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Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many employees of his Department and its agencies have been recruited from the New Deal; and what percentage this represents of total staff. 
Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cochlear implants for children were undertaken in each of the last five years in (a) North Essex health authority and (b) Essex Rivers Healthcare Trust; and how many children were waiting for more than a year in each case. 
7 Jul 2000 : Column: 335W
Mr. Hutton: There were no cochlear implants for children treated in North Essex health authority or Essex Rivers Healthcare National Health Service Trust in the last five years. However, there have been seven cochlear implant operations for children resident in the North Essex health authority in the last five years carried out outside the area. Of these, no children waited over three months.
Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Army's current inventory is of (a) Challenger I, (b) Challenger II and (c) Warrior vehicles; and how many are operationally available. 
Mr. Spellar [holding answer 6 July 2000]: The current inventories for these vehicles are (a) 414, (b) 250 and (c) 786. Information on availability is collated separately in respect of vehicles held by front-line Units and vehicles deployed on operations. The former category excludes certain training vehicles, vehicles in deep repair, vehicles used as reference vehicles and vehicles in storage (e.g. some 300 tanks being stored at Ashchurch as part of the withdrawal from service programme).
|Vehicle type||Percentage operationally available|
|Challenger I||No CRIs deployed on operations|
|Vehicle type||Percentage which could be fully operational within 24 hours|
7 Jul 2000 : Column: 336W
Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact on army training of the delay in making improvements to the Otterburn ranges; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Spellar [holding answer 6 July 2000]: In 1995 my Department submitted a Notice of Proposed Development (NOPD) to the Northumberland National Park Association for the redevelopment of infrastructure at Otterburn Training Area (OTA). This redevelopment is essential to enable training of AS90 and MLRS units at regimental level. This remains an absolute requirement that cannot occur anywhere else in the UK. Since the NOPD was submitted our proposals have been thoroughly examined by two Public Inquiries (PI) and we are still awaiting the outcome.
As a result of our inability to develop OTA, AS90 and MLRS units have not been able to conduct the full range of special-to-arm training that is a necessary precursor to deploying with other formations on combined arms training. As a result, individual Brigades will not be trained sufficiently in all aspects of combined arms war fighting that would enable them to react to short notice operational deployments world wide, as envisaged under the Strategic Defence Review. This has direct consequence for our ability to meet readiness liabilities for the Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF).
The results of the Public Inquiries are currently being considered by the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions and I am hopeful that a decision will be forthcoming later this year. If our application is successful and allowing time for the necessary construction work on the training area, we expect that AS90 and MLRS units will be able to commence manoeuvre training at Otterburn in 2004.
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 20 June 2000, Official Report, column 135W, regarding RAF Feltwell, when an official of his Department last visited RAF Feltwell. 
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 19 June 2000, Official Report, column 37W, regarding RAF Feltwell, how much notice it is necessary for RAF Commander Lakenheath to give prior to access to RAF Feltwell being granted by the US forces at the base. 
7 Jul 2000 : Column: 337W
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 19 June 2000, Official Report, column 37W, regarding RAF Feltwell, if there are areas of RAF Feltwell from which RAF Commander Lakenheath is excluded; and on how many days in each of the last 12 months for which figures are available RAF personnel other than RAF Commander Lakenheath visited RAF Feltwell. 
Mr. Spellar: The RAF Commander Lakenheath is not excluded from any area of RAF Feltwell. Records are not maintained in such a way as to identify separately all visits by RAF Personnel to RAF Feltwell.
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 12 May 2000, Official Report, column 513W, regarding RAF Feltwell, if he will make a statement on the support function afforded to RAF Lakenheath by RAF Feltwell. 
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 20 June 2000, Official Report, column 135W, regarding RAF Feltwell, what plans Ministers from his Department have to visit RAF Feltwell. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department will derate, or otherwise downgrade, the performance specifications of the Eurofighter EJ200 power plants; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: We are not planning any change in the performance specification of the EJ200 engine. However, for training purposes only, we are investigating the effect of limiting the thrust of the EJ200 engine fitted to Eurofighter. This, if implemented, should extend the engine life and reduce support costs. The change would be practically invisible to the pilot and have no effect on tactical training. During all operational flying full thrust levels will be available.
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Mr. Spellar: The repair work on HMS Tireless is a standard repair following a contained leak of coolant water in her reactor compartment. This work will be carried out in Gibraltar and completed in the autumn.
Mr. Spellar: No representations concerning the repair to HMS Tireless have been made. However, the Chief Minister of Gibraltar continues to be fully briefed on this issue. He understands the reasons for carrying out the repair in Gibraltar and will continue to take a close interest in the safety aspects to ensure that no risk is posed to civilian or service personnel.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what additional safety guidelines have been issued to staff at HM Naval Base in Gibraltar in relation to the repair of HMS Tireless; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Spellar: Stringent safety guidelines relating to nuclear safety and nuclear propelled warships are in place at all HM Naval Bases. Additional guidance relating to this repair has been issued to HM Naval Base Gibraltar.
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