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Ammunition Sales

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what talks have occurred this year between the Ministry of Defence and BAe regarding the future of ammunition sales; and if he will make a statement. [100752]

Mr. Kilfoyle: Discussions have taken place throughout the year between Ministry of Defence officials and British Aerospace and Royal Ordnance managers, to determine the potential for a partnering arrangement with Royal Ordnance for the supply of a range of ammunition products. We are seeking arrangements which will provide better and improving value for money for the taxpayer, represent a viable business for Royal Ordnance, and enhance the future supply of ammunition for the British Armed Forces. We hope to conclude discussions shortly.

HMS Ocean

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what were the reasons for HMS Ocean's recent visits to ports for repair; [100881]

Mr. Spellar: Seven routine port visits were programmed in to HMS Ocean's recent lengthy deployment and, as with all port visits, the opportunity was taken to carry out routine maintenance and repairs. No visits were specifically arranged for repairs, but two of the scheduled visits were extended slightly to enable routine maintenance checks and some defect repairs to be undertaken while the vessel was alongside. The work carried out included main engine air charge cooler defect repairs and to change a rotating joint on a radar. This work cost approximately £114,000. These repairs have had no significant impact on the operational programme of the vessel.


Mr. Trend: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service families receive working families tax credit. [102240]

Mr. Spellar: From October 1999 (in the UK), working families tax credit (WFTC) is being paid direct to the claimant (including UK service personnel or their spouses). Although WFTC is administered by Inland Revenue (IR), it was enacted by DSS legislation. Consequently, since claims are made direct to the IR by either service personnel (or their spouses), the MOD has no overview of the total number of claimants. However,

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from April 2000, WFTC (in the UK) will be payable to claimants, including service personnel, through their salary if they wish. As the credit may be paid to the spouses of service personnel, however, our information about which service personnel in the UK receive the credit will not be comprehensive. Overseas, MOD is required to make separate arrangements for payment of most DSS benefits, including WFTC, to service (and civilian) personnel as they are at present disqualified by the DSS by virtue of their residence outside the UK. The total number of service claimants overseas will not be known until after April next year when the transfer from FC to WFTC is complete. I regret, therefore, that MOD is unable to provide the information requested.

A400M Programme

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the Department of Trade and Industry over the A400M programme. [102744]

Mr. Kilfoyle: Along with other Departments, the Department of Trade and Industry has been consulted over the Future Transport Aircraft programme, for which A400M is a contender. Given that a competition is under way, I cannot comment further at this stage.

MOD Housing (Hampshire)

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the occupation and unoccupation levels of (a) former and (b) current MOD- owned housing in Hampshire. [102602]

Mr. Kilfoyle: We do not hold records about former MOD housing. For current MOD-owned housing in Hampshire, including those which have been leased back from Annington Homes Limited, the position at 1 December 1999 is that there are currently 7,121 families quarters, of which 6,095 are occupied and 1,026 are unoccupied.


Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's policy is on the purchase and use of peat for its own operations and activities; and what performance targets his Department has set to reduce current peat use. [103013]

Mr. Kilfoyle: Peat is not directly used by the MOD in its operations and activities. However, it is possible that some ground maintenance contractors may use peat on the Defence estate. In line with the MOD's Departmental Plan on the Greening Government Initiative, my Department will be looking at bringing in measures to ensure that any use of peat in the maintenance of its grounds is substituted by organic waste. This reflects the advice within the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Greening Operations Guide.

East Timor

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when UK troops first arrived in East Timor to participate in the International Force East Timor; and if he will make a statement. [103056]

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Mr. Hoon: The first UK troops arrived in East Timor on 20 September 1999 as part of the International Force (INTERFET).

AWE Aldermaston (Millennium Compliance)

Mr. Salter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the ability of AWE Aldermaston to cope with the Millennium date change. [103070]

Mr. Spellar: Hunting-BRAE's programme to identify and test all AWE's safety and business-critical systems was completed in July and all necessary changes were made by that date. All but essential services will be shut down prior to the New Year and staff will be on duty over the period to monitor systems and deal with any contingencies that may arise. There will then be a controlled start-up of operations in the New Year.

The extent and effectiveness of the programme have been audited by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, the Ministry of Defence's Compliance Office and Specialist Procurement Services and the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. All have stated that they are satisfied with the action taken.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on what support is available for former and serving personnel suffering from post- traumatic stress disorder. [103227]

Mr. Spellar: My Department fully recognise Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a potentially serious and disabling medical condition and provides appropriate treatment and support for serving personnel suffering from this condition. A range of measures aimed at preventing PTSD are in place, including pre- and post- deployment briefings and professional counselling in-theatre.

Service personnel found to be suffering from PTSD will be offered treatment, including, if necessary, in-patient treatment at the Duchess of Kent's Psychiatric Hospital, Catterick. Responsibility for the treatment of ex-service personnel lies with the NHS. Such personnel may, however, be treated at the Duchess of Kent's Psychiatric Hospital if they are referred there as patients under normal NHS arrangements.

Training (International Law)

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on what training is provided for (a) officers and (b) other ranks, on understanding international law. [103228]

Mr. Spellar: Training in aspects of international law, and specifically in the 'Law of Armed Conflict', is provided to both officers and other ranks of all three services as part of initial basic training, in accordance with the requirements of the Hague and Geneva Conventions. Further training in international law, again covering the legitimacy of military operations and on the conduct of waging war, is provided on a wide range of specialist training courses, on both a single service and joint service basis. Furthermore, additional training and briefings

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relating to relevant international law are normally provided to formed units of all three services by legal specialists prior to operational deployment.

Departmental Fuel Duty Payments

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much fuel duty his Department has paid in each of the past five years. [102527]

Mr. Kilfoyle: This information is not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Organophosphate Lubricants

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of recent incidents involving health hazards associated with organophosphate lubricants, including the possible involvement of organophosphates in the near accident of a BAe 146 aircraft in Sweden on 12 November, in relation to military aircraft; and if he will make a statement. [103111]

Mr. Spellar: We have no record of any recent military aircraft incidents relating to the use of organophosphate lubricants. The organophosphate compound tricresylphosphate is present in almost all military aero-engine lubricants and, as no viable alternative products are available, appropriate measures are taken to avoid the exposure of air and ground crew to any potential health hazards. We understand that BAe Systems is investigating the incident involving a civil BAe 146 aircraft on 12 November and we will consider any recommendations that emerge.

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