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Falklands Airbridge

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans he has to put the operation of the airbridge between the UK and the Falkland Islands out to commercial tender; [129653]

Mr. Spellar: The airbridge service to and from the Falkland Islands is provided by TriStars. Previous consideration of whether we should contract out the airbridge, in response to unsolicited proposals, has concluded that, taking into account the operational requirement to retain the Royal Air Force TriStars, the use of military aircraft was the most cost-effective solution.

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However, as part of work into how the MOD's strategic passenger lift and air-to-air refuelling capabilities should be provided, we are currently exploring with industry (under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft programme) whether capabilities provided by the VC10 and TriStar aircraft might be replaced by a service provided under a Private Finance Initiative/Public Private Partnership venture within the 2007-09 timeframe. The Statement of Requirement for this programme includes provision of the airbridge to the Falkland Islands.

Plutonium

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much plutonium released from dedicated military-end use under the Strategic Defence Review has been placed under safeguards; what quantities remain to be so placed; and if he will list the current locations of the plutonium re-designated as non-military. [129965]

Mr. Spellar: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence gave him on 14 March 2000, Official Report, columns 104-05W. Since then, a further 39 kgs of weapon grade plutonium stored at AWE Aldermaston has been transferred to Sellafield and into safeguards, making the total transferred to date 112 kgs. The remaining MOD stocks designated as no longer required for Defence purposes are currently stored at Aldermaston and will be transferred as soon as is practical.

Former Civil Servants

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Wirral, South (Mr. Chapman) of 10 July 2000, Official Report, columns 377-78W, he will set out the (a) duties of and (b) responsibilities undertaken in his Department by (a) Professor Sir David Davies, (b) Sir Charles Masefield and (c) Mr. M. J. V. Bell in the 10 years prior to the private sector appointments listed. [130804]

Dr. Moonie: Professor Sir David Davies joined the Ministry of Defence on a fixed-term appointment in October 1993 as the Chief Scientific Adviser. His duties were to provide high level advice on current and future issues having a scientific content and technical implications. He chaired both the Equipment Approvals Committee, which evaluated all major defence equipment procurement, and the Defence Research Committee that had oversight of the Ministry of Defence's Research Policy and Programme. His appointment terminated on 30 March 1999.

Sir Charles Masefield was seconded to the Ministry of Defence from British Aerospace in September 1994 to fill the appointment of Head of Defence Export Services. In this role, he was responsible for supporting British defence companies in their export activities.

Mr. Michael Bell joined the Ministry of Defence in 1965. Between 1988 and 1992, he was Deputy Under-Secretary (Finance), the Ministry of Defence's Principal Finance Officer. He then became Deputy Under-Secretary (Defence Procurement)--later retitled Deputy Chief of Defence Procurement (Support)--where he managed the Procurement Executive's support functions including personnel, finance, contracts and procurement policy. He held this appointment until he was

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seconded to British Aerospace in 1996 as their Project Director European Consolidation, a member of the company's team responsible for the development and implementation of strategy for European consolidation.

Malaysia

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what Government support was provided for British companies to attend the DSA exhibition in Malaysia in April. [128279]

Dr. Moonie: Consistent with the Government's policy to encourage and promote the legitimate sales of defence equipment overseas, the Ministry of Defence's Export Services Organisation carried out its usual role in support of the exhibition and marketing of UK defence industry products at DSA 2000. This included assisting the Defence Manufacturers' Association to co-ordinate the UK industrial presence and providing advice to UK firms on export markets in line with the Government's responsible policy for arms exports.

In addition to the support provided by my own Department, a number of UK Companies exhibiting at the show were in receipt of grants under the Support for Exhibitions and Seminars Abroad scheme run by British Trade International, which is aimed at assisting companies with promotional activities at exhibitions and seminars abroad.

Royal Squadron

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many flights undertaken by (a) the Queen, (b) the Prince of Wales and (c) other members of the Royal family in aircraft of the Royal Squadron in each year since 1997 were unconnected with their royal duties; and if he will make a statement. [129808]

Mr. Spellar: The total number of flights undertaken in aircraft of 32 (Royal) Squadron RAF not connected with royal duties is shown in the following table.

All these flights were reimbursed and full details are in the "Grant-In-Aid for Royal Travel" Annual Reports, copies of which are in the House Library.

Private flights undertaken by
The QueenHRH The Prince of WalesOther members of the Royal Family
1997-98021
1998-99131
1999-2000212

DERA

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 20 June 2000, Official Report, column 134W, if, under his proposals, the land and buildings occupied by DERA West Freugh will transfer to the new DERA company. [130174]

Mr. Hoon: Under our current proposals, we envisage that the capabilities provided by West Freugh will form part of the NewDERA company. We are currently analysing the views and comments received during

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consultation on our proposals and this analysis will inform the final decision on the way ahead for DERA, which we hope to be in a position to announce shortly. In principle there would be an appropriate split of land and buildings between both NewDERA and RetainedDERA in order to ensure both organisations are able to carry out the role and capabilities required of them. In transferring any assets to the private sector, our aim would be to ensure maximum return from the transaction to reflect the level of taxpayers' investment.

Soldier Deaths (Northern Ireland)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the dates since 1974 on which soldiers of the Ulster Defence Regiment and Royal Irish Regiment have died during training exercises, indicating (a) where the death took place, (b) barracks in which those soldiers were stationed in Northern Ireland, (c) whether the soldiers had, during their military career, been seconded for special duties or on assignment to other regiments and (d) in each case who was responsible for the investigation of the cause of death and what their findings were. [130420]

Mr. Spellar: One soldier (of the Royal Irish Regiment) has died during a training exercise since 1974. The death occurred in Wainwright, Canada on 13 June 2000. The soldier was stationed in Drumadd Barracks, Armagh and was on attachment to 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards for the duration of the exercise. The incident is currently the subject of a Board of Inquiry and the findings will not be known for some time. A small number of deaths arising from natural causes while soldiers have been on annual camp exercise with their own units have not been included.

Army (Complaints)

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of complaints to the Army Board and Her Majesty the Queen were upheld in the last five years for which figures are available. [130746]

Dr. Moonie: A central database has been in use only since April 1997, and since that time 24 per cent. of cases to the Army Board have been upheld in whole or in part. None has been upheld by Her Majesty The Queen.

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints to the Army Board and Her Majesty the Queen are being processed. [130744]

Dr. Moonie: The Army Board is currently processing 18 cases. There are at present no petitions being considered by Her Majesty The Queen but there are 10 petitions in preparation.

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of complaints rejected by the Army Board and Her Majesty the Queen were pursued in the civil courts in the last five years for which figures are available; and what percentage of the complaints so pursued were (a) successfully defended by his Department, (b) settled out of court, (c) won by the complainant and (d) dropped. [130747]

Dr. Moonie: This information is not held centrally. I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

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