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National Air Traffic Services Ltd.

Angela Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he has received advice from the economic regulation group of the Civil Aviation Authority on the economic regulatory regime for the public/private partnership for National Air Traffic Services Ltd.; and if he will make a statement. [147157]

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Mr. Mullin: The monopoly services provided by the National Air Traffic Services Ltd. public/private partnership will be subject to price regulation by the RPI-X method, which is the standard model for monopoly regulation in the United Kingdom. The charge cap, or "X" factor, will be set for a period of five years and will, for the first five year period only, be set by the Government.

We received advice from the CAA in August which set out how they proposed to approach the economic regulation of NATS and recommended that the "X" factor for NATS' UK monopoly services be set at 5 per cent. per year for each of the first five years. We have considered this advice carefully, alongside representations from NATS and the projections of bidders as the sale process developed, and have decided to set charge capping at 2.2 per cent. for 2001, 3.0 per cent. for 2002, 4.0 per cent. for 2003, and 5.0 per cent. for each of 2004 and 2005. There will thus be a progressive tightening across the initial years following the introduction of the PPP.

Furthermore, since delays are a major concern to airlines, we have decided that the charge cap should include a delay term, so that the "X" factor will automatically tighten, thereby reducing NATS' revenues, if delays increase beyond their present level. We are setting the maximum delay term at £2 million per year for 2001-02, and £5.7 million per year for 2003-05.

The CAA's advice on the charge cap was based on a well-considered and comprehensive analysis of NATS' operational and investment plans and the potential for efficiency savings. And we are satisfied that the advice fully reflected the Government's, and the CAA's, commitment to giving the highest priority to safety.

In reaching our decision, we have been concerned to achieve a smooth transition to the PPP, which we believe will be encouraged by such price control in its first few years. This will better enable NATS' management to focus on getting the change and investment programmes right during the early years of the PPP, including the commissioning of the Swanwick Centre, the development of the New Scottish Centre, and further investment in the capacity wanted by airlines.

NATS' management accept that efficiency gains of the level required to meet the charge cap we are setting, while challenging, are achievable without detriment to NATS operations.

Policy Action Teams

Mr. White: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions when he intends to make available an audit of how the recommendations made by the 18 policy action teams have been implemented. [147158]

Ms Armstrong: A report by the Social Exclusion Unit, "The National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal: Policy Action Team Audit" will be published tomorrow and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Eighteen Policy Action Teams (PATs) were set up in 1998 to fast track policy development on some of the most intractable problems facing deprived neighbourhoods and had all reported by April 2000.

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It is a companion document to "A New Commitment to Neighbourhood Renewal: the National Strategy Action Plan" that was published on 15 January. The work and recommendations of the Policy Action Teams formed the foundation on which the National Strategy Action Plan is built.

Collectively, the PATs made almost six hundred recommendations, the majority of which are now part of Government policy. The document that will be published tomorrow reports on progress in implementing these recommendations and gives details about which Departments are responsible for ensuring their continued implementation.

Listed Buildings

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many listed buildings are used primarily as places of worship, broken down by religious affiliation. [146323]

Mr. Alan Howarth: I have been asked to reply.

There are 14,802 listed buildings in England that are currently being used, or have previously been used, as places of worship. Our records do not provide a comprehensive breakdown of this figure by religious affiliation.



Ann Clwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what discussions he has had with the First Secretary about funding for disease modifying therapies for relapsing/ remitting MS. [145078]

Mr. Paul Murphy: I meet the First Secretary regularly to discuss a range of issues, including the Health Service in Wales.

I understand that decisions about the funding of particular forms of treatment are matters for individual Health Authorities and NHS Trusts within the broad framework of their Long Term Agreements.

Barnett Formula

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the current value is of the block grant under the Barnett Formula to central Government funding for Wales; what it was in 1997-98; and what the forecast is for 2003-04. [145198]

Mr. Paul Murphy: The current value of the Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL) for the National Assembly for Wales is £7.7 billion. In 1997-98 it was £6.5 billion and in 2003-04 it is forecast to be £9.8 billion.


Contracting Arrangements (Scotland)

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to advertise the proposed prime contracting arrangements for Scotland. [147205]

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Dr. Moonie: Firms are to be given an opportunity to express an interest in the Prime Contract for property management and capital works programmes associated with the Defence estate in Scotland (sometimes called the One Stop Shop, Scotland). The advert will appear in the Defence Estates Works Services Opportunities Bulletin on 24 January.

