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Military Service

Mr. Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what definition his Department uses of (a) active service and (b) conflict zone, in respect of military service. [84938]

Mr. Spellar: (a) I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by the then Minister of State for the Armed Forces to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Burden) on 9 March 1998, Official Report, column 46. (b) The Department has no definition of a conflict zone, as this expression has no recognised meaning.

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 209

Gulf War (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder)

Mr. Malins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilians were seconded to the armed forces during the Gulf Crisis; and, of those, how many are known to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. [84952]

Mr. Doug Henderson: Civilians, including foreign nationals, based in the UK and overseas, played a vital role in supporting British Forces during the 1990-1991 Gulf conflict, but the precise number seconded (that is attached to British Forces) has not been determined.

However, a review of Ministry of Defence (MOD) records shows that on 22 February 1991, 931 MOD civilian staff were reported as being in the Gulf theatre, but not all were working in direct support of British Forces. Of these, 785 were members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. In addition, there were a significant number of civilian contractors' employees working in direct support of British Forces in the Gulf theatre. My Department conservatively estimates that the number of civilian contractors' employees involved would have been in excess of 1,000 people.

MOD is aware of two civilians who claim to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of their time in the Gulf during the conflict. MOD has no mechanisms in place for routinely monitoring the health of its employees, ex-employees, contractors' employees or foreign nationals. However, civilians who provided direct support to British Forces in theatre during the Gulf conflict can be referred by their GP for examination at the MOD's Medical Assessment Programme (MAP). As at 26 May 1999, 14 civilians had been seen by MAP physicians.

European Defence and Security

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his contribution to the debate at the WEU Council of 10 May on European Defence and Security after Amsterdam; what (a) matters and (b) documents were discussed; and what decisions were taken. [85523]

Mr. George Robertson: I was unable to attend the WEU Council meeting on 10 May because of Defence Questions in the House and was therefore represented by a Senior official from my Department. I was present at the session on 11 May.

One of the major points of business was continuing the process of informal reflection on European security and defence issues, initiated at the WEU meeting in Rome last November. Particular points emphasised in the discussion included: the need to rectify shortfalls in European military capability; the need to strengthen the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy, including by giving the EU the means to decide on military matters and take political control of crisis management operations; the importance of involving the non-EU European Allies, and the Associate Partners, in future arrangements; and the continuing importance of NATO as the cornerstone of European security and defence policy. No documents were considered or decisions taken on these matters. A number of papers relating to other aspects of WEU business were noted or endorsed by Ministers at their meetings.

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 210

Armed Forces (Manning Level)

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what were the (a) actual manning and (b) establishment levels of the (i) Royal Navy (excluding the Royal Marines), (ii) Army, (iii) Royal Air Force and (iv) Royal Marines as at 31 March. [85910]

Mr. Doug Henderson: Personnel statistics are produced for the beginning of each month. As at 1 April 1999, the trained and untrained strengths and establishment (trained requirement) levels for each of the Services were as follows:

ServiceTrained strength (a)Untrained strength (b)Total strength (c) = (a) + (b)Trained requirement (d)

(1) The Army figures are for UK Regulars; they do not include Gurkhas or Royal Irish Regiment (Home Service). If Gurkhas were included, the Army Strength would be 99,674, and Requirement would be 105,271.

(2) To implement the Post-SDR force structure, the Army's Requirement for UK Regulars will increase to 105,335 by 1 April 2005.

Battalion Parachute Regiments

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the (i) established strength and (ii) recruited strength of (a) 1, (b) 2, (c) 3, (d) 4 and (e) 10 Battalion Parachute Regiments. [85625]

Mr. Doug Henderson: The actual strength of the Battalions as at 1 April 1999, and their current and post-SDR liability, is detailed in the following table.

Current Liability (1 April 1999)Post SDR Liability (3)Current Strength (1 April 1999)
1 PARA634624521
2 PARA634646(5)534
3 PARA608646485
4 PARA (TA)531(4)324224
10 PARA (TA)530(4)--129

(3) These liabilities take into account new changes approved by the SDR which have yet to be implemented.

(4) On 1 July 1999, 4 and 10 PARA will merge and form a new 4 PARA with Regimental Headquarters and a Company at Pudsey with a detachment at Consett, a Company in Glasgow and a Company in London with a detachment in Croydon.

(5) The strength of 2 PARA does not include the Gurkha Reinforcement Company (GRC) that is currently attached to it.


Liability and strength figures include all capbadges except the Gurkhas referred to in footnote


Defence Evaluation and Research Agency

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. [85648]

Mr. Spellar: I have nothing significant to add to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 5 May 1999, Official Report, columns 384-85. Our consultation with stakeholders

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 211

continues and my right hon. Friend still hopes to be in a position to make an announcement on DERA's future later in the year.

Satellite Dishes

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the cost of supplying and fitting a gyro-stabilised satellite television dish to a frigate. [82902]

Mr. Spellar: No MOD funded gyro-stabilised satellite television dishes have been fitted to RN frigates. However, this type of dish has been fitted to two aircraft carriers, HMS Invincible and HMS Illustrious, and will be fitted to the third, HMS Ark Royal, during her current refit. The estimated cost of each dish is £36,000, excluding installation costs, which are included in the refit costs and are not separately identifiable. The majority of the RN's major warships are currently fitted with conventional domestic satellite equipment which provides reception whilst in harbour in European waters. We are planning to enhance this facility by providing reception whilst the ships are at sea. Under the revised arrangements, ships' crews would be able to see broadcasts within about 12 hours of transmission.

Training Aircraft (India)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what negotiations he has held with the Indian Government over provision of new training aircraft for the Indian Air Force. [84525]

Mr. Spellar: Although officials from the Defence Export Services Organisation are aware of the Indian Government's potential interest in the Hawk Aircraft, no formal negotiations have been held between the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Government over the provision of a new training aircraft for the Indian Air Force.

Atomic Energy (Co-operation)

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent reports he has received from his United States counterpart in respect of the security of confidential nuclear weapons design information originating in the United Kingdom and shared with the United States Department of Energy under bilateral atomic energy co-operation agreements. [84726]

Mr. George Robertson: I have received no such reports.

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