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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 9 December 1999


Concordat (Scotland and Wales)

Mr. Ian Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will agree his concordat with the Scottish Executive and National Assembly for Wales. [102474]

Mr. Hoon: I have today agreed concordats with the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly, which set out the principles governing our bilateral relationships. A copy of these has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he plans to procure additional high velocity missiles from Shorts Missile Systems of Belfast. [102475]

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Mr. Kilfoyle: I am pleased to announce that the Defence Procurement Agency has now signed a contract with Shorts Missile Systems for additional High Velocity Missiles for the Army. The contract is valued at around £200 million and will sustain around 550 jobs at Shorts Missile Systems, with a further 170 jobs also sustained across their sub-contractors in the United Kingdom.

Aircraft Wiring

Mrs. Dunwoody: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what aircraft have been delivered for the use of British forces containing (a) PVC/Nylon wiring, (b) Poly-X wiring and (c) Kapton wiring; when the aircraft were delivered; and what is their life expectancy; [100926]

Mr. Spellar: Listed are details of how many British military aircraft contain PVC/Nylon, Poly-X or Kapton wiring, together with the type and location of the aircraft concerned. Details are also provided about when the aircraft first entered service and their approximate life expectancy:

(a) PVC/Nylon wiring. Some 580 military aircraft contain PVC/Nylon wiring.

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Type of aircraft Main locations Date first entered serviceLife expectancy (approximate figures in years)
BulldogUniversity Air Squadrons197230
HawkValley/Leeming/Boscombe Down197635
VC10Brize Norton196645
Sea KingYeovilton/Prestwick/Culdrose/and on RN ships, RAF Search and Rescue Units196945
PumaBenson and Aldergrove197140
GazelleWattisham/Disforth/Middle Wallop/Odiham/and other Army units197445


Chinook are wired with a mixture of PVC/Nylon and PTFE (Poly Tetra Fluoro Ethylene).

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(b) Poly-X wiring. No RAF aircraft contain Poly-X wiring. However, a small number of early Army and Royal Navy Lynx helicopters were delivered with Poly-X wiring. Few of these aircraft are now in service and much of the wiring on these will have been replaced during upgrades.

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(c) Kapton wiring. Kapton is a trademarked material. It is one of a range of polyimide coverings used to insulate aircraft wires. Some 740 British military aircraft contain wiring of this type.

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Type of aircraft Main locations Date first entered serviceLife expectancy (approximate figures in years)
TornadoMarham/Bruggen/Lossiemouth/Leeming/Coningsby/Leuchars/Mount Pleasant198040
TristarBrize Norton198430

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Ferry Subsidies

Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what account he will take of allegations about unfair subsidies to South Korean shipyards using IMF loans when determining the outcome of the MOD competition for roll-on, roll-off ferries; and if he will make a statement. [100573]

Mr. Kilfoyle: Bids from four consortia to provide a strategic Sealift service are currently being assessed. The ships will be commercial standard roll-on, roll-off ferries, owned by the service provider. We have specifically asked bidders proposing overseas build to demonstrate that UK build would not be competitive on similar terms. If there is evidence of subsidies, this will be fully taken into account in our evaluation.

Inspector of Kilts

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to appoint a new Inspector of Kilts. [100903]

Mr. Kilfoyle: The Ministry of Defence has no such appointment and there are no plans to create one.

Anti-submarine Capability

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has made a re-assessment of the United Kingdom's anti-submarine requirements since the publication of the Strategic Defence Review. [101669]

Mr. Hoon: The United Kingdom's anti-submarine warfare capabilities are kept under constant review in order to ensure that we maintain appropriate and balanced maritime forces. Since its publication, there has been no reason to revise the conclusion of the Strategic Defence Review, which confirmed a continuing decline in the likelihood of an open-ocean anti-submarine threat on the scale previously envisaged.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the conditions under which the United Kingdom stands ready to provide destroyers and frigates for peacekeeping operations, as agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the United Nations; and if he will make a statement. [101672]

Mr. Hoon: The decision to commit any of the forces declared to the UN in the Memorandum of Understanding remains a national one taken on a case-by-case basis. Factors that will be taken into consideration when deciding whether to contribute to a specific UN peacekeeping operation include the aim of the operation, a clear exit strategy, the safety of UK personnel, and the level of other commitments.

Low Flying

Mr. Livsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of low level flying training in the United Kingdom in the light of experience in Kosovo. [101502]

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Mr. Kilfoyle: Low flying remains an important military tactic. While the circumstances in Kosovo were such that there was no requirement for fast jets to fly at low level, that might not be the case in future operations elsewhere. Regularly carrying out practice sorties within the UK Low Flying System remains the most effective way to ensure aircrew have the high levels of readiness necessary to take part in operations at low level, should the need arise.

Arms Brokers

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to maintain an arms broker company list; and if he will make a statement. [101926]

Mr. Kilfoyle: We have no plans at present to maintain a list of arms broker companies.

Ballistic Missile Programme

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what studies he is undertaking of theatre ballistic missile defence against land mobile missiles; and what is his target date for putting a theatre ballistic missile defence system into service. [102139]

Mr. Hoon: The Strategic Defence Review concluded that the technologies related to ballistic missile defence are changing rapidly and it would be premature to decide on acquiring such a capability. This remains our policy. We continue, however, to monitor developments in the risks posed by ballistic missiles and in the technology to counter them, and we are contributing to NATO preparations for studies into the feasibility of theatre ballistic missile defence. The terms of reference for our national programme of studies were announced by my predecessor, now Lord Robertson, on 27 July 1999, Official Report, column 203W. These studies include issues concerned with defending against land-based, mobile, theatre ballistic missiles, as will the studies to be undertaken by NATO.


Millennium Compliance

Mr. Alan Keen: To ask the President of the Council when she will publish the latest results of the market research tracking public perception of the millennium bug. [102535]

Mrs. Beckett: I have placed copies of the Executive Summary of the October tracking research in the Libraries of the House.

The latest results are broadly consistent with those for previous months, showing that anxiety among the public on this issue remains low.

The results of the November tracking research will be published in the next few weeks and I will place copies of the Executive Summary in the Libraries of the House as soon as they are available.

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