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DERA Porton Down NBC Training Facility

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will list for each of the past three years the military units which have used the DERA Porton Down NBC training facility, indicating how much each unit was charged; [136073]

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Mr. Spellar: During the past three financial years, the following military units have used the NBC Training facility known as the Battle Run at DERA, Porton Down.

Financial yearMilitary units
19977 Battalion Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (71 Aircraft Workshop)
1 Royal Anglian Regiment
Joint Helicopter Support Unit
47 Regiment Royal Artillery
16 Regiment Royal Artillery
1998Royal Wessex Yeomanry (Territorial Army)
243 Field Hospital Unit
10 Parachute Regiment
1999Royal Wessex Yeomanry (Territorial Army)
16 Regiment Royal Artillery
Royal Household Cavalry

The charge to customers for the use of the NBC Training Facility at DERA Porton Down, known as the Battle Run, comprises range maintenance and manpower operational costs as well as an element of profit as agreed between DERA and MOD in their Terms of Business Agreement (TOBA). The actual amount of usage and the associated cost are agreed on a yearly basis within an agreed limit of liability which is specified in the contract for use. The basis for the calculation of charges for each of the three years and the current year is the same apart from adjustments for inflation, the amounts of which are also agreed between MOD and DERA. The charges to HQ Land Command, the Ministry of Defence budget holder for these units, for each of the three years were £48,928, £42,118 and £51,715 respectively. Costs are not attributed to individual units. Costs include elements for facility maintenance and improvements to overall capability as well as the actual operational cost for the conduct of the Battle Run training.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in each of the past three years on how many days the DERA Porton Down NBC training facility has been (a) available for use and (b) used for training. [136074]

Mr. Spellar: In each of the last three financial years the NBC training facility known as the Battle Run at DERA Porton Down was contracted by HQ Land Command to provide 20 days of training in blocks of two days. The take-up of the sessions was as follows:

Financial yearSessions
1997Six two-day
1998Four two-day
1999One two-day and two four-day

Ministerial Directions

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer from the Chief Secretary to the Treasury of 23 October 2000, Official Report, columns 73-76W, on ministerial directions, if he will place in the Library the text and supporting documentation of the directions made by Ministers in his Department in 1998 and 2000; and if he will make a statement. [137298]

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Mr. Spellar: I have considered this request under the terms of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information and concluded that providing this information would harm the frankness and candour of internal discussion within government. The request therefore falls within the terms of exemption 2 of the Code of Practice.

Tomahawk Missile

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which variants of the Tomahawk land attack missile have been purchased by his Department; and if his Department has taken steps to purchase further variants. [137689]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence has purchased only one variant of the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, the Block IIIC, which has a conventionally armed blast warhead. It is currently deployed in RN submarines. Although we are studying future Tomahawk developments, and joint work with the United States Navy has shown that a Torpedo Tube Launch version is possible, we have made no commitment to buying the next generation Tactom Block IV variant.

RAF Coltishall

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future of RAF Coltishall. [137930]

Mr. Spellar: Over the next few years, my Department will be carefully considering possible roles for RAF Coltishall once its current task as base for the Jaguar Force comes to an end.

Islamic Terrorists

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the islamic terrorist threat to (a) Royal Naval ships and (b) British service personnel in foreign ports. [137911]

Mr. Spellar: The recent attacks in Yemen highlight the continuing terrorist threat to UK and allied forces and interests. The threat is under constant assessment and prudent measures are in place to ensure the safety of our ships and personnel, wherever they may be.


Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date military assistance was first (a) offered to, (b) accepted and (c) provided to Russia in respect of the Kursk disaster; and what the nature has been of the assistance provided since that date. [137925]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence offered the assistance of the UK Submarine Search and Rescue Service (UKSSRS) to the Russian rescue effort in a letter to the Russian Defence Minister, which was delivered by the British Embassy Moscow on 14 August. With time being of the essence, we approved the forward deployment of the UKSSRS to Norway on 15 August. The Russian Ministry of Defence accepted our offer, through our Naval Attache in Moscow, on 16 August. On 21 August, Russian authorities confirmed that all on board

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the Kursk had died. Our further assistance was not therefore required and the UKSSRS was withdrawn. The Russians have made no further official requests to the UK for assistance in connection with the Kursk.

HMS Fearless

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his assessment is of (a) the damage to and (b) the period needed for repairs to HMS Fearless. [137910]

Mr. Spellar: HMS Fearless sustained fire damage to her After Machinery Space. The full extent of the damage will not be known until detailed surveys, which are currently under way, have been completed.

It is planned that repairs will be undertaken during a programmed maintenance period at Fleet Support Ltd., Portsmouth, commencing in December. However, until the full extent of the damage is assessed, the period needed to complete the repairs cannot be given.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Balkans)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about British unmanned aerial vehicles lost in the Balkans theatre since March 1998. [137906]

Mr. Spellar: The Phoenix Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was first deployed to the Balkans theatre between June-August 1999. No UK UAVs were deployed before this date. At the request of KFOR Headquarters, the system was deployed again in May 2000 and remained in-theatre until 1 November 2000. Since June 1999, some 270 missions have been flown in-theatre. In total there have been 29 occasions where either the airframe and/or the sensor payload has been lost or written off due to damage incurred. Reasons for losses include hostile action, landing damage and equipment failure. The attrition rate, including losses to hostile action, is not inconsistent with that expected during peacetime usage. The costs associated with the losses need to be set against the risks of using alternative means of surveillance and reconnaissance such as manned aircraft or personnel on the ground. Operational reports continue to indicate that Phoenix is both reliable and highly effective as a general reconnaissance and surveillance system with the capability to conduct safe surveillance over areas which might otherwise be inaccessible.

European Security and Defence Identity

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the proposal under the European Security and Defence Identity on the mechanism for consultation before deployment of British troops. [137837]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 10 November 2000]: The European Council at Helsinki decided that all member states would be entitled to participate fully, and on an equal footing, in all decisions and deliberations of the Council and Council bodies on EU-led crisis management operations. The Council also decided that commitment of national assets by member states to such operations will be based on their sovereign decision.

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Chemical Weapons

Mr. Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the sites of former (a) chemical weapons factories and (b) chemical weapons stores in the United Kingdom. [137832]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 10 November 2000]: I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

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