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Porton Down

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Chemical Defence Establishment, Porton Down, has to conduct research to establish whether single doses of the Oripavine derivative TL2636 can cause long-term effects on the health of humans. [159801]

Dr. Moonie: The Chemical and Biological Defence Sector of DERA at Porton Down currently has no plans to undertake any further research concerning the effects of exposure to single doses of the Oripavine derivative TL2636 on the health of humans.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if staff at the Medical Assessment Programme are entitled to request and receive classified and unclassified information from the Chemical Defence Establishment, Porton Down about experiments which have taken place at the establishment; and if he will make a statement. [160064]

Dr. Moonie: Yes.

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if former service personnel who took part in experiments at the Chemical Defence Establishment, Porton Down are entitled to a complete copy of the medical report assessing their health after they have attended the Medical Assessment Programme. [160063]

Dr. Moonie: For reasons of medical procedure, to ensure continuity with volunteers existing health care arrangements, all referrals to the Medical Assessment Programme must be made through a GP or other health professional (eg a consultant physician). As such the results of the Medical Assessment Programme consultation, with any recommendations for treatment, are reported back to the volunteer's general practitioner or referring consultant. However, a copy is provided to the individual, if requested.

Mr. Opik: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what investigations he has undertaken of reported losses of viruses from Porton Down in the past year. [159724]

Dr. Moonie: There have been no losses of viruses from the Chemical and Biological Defence Sector of DERA at Porton Down in the past year.

3 May 2001 : Column: 717W

I believe that the hon. Member is referring to comments made in a report which appeared in the Sunday Express on 8 April alleging that a vial of foot and mouth virus had been stolen from Porton Down. No foot and mouth viruses have been stolen from CBD Porton Down, nor have samples of foot and mouth virus been held at CBD Porton Down in the past year.

US Military Personnel (Compensation)

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 9 April 2001, Official Report, column 368, regarding the United States military Department's liaison officer in Washington, what assessment he has made of the need to gather information on United States' arrangements for paying compensation to veterans who participated in chemical warfare trials in the United States. [160062]

Dr. Moonie: None.

Atlantic Patrol

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which ships this year are allocated to the (a) Atlantic Patrol Task (North) and (b) Atlantic Patrol Task (South); and when the ships will be on station. [159713]

Mr. Spellar: The ships allocated to the Atlantic Patrol Task (North) and Atlantic Patrol Task (South) during this year, and when the ships are scheduled to be on station is as follows:

Atlantic Patrol Task (North)

ShipOn station
HMS Sheffield22 February 2001-24 July 2001
HMS Coventry24 July 2001-16 November 2001

3 May 2001 : Column: 718W

HMS Coventry is scheduled to hand over Atlantic Patrol Task (North) duty to HMS Argyll on 3 December 2001. HMS Argyll will then be held at 14 days notice to deploy to the centre of the area of operations to where she is scheduled to deploy in mid-February 2002.

Atlantic Patrol Task (South)

ShipOn station
HMS Iron Duke25 September 2000-15 February 2001
HMS Glasgow15 February 2001-30 July 2001
HMS Edinburgh30 July 2001-31 October 2001
HMS Montrose31 October 2001-11 March 2002

International Festival of the Sea

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which veterans' organisations will be present at the International Festival of the Sea; and how much each organisation is being charged to display at the festival. [159715]

Mr. Hoon: The veterans associations and related maritime charities attending the International Festival of the Sea, and the charges raised, are given in the table.

3 May 2001 : Column: 717W

OrganisationStand typeCharges raised (£)
King George V Fund for Sailors (KGFS)-the Festival's nominated charity--0
Royal Naval AssociationIndoor1,247.85
St. Dunstan's (for blind ex-servicemen and women)Indoor835.43
Royal Sailors RestIndoor623.93
RN Enthusiasts SocietyOutdoor352.50
Mission to SeafarersIndoor835.43
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA)Outdoor352.50
British and International Sailors AssociationGeorgian Market211.50
Naval Personnel and Family Service (RN organisation so no charge)--0

3 May 2001 : Column: 717W

The event is designed to be self-financing. All non-Service organisations, including charities, are offered the same rates based on a standard charge per m 2 of display space.

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Royal Navy ships will be present at the International Festival of the Sea. [159716]

Mr. Hoon: The third International Festival of the Sea will be held in Portsmouth Naval Base between 24 and 27 August 2001.

It is planned that, operational requirements permitting, the following Royal Navy ships will be present:


Royal Fleet Auxiliary

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans he has for the replacement of the Leaf class tankers currently in service with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary; [159718]

3 May 2001 : Column: 718W

Dr. Moonie: We are currently considering options on how best to provide, in the medium to long term, afloat support for the future Royal Navy, including the capabilities currently provided by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary's Leaf class tankers, which are currently planned to leave service between 2008 and 2009.

BAe Systems Marine are building two Auxiliary Oilers (AOs), Wave Knight and Wave Ruler, for the Ministry of Defence, which we expect to enter service in 2002. These ships will provide the fast fleet tanker capability formerly supplied by RFAs Olna and Olwen. The company has suggested that two further AOs could contribute to meeting the future afloat support needs of the Royal Navy. Alongside the wider studies into afloat support, we are currently evaluating whether further AOs would be a cost-effective solution to our future capability needs.

HMS Beaver

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proceeds were derived from the disposal of HMS Beaver. [159720]

3 May 2001 : Column: 719W

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 4 April 2001, Official Report, column 199W. HMS Beaver has been sold to the commercial market as scrap. Receipts for the vessel were achieved by means of a sealed competitive tender and, given that other ships in this class may be offered to the commercial market, the actual price must remain "commercial-in-confidence" so as not to prejudice future activities.

Gulf War (Meningitis Vaccine)

Miss Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on investigations into illness suffered by British troops who received the meningitis vaccine in preparation for service during the Gulf war; if the meningitis vaccine contained the Pertussis vaccine; and which company manufactured this vaccine. [159872]

Dr. Moonie: Up to around 5,000 Service personnel who deployed to the Gulf in 1990-91 may have received immunisation against meningococcal meningitis A and C. Initially, in August 1990, immunisation was recommended for all personnel who were to serve in the Gulf. However, by 15 September 1990, the immunisation was no longer recommended except for medical personnel and some other categories of personnel who may have been at risk.

Research sponsored by the Ministry of Defence has not specifically investigated a link between the meningitis vaccine and the subsequent ill health of Gulf veterans, and the Ministry of Defence is unaware of any reported association between the vaccine and subsequent ill health (with the exception of the known side effects). The meningitis vaccine did not contain the pertussis (whopping cough) vaccine.

The pertussis vaccine was used separately as part of the anti Biological Warfare immunisation programme as an adjuvant to accelerate the immunisation effect of the anthrax vaccine. There were two main suppliers of the meningitis vaccine. One supplier, Pasteur Merieux MSD, was the manufacturer of the product supplied. The other supplier was SmithKline Beecham; however we have yet to confirm the manufacturer. When we have done so, I will write to my hon. Friend and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.


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