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Prisoners of War

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about the Royal British Legion's request for a special gratuity for former Far East prisoners of war or their widows. [120072]

The Prime Minister: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Under- Secretary of State for Defence on 2 May 2000, Official Report, column 7W.

Serbia

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Prime Minister what exemptions have been made to the sanctions against Serbia for humanitarian reasons, with particular reference to equipment needed for (a) de-mining and (b) dealing with depleted uranium. [119349]

The Prime Minister: The EC regulations providing for the flight ban (now suspended), the oil embargo and the imposition of financial sanctions in Serbia all provide for humanitarian exemptions.

Although the UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1160 (1998) imposed an arms embargo on the FRY, UNSCR 1244 (1999) provides that prohibitions imposed by UNSCR 1160 shall not apply to the sale or supply of arms and related material for use by the international civil and security presence in Kosovo. The UK has approved a number of applications for the export of demining equipment to the FRY where such activity is taking place under the auspices of the international civil and security presence.

The export to Serbia of equipment for dealing with depleted uranium would not be covered by sanctions. However, an export licence would have to be obtained from the Department of Trade and Industry if the equipment in question was covered by the UK's strategic export controls on dual-use goods which apply to all destinations.

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Staff

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the total staff costs for No. 10 Downing street in (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98, (c) 1998-99 and (d) 1999-2000. [112076]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 28 February 2000]: The staff costs for No. 10 Downing street were £3.4 million in 1996-97; £4.1 million in 1997-98; and £4.9 million in 1998-99. The provisional figure for 1999-2000 is £5.9 million.

DEFENCE

Trident Programme

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role BNFL will play in maintaining the UK's Trident programme at AWE. [116244]

Mr. Spellar: BNFL and other members of the AWE ML consortium will be seconding a small number of middle and senior managers to AWE in the short-term, parent company nominees will reduce to only a handful of board members early in the new contract. On the exact responsibilities to be carried out by the nominees from BNFL, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) on 15 April 2000, Official Report, column 487W.

Chinook Crash, Mull of Kintyre

Mr. Martin Bell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will provide details of the indicated airspeed of RAF Chinook ZD576 during the last 40 seconds of flight as it approached the Mull of Kintyre on 2 June 1994. [120101]

Mr. Spellar: The Board of Inquiry considered data extracted from the aircraft's systems, the Air Accident Investigation Board technical report, the flight path simulations from Boeing Helicopters and a separate investigation from Defence Research Agency Bedford, together with witness evidence. The Board concluded that it was most likely that while coasting in at the Mull of Kintyre the aircraft was established in a steady climb, with an airspeed of about 150 knots, until approximately four seconds before impact.

Birth Certificates

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what purposes his Department requires a birth certificate to be furnished by (a) employees, (b) contractors, (c) those applying for employment and contracts and (d) other persons. [120322]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence usually requests a birth certificate from prospective employees, both Service and civilian, and individuals undertaking work for the Department, to establish proof of identity. Other official documents, however, such as a full 10-year passport, may be furnished as proof of identity and, normally, are acceptable.

Minimum Wage

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the cost to salaries paid by his

3 May 2000 : Column: 113W

Department of an increase in the national minimum wage to all age groups to (a) £4, (b) £4.20 and (c) £4.50 an hour. [120234]

Dr. Moonie: The estimated annual cost of increasing basic pay by the amounts requested is (a) £0.6 million, (b) £1.8 million and (c) £4.5 million respectively.

Aircraft Maintenance

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total cost of RAF aircraft maintenance and spares for the last year for which figures are available. [120277]

Dr. Moonie: The information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

RAF Combat Aircraft

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the front line combat aircraft operated by the RAF; what is the complement of trained pilots required to operate each type; and how many trained pilots are available to fly each type. [120409]

Mr. Spellar: The information is shown in the following table:

Number of trained pilots at 27 April 2000

Aircraft typePilot establishmentPilot strength
Tornado GR1/4133123
Tornado F3111103
Jaguar5759
Harrier6362
Sea Harrier3428

Veterans Advice Unit

Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the internet e-mail facility for the Veterans' Advice Unit will become available; and if he will make a statement. [120837]

Mr. Spellar: I am pleased to announce that the Veterans' Advice Unit is, from today, linked to the internet and may be contacted on-line by e-mail at the following address: veteransadvice@veterans.mod.uk.

The Veterans' Advice Unit has been operating successfully as a telephone helpline for 18 months and this important enhancement to the service will open the Unit up to a wider audience. In addition to the millions of ex-Servicemen and women resident in the UK, veterans living abroad, often in different time zones, will now be able to contact the Unit at their convenience and at minimal cost, using the e-mail facility.

Royal Navy Discharge Regulations

Ms Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to alter the current discharge regulations for new recruits joining the Naval Service. [120838]

Mr. Spellar: With effect from 1 June 2000, all new recruits, other than re-engagements, will have a statutory right to apply to leave the Naval Service during a six

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month period from date of entry, subject to having completed four weeks' effective service. Recruits will be entitled to be discharged no later than 14 days from the date of submitting notice in writing to their Commanding Officer. Currently, recruits have a period of three to six months, depending on their age at entry, during which they may exercise their right to leave the Service.

Additionally, discharge fees applicable to Royal Navy Ratings and Royal Marine Other Ranks aged 17½ years or over on entry, who take up their right to leave within the six month period, are to be discontinued from 1 June 2000.

The two changes in Terms of Service will harmonise the Naval Service's discharge regulations for new recruits and mean that all new recruits, irrespective of their age on entry, will have an equal right to leave the Service in future.

HMS Phoenix

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 8 March 2000, Official Report, columns 708-09W, what was the (a) purpose, (b) nature and (c) outcome of the experiment involving 13 military volunteers at HMS Phoenix. [117078]

Dr. Moonie: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from John Chisholm to Mr. Matthew Taylor, dated 3 May 2000:


I am replying to your parliamentary question about the study undertaken by the Chemical and Biological Defence (CBD) sector of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) at HMS Phoenix.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether existing or proposed control methods were effective in preventing nuclear contamination of a designated toxic free area (TFA). Subjects wearing full individual protective equipment were exposed to harmless particles to simulate nuclear fallout. They were then processed through the entry system under evaluation into the TFA, replicating the undressing and decontamination procedures appropriate to that system. The effectiveness of the entry system was tested using air sampling techniques in the TFA. None of the volunteers who took part in the trial experienced adverse effects. The results will be used to revise entry and exit procedures to reduce the potential for the transfer of nuclear contaminated material.
I hope the above is helpful.


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