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Private Finance Initiative

Mr. Alan Williams: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will list the PFI contracts entered into by the Law Officers' Department, indicating (a) their dates of commencement, (b) their value, (c) if they have been subject to refinancing and (d) if his Department has a claw-back entitlement to share in savings arising from refinancing. [129053]

The Solicitor-General: The Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers have not entered into any PFI contract.

Alton Manning

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make a statement on the action he will take following the High Court ruling in respect of the Crown Prosecution Service's decision not to prosecute officers involved in the death of Alton Manning in Blakenhurst private prison. [129095]

The Solicitor-General: Judgment in this case was handed down on 17 May 2000 when the CPS decision not to prosecute was quashed and the matter was referred back to the CPS to reconsider the decision. The avenue of appeal is to the House of Lords. No appeal is possible unless the Divisional Court certifies that its decision involves a point of law of general public importance and unless leave to appeal is given by either the Divisional Court or the House of Lords. The relevant legislation provides 14 days within which to make an application to the Divisional Court for such certification and leave. The CPS made such an application within the 14-day limit.

6 Jul 2000 : Column: 265W

DEFENCE

Trees

Mr. Norman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's policy is on the country of origin of trees planted on its land and that of its agencies. [124633]

Mr. Spellar: Conservation is a key element in the Ministry of Defence's stewardship of its woodland and the Defence Estates Agency employs full-time professional foresters who manage this process on Ministry of Defence land. Woodland planning includes a study of the local habitat, the soil and the environmental impact of any planting. Wherever possible, species indigenous to the soil are planted, often using seeds collected on the Defence estate.

Reservists

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reservists are currently serving with regular forces as mobilised soldiers; and in each of the last five years what was the total number of (a) regular forces, (b) reservists and (c) reservists serving with regular forces as mobilised soldiers. [126202]

Mr. Spellar: The total number of reservists currently serving as mobilised soldiers is 649. (This figure consists of members of the Army Reserve and Territorial Army)

Total number of regular forces for each of the last five years

YearNumber
1995233,340
1996221,870
1997210,823
1998210,136
1999208,636

Total number of reservists(5) for each of the last five years

YearNumber
1995348,956
1996320,636
1997321,977
1998317,070
1999306,440

(5) The total number of reservists consists of members of: the Royal Fleet Reserve, the Royal Naval Reserve, the Royal Marine Reserve, the Army Reserve, the Territorial Army, the Air Force Reserve and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force


Number of reservists serving as mobilised soldiers in each of the last five years

YearNumber
1995(6)441
19961,416
1997973
1998756
19991,177

(6) Records start at the first call-up to Bosnia in December 1995. Figures for the rest of 1995 are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost

Note:

The figures include members of the Territorial Army and Army Reserve


6 Jul 2000 : Column: 266W

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give the detailed costs and benefits of the Royal Naval Reserve utilising reservists as Sea Harrier pilots, with particular reference to (a) the costs of the reservist pilot programme and (b) improved aircraft utilisation. [129282]

Mr. Spellar: The Air Branch of the RNR has 13 trained Sea Harrier pilots. All of them are former regular RN Sea Harrier pilots.

Their RNR function is to maintain a close familiarity with current military fast jet operations so that, in the event of call-out, it would take a minimum period of training to bring them up to operational standard and permit them to be deployed alongside, or in support of, their RN counterparts.

The minimum annual training requirement which these pilots are required to achieve is 17 Operational Role Training days. In the period April 1999 to March 2000 they averaged 25 training days. The training is designed to maintain otherwise perishable skills. The cost of 25 days' training, in current individual pilot salary terms, is £2,778.

With regard to the benefits of aircraft utilisation, in recent years one, but very often two, such pilots have at any time been serving in support of Sea Harrier pilot training. Every opportunity is taken to recall these pilots--when their civilian jobs allow--as a very cost-effective way of supporting the Regular forces and ensuring maximum usage of Sea Harrier aircraft.

Clyde Naval Base

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his long-term plans for the Clyde Naval Base, with special reference to the likely impact on the numbers employed there. [128073]

Mr. Spellar: The Defence Logistics Organisation has challenging targets to reduce costs while improving the quality of logistics support to the Front Line. As part of this, discussions are being held with the Dockyard companies and senior Trades Union national officers on the problem of over-capacity in warship support within the Dockyards and Naval Bases, including Clyde. The discussions are not aimed at closing any Dockyards or Naval Bases.

It is too early to say what the outcome of these discussions will be in terms of numbers employed.

Belize

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what British forces are stationed in Belize; and if he has any plans to increase their number. [129077]

Mr. Spellar: The British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) is the only unit permanently stationed in Belize and consists of 84 British military personnel. There are no plans to increase this number.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received from the Belize Government regarding military assistance; and if he will make a statement. [129079]

6 Jul 2000 : Column: 267W

Mr. Spellar: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and I, as well as other Ministers including my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, met Said Musa, the Prime Minister of Belize, during his recent visit to the United Kingdom. During our meeting we discussed the strong defence relationship between our two countries, and current levels of military assistance funding provided by the UK to Belize. Her Majesty's Government are giving further consideration to representations from Mr. Musa on this subject. I also took the opportunity to express our thanks to Mr. Musa for his country's continuing support for the British Army jungle training unit in Belize, BATSUB.

MLRS

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Army's inventory is of MLRS; and how many are operationally available. [129123]

Mr. Spellar: The Army has 64 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) including one non-operational training equipment. Three systems are currently in storage or repair. As at 31 May 2000, the latest date for which information is available, 77 per cent. of systems were immediately available for operations increasing to 90 per cent. within 24 hours.

British Forces Post Office

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to make an announcement about the future of British Forces Post Office, Mill Hill. [129277]

Mr. Spellar: A study is currently being conducted into the future structure and location of the British Forces Post Office, whose headquarters is at Inglis Barracks, Mill Hill. I expect to receive advice in the autumn of this year and announce my decision soon after.

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT

Employment Zones

16. Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what the function is of the personal job account in the operation of employment zones. [127935]

Ms Jowell: The Personal Job Account is a radical and practical way of helping long-term unemployed people into work. Existing funds have been drawn together to make up the Personal Job Account, namely funds for Employment Service Support, training and benefits payments. There is no upper or lower limit to the amount allocated; it is dependent upon the needs of that participant and their most effective route back into work.


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