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BVRAAM Programme

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when his Department started discussions with the United States Government regarding the Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile capability; when these discussions are expected to be concluded; with which section of the United States Department of Defense his Department is holding these discussions; and whether his Department is holding discussions with other United States Departments regarding this matter. [93864]

Mr. Kilfoyle: Discussions with the United States Government regarding the UK's Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM) programme commenced after the receipt of the Raytheon Systems Ltd. (RSL) bids in May 1998. These discussions will continue until the BVRAAM competition concludes around the end of the year. Discussions have been held with the US Air Force Departments of Acquisition, International Affairs, and Armaments Co-operation in Washington D.C. and with the Air to Air Joint Systems Program Office at the US Air Force Base Eglin, Florida. The MOD is not currently involved in discussions with any other US Government Departments regarding this matter.

UN-designated Standing Reserves

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which units will replace UN-designated standing reserves when those units are otherwise deployed. [95410]

Mr. Hoon: The UK does not earmark specific forces for UN peacekeeping operations, and therefore the issue of replacing UN-designated units on deployment does not arise. We updated our declaration of forces potentially available to the UN in June in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU makes clear that declared forces may not be available at the time of a UN request because of other commitments.


Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Indonesian pilots and instructors are currently receiving training in the UK, (b) UK personnel are in Indonesia (i) to train Hawk pilots and (ii) to service Hawk aircraft; and what is the cost of the training and servicing. [95338]

Mr. Spellar: No Indonesia pilots or instructors are currently receiving training on Hawk in the UK, and no UK service personnel are in Indonesia to train pilots or service aircraft.

Rapier Missiles

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the security implications are to the United Kingdom of the manufacture of components of the Rapier missile system being undertaken outside the United Kingdom; [95344]

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Mr. Kilfoyle: The value of work to be undertaken in Turkey for the Turkish and British Rapier missile procurement programmes is around £30 million. There are no security implications concerning the manufacture of these components outside the United Kingdom. The technology involved is not sensitive and the prime contractor, Matra BAe Dynamics, is responsible for meeting the MOD's contractual specification and for ensuring continuity of supply.

Challenger Tanks

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many Challenger 1 MBTs are to be sold to the Jordanian army; [95373]

Mr. Kilfoyle: As part of its support for King Abdullah of Jordan on his accession to the throne, and in response to a request from His Majesty, the Government announced in March that we had agreed to supply Jordan with Challenger 1 Main Battle Tanks as they come out of service with the British Army over the next few years. Up to 288 Challenger 1s will be supplied.

The Challenger 1s currently in service with the British Army have a current average book value of £750K each but, on leaving service, that value will reduce to zero. The tanks will therefore be supplied to Jordan at no cost. However, agreement has been reached with Jordan that the Jordanian Government will meet the MOD's additional costs arising out of the Challenger 1 transfer programme.

Strategic Defence Review

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the Strategic Environmental Assessment examining the impact of the implementation of the Strategic Defence Review to be published; if the Assessment team has been authorised to make recommendations; and if he will make a statement. [95522]

Mr. Kilfoyle [holding answer 25 October 1999]: The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is still subject to consultation within MOD and with external Statutory Bodies, it is hoped that the final document will be available early next year. Its work is being taken forward within the methodology agreed with Statutory Bodies and will inform decision-making on the Strategic Defence Review outcomes.

Vehicle Movements

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason two tank transporters were stationary on the A303(T) near Winterbourne Stoke on 15 October; how long it was before they were moved; and what assistance was (a) sought and (b) given by the Wiltshire constabulary. [95805]

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Mr. Spellar: At around 1700 hours on 15 October a single empty Scammell Crusader tank transporter travelling east on the A303 towards Stonehenge broke down due to engine failure. The civilian and MOD police were informed shortly afterwards and I understand that civilian police assistance arrived at around 1800 hours. The civilian police directed traffic at the scene of the incident. Due to the volume of traffic, the recovery vehicles, a Scammel Commander and a Seddon Atkinson tractor and trailer, did not arrive until around 1900 hours, and the broken down tank transporter was removed at around 1930 hours.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the cost of a return journey between RAF Honnington and Salisbury Plain training area by one low loader vehicle carrying equipment for use by the Joint NBC regiment. [95803]

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

Operation Abbott

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the total cost of Operation Abbott. [95804]

Mr. Spellar: The cost to date of the operation to clear buried wartime ordnance at Winterbourne Gunner carried out between November 1998 and July 1999, Operation ABBOTT, is some £500,000. This amount relates to the clearance operation, compensation paid to freehold and tenant farmers for loss of harvest and payments made to DERA Porton Down. Negotiations continue with DERA Porton Down over the cost of disposal of the remaining items. The final cost of the operation will not be known until the disposal programme, scheduled to finish in the financial year 2002-03, has been completed.


Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what communications he has had or plans to have with the new Secretary General of NATO in respect of the concerns expressed by the Chairman of the United Nations Balkan Environment task force over NATO co-operation with the task force on the use of depleted uranium shells by allied forces during the Kosovo conflict. [95635]

Mr. Hoon: None. The North Atlantic Council does not discuss the deployment of specific munitions by individual member states. However, my hon. Friend may wish to note that depleted uranium-based ammunition was not used by UK forces during the Kosovo campaign.

Gulf War Syndrome

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has to evaluate the study sponsored by the United States Department of Defense, published on 19 October, into the possible role played by exposure to pyriostigmine bromide in the causation of Gulf War Syndrome. [95631]

Mr. Spellar: My Department has already undertaken a preliminary assessment of the RAND review of the scientific literature on pyridostigmine bromide (PB), as it pertains to Gulf War illnesses. The report does not present

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any new research on PB and does not imply that PB is necessarily a causal factor in Gulf veterans' illnesses, only that the possibility cannot be dismissed. We will now be studying this large and comprehensive report in detail.

The report calls for more substantial research into the effects of PB. MOD is currently funding research into possible interactions between PB and the vaccines given to UK troops in the Gulf (initial results show no untoward health effects). We are also conducting a neuromuscular symptoms study (one of the areas specifically mentioned in the RAND paper). The MOD welcomes new proposals for research into Gulf veterans' illnesses and would look favourably on any proposals recommended by the Medical Research Council who act as our independent assessors and advisers.

Naval Recruiting and Training Agency

Mr. Browne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what key targets have been set for the Naval Recruiting and Training Agency for 1999-2000. [96021]

Mr. Spellar: The following Key Targets have been set for the Naval Recruiting and Training Agency for 1999-2000:

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