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Submarine Fleet

Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the operational availability of the submarine fleet. [134444]

Mr. Spellar: A flaw has been found in pipework that forms part of the cooling system in some Trafalgar and Swiftsure class hunter-killer submarines. Initial indications are that this may have arisen from the original construction of this component. The repair of this flaw, if needed, is straightforward but, because of the stringent safety procedures that we employ for any work involving repairs to our nuclear submarines, the repair process will take some months. As responsible nuclear operators, we take even the slightest flaw to our submarines very seriously. It is for this reason that our deployed hunter-killer submarines are being brought alongside to be inspected. Until all inspections have been completed it is not possible to determine fully the requirement for repair work and operational implications but they will be significant. The submarines remain safe, and at no time has there been any risk to their crew or the general public. Vanguard Class Trident submarines, which are of a very different design, are not affected.

Armed Forces Pay Review Body

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about appointments to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body. [134448]

Mr. Hoon: I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Lord Patel as a new and additional member to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body and re-appointed Vice-Admiral Sir Toby Frere for a second three-year term. These appointments have been conducted in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments' guidance on appointments to public bodies.

24 Oct 2000 : Column: 111W

Weapon Systems

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans he has to procure a suitable weapon system for the UK Rapid Reaction Force to replace the Trigat-Medium Range Anti-Tank Weapon Programme; what it will cost; and if he will make a statement; [134134]

Dr. Moonie: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Procurement Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Robert Walmsley to Mr. Mike Hancock, dated 24 October 2000:





Forces Personnel (Promotion)

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average length of time is for promotion from lieutenant-colonel to colonel for (a) non- medical and (b) medical personnel in the Army. [133597]

Mr. Spellar: Based on the last four years of data for those promoted to full colonel, the average length of time served in the rank of lieutenant-colonel before promotion to colonel for (a) non-medical personnel is five years and five months and (b) medical personnel eight years and seven months.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average length of time is for promotion from wing commander to group captain for (a) non-medical and (b) medical personnel in the RAF. [133598]

Mr. Spellar: The average length of time for promotion from wing commander to group captain is seven years for non-medical personnel, and 10 years for medical personnel in the RAF.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average length of time is for promotion from commander to captain for (a) non-medical and (b) medical personnel in the Royal Navy. [133599]

24 Oct 2000 : Column: 112W

Mr. Spellar: The average length of time for promotion from Commander to Captain in the Royal Navy for non-medical officers is 6.7 years. For medical officers, the equivalent average length of time is 11.5 years.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Bilateral Corcordat (Wales)

Mrs. Fitzsimons: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when the bilateral Concordat between his Department and the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales will come into force; and if he will make a statement. [134504]

Mr. Nick Brown: I am pleased to say that letters formalising the bilateral concordat between this Department and the Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales were exchanged on 17 October 2000. The Concordat, which is an agreement on the working relationship between the National Assembly for Wales Agriculture Department (NAWAD) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, establishes for all matters relating to the Welsh Assembly's responsibilities for agriculture, fisheries and food, an agreed framework for co-operation between the Administrations.

I look forward to continuing the close and constructive relationship that my Department has developed with NAWAD following the introduction of devolution on 1 July 1999.

Copies have been lodged in the Library of the House and the document is on the Internet at http://www.maff.gov.uk/aboutmaf/devolve/devolve.htm. The Cabinet of the National Assembly for Wales is placing copies in the Library of the Welsh Assembly.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Winter Fuel Payments

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to extend winter fuel payments to recipients of (a) Disability Living Allowance and (b) other disability-related benefits. [134212]

Angela Eagle: Disability Living Allowance and the Disability Premium in the income-related benefits are already paid in recognition of the extra costs faced by people with disabilities.

British Nuclear Test Veterans

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many war widows' pensions have been awarded to widows of British nuclear test veterans since 1970. [133842]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, records show that, since 1983, 13 awards of war widows' pension have been made in respect of conditions claimed to have resulted from exposure to excess ionising radiation during participation in the UK nuclear weapons test programme.

24 Oct 2000 : Column: 113W

Mr. Welsh: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many claims for war pensions by British nuclear test veterans who believe they might have been exposed during service to excessive ionising radiation have been (a) turned down and (b) awarded by (i) the Pensions Appeal Tribunal for Scotland and (ii) the Pensions Appeal Tribunal for England and Wales since 1970. [133843]

Mr. Bayley: The information is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Disability Living Allowance

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what the average income in benefits was for recipients of Disability Living Allowance in each year since 1992 at today's prices. [134213]

Mr. Bayley: Information is not available in the form requested, because some awards of income-related benefits are made for families rather than individuals. Such information as is available is in the table.

Average weekly benefit income of households in Great Britain
which include a Disability Living Allowance recipient

£
1995-96196
1996-97195
1997-98197
1998-99196

Source:

Family Resources Survey


The Government recognise the need to increase the incomes of the most severely disabled people on Income Support and have announced their intention to introduce a disability income guarantee for such people in April 2001.






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