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Entry Licences

Angela Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who issues licences to enter his Department's land on Salisbury Plain. [119928]

Dr. Moonie: Licences to enter Salisbury Plain Training Area are issued by Defence Estates once approval has been given by the Commandant Army Training Estate Salisbury Plain. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer which the then Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle) gave to her on 17 January 2000, Official Report, column 280W, on the licensing procedure.

Angela Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many licences to enter his Department's land have been issued in (a) 1996, (b) 1997, (c) 1998, (d) 1999 and (e) 2000 to date; [119926]

Dr. Moonie: The information on the number of licences issued to enter Ministry of Defence land and also how many of these have been revoked or curtailed is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Once licences are issued, however, licence holders are required to operate within the terms of their licence. Responsibility for ensuring that this occurs rests both with Defence Estates (an agency of the Ministry of Defence) and the establishment where the activity occurs.

Action on the contravention of any licence is dependent both on the activity involved and in what way the agreement has been contravened. For example, if damage has occurred the licence holder can be asked to pay for any repairs that may be necessary.

Procurement Programme Studies

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the occasions since May 1997 when alternative studies have been initiated for procurement programmes once a preferred supplier has been selected, indicating the cost of those studies in each case. [118971]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 17 April 2000]: Information of this sort is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 3 April 2000 to the hon. Member for Angus, (Mr. Welsh), Official Report,

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column 303W, on tritium, for what reason disclosure of tritium production details would be contrary to national defence and security interests. [120065]

Mr. Hoon: The Government are committed to being as open as possible about Britain's nuclear forces. However, disclosure of tritium production details could provide the means to assess nuclear weapon design data, offering an unwelcome insight into our nuclear capabilities. In addition, when answering questions on defence nuclear issues, we must observe our obligations under the terms of Article 1 of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is on these grounds that I am withholding this information under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Defence and Clothing Research Establishment

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many staff were employed at the Defence and Clothing Research Establishment at Colchester; when the decision was taken to transfer all the operations to Bicester; and how many staff it is estimated will be transferring to the new site; [120592]

Mr. Spellar: When DCTA was formed in November 1994, the intention from the outset was that the different elements would collocate to Caversfield. This would generate efficiencies by rationalising technical facilities at the Agency's Didcot and Colchester sites and by reducing the number of staff required to run one site as compared to three. However, it was not until July 1996 that a firm date of November 1998 was decided for the transfer of the Colchester Science & Technology Department (S&TD) element. At that time, the establishment of S&TD comprised a total of 147 staff was expected to increase by 1998 to 156. The current estimate of the number of staff from Colchester intending to transfer to the Caversfield site is 84, although all staff at Colchester still have the offer of a job at Caversfield, should they decide to move.

The original date for the transfer has been affected by a number of studies into the future of DCTA. However, none of these studies raised any point which significantly altered the original plan and the then Minister for the Armed Forces, my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson), confirmed the collocation on 1 April 1999.

The Collocation is now expected to be completed by February 2001, which represents a total delay of some two years and three months over the original date. The causes are as follows:

(a) Private Finance Initiative (PFI) Study 1997: delay incurred one year.
(b) McKinsey Study (SDR) 1998 recommending S&TD/DERA Study into what elements (if any) should go to DERA on Value for Money grounds: delay incurred 11 months.
(c) English Heritage--Proposed listing of Caversfield Buildings; its impact upon refurbishment proposals, necessitated some redesign: delay incurred four months.

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Despite the various delays, we now fully expect that the revised date for completion will be met. DCTA is currently evaluating the various tenders that have been received for the refurbishment of the remaining buildings on the Caversfield site, and the programme is expected to be undertaken during Summer/Autumn 2000.


Lord Levy

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the cost to public funds of Lord Levy's visit to Morocco, broken down by (a) expenses and (b) other costs. [118791]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 12 April 2000]: I refer to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 22 February 2000, Official Report, column 852W. This was also the case in relation to the Morocco visit.

Mr. Maude: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whom the Prime Minister's special envoy met on his recent trip to Morocco. [118794]

Mr. Hain [holding answer 12 April 2000]: Lord Levy met a range of senior figures, including King Mohammed VI, to whom he delivered a personal message from the Prime Minister.

Amsterdam Treaty

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for what reason no fines have been imposed under Article 228(2) of the Amsterdam Treaty; and what representations he has made calling for such fines be imposed. [119811]

Mr. Vaz: Article 228(2) applies if a member state fails to respond to a Court judgment. The vast majority of cases is settled well before this stage. Over the last three years, the Annual Report on monitoring the application of Community law records that the Commission has referred 14 cases to the European Court of Justice for a second time, recommending fines in each case. The fact that no penalties have yet been imposed by the Court does not indicate that the system is not working. On the contrary, it shows that member states have responded to the possibility of a fine by rapidly coming into line with EC law, either before the case is referred to the ECJ for a second time or shortly afterwards.

Plutonium Exports (United States)

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what communications have been received by the (a) scientific and (b) Atomic Energy Counsellors in the British Embassy in Washington DC since May 1997, from the (i) United States Department of Energy and (ii) other US nuclear authorities, in respect of the agreements affecting plutonium exported from the United Kingdom to the United States and the use to which that material has been put. [120252]

Mr. Hain: There is no Atomic Energy Counsellor at the Embassy in Washington. Since May 1997 the Science, Technology, Environment and Energy Counsellor has received routine communications from the United States

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Government on the movement of nuclear material exported from the United Kingdom to the United States, and the use to which that material has been put. These have formed part of the normal process of consultation between our two Governments.

Entry Clearance (Islamabad)

Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) with reference to the operation of the interim appointment system in Islamabad for applicants seeking entry clearance (a) by what criteria an application is judged to be straightforward, (b) by whom this decision is made, (c) how an applicant is informed that the application is regarded as straightforward, (d) what types of visa application can be considered under this system and (e) if an existing applicant awaiting interview can take advantage of the scheme; [120487]

Mr. Vaz: There is no interim appointment system in operation at Islamabad. There is, however, a fast-track scheme for spouses in the settlement queue, whereby they can present themselves for interview on any Tuesday. Applicants who meet the relevant criteria of the Immigration Rules without the need for any additional inquiry are granted entry clearance. Those who do not are invited to return for further interview on the date of their original appointment.

No statistics are kept for those granted entry clearance, or deferred to their original appointment, during this process. All of those who attend have their applications considered by an Entry Clearance Officer.

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