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Security Costs

Mr. Dismore: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what was the cost of each of the last three years, of (a) the police officers and (b) the civilian court staff employed in the Parliamentary Estate; and if he will make a statement. [145725]

Mr. Kirkwood: Parliament has an agreement with the Metropolitan Police Services to provide security on the Parliamentary Estate.

Expenditure by the House of Commons for police officers and civilian staff including associated costs in the last three financial years, from 1997-98 to 1999-2000 are as follows: for 1997-98 £4.8 million for police officers and £5.8 million for civilian staff; for 1998-99 £5 million for police officers and £5.9 million for civilian staff; and for 1999-2000 £5.3 million for police officers and £5.8 million for civilian staff.


HIV/AIDS Drugs (Africa)

Mr. Allan: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had recently with the pharmaceutical industry concerning the supply of anti-HIV drugs to countries in Africa. [146067]

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what discussions she has had with pharmaceutical companies about making AIDS drugs available to developing countries at more affordable prices; and if she will make a statement. [146098]

Clare Short: The Department for International Development is in dialogue with the pharmaceutical industry, developing countries and the international community to try to reduce the cost of anti-retroviral therapies to treat HIV/AIDS in developing countries. The initiative by a group of pharmaceutical companies to reduce the cost of anti-retroviral therapies for developing countries was a positive step, but even at greatly reduced prices they remain unaffordable for many people in developing countries.

We are also working with developing countries to put in place basic primary health care systems in order to deliver basic drugs and other care to all in need. The drugs are complex to administer and require constant monitoring of the treatment regime. Many developing countries do not have primary health care systems and thus, whatever the price of drugs, have no means of delivering care to the poor.

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Labour Standards

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what steps she plans to take to ensure that the importation of goods to the United Kingdom from less developed countries will not adversely affect the poor through unjust working conditions, low wages and the lack of recognition of workers' rights. [145944]

Clare Short: The UK strongly endorses the efforts of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to extend the enforcement of core labour standards in all countries. For example, the UK ratified the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour in March 2000 and is working with the ILO to achieve the widest possible ratification and implementation worldwide. My Department is preparing a new Framework Agreement between DFID and the ILO.

There is no evidence that increased exports from poor countries lower labour standards. On the contrary: increased exports help support economic growth which is essential to the reduction of poverty.

World Trade Organisation

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development in what ways her Department is seeking change in World Trade Organisation policies to benefit the poorest countries and to achieve the international development targets and a more equitable trading system. [145942]

Clare Short: My Department is pushing for a new trade Round that will help developing countries reduce poverty. This includes substantial cuts in high tariffs and in trade-distorting subsidies. The Government will also support an approach that recognises more explicitly that WTO members are at different stages of development. We

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will double our commitment to capacity building for developing countries to help them negotiate and implement commitments more effectively. We have also urged the WTO to adopt the International Development Targets.


Gulf Veterans

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the latest figures are for mortality rates among (a) Gulf veterans and (b) the comparison group. [146850]

Mr. Spellar: Peer reviewed scientific data comparing the mortality of UK Gulf veterans to an era group of service personnel who did not deploy to the Gulf were published for the first time in The Lancet on 1 July 2000. An update to these figures was provided by the Ministry of Defence to the House on 20 July 2000. The Ministry of Defence has undertaken to continue to monitor the mortality of both Gulf veterans and the era group and will publish updated figures on a regular basis. The figures as at 31 December 2000 are shown in the table.

Overall, in the period 1 April 1999 to 31 December 2000 the mortality of UK Gulf veterans was only slightly greater than that of the Control group. The number of Gulf veterans dying from disease related causes is rather less than for the control group, whereas the number of Gulf veterans dying of external causes is rather higher than for the control group. The Ministry of Defence will conduct a more detailed analysis of road traffic accidents, to establish whether there are any underlying trends that might help explain this excess.

