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Porton Down

18. Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his letter, ref. D/US of S/LM 4333/00/M of 5 December, what advice he has received from the Medical Research Centre concerning an independent epidemiological study for Porton Down volunteers. [143729]

Dr. Moonie: We have received confirmation from the Medical Research Council that they are looking at the feasibility of carrying out an independent epidemiological study of Porton Down Volunteers. My officials plan to meet the Medical Research Council to discuss the matter in detail later this month or early next. Further discussions with Porton Down and an assessment of the source material in the surviving records is likely to follow.

Recruitment

19. Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many recruits to each of the armed services, for the last year for which figures are available, had

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previously been a member of the Army, air or sea cadets; and what percentage of recruits to each of the services this represented. [143730]

Mr. Spellar: The information available for financial year 1999-2000, indicates that:




Arms Dealing

20. Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the role of (a) his Department and (b) defence attaches in private company arms trading deals abroad. [143731]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence's support to defence contractors selling overseas is provided in furtherance of the Government's policy of support for defence exports set out in my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's statement on 28 July 1997.

Many personnel in the Ministry of Defence, including defence attaches, have a role in promoting the sale of legitimate UK defence equipment overseas in accordance with this policy.

NATO (British Forces)

21. Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the role of British forces in NATO. [143733]

Mr. Hoon: Britain's armed forces play a leading role in NATO, contributing to the full range of Alliance roles and tasks. In particular, the UK is the framework nation for the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps, the ARRC, one of the great successes of the Alliance's post-Cold War adaptation.

Armed Forces (Education)

22. Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on developments in education and training for the armed forces. [143734]

Mr. Spellar: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood (Mrs. Humble), on 15 January 2001, Official Report, column 12.

Altcar Training Camp

23. Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the use of the Army and reserve forces training camp at Altcar, Hightown, Merseyside. [143735]

Mr. Spellar: Altcar Training Camp at Hightown, Merseyside is used extensively by regular forces, reserves and cadets from all three services. It is also used by members of civilian rifle clubs and the police. We have no plans to alter our use of Altcar.

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RAF Procurement

25. Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many new aircraft his Department plans to procure for the RAF; and if he will make a statement. [143737]

Dr. Moonie: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave my hon. Friends the Members for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle), for South Ribble (Mr. Borrow) and for Preston (Mr. Hendrick), on 15 January 2001, Official Report, columns 5-6.

European Rapid Reaction Force

26. Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what planning capability the EU Rapid Reaction Force will have. [143739]

Mr. Hoon: There is no standing EU Rapid Reaction Force. The EU has a small military staff which will support its ability to take decisions with military implications.

The terms of reference of the EU Military Staff make quite clear that it is not responsible for operational planning. The Nice documents also make clear that NATO will carry out operational planning for EU-led operations that have recourse to NATO assets and capabilities. Operational planning for other operations may be carried out in existing European national and multinational headquarters, such as our own Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ).

30. Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many representations he has received on the proposed European Rapid Reaction Force; and if he will make a statement. [143743]

Mr. Hoon: There is no standing European Rapid Reaction Force. To date the Ministry of Defence has received approximately 180 letters from members of the public relating to European defence.

National Missile Defence

27. Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has held with his US counterpart on national missile defence. [143740]

Mr. Hoon: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Newport, West (Mr. Flynn), on 15 January 2001, Official Report, column 2.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next plans to meet the US Defence Secretary to discuss missile defence. [143728]

Mr. Hoon: I plan to meet the new US Defense Secretary as soon as possible after the appointment is confirmed, and to discuss a range of issues including missile defence.

Future of NATO

28. Dr. George Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the incoming United States Administration on the future role of NATO. [143741]

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Mr. Hoon: I plan to meet the new US Defense Secretary as soon as possible after the appointment is confirmed, and to discuss a range of issues including NATO.

New Zealand Defence Minister

29. Mr. Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on contacts made over the past 12 months with his New Zealand counterpart. [143742]

Dr. Moonie: There has been no direct contact between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and his New Zealand counterpart over the past 12 months. However, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Burton, the Defence Minister, at a meeting of Five Power Defence Arrangements Defence Ministers in Malaysia and Singapore last July. Our defence relations with New Zealand remain very good, and are based on strong and traditional links between the armed forces of our two countries.

Chatham Dockyard Workers

31. Mr. Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in compensating former Chatham dockyard workers who have suffered radiation exposure. [143744]

Dr. Moonie: Records show that as at 1 January 2001, 39 claims for compensation from former Chatham Dockyard workers had been submitted to the British Nuclear Fuels Compensation Scheme for Radiation Linked Diseases, of which the Ministry of Defence is a member. Thirty were ruled ineligible because radiation dose levels were too small, seven are presently under consideration and two have been found to meet the Scheme's criteria and be eligible for compensation. The level of compensation is being assessed and following completion of this exercise offers of settlement will be made.

A separate claim, in respect of a former worker at Chatham Dockyard, is currently being pursued as a common law case and is due to come to trial at the High Court on 12 March 2001.

European Defence

32. Ms Dari Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his EU counterparts about European defence. [143745]

Mr. Hoon: I refer my hon Friend to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) and my hon Friend the Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Crausby), on 15 January 2001, Official Report, column 8.

33. Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on recent progress towards the headline goal on European defence. [143747]

Mr. Hoon: EU Heads of State and Governments met at the Nice summit in December. This represented another important milestone in the development of new European Security and Defence arrangements. Member states reaffirmed their commitment to improve military

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capability, including by remedying shortfalls in key enabling capabilities (e.g. lift) and in the characteristics of the armed forces (e.g. availability).

It also looked forward to the establishment of permanent political/military structures that will allow the political control and strategic direction of crisis management operations; and to a close relationship with NATO on the basis of co-operation, consultation and transparency.

The Nice summit additionally set out details for involvement of non-EU Allies and other accession partners in European defence arrangements.

The NATO North Atlantic Council (Foreign Ministers) on 14-15 December 2000 welcomed the Nice Proposals on European defence. It reaffirmed determination to reinforce NATO's European Pillar, and to share the goals endorsed by EU member states at Nice.


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