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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 20 July 2000

DEFENCE

HMS Cambridge

Mr. Caplin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the closure of HMS Cambridge. [132232]

Mr. Spellar: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 8 June 2000, Official Report, column 338W, to the hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith). The investment appraisal concluded that the establishment's residual training activities could be delivered more cost-effectively elsewhere and the matter was subject to a period of formal consultation with the MOD trade unions. No representations have been received and consultation on this matter is now complete.

I have, therefore, endorsed the proposal that HMS Cambridge should close and that plans for decommissioning and site vacation should proceed accordingly.

Consultation will continue on matters affecting staff.

Duke of York's Royal Military School

Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what Key Targets have been set for the Duke of York's Royal Military School for the financial year 2000-01. [132238]

Dr. Moonie: The chief executive of The Duke of York's Royal Military School has been set the following Key Targets for 2000-01.

















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Defence Estates Agency

Mr. Leslie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what Key Targets have been set for the Defence Estates Agency for the financial year 2000-01. [132239]

Dr. Moonie: The following key targets have been set for Defence Estates for 2000-01:













Low Flying

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the pattern of military low flying activity in the United Kingdom during the training year 1999-2000. [132240]

Dr. Moonie: The ability to fly fast and low continues to be an essential skill in our armoury of tactics. Training for aircrew to achieve and maintain these skills is vital.

The amount of low flying training carried out in the UK Low Flying System during the training year April 1999 to March 2000 was the minimum necessary for aircrew to reach and maintain these skills. Hours booked for low flying training during this period amounted to some 15 per cent. less than for 1998. Some of this reduction can be attributed to the number of aircraft and crews committed to overseas deployments. Since detailed records of hours booked began in 1995, the total overall has reduced by 36 per cent. (some 24,200 hours) with fixed-wing activity showing the greatest reduction of 42 per cent. (19,800 hours).

The distribution of low flying training across the UK has not changed significantly. We continue to try and spread it as widely as practicable, but for a variety of operational, geographical and climatic constraints some parts of the country will see more than others.

The paper published for 1998 (see the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, North (Mr. Gardiner) 28 April 1999, Official Report, column 147W), made clear that for the future this information

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would be published on a financial year basis. I have today placed in the Library of the House a paper giving a detailed account of low flying training in the UK Low Flying System. It provides information for the transitional period January 1999 to March 2000.

Further copies of the paper, and the video and leaflet mentioned in the text, can be obtained from the following address:


Gulf Veterans

Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the most recent figures for deaths among (a) Gulf veterans and (b) the comparison group. [132241]

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Mr. Spellar: Peer reviewed scientific data comparing the mortality of UK Gulf veterans to an era group of service personnel who did not deploy to the Gulf was published for the first time in "The Lancet" on 1 July 2000. The Ministry of Defence will now continue to monitor the mortality of both Gulf veterans and the era group and will publish updated figures on a regular basis. The figures as at 30 June 2000 are shown in the table. Overall, in the period 1 April 1991 to 30 June 2000 the mortality of UK Gulf veterans was only slightly greater than that of the comparison group. The number of Gulf veterans dying from disease-related causes is rather less than for the comparison group, whereas the number of Gulf veterans dying of external causes is rather higher than for the comparison group.

The Ministry of Defence will conduct a more detailed analysis of road traffic accidents, to establish whether there are any underlying tends that might help explain this excess.

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Deaths of UK Gulf veterans(1) April 1991-30 June 2000--Causes (coded to ICD-9)(1)

ICD ChapterCause of deathGulfEraMortality rate
All deaths4524391.03
All cause coded deaths4454291.04
Disease-related causes1561900.82
IInfectious and parasitic diseases321.50
IICancers64680.94
IIIEndocrine and immune disorders140.25
VMental disorders8110.73
VIDiseases of the nervous system and sense organs741.75
VIIDiseases of the circulatory system57760.75
VIIIDiseases of the respiratory system741.75
IXDiseases of the digestive system6110.55
IV, X-XVIAll other disease-related causes3100.30
EXVIIExternal causes of injury and poisoning2892391.21
Railway accidents414.00
Motor vehicle accidents103801.29
Water transport accidents313.00
Air and space accidents25161.56
Other vehicle accidents020.00
Accidental poisoning9120.75
Accidental falls761.17
Accidents due to fire/flames010.00
Accidents due to natural environmental factors221.00
Accidents due to submersion/suffocation/foreign bodies1562.50
Other accidents31241.29
Late effects of accident/injury010.00
Suicide and injury undetermined whether accidental83791.05
Homicide441.00
Injury resulting from the operations of war340.75
Other deaths for which coded cause data are not yet available45--
Overseas deaths for which cause data are not available35--

(1) Service and ex-Service personnel only

(1) World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases 9

th revision 1977


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Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what data he has collated on the general pattern of chemical warfare agent alerts during the Gulf conflict. [132242]

Mr. Spellar: Our 1997 policy statement "Gulf Veterans' Illnesses: A New Beginning" set out a number of commitments to help address the health concerns of Gulf Veterans. One of these commitments was to review specific incidents of suggested biological or chemical

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warfare exposures. As part of this commitment I am today publishing the third paper looking at incidents where veterans have suggested they were exposed to chemical warfare agents. This paper is entitled "A Review of UK Forces Chemical Warfare Agent Alerts During the 1990-1991 Gulf Conflict". I am placing a copy in the Library of the House.

This paper looks at the general pattern of chemical alarms during the conflict. The review has shown that

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there was usually a straightforward explanation given at the time for chemical warfare agent detection equipment alarming. There is no evidence to suggest Iraqi use of chemical weapons, or the presence of chemical weapons in any of the UK alarms.

The paper reviews in detail two specific incidents: Dhahran on the night of 20 January 1991 when a Scud was destroyed by a Patriot missile close to the airfield there, and Al Jubayl on the morning of 16 February 1991 when a Scud landed in the water in the port area. On both occasions there is no evidence to suggest that the Scuds carried anything other than a conventional warhead.


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