The Regional Prime Contract Scotland represents a new and innovative way of doing business for Government and the Ministry of Defence. It will involve a single arrangement between the MOD and a contractor and is based around collaborative working. The MOD is in the vanguard of wider Government initiatives aimed to change the construction industry, and provide better quality of service and greater value for money.

Iraq (No-fly Zone)

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's estimate is of the number of Iraqi civilians killed as a result of coalition aircraft responding to threats in (a) the northern and (b) the southern no-fly zone in Iraq between (i) 1 April 1991 and 16 December 1998 and (ii) since 20 December 1998 through (A) collateral damage, (B) attack on an unintended target and (C) malfunction of ordnance; what percentage of attacks in the no-fly zones resulted in civilian casualties over each of these periods, and if he will make a statement. [145423]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the right hon. and learned Member to the answer I gave on 6 June 2000, Official Report, columns 168-69W.

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions coalition aircraft patrolling the (a) northern and (b) southern no-fly zone in Iraq have hit targets different from the intended target since 20 December 1998; on what dates each attack took place; what percentage these represented of overall attacks during this period; and if he will make a statement. [145425]

Mr. Hoon: The coalition goes to exceptional lengths to avoid hitting anything other than the intended target, including through the use of very strict target clearance procedures and precision guided munitions. We also routinely conduct painstaking battle damage assessment after every bomb is dropped. For these reasons we are confident that, in the vast majority of cases, ordnance released by coalition aircraft lands on or very close to its intended target.

I am withholding detailed information on the activity undertaken by coalition aircraft in accordance with Part II of Section 1c of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

For the period 20 December 1998 to 12 May 2000, I refer the right hon. and learned Member to my answer to his question on 6 June 2000, Official Report, columns 168-69W. There have been no further occasions of ordnance from UK aircraft appearing to hit unintended targets. The weapons released on these two previous occasions still represents some 1 per cent. of ordnance released by UK over this period.

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Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions (a) coalition and (b) UK aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone in Iraq have released ordnance in response to violations since 1 November 2000 indicating in percentage terms for this period the (i) nature of the threat, (ii) category of the target attacked and (iii) tonnage of ordnance released on each category of target (A) in total and (B) as proportion of the overall tonnage released in this period; and if he will make a statement. [145461]

Mr. Hoon: Between 1 November 2000 and 12 January 2001 coalition aircrew conducting legitimate humanitarian patrols in the southern no-fly zone were directly threatened by the Iraqi air defence forces on 24 occasions and responded in self-defence on nine occasions against Iraqi military facilities posing a direct threat to coalition forces. UK aircraft released ordnance on four occasions. Details of the threats to coalition aircraft, broken down by percentage, are:

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions since 20 December 1998 his Department has been able to verify the claims of civilian casualties due to coalition aircraft activity over the no-fly zones made by the Government of Iraq; what percentage of Iraqi claims of civilian dead his Department considers to be accurate in relation to (a) number of dead and (b) occasions when coalition activity has resulted in casualties; and if he will make a statement. [145468]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence has no objective means of verifying Iraqi claims of civilian casualties. I am not therefore in a position to provide the precise information requested by the right hon. and learned Member.

Coalition aircraft conducting legitimate, entirely humanitarian patrols of the Iraqi no-fly zones are being repeatedly attacked by Iraqi forces. Faced with these acts of aggression coalition aircraft, acting entirely in self-defence, only ever target Iraqi military facilities that pose an immediate and serious threat to their safety. It is deeply regrettable that they are forced to take this action, but they are only acting in self-defence. The risk of civilian casualties is always a major consideration during the very careful target selection process and only precision-guided weapons are used where there is any risk of civilian casualties.

As the right hon. and learned Member implies, Saddam Hussein routinely claims that civilian casualties have been caused as a result of coalition activity over the no-fly zones. It is in his interests to do so. We learnt long ago not to give too much credence to these allegations. We conduct careful battle damage assessment (BDA) after every incident; this analysis demonstrates in the majority of cases that the coalition weapons have, acting in self-defence, in fact hit their intended military target. The

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Iraqis regularly claim that there have been civilian casualties on days when the coalition has not even patrolled, let alone dropped any ordnance, and we know that they routinely claim that civilians have been killed when the casualties were actually military personnel. We know also that Saddam has claimed the coalition was responsible for casualties that were in fact caused by Iraqi air defence weapons.

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