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Defence Analytical Services Agency

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list (a) those targets of the Defence Analytical Services Agency 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. [111727]

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Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Analytical Services Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the right hon. and learned Member.

Letter from C. Youngson to Mr. Menzies Campbell, dated 7 March 2000:



    The 1998-1999 Key Targets for the Defence Analytical Services Agency were announced to Parliament by the then Minister for the Armed Forces on 19 May 1998 (Official Report, Column 330). As reported in the Agency's Annual Report and Accounts for 1998-1999, which were laid before Parliament and placed in the House of Commons Library on 26 July 1999 (Ref HC 700), all these Key Targets were met. For your information, I attach copies of the relevant pages of the Report. The Agency's Key Targets for 1999-2000 were also set out in the Annual Report and Accounts for 1998-1999 and announced to Parliament by the then Minister for the Armed Forces on 9 June 1999 (Official Report, Columns 322-333). The Agency's Owner, the Principal Finance Officer for the Ministry of Defence, sets these targets each year with the help of his Advisory Board, made up of all the Agency's major customers and members from outside the Ministry of Defence with a thorough understanding of the Agency's business. The Advisory Board agreed that the targets for 1999-2000 were an extremely challenging measure of business success. The Agency uses the Business Excellence Model to help ensure continuous improvement in all aspects of its business.


    I hope you find this reply helpful.

Biological and Chemical Weapons

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what measures have been put in place since July 1999 to protect British forces deployed overseas from attack by biological and chemical weapons; [112972]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: The Joint NBC Regiment, created as a result of the Strategic Defence Review, achieved an Interim Operational Capability last December. It provides, at very high readiness, a capability for biological detection, nuclear and chemical survey and decontamination. The Regiment has elements deployed to Kuwait manning the Prototype Biological Detection System protecting the airbase at Ali Al Salem.

With regard to new equipment, since last summer three Interim Naval Biological Detection Systems have been accepted into service. We have also placed a manufacturing contract for chemical agent monitors which are designed to work inside a collective protection environment. User trials are due to take place this month and this equipment will be brought into service later this year. In addition, a contract has also been let for the manufacture of Man-portable Chemical Agent Detectors. Lastly, I refer the hon. Member to the answer which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave him on 29 October 1999, Official Report, column 1005W.

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Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the military units involved in biological and chemical defence tasks; and what are the operating costs he is meeting in each case in the (a) current and (b) next financial year. [112971]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: The units dedicated to chemical and biological defence tasks are the Defence NBC Centre (comprising the Defence NBC Headquarters and the NBC School), the Joint NBC Regiment and the Royal Yeomanry.

The provision made for the operating costs of these units in this financial years is:

£ million
Defence NBC Centre3.2
Joint NBC Regiment5.0
Royal Yeomanry1.9

The budgets for financial year 2000-01 have not yet been finalised.

Foden Thompson Carmichael MWD

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors underlay the decision not to authorise road use of the Foden Thompson Carmichael MWD within the UK. [111772]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: The MK1 version of the Foden Thompson Carmichael MWD was developed in 1995-96 to meet an urgent operational requirement in the Balkans. It is essentially a fuel tanker with a number of design features to improve its manoeuvrability in difficult terrain. The vehicle was exempted from full compliance with the Construction and Use Regulations under Schedule 1, Article 6 of The Motor Vehicles (Authorisation of Special Types) General Order 1979. This Order authorises the Secretary of State for Defence to use specified vehicles, notwithstanding that such vehicles do not comply in all respects with the requirements of the Construction and Use Regulations. The principal areas on non-compliance related to the absence of both a speed limiter and an anti-lock braking system (ABS). While these factors did not make the vehicle unsafe, the vehicles' lack of full compliance with UK legislation led to the decision not to authorise road use within the UK. A modification programme to bring all 34 MK1 vehicles up to full compliance has begun. All MK2 vehicles are fully compliant.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the arrangements for driver training for the Foden Thompson Carmichael MWD. [111828]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: Prior to 1998 the vehicle was deployed in the Balkans without any formal vehicle-specific driver training having taken place in the UK. Nominated drivers were, however, required to hold the necessary civilian licences and a Hazardous Materials qualification before being trained on the vehicle in the Balkans under the guidance of a qualified driving instructor and an experienced driver from an outgoing Unit. Since 1998, pre-deployment training on the MK1 vehicle has been carried out by qualified military driving instructors at the Army School of Petroleum at Westmoor

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in Dorset. Training on the MK2 is provided through a contract with Multidrive, the manufacturers of the vehicle. Further training and instruction continues to be given in-theatre in the Balkans by operators experienced in the vehicles' use in the local environment.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the accidents involving the Foden Thompson Carmichael MWD attributable to (a) mechanical failure, (b) driver error and (c) defective maintenance. [111774]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: No accidents involving the Foden Thompson Carmichael Multi Wheel Drive vehicle have been attributed to either mechanical failure or defective maintenance. Driver error has been assessed as a contributory factor in eleven accidents.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) fatalities and (b) other injuries have occurred in accidents involving the Foden Thompson Carmichael MWD. [111827]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: There have been three accidents involving the Foden Thompson Carmichael Multi Wheel Drive vehicle that have resulted in fatalities or injuries. The first, on 12 April 1996, resulted in serious injuries to two soldiers. The second, on 7 July 1997, resulted in the deaths of two soldiers. In the third accident, on 22 June 1998, a soldier suffered a slight injury. All three accidents occurred in Bosnia.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement regarding the mechanical problems experienced by units using the Foden Thompson Carmichael MWD. [111826]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: No significant mechanical problems have been experienced.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what problems have been identified with the (a) gearbox and (b) braking systems of the Foden Thompson Carmichael MWD. [111775]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: There is no evidence of any technical or mechanical problems with either the gearbox or the braking systems across the Foden Thompson Carmichael Multi Wheel Drive vehicle fleet. An inquiry following a fatal road traffic accident in 1997 raised a concern that there was a possibility for a clip within the vehicle's gearbox to become dislodged as a result of excessive wear. This might cause the gearbox to slip into neutral despite a gear being selected. A check was made across the fleet but no problems were discovered and no such occurrences have been reported. The accident inquiry concluded that there was no evidence that this was a contributory factor and concluded that there was insufficient evidence to establish conclusively the cause of the accident.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the safety record of the Foden Thompson Carmichael MWD. [111825]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: The vehicle has coped well in operations in arduous terrain and harsh weather conditions over the past three years.

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While the two serious accidents are extremely regrettable, the accident rate for this vehicle is not considered excessive. The vehicle continues to perform well and is considered safe in all regards.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the theatres where the Foden Thompson Carmichael MWD is deployed for operational use. [111773]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 March 2000]: The MWD is currently deployed to both Balkan theatres, Bosnia and Kosovo.


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