14 Nov 2000 : Column: 573W

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 14 November 2000



Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what procedures exist in his Department for a civil servant to report actions which (a) are illegal, improper, or unethical, (b) are in breach of constitutional convention or a professional code, (c) may involve possible maladministration and (d) are otherwise inconsistent with the Civil Service Code. [135452]

Dr. Moonie: A copy of the Civil Service Code was issued to every MOD civil servant in May 1999. The Department's procedures require staff to report any matters of concern within the scope of the Code to their third line manager in the first instance. If the matter cannot be resolved at this level staff have a right of appeal to their Top Level Budget Holder and, ultimately, to the Permanent Under Secretary of State. The procedures also make provision for staff to be able to discuss concerns in confidence with a senior officer outside of their management area if they wish. If, having raised a matter of concern to them within the Department, a member of staff considers that he or she has not received a reasonable response there is a right of appeal to the Civil Service Commissioners.

These procedures are set out in the Department's Personnel Manual and reiterated in departmental instructions regularly circulated to all staff.

Departmental Policies

Mr. Kaufman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out, including statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effect on the Manchester, Gorton constituency of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [136172]

Dr. Moonie: There have been no significant effects on the Gorton constituency or the surrounding area. Gorton's Territorial Army centres were retained as a result of the 1998 restructuring review.

Departmental Employees (New Deal)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff his Department employs under the New Deal for Young People. [137952]

Mr. Spellar: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office on 13 November 2000, Official Report, column 551W.

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Porton Down

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent measures he has introduced to improve the reliability and security of postal services to and from Porton Down. [137686]

Dr. Moonie: None, as the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) site at Porton Down has not experienced any problems with the reliability and security of postal services.

Women (Combat Roles)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent studies his Department has undertaken of the experience of other countries' armed forces in respect of women in combat roles. [137908]

Mr. Hoon: We are currently engaged in a study, announced in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, to evaluate the impact on combat effectiveness since opening 70 per cent. of posts in the Army to women and of allowing them to serve in specialist billets "attached" to the Royal Marines. The study, which is due to report to Ministers in 2001, will also make an assessment on the armed forces' combat effectiveness of removing the present exclusion of women from the Royal Marines General Service, Royal Armoured Corps (including the Household Cavalry), Infantry and RAF Regiment. As part of this study we have drawn upon other countries' experiences in respect of women in combat roles.

RAF Dishforth

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what representations he has received on redeployment from Dishforth Airfield to Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, and for disposal or re-use of Dishforth Airfield; [137703]

Mr. Spellar: The primary occupier of the former RAF Dishforth (now Dishforth Airfield) is 9 Regiment Army Corps (9 Reg AAC), a Joint Helicopter Command (JHC) unit. The JHC is currently engaged in carrying out an estates rationalisation study and one of the options is to re-deploy all helicopters and manpower from Dishforth Airfield to Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton. The study is due to report in autumn 2001 and no decisions on the redeployment of manpower currently based at Dishforth or the disposal or re-use of Dishforth Airfield will be made until then. In the meantime, no representations have been received on the future of Dishforth, except for the hon. Member's own letter to me of 6 November.

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military and civilian posts there are at Dishforth Airfield. [137704]

Mr. Spellar: There are currently 383 military posts and 39 civilian posts at Dishforth Airfield. By April 2001 these numbers will rise to 538 military posts and 43 civilian posts. There are a further 58 civilian staff currently employed by Sodexho, the site contractor. Military personnel are also deployed from time to time from RAF Linton-on-Ouse, as requested.

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Ships (Asbestos)

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in the removal of asbestos from his Department's ships. [137692]

Dr. Moonie: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer my hon. Friend, the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Kilfoyle), the then Under-Secretary of State for Defence, gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (Dr. Godman) on 12 January 2000, Official Report, column 166W.

Good progress is being made on our ongoing 10 years programme to identify safe non-asbestos alternatives and introduce them into service at every opportunity including planned maintenance and refit periods. For example, we are currently trialling replacements in two particularly challenging areas: the ship propeller shaft brakes and high pressure steam system joints. If the trials are successful we shall fit replacements in a much earlier timescale than originally expected.

Progress on Ministry of Defence asbestos elimination measures, including those for Royal Navy ships, was presented to the Health and Safety Commission in May this year who fully endorsed the approach being taken.


Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the number and locations of (a) X berths and (b) Z berths available to his Department. [137691]

Mr. Spellar: Including all berths and docks, the total number of X and Z berths available is, respectively, 40 and 26. These are principally located in the Naval Bases of Devonport and Clyde, and the privatised facilities at Barrow in Furness, Rosyth and Devonport. The precise locations and numbers are as follows:

List of the locations of X berths

Devonport and Plymouth Sound16

List of the locations of Z berths

Falkland Islands1
Loch Goil1
Isle of Skye1
Loch Ewe2
Devonport and Plymouth Sound2
Diego Garcia2

(1) The use of the berths in Liverpool is currently in abeyance awaiting final resolution of the mechanism for the implementation of the potassium iodate tablets countermeasure distribution plan.

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Barrow in Furness owned by BAE Systems Marine Ltd.(2)

Barrow in Furness4 X X
Devonshire Dock
Barrow in Furness1 X X
Buccleuch Dock
Barrow in Furness2 X Z

(2) The berths listed against Barrow in Furness are owned by BAE Systems Marine Ltd. and have "lapsed". The necessary procedures to revalidate the berths will be instigated 12 months prior to reactor core installation for the Astute Class submarines currently on contract.

Royal Air Force

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will ensure that overspending on defence procurement projects does not affect RAF frontline strength. [138159]

Dr. Moonie: There are no current plans to depart from the conclusions reached in the Strategic Defence Review about the frontline strength of the RAF, although these plans are regularly reviewed.

Training (Foreign Troops)

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the (a) gross and (b) net income derived from the training of personnel from foreign armed forces in the last year for which figures are available. [138315]

Mr. Spellar: The information is not held in the format requested. The funds expended training solely foreign personnel cannot be separated from the overall cost of the activity. Furthermore, the amount of receipts generated solely from training foreign personnel is not recorded separately. As a result I can provide only the amount of receipts recovered for the provision of education and training in general. In 1990-2000, this sum was just over £58 million.

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