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Defence Evaluation and Research Agency

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 29 June 2000, Official Report, column 593W, on the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency Base, West Freugh, if he will specify the employees included under the item 16 others. [131461]

Mr. Hoon: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from John Chisholm to Mr. Alasdair Morgan, dated 21 July 2000:




Former Yugoslavia

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reservists in total have served in Former Yugoslavia since 1992. [129933]

Mr. Spellar: The number of Royal Navy and Royal Marines reservists who have served in the Former Yugoslavia since 1992 is 49. In addition, seven officers have served in support of operations in the Former Yugoslavia. They have been employed in the UK, elsewhere in Europe, and at sea.

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At least 5,581 Territorial Army and Army Reserve personnel have served in the Former Yugoslavia since 1992. I will write to the hon. Member once the complete data become available and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

The Royal Air Force no longer holds any records relating to reserve personnel called out prior to 1997-98. Since 1997-98, 308 members of the Reserve Air Forces have been mobilised. This figure includes those called out in support of operations in the Former Yugoslavia as well as those who have served in country.

Service Personnel

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) men and (b) women who are serving in the armed forces are under the age of 18 years. [130774]

Mr. Spellar: As at 1 June 2000, there were 5,228 men and 569 women under the age of 18 in the armed forces.

Troop Deployment

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British troops are serving in (a) Kosovo and (b) Sierra Leone; how many of these are from the Teesside region; and if he will make a statement. [130497]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 17 July 2000]: We currently have some 3,300 troops committed to operations in Kosovo and around 500 committed to operations in Sierra Leone. Information on the geographical origin of individual troops involved in these operations is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

RAF Boards of Inquiry

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the occasions in the last 10 years when the conclusions of the president of an RAF board of inquiry have been over-ruled by reviewing officers. [131256]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 18 July 2000]: I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Chinook

Mr. Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will preserve all files and papers relating to the procurement and introduction of the FADEC system for the Chinook Mk2. [131257]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 18 July 2000]: We are not aware that any files or papers relating to the procurement and introduction of the FADEC system for the Chinook Mk2 have been destroyed and have no intention of destroying them while public interest in this matter continues. However work on the FADEC system for the Chinook Mk2 began in 1988 and it is possible that some of the earlier papers have been destroyed.

RAF Pilots

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the establishment of pilots is in the RAF; how many are in post; and if he will make a statement. [131408]

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Mr. Spellar: The position on 1 June 2000 was as follows:

Requirement(1)Trained strengthSurplus/ deficit
Pilots-All Ranks2,3382,210-128
Junior Officer Pilot(1)1,4961,404-92

(1) The requirement figure is the usual baseline against which the RAF measures shortfalls or surpluses and includes non-flying posts for which aircrew experience and knowledge are required. The majority of these non-flying posts require senior officers.

(1) Flight Lieutenant (and Squadron Leader specialist aircrew) and below, included in the all ranks total. Junior Officer Pilot is the RAF's most critical manning category.


MOD Police

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to review the age of retirement for MOD police. [131406]

Mr. Spellar: My officials are currently reviewing age retirement policy for all departmental employees including the Ministry of Defence Police.

RAF Fairford

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on proposed future uses for RAF Fairford. [131532]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 20 July 2000]: There are no plans to change the current status of RAF Fairford.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the proposal to introduce US airforce stealth bombers to RAF Fairford. [131561]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 20 July 2000]: The US are examining an operational concept in which in a crisis aircraft would be deployed to forward operating locations. This concept would not involve any permanent stationing of aircraft at these locations, but some equipment would be pre-positioned. However, the concept is still being studied and no request to use RAF Fairford, or any other UK base, has yet been made. RAF Fairford has of course been used as a standby operating location in the past, most recently during the Kosovo campaign.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Communications White Paper

Angela Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress is being made towards preparation of the Communications White Paper. [132481]

Mr. Byers: As announced on 17 May 2000, Official Report, columns 130-31W, we invited a number of experts to prepare papers which they have now presented at a seminar held on 3 July. We asked them to examine a range of policy issues against some guiding objectives for the Communications White Paper. These are:




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A report on the seminar has been prepared by the chair of the event, Sir Quentin Thomas. Copies of all the papers, which represent the personal views of the authors, have been placed in the Library and also on the Communications White Paper website http://www.communicationswhitepaper.gov.uk. They offer an important contribution to the debate.

We have also received 139 submissions, which are also being placed on the website, and are currently analysing those alongside the issues discussed at the seminar, with a view to publication of the White Paper later this year.

Action Plan for Farming

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will make a statement on the tendering process for consultants supplying business information to farmers under the Action Plan for Farming; [131806]

Ms Hewitt: MAFF's budget for the Farm Business Advice Service in 2000-01 should enable up to 5,000 farmers and growers in England to be helped. It will be for Business Links, which will deliver the service, to decide in the light of local circumstances how many consultants to engage, at what rates and by what tendering process.

Small Business Service

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many rural businesses have received advice from the Small Business Service in the last 12 months. [131902]

Ms Hewitt: The Small Business Service (SBS) provides advice to all SMEs but data collected on users do not differentiate between rural and urban location.


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