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Deaths to UK Gulf veterans 1 April 1991-31 December 2000(7)
Causes (coded to ICD-9)(8)

ICD chapterCause of deathGulfEraMortality rate ratio
All deaths4774661.03
All cause coded deaths4684571.04
I-XVIDisease-related causes1682080.82
IInfectious and parasitic diseases321.52
IIIEndocrine and immune disorders140.25
VMental disorders8110.74
VIDiseases of the nervous system and sense organs741.77
VIIDiseases of the circulatory system60790.77
VIIIDiseases of the respiratory system951.82
IXDiseases of the digestive system6120.51
IV, X-XVIAll other disease-related causes5140.36
EXVIIExternal causes of injury and poisoning3002491.22
Railway accidents414.04
Motor vehicle accidents109851.30
Water transport accidents414.04
Air and space accidents25171.49
Other vehicle accidents020.00
Accidental poisoning9120.76
Accidental falls861.35
Accidents due to fire/flames010.00
Accidents due to natural environmental factors221.01
Accidents due to submersion/suffocation/foreign bodies1562.53
Other accidents31261.21
Late effects of accident/injury020.00
Suicide and injury undetermined whether accidental85801.07
Injury resulting from the operations of war340.76
Other deaths for which coded cause data are not yet available99--
Overseas deaths for which cause data are not available23--

(7) Service and Ex-Service personnel only.

(8) World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases 9th revision, 1977.

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Joint Strike Fighter

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence by what date he proposes to make a decision on United Kingdom participation in the engineering and manufacturing development phase of the Joint Strike Fighter project. [143328]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 17 January 2001, Official Report, columns 226-28W to my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Stinchcombe).

Depleted Uranium

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to monitor the findings of NATO allies about depleted uranium monitoring in the Balkans. [144670]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 15 January 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Chaytor) on 15 January 2001, Official Report, columns 41-42W. The UK will take an active part in the further steps announced by the Secretary General of NATO on 10 January 2001. Participation in this further work will give the UK full visibility of the findings of NATO allies.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on Lord Robertson's speech given in Stockholm relating to the effect on peace-keepers serving in international missions in the Balkans of depleted uranium. [146435]

Mr. Hoon: The NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, issued a statement on depleted uranium on 10 January 2001, for further details of this statement I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, North (Mr. Chaytor) on 15 January 2001, Official Report, columns 41-42W. The Ministry of Defence has welcomed the NATO measures which were outlined in this statement. I understand that Lord Robertson reiterated NATO's view on depleted uranium during a press conference in Stockholm on 11 January 2001.

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action his Department is taking to review its policy towards depleted uranium in Iraq. [145236]

Mr. Spellar: The Ministry of Defence does not have information about the current levels of depleted uranium (DU) in Iraq. Although we are well aware of suggestions that the use of DU-based ammunition during the Gulf conflict has caused an increase in ill-health, including

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deformities, cancers and birth defects, in Iraq, especially around Basra, Al Zubayr and Um Qasr, we have not so far seen any peer-reviewed epidemiological research, or any other properly validated research, to support these claims. Furthermore, there is no evidence that illnesses of the type reported are uniquely associated with or indeed consistent with exposure to DU. Of course, the Government would consider carefully any reliable medical or scientific data that may emerge concerning the incidence of ill health in Iraq.

UK tanks, which were equipped with DU-based rounds during the 1990-91 Gulf conflict, did not operate in those areas of southern Iraq in which it has been suggested that there is an increased level of ill health compared to other areas of the country.

We understand the World Health Organisation (WHO) is in discussion with the Government of Iraq about three proposals to improve health in Iraq. The proposals, which are still in the outline stage, focus on the improvement of health planning, the building of training links between Iraqi health personnel and outside health institutions, and improvement of research and treatment of emerging diseases, such as cancers. We understand that the Government of Iraq have agreed the proposals. The WHO will now presumably approach donors for funding. The Department for International Development has already indicated that it will consider funding for projects aimed at improving epidemiological data on, and health care planning, in Iraq--provided that these meet their project criteria. If implemented, these projects should provide valuable information on the health needs of the Iraqi population.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British troops and medical auxiliaries have been subject to exposure to depleted uranium from NATO and allied forces in (a) Iraq, (b) Kuwait, (c) Bosnia, (d) Kosovo and (e) other parts of the Balkans, arising from military conflicts in those areas in the last five years. [145292]

