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Asylum Seekers

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent, under the proposed new arrangements for support of asylum seekers, it will be possible for voluntary or charitable bodies to supplement in cash or in kind the support provided from public funds without a corresponding reduction in that support. [99941]

Mrs. Roche: Under the new Asylum Support Arrangements, it is intended that the National Asylum Support Service may take into account support from voluntary and charitable organisations when assessing the amount of support it will provide. This will not apply to emergency assistance provided while an application for support is being considered. This proposal is included in a consultation document which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary announced in a reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, South (Ms Taylor) on 25 November 1999, Official report, column 176W. The closing date for comments on these proposals is 14 January 2000 and we shall finalise our policy after that date.


Criminal Records Bureau

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the cost of fees incurred by the Air, Army and Sea Cadets in using the Criminal Records Bureau will be met by his Department; and if he will he make a statement. [100610]

Mr. Spellar: The Cadet Forces will be required to pay for their use of the Criminal Records Bureau. I understand that the fee is likely to be around £10 per inquiry. We would expect such costs to be met from within existing resources.


Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions RAF flights serving the Falkland Islands have been delayed by mechanical or other failures since September; and if he will make a statement. [100899]

Mr. Spellar: Since September, there have been 42 flights to and from the Falkland Islands (21 outbound and 21 return). Of these, eight flights were delayed for aircraft serviceability or availability reasons.

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Army (Retention)

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make available to the public (a) Major-General Spacie's report, "Welfare in the Army", (b) the Army's Retention Study and (c) the Continuous Attitude Surveys for service leavers produced by DASA; and if he will make a statement. [100219]

Mr. Spellar: The purpose of all three reports is to inform the Army's personnel management policies and there are currently no plans to publish the findings externally. Major-General (Retired) Spacie's report, "Welfare in the Army" and the Army's Retention Study were commissioned to study Welfare provision and personnel policies across the Army. The Continuous Attitude Survey aims to determine the attitude of serving personnel, their families and Service leavers; this highlights trends which are useful in the development of sound personnel and training policies.

East Timor

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on force levels in East Timor. [101476]

Mr. Hoon: There are now over 10,000 troops in the international force in East Timor (INTERFET) and the Australian Force Commander has agreed that circumstances now enable the withdrawal of British forces.

The UK currently has some 290 service personnel in East Timor. Lead elements of the contingent from 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles will return to their base in Brunei on 8 December. The remainder of the troops, including UK-based headquarters staff and signallers, and an RAF C-130 aircraft deployed to the region, will be withdrawn by 15 December.

Although the UK does not plan to contribute units to the follow-on UN peacekeeping force (UNTAET), a small number of military observers will be provided. The Government have also offered Australia assistance with airlift for a short period during the transition from INTERFET to UNTAET.

The deployment of the Gurkhas, RAF C-130 aircraft, and earlier of HMS Glasgow, is another example of the UK's ability to provide forces capable of decisive action in the difficult initial stages of a crisis. British troops were able to lend their considerable expertise and experience to the international force. This has assisted the swift return of over 100,000 refugees.

Army Personnel (Compensation)

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the review of compensation arrangements for members of the armed forces. [101477]

Mr. Spellar: I am considering draft proposals from the review of compensation arrangements and hope to publish a consultation document early next year. The review represents the first comprehensive look at compensation arrangements since the War Pensions Scheme was introduced over fifty years ago. It is a highly complex subject. The review has examined from first principles the way in which service men and women and their

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dependants are compensated when they suffer illness, injury or death due to service. I am determined that we should provide our service men and women with a compensation package which will give them the reassurance that they will be provided for when facing the challenges and risks associated with service life.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many shelter kits have been sent to Kosovo for relief aid; and what is the cost of the kits. [100750]

Mr. Foulkes: I have been asked to reply.

Over 100,000 houses in Kosovo suffered damage in the conflict, of which half are beyond repair. This situation affects over 700,000 people. Emergency shelter is co-ordinated by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 57,100 emergency repair kits are being provided through United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and Office For Disaster Assistance / USAID, in order to create dry shelter in repairable houses, on the basis of one room per family. According to the latest available figures, over 60 per cent. had been distributed by 15 November. UNHCR and OFDA/USAID are also distributing some 10,000 extended roofing kits which aim to provide shelter for several families within a single less-damaged dwelling.

ECHO have committed 16.5 million euros for NGO programmes focusing on shelter. The EC Task Force have separately committed 14 million euros. OFDA spend $33.4 million on shelter in the last US fiscal year (ending September 1999), and have so far spent $12 million this fiscal year. Figures for UNHCR are not currently available.

The Department for International Development's (DFID) chief contributions to winterisation complement shelter initiatives. Through DFID's Emergency Infrastructure Engineering Unit we aim to get essential work done on utilities, particularly power and water supply, before the winter becomes too severe. We have committed £19 million for these works. Pristina airport is crucial to emergency rehabilitation as an alternative supply route to the congested Blace crossing. DFID has committed up to £3 million to carry out emergency works to keep it open for 24-hour civilian air operations through the winter.

Goats (Experimentation)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many goats have been killed as a result of experiments conducted on them in the last six months by the MoD. [100748]

Mr. Kilfoyle: This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from John Chisholm to Mr. Mike Hancock, dated 2 December 1999:

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    As I explained in my letter of 14 April 1999 the total number of goats killed in 1999 will be higher than in recent years. In addition to the on-going submarine escape programme carried out on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, DERA is also taking part in a 3 year co-operative programme with the United States Navy looking at safe rescue from submarines. The conditions of this co-operative research will result in a higher number of animals humanely killed for the 3 years of the programme's duration. In addition, a restocking programme has taken place as many of the goats were getting old and, on veterinary advice, these have also been humanely killed.

    In view of these factors, it may be misleading to provide figures for the last six months and I will, therefore, address the period from 1 January 1999. From 1 January to 29 November 1999, 62 goats were humanely killed following experiments, 36 were humanely killed for reasons of old age and another 4 on grounds of ill health.

    The Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 assumes that all experiments cause stress to the animals involved and it is therefore normal practice to humanely kill the animals at the end of the experiment. Only where the experiment is considered sufficiently benign for the animals not to suffer any long lasting stress do the terms of the Act, subject to Home Office review, allow them to be used on more than one occasion. This is usually the case with the goats used in the submarine research programme.

    I hope this is helpful.

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