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Co-operative Capability Programme

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost to the Government of participating in the US Navy's Co-operative Engagement Capability; and if he will make a statement. [131497]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 25 July 2000, Official Report, column 542W.

Chinook Crash, Mull of Kintyre

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the Accident Investigations Branch inspector investigating the fatal crash of Chinook ZD576 on 2 June was able to determine that the SuperTANS navigational

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equipment was (a) switched on after impact and (b) functioning prior to impact; and if he will make a statement. [131795]

Mr. Spellar: The Air Accidents Investigation Branch team that carried out the independent technical investigation for the RAF Board of Inquiry into the Mull of Kintyre accident reported that the SuperTANS navigation unit recovered from the cockpit wreckage was slightly fire scorched but with little apparent impact damage. The On/Off switch was found in the Off position. However, subsequent examination by the manufacturer clearly showed the unit had been operating until impact, and it appeared that the switch position had been altered by the effect of the impact.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what independent analysis was made of the SuperTANS navigation equipment from the wreckage of RAF Chinook ZD576; and if he will make a statement. [131794]

Mr. Spellar: As part of the technical investigation after the Mull of Kintyre accident, a detailed investigation of the SuperTANS navigation unit was carried out by the manufacturer, RACAL Avionics Ltd., under the direction of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch. Only the manufacturer had the necessary expertise to interrogate this equipment.

Missile Defence System

Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 27 June 2000, Official Report, column 433W, on the Missile Defence System, what criteria the UK will use to determine its response should the United States choose to make a request for assistance in the deployment of a nuclear missile defence system. [132566]

Mr. Hoon: We have made clear we would consider any request carefully in light of the circumstances at the time, taking into account relevant factors including the implications for UK defence. However, we do not yet know whether, or in what circumstances, we might receive such a request, so it is too early to indicate in more detail how or on what basis we might respond.

Republic of Cyprus

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current deployment is of British service personnel in the Republic of Cyprus. [132702]

Mr. Spellar: Currently 312 UK service personnel are based in the Republic of Cyprus as part of the UN Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

Landmines

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British service personnel are involved in landmine destruction, indicating the countries in which they are deployed. [132701]

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Mr. Spellar: British Service personnel are not currently involved in landmine destruction per se. But they do provide technical expertise, management and specialist skills to support mine action programmes worldwide. As at 1 July, personnel were deployed as follows:





Additionally, in Bosnia, as part of the Stabilisation Force (SFOR), UK military personnel are involved in the co-ordination and monitoring of mine clearance; emergency disposal of mines and unexploded ordnance as required; and mine awareness training. Similar work is undertaken in Kosovo. We also maintain an Explosive Ordnance Disposal detachment in the Falkland Islands.

Military Overstretch

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the extent of the military overstretch faced by the UK's armed forces. [132696]

Mr. Spellar: The Government remain concerned at the degree of overstretch our armed forces have been subject to due to undermanning and the recent high level of Operational tempo. We are determined to drive this down.

Undermanning as at 1 May 2000 was:




The RAF is now in broad manning balance; the Naval Service and Army will be on target in 2002 and 2005 respectively.

As at 1 June 2000, the percentage of armed forces personnel committed to operations were:




This is a significant improvement on the position at the height of Kosovo, when, for example, the Army had 47 per cent. of its trained personnel committed to operations.

UN/NATO Shared Assets

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list all UK/NATO shared assets (a) nationally and (b) by UK region for the most recent year for which figures are available. [131635]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 25 July 2000]: The information requested is not readily available; however, I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

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Service Recruitment

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list by service, corps and regiment, recruitment levels nationally and by region of the UK for the most recent year for which figures are available. [131592]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 25 July 2000]: Details on armed forces recruitment levels are not held centrally in the format requested. Information is held, however, on the number of selections, by Government Office region. It should be noted that selection figures indicate those personnel who have been chosen to enter the Services. For many, the actual date of intake into the armed forces will have fallen outside the year of selection.

The selections during the period 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2000, by Service and Government Office region, are reproduced in the table.

Government office regionNaval Service(1)Army(1)RAF(1)
North East4311,339237
North West4541,425351
Merseyside315735175
Yorkshire/Humberside4541,452329
East Midlands307730205
West Midlands3061,071187
Eastern320637345
London302702108
South East537902212
South West9511,495449
Wales2941,152240
Scotland5951,616376
Northern Ireland9433795
Unknown--177
Total5,36013,5943,386

(1) Naval Service data are for Other Ranks only.

(1) Army data are for Other Ranks only.

(1) RAF data includes Officers and Other Ranks.


Departmental Assets

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the total value of assets belonging to his Department (a) nationally and (b) by UK region; and if he will break down the assets by (i) estates, (ii) kit and (iii) plant and machinery for the same areas for the most recent financial year. [131634]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 25 July 2000]: I regret the information sought is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. A summary of the total value of assets belonging to the Department as at 31 March 1999 is as follows:

£ billion
Land and buildings13.5
Fighting equipment27.9
Plant and machinery and vehicles4.6
Capital spares8.4
IT and communications1.2
Assets in course of construction9.5
Total65.1

I shall in future be publishing a summary of the values of assets held in Ministry of Defence's annual Departmental Resource Account (DRAc) under the new

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resource accounting and budgetary arrangements. The first such account will cover the 1999-2000 financial year and will be laid before Parliament later this year following NAO examination.

The National Asset Register published in November 1997 provides some information on location of land and buildings by region. It is planned to publish an updated version of this with values later this year.

Nuclear Submarines

Mr. Burnett: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many nuclear submarines carrying conventional weapons are currently operational. [132710]

Mr. Spellar: All 15 Royal Navy submarines carry conventional weapons. Currently, nine (three Vanguard Class Trident submarines, three Trafalgar Class and three Swiftsure Class) are operationally available. Submarines in this category may be deployed at sea, in port, or carrying out trials, training or maintenance. In every case they are operational now or at very short notice. The specific operational readiness of each submarine is, however, classified and is being withheld under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.


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