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Tourism Challenge Fund

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Tourism Challenge Fund; and if she will list the countries which are taking part. [135113]

Mr. Foulkes: The Tourism Challenge Fund was launched at the beginning of this year and the first projects were selected in July. At present, we are finalising contractual arrangements with the successful bidders. It is too early to determine the effectiveness of the Fund as the selected projects have not yet been established. Moreover, as we are still in the process of completing the Fund's first full bidding cycle, it is also too early to evaluate policy and procedures. We intend to review the Fund's performance in the fourth quarter of 2001.

The projects selected in the first bidding round are located in Namibia, The Gambia and Indonesia.

Press Releases

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many press releases were issued by her Department, its agencies and non- departmental bodies in (a) 1999 and (b) 2000 to date; and how many of them have been made available on the Department's website. [135157]

Mr. Foulkes: This Department issued 82 press releases in 1999, and has issued 37 press releases so far in 2000. They are available on the Department's website.

Departmental Website

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many staff her Department employs to maintain her Department's website; how

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frequently each topic area within the website is updated; what expenditure has been incurred by her Department in the operation of the website in 1999-2000; and what the average number of hits on the site was in each of the last six months. [135156]

Mr. Foulkes: The Department for International Development has one internet manager maintaining its website. The various topic areas within the website are updated regularly, where appropriate on a daily basis. The total expenditure incurred in the operation of the website for 1999-2000 was £13,257. The average number of hits on the website for the last six months are as follows: May--38,670, June--38,081, July--39,800, August--40,199, September 37,933, October--46,863.


Trigat Weapon Programme

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from the UK's partners in (a) the Trigat Medium Range Anti-Tank guided weapon programme and (b) other joint programmes in which the UK is a partner about the UK's withdrawal from the Trigat programme; and if he will make a statement. [134345]

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 1 November 2000:

Hunter-killer Submarines

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many nuclear hunter-killer submarines will be berthed in Devonport at a single time (a) awaiting rectification work and (b) while rectification work is being carried out; [135757]

Mr. Spellar: The full inspection programme for nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines will not be completed until mid-November. The results of the

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inspections will then need to be analysed and a rectification programme developed for those submarines that require repair. For these reasons, it is impossible at this stage to estimate how long the repair programme at Devonport will take, or the number of submarines that will be under repair or awaiting repair there at any one time. I can confirm, however, that each repair is expected to take some months, but that it should be possible to work on more than one submarine at a time. In addition to Devonport, repairs could be undertaken at HM Naval Base Clyde.

Roll On/Roll Off Vessels

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to make an announcement about the contract for roll on/roll off vessels for his Department. [135662]

Mr. Hoon: I announced on 26 October 2000, Official Report, columns 413-14, that subject to final negotiations, we intend to sign a 25-year private finance initiative contract with AWSR Shipping Ltd., based in the UK, for the strategic sealift service. This will deliver the requirement of six roll on/roll off ferries identified in the Strategic Defence Review. Two of the ships for this service will be built by Harland and Wolff, securing 400-600 jobs in Northern Ireland, and four will be built in the Flensburger shipyard. As part of this contract, the ships will be fully crewed by British merchant mariners when they are in Ministry of Defence use. The contract is worth around £950 million (based on expected usage of the ships), of which we expect that about 85 per cent. will be spent in the United Kingdom.

Naval Exercises

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the availability of live ammunition for use in naval exercises. [134930]

Mr. Spellar: Live ammunition is available for use by HM ships in naval exercises. Each individual ship has an annual practice allowance, some of which may be used during exercises. The quantity used in naval exercises is determined by a range of factors such as operational and training priorities and the most cost-effective balance between live and simulated firings.

The specific allocation of ammunition is withheld in accordance with exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, which relates to defence, security and international relations.

Nuclear Armaments

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the proportion of total defence spending which is to be spent on nuclear armaments. [135389]

Mr. Spellar: In the last financial year, 1999-2000, expenditure on the nuclear warhead programme totalled £391 million--that is, approximately 1.75 per cent. of net defence expenditure for the year.

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Luce Bay Range

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress being made in regard to the sea bed containment of cluster bombs dropped by his Department in Luce bay. [135117]

Mr. Spellar: Work on the sea bed containment of the cluster bombs released in Luce bay began on 31 August 2000. The manufacture of the RENO mattresses at the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) range at West Freugh is now complete. The frames to which the mattresses will be attached have been delivered and tested. The associated equipment, including a barge and crane, required for the deployment of these mattresses is in place. Two of the 12 locations of the cluster bombs have been successfully covered and work on the containment of a third site has commenced. Progress, however, has been hampered in recent weeks by severe weather conditions. To complete the work a two-week period of good weather conditions is required.

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what type of projectiles have been (a) fired and (b) dropped at the Luce Bay (Torrs Warren) range in the last 12 months; and if the (i) firings and (ii) bombings were at hard targets. [135833]

Mr. Spellar: During the last five years, a variety of stores, both inert and live, have been released and/or fired on the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) range at West Freugh which comprises the sea danger area of Luce Bay and the land target area of Torrs Warren. Bombs, rockets and missiles have been released over Luce Bay where most of the trials activities take place. Fixed and rotary wing machine guns of various calibres are also fired. Bombs are also released on the land target area and fixed and rotary wing machine guns of various calibres fired. Missiles are fired from the land out into the bay. Hard targets are normally perceived to be bunkers and vehicles such as tanks. There are no such targets at DERA West Freugh. There are, however, barges in the bay which are used for inert store releases and three large concrete areas on the land. Any live stores released on to either the concrete or the surrounding softer land are cleared by explosive ordnance demolition techniques as part of DERA's good housekeeping.

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