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Mr. Portillo: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much money has been spent to date by his Department and by bodies funded by his Department in connection with the National Changeover Plan; on what headings this money has been spent; and how much his Department plans to spend on implementing the plan over the next 12 months. [112146]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 29 February 2000]: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given on 29 February 2000, Official Report, column 233W, by my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary.

River Class Minesweepers

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason the Ministry of Defence Performance report 1998-99 published on 20 December 1999 includes River Class minesweepers transferred to Brazil in 1998; and if he will make a statement. [112431]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence Departmental Performance Report 1998-99 covers the period 1 April 1998 to 31 March 1999. The River Class Patrol Minesweepers--Blackwater, Itchen, Spey and Arun--were reported in two sections of the Report: Paragraph 41 and Annexe B. Paragraph 41 noted their hand-over to the Brazilian Navy, which occurred between the end of April 1998 and mid October 1998. Annexe B, the Royal Navy Force Structure table, detailed all Fleet Force Elements in-service during the period of the Report. Annexe B correctly included three of these four vessels which were still in service between April and July 1998, but failed to include a footnote on their pay off dates. The fourth vessel--Itchen--was paid off at the end of February 1998, outside the reporting period, and should not therefore have been included in this table.

A further error has been found in the Royal Navy Force Structure table at Annexe B of the Performance Report. The section detailing the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Force Elements shows only one Roll-on Roll-off vessel, Sea Crusader, in service during the period. In this case, the strength of the Fleet was understated as the second vessel in the class, Sea Centurion, entered Immediate Operational Service on 19 October 1998.

Defence Evaluation and Research Agency

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what written representations on the proposals for the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency public-private partnership have been received by his Department from the United States Department of Defense. [112369]

Mr. Hoon: Officials in my Department have received written representations on the proposal to implement a public-private-partnership (PPP) for the Defence

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Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) from the following representatives in the US Department of Defense (DOD):

    Dr. Dolores Etter, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Science and Technology);

    Walter Hollis, Deputy Under Secretary of the Army (Operational Research);

    Lieutenant General Kadish, Director Ballistic Missile Defence Organisation; and

    John Manclark, Director Test and Evaluation, US Air Force.

In addition, officials have received a number of electronic mails from Dr. Craig Dorman, the Chief Scientist of the Office of Naval Research, the DOD's nominated focal point for DERA PPP.

Comment in this written correspondence has focused on the following areas:

    Protection of security and commercially sensitive information, and the application of the proposed "compliance regime";

    Legal and contractual issues associated with the proposed PPP;

    The need to avoid possible conflicts of interest arising from a private sector DERA's commercial imperatives and government functions;

    Possible alternative PPP options and their ability to meet both governments' requirements.

French Navy

Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions have taken place involving (a) officials and (b) Ministers from his Department on arrangements for ballistic missile submarines from the French Navy to visit the UK. [112650]

Mr. Hoon: We hope that a visit by a French ballistic missile submarine to HM Naval Base, Clyde, will be possible later this year. Initial discussions have taken place at official level on the arrangements for such a visit; further meetings are planned. No discussions involving Ministers have taken place.

Victory Gate

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how long the main gates at Victory Gate, Royal Naval Yard, Portsmouth, are to remain closed. [R] [112689]

Dr. Moonie: The main gates were shut for a matter of a few days to allow essential maintenance work to be undertaken. The gates were re-opened on 24 February 2000 for pedestrian access, although vehicle access will remain restricted until work is completed on the Millennium Walk in the Heritage Area of the Naval Base.

Anthrax Vaccine

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's policy is on the use of anthrax vaccine which has passed its recommended use-by date; and if such vaccine has been used since 1990. [112999]

Dr. Moonie: Our policy is only to use vaccine which has a current licence granted by the Medicines Control Agency (MCA). Our stocks of anthrax vaccine that were

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procured for the 1990-91 Gulf Conflict have, since 1993, had their shelf-life extended by the MCA on a number of occasions and only these stocks have been given to personnel.

UK Hydrographic Office

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list (a) those targets of the UK Hydrographic Office for 1998-99 which (i) were and (ii) were not achieved, giving the factors affecting the outcome in each case and (b) action taken by the agency to improve target achievement performance in 1999-2000; and if he will make a statement. [111735]

Dr. Moonie: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the right hon. and learned Member.

Letter from J. P. Clarke to Mr. Menzies Campbell, dated 6 March 2000:

    The following targets for 1998-99 were achieved:

    Key Target 2 To achieve 100% of the endorsed and funded Defence Programme to cost, quality and timeliness targets as defined in Tasking Authorisation Forms (TAFs);

    Key Target 3 To meet short-notice Defence operational requirements within agreed timescales;

    Key Target 4 Implement, by 30 September 1998, new performance indicators of product availability and service levels for response times as perceived from our customers' perspective for improving safe navigation;

    Key Target 5 To break even taking one year with another; and

    Key Target 6 To achieve an average Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) during the plan period of 7.5 per cent.

    The following factors affected the outcome of the remaining two targets for 1998-99:

    Key Target 1 To process and promulgate priority safety information within stated timescales from receipt of data.

    The five performance indicators that contribute to this target and the actual annual per cent. compliance achieved for each is as follows:

    1. 100 per cent. of Radio Navigational warnings (RNW) within thirty minutes for SafetyNet and four hours for NAVTEX. Achieved 100 per cent.

    2. 100 per cent. textural Notices to Mariners from textural sources within 5 weeks. Achieved 98 per cent.

    3. 100 per cent. textural Notices to Mariners from graphic sources within 10 weeks. Achieved 94 per cent.

    4. 100 per cent. Notice to Mariners - issued as Blocks within 15 weeks. Achieved 100 per cent.

    5. 100 per cent. Urgent New Editions within 24 weeks. Achieved 99 per cent.

    The Notice to Mariners performance indicators are challenging and any failure to meet them is examined for reasons and ways to improve our processes. The Urgent New Editions Performance reflects the delay of one new edition due to higher priority work.

    Key Target 7 To achieve efficiency savings of 13.5 per cent. of controllable costs (based on controllable costs for FY95-96) by 31 March 2001.

    This Key Target is not due for completion until 31 March 2001. The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office has achieved a net positive efficiency and is on target to meet the five-year objective of 13.5 per cent.

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    To improve target achievement performance in 1999-2000, the UKHO detailed a range of improvement measures in a five year Corporate Plan that was approved by the responsible Minister. The plan includes proposals for both short and long-term Improvements and details a range of capital investments, performance reviews and an efficiency plan.

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