Previous Section Index Home Page

Inward Investment

Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to encourage future inward investment into the UK; and if he will make a statement. [120504]

Mr. Caborn: The Department's Invest in Britain Bureau will continue to promote the attractions of the UK for mobile international investment. The UK is the No. 1 location in Europe for inward investment and the Government are determined to ensure that this is maintained in the face of increasing competition from our European partners. We will continue to pursue economic policies which enhance the UK's attractions including developing our skills base, providing flexible labour markets and a stable economy.

11 May 2000 : Column: 447W

Competition Act 1998

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the implementation of the Competition Act 1998 in respect of local authorities. [121478]

Dr. Howells: The new systems which prohibit anti-competitive agreements undertakings, and abuse by an undertaking of a dominant position, came into force on 1 March 2000. The prohibitions apply to a local authority if it is acting as an undertaking, that is to say if it is acting in a commercial or economic capacity.


Decommissioned Nuclear Submarines

Ms Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the study into options for the storage of decommissioned nuclear submarines; and if he will make a statement. [122119]

Dr. Moonie: My predecessor announced in March 1998 that we would undertake a study into options for the storage of decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines. The initial phase of our study has been completed. We have concluded that while afloat storage would remain a safe option, if suitable alternative venues could be identified, land storage offers the best overall solution in the long term. Further work will now be undertaken to determine which land storage option should be adopted. I expect this further work to take up to three years to complete.

The purpose of the next phase will be to determine which land storage solution should be adopted. This work will be taken forward in conjunction with industry, who will be invited to submit their proposals, with a view to entering into a Public/Private arrangement. As part of the process, we will further develop one land storage option, the removal and storage of the intact reactor compartment and the recycling of the remainder of the submarine, as a basis for comparison with industry proposals. We have not identified specific land store sites, but would expect these to emerge from the proposals we receive from industry. No decision will be taken on the most suitable storage option, or on a site, until we have completed the next phase of the study, which will include full and open consultation. As part of this process, environmental impact assessments will be undertaken for each storage option taken forward.

We are providing oral briefings to interested parties and the media, and material is also available on the MOD website. In addition, we are inviting written comments as a means of shaping and informing our further work and plan to consult widely during the next phase of the study.

Separately, and in parallel, we have received an unsolicited commercial proposal from Babcock Rosyth Defence Limited, the owners of Rosyth Royal Dockyard, to dismantle the reactor compartment of one decommissioned nuclear submarine, HMS Renown, and store the components. This would be an alternative to the traditional nuclear decommissioning work planned to start at Rosyth later this year and would not lead to any overall increase in the radioactive waste already held there. The intermediate level waste from Renown would be held

11 May 2000 : Column: 448W

initially in the purpose built facility at Rosyth, but BRDL have been asked to make proposals for its eventual removal.

The Babcock proposals will be taken forward in two stages and I have agreed that the first, which will involve feasibility and planning work only, may proceed. There will be no question of moving to the second, implementation, stage of the proposal until and unless we and the relevant regulatory authorities are entirely satisfied. In these circumstances I will make a further announcement.

During this second stage, we will work with Babcock to produce an environmental impact assessment, which will involve public consultation. In addition, the company will have to satisfy the nuclear safety and environmental requirements of the independent regulators, including the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency before the dismantling work can begin. The company will be briefing local interest groups and the media tomorrow.

In all of the above, safety remains of paramount importance and we will work to the same standards that apply to civil nuclear industry.

Defence Diversification Agency

Mr. Letwin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will extend the remit of the technology transfer managers established by the Defence Diversification Agency to cover large firms. [120643]

Dr. Moonie: The White Paper, "Defence Diversification: Getting the most out of defence technology", does not restrict the remit of the DDA technology diversification managers to supporting only small and medium enterprises (SMEs). In its first year of operation the DDA has successfully assisted companies of all sizes. However, from an operational perspective the agency has to prioritise allocation of its resources and has tended to concentrate effort on SMEs. These companies, while contributing to UK's wealth and creating jobs, have less resources of their own than larger companies to access and thus benefit from DERA's technology.

Nuclear Test Veterans

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many claims for compensation for damage to health by British nuclear test veterans have been made; and how many have been settled. [121613]

Dr. Moonie: My Department has recorded 144 claims for compensation from British Nuclear Test veterans. As there is no evidence of excess illness or mortality among British Nuclear Test veterans as a group which could be linked to their participation in the nuclear tests, no compensation claims from them have been settled. In any event, prior to May 1987, Service personnel were prevented from pursuing claims for compensation from the Ministry of Defence by section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947. The repeal of section 10 by the Crown Proceedings (Armed Forces) Act 1987 was not made retrospective and claims arising from injury or illness caused before the repeal are barred by law.

11 May 2000 : Column: 449W

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he last met ex-British service personnel nuclear test victims to discuss compensation for damage to health; and if he will make a statement. [121614]

Dr. Moonie: There have been no meetings between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and British nuclear test veterans to discuss compensation. There have, however, been extensive exchanges of correspondence relating to compensation between Defence Ministers and the British Nuclear Tests Veterans Association, as well as with Members of Parliament.

Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reports he has received about compensation paid by the New Zealand Government for damage to health of servicemen as a result of nuclear tests. [121616]

Dr. Moonie: The New Zealand Government have not, to our knowledge, paid compensation to servicemen who participated in nuclear test programmes. However, we are aware that as a result of a New Zealand Inquiry into the health status of veterans' children, published last year, a programme of assistance to test veterans and their families, funded by their Government, was recommended. Such assistance was to take the form of case management, family counselling and genetic counselling where appropriate.

In addition, the New Zealand Government announced on 29 April 2000 the grants of NZ$200,000 (about £60,000) to the New Zealand Nuclear Test Veterans Association, a one-time payment to assist the purposes of the Association, including further research and initiatives which provide support to the veterans and their families.

UK Service Personnel (United Nations)

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if UK servicemen serving under UN auspices are given UN pay. [121082]

Mr. Spellar: No. UK Service personnel deployed on UN operations continue to receive UK pay. However, UK Service personnel serving under UN auspices are entitled to UN personal allowances. Personnel serving in formed units received the UN Daily Allowance of $1.26 per day and a Rest and Recreation Allowance of $10.50 per day, for up to seven days leave. Troops serving as UN monitors receive a separate UN allowance of about $120.00 per day for the first 30 days of duty and about $90.00 per day thereafter, because they are responsible for finding their own food and accommodation. These rates are set in US dollars and are paid to UK personnel either in US dollars, pounds sterling or local currency depending on circumstances.

Next Section Index Home Page