding the use of depleted uranium weapons by NATO forces in current operations in Yugoslavia. [82861]

5 May 1999 : Column: 377

Mr. George Robertson: I have had no discussions on the use of depleted uranium with my NATO counterparts. The United Kingdom has not used DU ammunition in the Balkans. It is a matter for the individual nations as to what ammunition they employ.

National Insurance Charge

Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the revenue effect of reducing the national insurance charge by 0.5 per cent. for all those employed in or by the armed forces. [82752]

Mr. Doug Henderson: Based on figures for Financial Year 1999-2000, it is estimated that the revenue effect of reducing by 0.5 per cent. the National Insurance Charges for Armed Forces personnel, will be:



Any other personnel employed in support of the Armed Forces--excepting MOD civil servants--are directly employed by contractors. Responsibility for the payment of National Insurance Charges therefore lies with the contractors concerned and not the Armed Forces.

Cranwell

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many students are currently training at Cranwell to become officers; and how many are of Afro-Caribbean origin. [83076]

Mr. Doug Henderson [holding answer 4 May 1999]: On 29 April 1999, there were 319 Royal Air Force officer cadets undergoing initial officer training at RAF College Cranwell. Within that total, there were fewer than five people who had declared their ethnic origin as Black Caribbean, Black African or Black Other. Detailed figures are not given in order to protect the confidentiality of the individuals concerned.

Sandhurst

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many students are currently training at Sandhurst to become officers; and how many of these are of Afro-Caribbean origin. [83072]

Mr. Doug Henderson [holding answer 4 May 1999]: As at 1 April 1999, there were 626 British Officer Cadets under training at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Of this number, there were fewer than five cadets whose ethnic category was classified as either Black African or Black Other. Detailed figures are not given in order to protect the confidentiality of the individuals concerned.

Dartmouth Naval College

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many students are currently training at Dartmouth Naval College to become officers; and how many of these are of Afro-Caribbean origin. [83073]

Mr. Doug Henderson [holding answer 4 May 1999]: There are currently 348 Royal Navy Young Officers under training at Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth. Of these, six are of ethnic origin, although none are currently Black-Caribbean or Black other.

5 May 1999 : Column: 378

In addition, there are presently 49 Young Officers from a number of overseas countries undertaking training this term. Of these, two are of Black Caribbean origin.

Army Barracks (Gaelic Athletic Association)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date and by what legal authority Army barracks were constructed on property of the Gaelic Athletic Association and grounds of Crossmaglen Rangers; what preparations have been made to vacate these barracks; what functions currently conducted at or from these barracks will be discontinued and what functions will be carried out from which other sites; what preparations for the transfer of functions are being made at other sites; what date has been set as the target for completion of these moves; what compensation or other payments have been made to the owners of this land; and what plans have been made to demolish the barracks and return the site to its previous use. [82502]

Mr. Doug Henderson [holding answer 4 May 1999]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for East Kilbride (Mr. Ingram) on 4 May 1999, Official Report, columns 328-29.

Commissioned Officers (Ethnic Origin)

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many commissioned officers there are in (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Navy and (c) the Royal Air Force; and how many are of Afro-Caribbean origin. [83074]

Mr. Doug Henderson [holding answer 4 May 1999]: As at 1 March 1999, the numbers of all commissioned officers, and the number of commissioned officers whose known ethnic category is either 'Black-African' or 'Black-Caribbean' is as shown in the table:

All ethnic originsBlack-African (1)Black-Caribbean (1)
Naval Service7,73386
Army12,7071212
Royal Air Force10,798917
Total31,2382935

(1) These numbers are based on the self-classification of ethnic origin used by individual members of the Armed Forces. There are a further 24 officers who have classified themselves as 'Black-Other'.



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