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Chinook Crash

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the statement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence in Westminster Hall on 27 June 2000, on the Chinook crash, that the pilots could and should have either turned away immediately or slowed down and climbed to a safe altitude, on what evidence he relied to establish, to the standard of proof required by the RAF, that at the relevant time (a) Flight Lieutenant Cook and (b) Flight Lieutenant Tapper could have turned away or slowed down and climbed to a safe altitude. [128555]

Mr. Spellar: The RAF Board of Inquiry found nothing that would have prevented the pilots from maintaining safe flight in accordance with Visual Flight Rules or Instrument Flight Rules.


Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the local Bosnian police report on the fatal accident on Monday 7 July involving Foden Thompson Carmichael FWD EW79AA, near Mrkonjic Grad. [127474]

Mr. Spellar: A brief report by the local Bosnian police was completed on 7 July 1997. It consists of a summary of the accident and notification that the Military Police took control of the investigation. It has been translated from the original Serbo-Croat; however, permission is required from the originator of the report for its release. My officials are now in consultation with the appropriate Bosnian authorities seeking release of the documents to a third party. I will write to the hon. Member when a decision has been reached.

Lemming UGV

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what evaluation his Department has made of the Lemming UGV; what plans it has to purchase this surveillance system; and if he will make a statement. [127179]

Mr. Spellar: My Department is aware of the Lemming Unmanned Ground Vehicle through its information exchange links with the US. No UK evaluation of the Lemming has been made and there are no present plans to purchase this system.

4 Jul 2000 : Column: 132W

Robotic Surveillance System

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has to acquire an updated robotic surveillance system; and if he will make a statement. [127178]

Mr. Spellar: There are no current plans to acquire a land-based robotic surveillance system. Research is, however, being conducted into the potential of robotics to meet possible future requirements.

Queen's Birthday Parade

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to issue lightweight summer uniforms to the service personnel taking part in the Queen's birthday parade in circumstances where the temperature is forecast to be well in excess of the seasonal norm. [127229]

Mr. Spellar: The Army ceremonial Full Dress uniform which is worn by all troops on the Queen's Birthday Parade, and by the Royal Colonels, is designed for a temperate climate. Army Bands do, however, wear their Full Dress uniform in hot climates abroad, such as Cyprus. A lightweight version could not be justified financially for the very few occasions when such a uniform might be deemed appropriate.

Farnborough Airshow

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what support his Department is giving to the organisers of this year's Farnborough Airshow; and what assistance his Department is providing to enable overseas visitors to attend the show. [127876]

Mr. Spellar: In support of the Government's commitment to a strong UK defence industry, my Department undertakes a broad range of activities in support of The Society of British Aerospace Companies' organisation of this prestigious show to help ensure its continued position as one of the world's premier aerospace exhibitions. Normal marketing support to UK exhibitors is provided by the Defence Export Services Organisation, and other assistance ranges from providing the exhibition site, airfield support services and facilities, through to helping the organisers ensure the maximum exposure of UK products to potential customers by supporting official inward missions.

Radiation Detectors

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the IPM-7 type radiation detectors at Faslane base meet the standard required for the function they are put to; what standard his Department requires of BRDL at Rosyth; and what differences there are between the operations at Rosyth and Faslane. [128027]

Mr. Spellar: The IPM-7 type radiation detectors are calibrated at least once a year in accordance with legislative requirements. The monitoring arrangements used at Rosyth are legally the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the dockyard company and are not under the control of the MOD.

4 Jul 2000 : Column: 133W

It is not possible to make comparisons between Faslane and Rosyth as all nuclear safety matters relating to Rosyth Royal Dockyard are a matter for Babcock Rosyth Defence Ltd., the owners of the dockyard. It is a condition of their contract with the MOD that they must comply with all nuclear safety regulations.

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how often the Electra ratemeter and BP7 probes are given a functional response check; and how often they are calibrated at each site where they are in use. [128032]

Mr. Spellar: At Her Majesty's Naval Bases Devonport and Clyde, the Electra ratemeter and BP7 probes undergo various daily function checks and are calibrated at least once a year in accordance with legislative requirements.

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what differences exist in the checks for radioactive contamination between personnel working (a) on reactor compartments and (b) in an active processing facility and nuclear repair workshops. [128033]

Mr. Spellar: All service and civilian staff working in reactor compartments at Her Majesty's Naval Base Faslane are checked fully for contamination on completion of their work using an Electra ratemeter with BP7 probe. This supplements routine contamination monitoring of work areas. Additionally, those working in the Active Processing Facility and Nuclear Repair Workshop are monitored using IPM-7 type portal radiation detectors.

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Mk10 probe came into service; how many are in use and at what locations; and what plans he has to replace them. [128028]

Mr. Spellar: The Mk10 ratemeter came into service in 1976. There are approximately 65 Mk10 ratemeters currently available for use at the naval bases and on board submarines. The Mk10 ratemeters are programmed for replacement in the financial year 2002-03.

Computer Viruses

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at what precise time his Department became aware of the computer virus known as the Love Bug. [122589]

Mr. Spellar: The Ministry of Defence first became aware of the computer virus known as the Love Bug at approximately 9.30 am on 4 May 2000.


New Deal

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many employees of his Department and its agencies have been recruited from the New Deal; and what percentage this represents of total staff. [129089]

Mr. Mandelson: The NIO currently has 11 New Deal employees, representing 0.8 per cent. of total staff. NIO's target under the scheme is to appoint 15 New Deal employees, representing 1 per cent. of total staff. To meet its target the Department has an on-going recruitment competition from which it will appoint a further four New Deal employees.

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Diplock Courts

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in the review of the Diplock court arrangements. [129297]

Mr. Ingram: The review of the Diplock arrangements has now been completed and a report presented to the Secretary of State. I have today placed copies of the Review Group's report in the Library of the House.


Respiratory Diseases

Mr. Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many posthumous claims have been received from the dependants of former miners suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema; how many of these claims have so far been processed; and what estimate he has made of when all such claims will have been dealt with. [124949]

Mrs. Liddell [holding answer 19 June 2000]: To date we have received 36,889 claims for respiratory diseases from the widows and families of deceased former miners.

Where the condition caused or materially contributed to the miner's death, we have been paying bereavement awards to widows on the production of the death certificate since last year. To date we have paid some £30 million in over 2,700 cases. In addition, we are processing claims from widows and dependants through the full medical assessment process as we receive the necessary claims forms from solicitors. This process has been agreed with the solicitors representing the miners and is designed to calculate the compensation that would have been due to the deceased miner, but is now due to the widow and dependants. So far we have completed nearly 300 such assessments for deceased claims, but we expect this number to increase significantly over the coming weeks as the relevant medical records are obtained.

We anticipate that all existing claims will be completed in two to three years' time. This compares with 15 to 20 years if individual cases were dealt with the conventional way through the Courts.

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