Mr. Spellar: There is no evidence of which the Ministry of Defence is aware to suggest that any allied or NATO troops or civilians have suffered any exposure to depleted uranium that might be harmful. No specific data exist on individuals' possible exposure to depleted uranium, either in the Gulf or the Balkans. However, in recognition of the fact that recent press coverage will have caused some concerns among our people, I announced an initiative to identify an additional appropriate voluntary screening programme for our Service personnel and civilians who have served in the Balkans--9 January 2001, Official Report, columns 877-90. We will do this

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on the basis of the best available science. We will consult appropriate national bodies including the UK National Screening Committee of the UK Departments of Health and the Royal Society. It is our intention that this screening programme should be equally applicable to Gulf veterans.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out the reason for the year-by-year variation in the testing of depleted uranium shells since 1995. [145297]

Mr. Spellar: I will assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Morgan) on 19 June 2000, Official Report, column 27W.

The 120 mm anti-armour round Challenger Armament 3 (CHARM 3) for Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank was in development at the beginning of this period and was the only ammunition with DU content being fired at Kirkcudbright ranges. Firing peaked in 1997 with a Biases Trial to establish weapon system accuracy. Most of the subsequent firing was part of the proofing regime for production rounds that will be complete by September 2001.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what communication he has received from the Royal Society in respect of its current inquiry into the effects of the military use of depleted uranium on human health and the environment. [145288]

Mr. Spellar: At the Royal Society's request, two sessions of Ministry of Defence evidence were held as part of its ongoing inquiry. My Department has also received two letters from the Royal Society and of course will be in consultation with them and others about the screening programme I announced on 9 January 2001, Official Report, columns 877-90. I understand that the Royal Society plan to publish their report in the summer of this year.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what response he has made to the representations made to him by the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association over exposure to military personnel of depleted uranium in Operation Granby in 1991. [145291]

Mr. Spellar: On 8 September 1999, following a meeting with veterans, I announced that the Ministry of Defence was offering to re-test those veterans who had been tested in Canada for depleted uranium. In November 1999 a draft protocol under which this testing might be carried out was put before veterans associations, including the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association (NGV&FA), for discussion. Regrettably, the NGV&FA has not appeared willing to discuss this proposal for testing with us. It is our intention that the screening initiative I announced in the House on 9 January 2001, Official Report, columns 877-90 should be equally applicable to Gulf veterans.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if his Department is monitoring the health checks being conducted by Spain, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Norway, France and Belgium, on peacekeeper troops who may have come into contact with depleted uranium whilst deployed in the Balkans; [145289]

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Mr. Spellar: In my statement to the House on 9 January 2001, Official Report, columns 877-90, I stressed the importance of co-ordinating our approach with allies. The Ministry of Defence, both independently and through NATO, is therefore monitoring very closely the health checks being proposed or conducted by our allies on troops who believe they may have been exposed to depleted uranium (DU). The North Atlantic Council met on 10 January 2001 to consider the possible health effects associated with the use of DU munitions. After that meeting, the Secretary General affirmed that NATO allies are committed to ensuring the health and safety of their Service personnel and to avoiding any ill-effects for the civilian population and personnel of the non- governmental organisations as a result of NATO military operations. Allies agreed that NATO should continue to co-operate fully with investigations by nations or multinational organisations on the possible effects of exposure; to produce information on the use of DU munitions during operation Deny Flight and Deliberate Force in 1994 and 1995; and to consult fully with all present and past NATO SFOR and KFOR contributing countries.

On 15 January 2001, the NATO Chiefs of Medical Military Services Committee (COMEDS), the senior medical advisory committee of NATO, held a meeting to discuss the health concerns of Balkan peacekeepers. At this meeting, a common NATO medical approach was agreed. This was that each nation should analyse the mortality rates of its Service personnel; analyse the rate of illness among its Balkans veterans; compare them with control groups and national matched statistics, and correlate the collection of morbidity data with known health hazards in theatre.

A NATO meeting was also held on 16 January 2001 to establish a working group to act as a clearing house for the exchange of information, between the allies and more widely, on any health risks associated with the use of DU munitions.

