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National Foundation for Youth Music

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what support his Department gives to the National Foundation for Youth Music in respect of its youth music action zones. [145431]

Mr. Alan Howarth: My Department set up the National Foundation for Youth Music as an independent charity. Youth Music was launched by the Prime Minister in 1999, with £30 million of Arts Council Lottery funds to ensure that every child has the opportunity to make music. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State launched the Youth Music Action Zones initiative in December. The £10 million Action Zones initiative will enable young people living in areas of social and economic need to experience music and develop their musical talent. My Department continues to pursue a good working relationship with Youth Music and I look forward to seeing the benefits of this new initiative.

Digital Broadcasting

Mr. Lammy: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when he will publish for public consultation the BBC's proposals for new licence fee-funded digital television and radio services. [146228]

Mr. Chris Smith: The BBC has sought my approval, under clause 2.3 of the Agreement between the BBC and the Government, to replace BBC Choice and BBC Knowledge with four new digital television services, to start five new digital radio services and to make the World Service available in the UK. Under the arrangements set out in my Department's revised guidelines for assessing new BBC public services, which were published on 10 January, I intend to publish the BBC's submission tomorrow for public consultation and will place copies in the Library of the House. This consultation is in addition to the consultation carried out by the BBC itself last year, the results of which are attached to the BBC's submission. The closing date for responses is 28 February.



Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has selected an aircraft to meet the requirement to replace the Sea Harrier FA2 and Harrier GR7 aircraft of the joint force Harrier; and if he will make a statement. [146335]

Mr. Hoon: The MOD noted in the Strategic Defence Review that the US Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) was a strong contender to meet the requirement to replace the Sea Harrier FA2 and Harrier GR7 aircraft of the joint force Harrier in the early years of the next decade.

In the light of further work on the various alternatives to meet the Future Carrier Borne Aircraft requirement, and of the successful progress of the JSF Concept Development phase, it has now been concluded that JSF is the option with the best potential to meet our needs. It

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has accordingly been decided to join the US as a collaborative partner in the next stage of the programme (Engineering and Manufacturing Development)--subject, of course, to the decisions of the incoming US Administration on the future of the programme.

JSF is a single seat, supersonic aircraft, incorporating advanced 'stealth' technology, that is capable of performing multi-role operations from aircraft carriers and land base. Analysis of the available options demonstrated that, on a through life basis, JSF should meet most cost-effectively our military requirements. It promises to be an outstanding aircraft.

The UK has been a full collaborative partner with the US in the Concept Development phase of the JSF programme since 1996. Today in Washington, the Minister for Defence Procurement has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US Government that covers the next phase of the programme, Engineering and Manufacturing Development.

On current plant, contracts are expected to be awarded for this phase of the programme later this year. Signature of the MoU will enable the UK to participate in the selection of the prime contractor, for which two consortia, one led by Boeing and the other by Lockheed Martin, are competing. Demonstrator aircraft from both consortia have successfully completed a series of initial flight trials.

The MoU covers only the next development phase of the programme. Defense Secretary Cohen and I have therefore agreed a set of principles that will provide a framework for UK involvement in the JSF programme in the longer term. The principles we have agreed will safeguard UK national interests, ensuring that we retain the military and industrial capability to manage the aircraft effectively through life.

UK participation as a full collaborative partner in the JSF programme will represent a significant opportunity for UK industry. UK companies have already played a significant role in the programme to date. They are well placed in both of the bidding consortia to win, on merit, substantial high quality work, both in the next phase and over the life of potentially the largest military procurement programme ever. Some 70 British companies including BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Smith Industries, Messier Dowty International, Cobham PLC, TRW ASG (Lucas Aerospace) and the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company are well placed in the bidding consortia to win subcontracts on merit.

The cost to the UK of the next programme phase will be of the order of £1.3 billion, plus a further £600 million worth of work to meet UK national requirements.

A number of our European allies are considering participation in the JSF programme. JSF will play a crucial part in developing the transatlantic partnership, in enhancing NATO interoperability and in improving European military capability.

JSF will form a major part of the UK's future offensive air capability, along with Eurofighter and other air systems, for several decades to come. It has not yet been decided how the total capability requirement will be met over that period. Nor has the JSF variant been decided at this stage that will best meet the UK's requirements, nor the numbers of aircraft that might eventually be

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purchased. For the Future Offensive Air Systems project, the MOD is continuing to study a range of options, including manned aircraft, cruise missiles and uninhabited combat air vehicles. Allied to these studies will be a programme of technology demonstration, some of which may be collaborative, offering scope for work by the UK aerospace industry.

I shall place in the Library, and on the MOD website, copies of the MoU relating to the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of JSF, and of my exchange of letters with Defense Secretary Cohen.

RAF Logistics

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to improve the logistics support for the Royal Air Force on deployed operations. [146336]

Mr. Spellar: The Strategic Defence Review identified the need for reinforcements of logistics support to the armed forces. As part of the continuing work to provide this, I have recently approved the expansion of 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron at RAF Stafford and the basing of the new Tactical Provost Wing of the RAF police at RAF Henlow.

2 Mechanical Transport Squadron will be expanded by up to an additional 120 Service personnel during financial year 2001-02. These resources will enhance the RAF's capability to deploy its own force by surface means, and, in particular, to establish and operate on a Joint, in-theatre Line of Communications.

The creation of Tactical Provost Wing at RAF Henlow will involve the recruitment of an extra 150 RAF police, 50 of them reserves, giving the capability to provide simultaneous coverage of two lines of communication in separate operational theatres. Their task will entail traditional military police skills involving reconnaissance, traffic control and policing of the supply routes, such as those used by 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron, into the operational theatre. The new wing is expected to be fully operational by spring 2002.

The expansion of 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron and the formation of the Tactical Provost Wing is good news for defence as they will make a significant contribution to improving the sustainability of our armed forces, particularly the Royal Air Force, on deployed operations. The creation of additional posts at RAF Stafford and RAF Henlow also makes good news for the stations and the local economics.

House Purchase Advance

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel take advantage of the Long Service Advance of Pay for house purchase; and what the current year's annual budget is for long service advance of pay. [145146]

Mr. Spellar: At present there are 13,757 personnel on the Long Service Advance of Pay (LSAP) scheme. In 1998-99, 2,711 advances were made; in 1999-2000, 2,876 were made; and during the period from April to December 2000, 2,015 have been made.

It is estimated that during 2000-01, long service advances of pay totalling £20.556 million will be made.

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Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many homes in Scotland are funded by means of the Long Service Advance of Pay. [145147]

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

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