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SIFF Programme

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence against what criteria proposals for his Department's forthcoming Successor Identification Friend or Foe programme will be assessed; and when he expects to make a decision on this project. [128256]

Mr. Spellar: Successor Identification Friend or Foe (SIFF) is a complex programme, involving some 40 sea, land and air platform types with total equipment requirements likely to number in the order of 1,000 transponders and 600 interrogators; each set of equipment has to be functionally and physically integrated with the host platform.

Owing to the number and diversity of the platform types, it is not practical to adopt a single prime contractor strategy for management of the whole SIFF programme. As part of the deliverables from the Assessment Phase, "Demonstration and Manufacture" tenders have been submitted by two competing potential suppliers, BAE SYSTEMS and Raytheon Systems Ltd. for supply of equipment and integration with many of the platform types, and by individual platform design authorities for integration with the remainder of the platforms. Evaluation of these tenders is an extensive task, aimed at ensuring that the decision on the choice of equipment supplier and the phasing of the work to be undertaken by the platform design authorities is made on the best overall balance of operational and value-for-money grounds. All relevant assessment criteria, including commercial, technical, logistics, cost and programme management aspects, will be taken into account in this process and I hope that we will be in a position to announce a decision on the programme during the summer.

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HMS Tireless

Mr. Streeter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason and for what period the crew of HMS Tireless was accommodated in hotels overseas; what has been the cost per night per person; and if he will make a statement. [128267]

Mr. Spellar: HMS Tireless arrived in Gibraltar on 19 May with a propulsion defect. 58 members of the 130-man crew were returned to the UK; the remaining crew are the minimum required for safe upkeep of the vessel. As facilities on board are extremely limited and not conducive to prolonged use alongside, it is normal practice to accommodate submarine personnel ashore if a submarine is alongside for more than three days. Hotel accommodation is being used on a short-term basis as there is currently no suitable service accommodation available. The cost per night including allowances is as follows: Officers £117.60, Senior Rates £92.60 and Junior Rates £75.10/80.10. RFA Fort Rosalie will arrive in Gibraltar by 6 July and she will provide accommodation for all personnel from Tireless for the duration of the repair work.

War Widows

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to publish the review of pensions for war widows. [128472]

Mr. Spellar: My Department is carrying out a major review of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme. This review is looking at all aspects of pensions for members of the armed forces and their dependants, including widows' pensions, and the question of paying widows' pension for life. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State continues to hope to make an announcement about the review during the summer. War widows' pensions are the responsibility of the DSS War Pensions Agency.

MOD Assets

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he last agreed guidelines with HM Treasury for greater commercial utilisation of MOD property and assets; and what proportion of its commercial returns may be retained by the MOD under such guidelines. [128270]

Mr. Spellar: The commercial exploitation of Ministry of Defence assets is conducted in accordance with Treasury guidelines, which are circulated to Departments from time to time, most recently in a Policy and Guidance Note, "Selling Government Services Into Wider Markets", issued in July 1998. As a general rule, the guidelines give each Department generating receipts the right to retain these commercial returns in their entirety.

Anti-submarine Exercises

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what anti-submarine warfare exercises involving more than two vessels have been carried out by the Royal Navy in the past year; which ships and submarines took part; and where the exercises were held. [128766]

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Mr. Spellar: Ships regularly conduct anti-submarine warfare training on an opportunity basis and it is not possible to detail every exercise or training opportunity.

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The following pre-planned exercises were undertaken where one of the principal objectives was Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operational capability.

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EventTimeUnits involvedLocation
Submarine Command CourseJune 1999HMS Sovereign Scottish Exercise Areas
HMS Sheffield
Area Capability TrainingJune 1999HMS Monmouth West of UK and Minches
HMS Sovereign
Joint Maritime Course (JMC 992)June 1999HMS Illustrious
HMS Monmouth West of UK and Minches
HMS Sheffield
NATO Exercise 'Northern Light'September 1999HMS Trenchant
HMS Turbulent
HMS Coventry
HMS Campbeltown
HMS Cumberland Bay of Biscay
HMS Gloucester
HMS Illustrious
HMS Manchester
HMS Montrose
HMS Sheffield
Area Capability TrainingOctober-November 1999HMS Iron Duke
HMS Montrose West of UK and Minches
HMS Norfolk
HMS Superb
Joint Maritime Course (JMC 001)February-March 2000HMS Splendid
HMS Grafton West of UK and Minches
HMS Westminster
American Undersea Testing and EvaluationApril 2000HMS Superb Tongue of the Ocean, Bahamas
CentreHMS Norfolk
NATO Exercise 'Linked Seas'May 2000HMS Campbeltown
HMS Glasgow
HMS Gloucester
HMS Liverpool Bay of Biscay
HMS Northumberland
HMS Westminster
HMS Sovereign
Submarine Command CourseMay-June 2000HMS Sovereign
HMS Norfolk Scottish Exercise Areas and
HMS Northumberland Northern Fleet Exercise Areas
HMS Cumberland
Area Capability TrainingJune 2000HMS Sovereign
HMS Norfolk West of UK and Minches
HMS Northumberland
Joint Maritime Course (JMC 002)June 2000HMS Cumberland
HMS Iron Duke
HMS Invincible West of UK and Minches
HMS Norfolk
HMS Northumberland
HMS Somerset
Flag Officer Sea TrainingWeeklyAll ships undergoing Basic or pre-Deployment Operational Sea Training conduct, on average, 12 hours of ASW training per weekSouth Coast Exercise Areas

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Sea Eagle Missile

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the Sea Eagle has been withdrawn from service. [128767]

Mr. Spellar: Work undertaken in the Strategic Defence Review showed that we needed less capability in the field of open ocean anti-surface ship warfare. To this end, it was decided to withdraw the Sea Eagle missile from both the Tornado GRIB and the Sea Harrier, as part of a coherent programme of reduced investment in this area of our maritime capability. Instead, our future investment will be in heavier weapons with larger ranges, such as Harpoon.

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Royal Artillery Day, Larkhill

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations were made to his Department and to the Royal Artillery by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds about Royal Artillery Day at Larkhill; and if he will make a statement. [128474]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 3 July 2000]: No representations have been received from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. There have, however, been detailed negotiations with English Nature over the firing arrangements for the Royal Artillery Day at Larkhill in order to minimise disturbance to nesting sites for stone curlews. English Nature consider that the arrangements

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in place do not present a significant risk of disturbance, especially as the nesting plots in question have been vacated with no sign of return. English Nature have expressed their thanks for the Ministry of Defence's efforts on this issue.

Parliamentary Questions

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the hon. Member for Beckenham will receive an answer to her question tabled for answer on 17 May on the Love Bug computer virus. [128545]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 3 July 2000]: I have replied today.

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