While this activity has arisen in the context of concerns about use of depleted uranium in the Balkans, the discussions are also relevant to the suggested health effects of DU in the Gulf.

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines his Department follows when deciding at which sites depleted uranium munitions may be (a) fired, (b) stored and (c) transported. [144989]

Mr. Spellar: The land firing of Depleted Uranium (DU) munitions has been concentrated at two MOD ranges in the UK; at Kirkcudbright in Dumfries and Galloway, and Eskmeals in Cumbria. The Statutory Regulations which govern the use of DU on all ranges in the UK are the Radioactive Substance Act 1993, which controls radioactive waste discharges to the environment and the Ionising Radiation Regulations published in December 1999 which came into effect on 1 January 2000. These are part of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 and enforced by the Health and Safety Executive. The firings are conducted with the full

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knowledge of the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. In addition, the MOD Explosive, Storage and Transport Committee lays down the policy and standards for the storage and transportation of all conventional military explosives held by the UK MOD and this includes DU munitions. These standards are then enshrined as necessary in Single Service regulations and working practices.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations have been received from the campaign against depleted uranium. [145295]

Mr. Spellar: My Department received a letter from the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU) dated 9 January 2001 and is in the process of replying.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research is being conducted by (a) his Department and (b) DERA into alternatives to the use of depleted uranium munitions. [145298]

Mr. Spellar: The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency has been investigating, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, a range of materials as possible alternatives for depleted uranium (DU) which is used in ammunition for the Challenger II battle tank. The research over the past few years has focused on studying the physical characteristics of DU alloys that make them especially effective in battlefield engagement. Based on this knowledge, the suitability of alternative materials is being assessed.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the toxic effects on the liver of the ingestion of particles of depleted uranium. [145276]

Mr. Spellar: None. The level of chemical toxicity of depleted uranium (DU) is similar to that of other heavy metals such as lead. Much research has been done into heavy metal poisoning and its effects are well understood. If soluble particles of DU were to be ingested, this could indeed give rise to health problems. However, this is very unlikely, as the DU residues found on the battlefield are generally in the form of solid fragments or relatively insoluble oxides. Should any of these oxides be ingested, most would pass straight through the body and so the risk of any health effects arising from such exposure is negligible. Kidney damage is the chief indication of heavy metal poisoning. The incidence of kidney disease among the 3,000 or so patients who have been to the Gulf Veterans Medical Assessment Programme is no higher than would be expected in the general population.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department has reviewed the evidence presented to inquiries held by the United States Congress into the potential hazards of the use of depleted uranium munitions. [145296]

Mr. Spellar: My Department works closely with our US counterparts and follows developments there attentively, including inquiries held by Congress.

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out where the signal message on depleted uranium hazards dated 25 February 1991 from his Department, to which he referred in his answer

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to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) of 30 November 2000, Official Report, columns 727-28W, was found. [145294]

Mr. Spellar: The signal referred to was found in the private papers of the Commander Medical who served in the Gulf with 1 Armoured Division. Copies were not found in any official records held by my Department.

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if depleted uranium shells have been transported by (a) air, (b) road and (c) rail to (i) Aberporth, (ii) Llanbedr and (iii) Sennybridge; [144985]

Mr. Spellar: Depleted uranium shells have not been transported by air, road or rail to Aberporth, Llanbedr or Sennybridge. Neither have depleted uranium shells been stored or fired at these locations.

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are to substitute depleted uranium rounds with other equally penetrative rounds. [146296]

Mr. Hoon: There is currently no plan to replace the depleted uranium penetrator in the CHARM 3 round used in the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank. At present this penetrator outperforms all known alternatives. The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) is continuing to conduct research into the potential of alternative materials.

In 1990 we commenced the replacement of depleted uranium rounds for the Phalanx naval close-in weapon with tungsten rounds. In this system tungsten provides an equally effective capability at lower cost. It was possible to use tungsten in this case because the system does not rely specifically on the penetrative capabilities afforded by depleted uranium. This is not the case for the CHARM 3 round.

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