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HMS Excellent

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent at HMS Excellent in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [155801]

Mr. Spellar: The operating and major works costs for HMS Excellent over the last five years are set out in the table:

£ million

Financial yearOperating costsMajor works costs

Defence Training Review

Mr. Salter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Defence Training Review. [155985]

Mr. Hoon: Training is crucial to the success of our armed forces, and of the business of the Ministry of Defence itself. It represents a resource investment of some £4.2 billion each year. Increasingly, we face new challenges and it is vital to ensure that our training continues to meet our needs and is cost-effective. Against this background, my predecessor announced on 22 July 1999, Official Report, columns 614-615W that he had ordered a fundamental review of education and individual training. This review has now concluded and its report, entitled "Modernising Defence Training", is published today. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

The key findings of the review are that, overall, our training and education are of high quality, as demonstrated by operational successes, most recently in Kosovo and Sierra Leone. Improvements are nevertheless required to ensure that we have a training and education system to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The report therefore sets out a coherent set of measures designed to deliver a training and education system that is better integrated, aligned to operational and business needs, responsive to change and cost-effective.

To reflect changing operational priorities, in particular those which emerged from the Strategic Defence Review, the report proposes more joint training between the services, and more multinational and inter-agency training for individuals at all levels. In line with the modernising government initiative, we will introduce improvements to civilian training and to leadership and management training, and will make the leadership expertise of MOD and the armed services more widely available as a resource for the UK as a whole. We will exploit the opportunities provided by new technology to make training better and more accessible, in particular through the expansion of e-learning.

We also propose significant improvements in the field of education. The Royal College of Defence Studies, the Joint Command and Staff College and the Royal Military

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College of Science, with two new organisations--a Joint Services Warrant Officers School and a Defence Leadership Centre--will be brought together to form a Defence Academy, which we intend to become a national and international centre of excellence for postgraduate education and research. We plan to set up a defence sixth-form college and a defence undergraduate bursary scheme to boost recruitment of engineers and scientists, and to introduce a programme of progressive civilian accreditation of defence education and training. A common theme behind many of our proposals is the need not only to prepare our service and civilian personnel for the tasks we require of them, but to support their personal development, in line with the Government's commitment to lifelong learning, which is already enshrined in the learning forces initiative. This will help recruitment and retention, and also--recognising that for most people the services will not be their only career--provide transferable skills and qualifications that will enhance the national skills base.

We have identified significant scope for improving coherence and cost-effectiveness through training and estate rationalisation, in particular by delivering a significant proportion of specialist training in new defence schools, either joint or lead service, rather than on an individual basis. As well as eliminating duplication, this would improve the quality of training, particularly that in support of joint forces and operations. This will be investigated further by project definition teams over the next 12 months. Subject to the outcome of this work, we believe that the rationalisation programme will result in more cost-effective training and will free resources both to fund improvements we have identified and for defence as a whole.

Finally, to drive through and sustain all of these improvements we will establish a Director General Training and Education, who will provide a central strategy and policy focus.

The review has been comprehensive and wide-ranging, and has been conducted in close consultation with all interested parties both within the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces, and outside, including allies. The resulting proposals will build on our existing strengths to provide a better focused and more effective training and education system, ensuring that our service-men and women and civil servants receive the training and education they need to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and helping to maintain this country's reputation for professional, effective and successful armed forces.

Depleted Uranium

Mr. Russell Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what responses have been received to his Department's consultative document on screening arrangements for service personnel and civilians who have served in the Balkans and the Gulf and who are concerned about exposure to depleted uranium; and if he will make a statement. [155986]

Dr. Moonie: I am pleased to say that we have received a total of 32 very helpful and constructive responses to our consultative document on the technical aspects of a screening programme. These are being used in the development of plans for the next stage of work. We now

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plan to publish a second consultative document with our proposals by 11 April. This is a little later than we had hoped, but the change is necessary if we are to take proper account of the comments we have received.

Chemical Weapons

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he requested Professor Peter Lachmann to subject to peer review his report into the zinc cadmium sulphide trials which was published in March 2000; and if he will make a statement. [154792]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence commissioned Professor Peter Lachmann and his colleagues to produce a report of their independent findings for publication. The report was published and a copy placed in the Library of the House on 24 March 2000. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 13 December 2000, Official Report, column 165W, which referred to the separate matter of the subsequent plan of Professor Lachmann and his colleagues to submit to a scientific journal a scientific paper, based on the report, for peer review and possible publication. This is a matter for Professor Lachmann and his colleagues. Peer review is a normal part of the process of publishing such papers in scientific journals.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what requests for assistance in dealing with foot and mouth disease have been received from other Government Departments. [155557]

Mr. Spellar: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 26 March 2001, Official Report, column 521W.

Compensation Claims

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many claims from (a) UK and (b) non-UK citizens for compensation are outstanding against his Department because of accidents; how many claims have been outstanding for more than (i) one, (ii) two and (iii) three years; and if he will make a statement; [155795]

Dr. Moonie: The number of claims for compensation outstanding against the Ministry of Defence from UK and non-UK citizens as a result of injury caused by accidents as at 23 March 2001 is as follows:

OutstandingUK citizensNon-UK citizens
Less than one year14838
More than one year759
More than two years312
More than three years302

These figures relate to public liability claims against the Ministry of Defence and therefore exclude claims from service personnel and civilian employees.

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The number of claims for compensation outstanding against the Ministry of Defence from service personnel who received injuries in service was 1,596 at 23 March 2001. Of these 652 have been outstanding for less than one year, 413 for more than one year, 214 for more than two years and 317 for more than three years.

The number of claims for compensation outstanding against the Ministry of Defence from civilian employees who received injuries as the result of work-related accidents is as follows:

OutstandingCivilian employees
Less than one year204
More than one year386
More than two years243

When compensation claims are submitted, they are considered on the basis of whether or not the Ministry of Defence has a legal liability to pay compensation. Where there is a legal liability to pay compensation we do so. The time taken to settle a claim is dependent on a number of factors including the complexity of the case as it relates to determining liability and the nature of the injury, which can range from simple bruises or fractures, for example, to catastrophic injuries where the long-term medical prognosis cannot be assessed for some considerable time.

In line with all other defendants, the Ministry of Defence is bound by the Civil Procedure Rules introduced on 26 April 1999, which specify time scales for the handling of claims. The courts have the power to impose financial sanctions against defendants for non-compliance with the rules. No such sanctions have been imposed against the Ministry of Defence.

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