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Mr. Soames: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 4 July. [2225]

The Prime Minister: This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I will have further such meetings later today.

Disabled People

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on ministerial responsibilities for disabled people; and what arrangements he has made for cross-departmental consultation on issues affecting disabled people. [1864]

The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Boswell) on 3 July 2001, Official Report, column 92W. As the ministerial code makes clear, it is the responsibility of the initiating Department in any area of policy to ensure that proposals have been discussed with other interested Departments. Baroness Morgan has responsibility for cross-cutting equality issues.

4 Jul 2001 : Column: 181W


Walton Group

Mrs. Ellman: To ask the Solicitor-General what discussions the Crown Prosecution Service has held with Merseyside police serious fraud squad concerning the investigation of the Walton Group in relation to Exchange Flags Liverpool; and if she will make a statement. [1697]

The Solicitor-General: The Serious Fraud Office was consulted by the Merseyside police in October 2000 concerning allegations of fraud in relation to the Walton Group plc. An extended vetting inquiry followed including examination of available files and evidence as well as meetings with Merseyside police and English Partnerships.

After careful consideration, it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to justify an investigation under section 1 of the Criminal Justice Act 1987.


Defence Military Assistance Fund

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will provide a breakdown of the expenditure under the defence military assistance fund relating to (a) Zimbabwe, (b) South Africa, (c) Jordan, (d) Egypt, (e) Pakistan, (f) Indonesia, (g) Brazil, (h) Kuwait, (i) Malaysia, (j) Nigeria, (k) Oman, (l) Taiwan, (m) Thailand, (n) Turkey and (o) the United Arab Emirates for (i) 1997–98, (ii) 1998–99 and (iii) 1999–2000 indicating separately the amounts used to support defence sales. [1309]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence's financial systems that were in place for the years in question cannot provide precise details of actual defence assistance fund (DAF) expenditure. (The DAF was formerly known as the defence military assistance fund—DMAF). However, the level of DAF funding approved and committed for each of the subject countries is known and is detailed as follows.


South Africa86,89852,200139,098
United Arab Emirates8,120785,500793,620
South Africa212,293102,900315,193
United Arab Emirates12,129440,000452,129
South Africa938,261193,0001,131,261
United Arab Emirates23,526242,873266,399

4 Jul 2001 : Column: 182W

Ballistic Missiles

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment his Department has made of the risks posed by long-range missile attacks. [2296]

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library what risk assessment of ballistic missile attack on the UK from (a) North Korea, (b) Iran, (c) Iraq, (d) Libya and (e) Syria has been made; and what assessment has been made of the potential of these countries to develop inventories of (i) global medium-range, (ii) intermediate range and (iii) inter- continental range ballistic missile. [329]

Mr. Hoon: We assess that there is currently no significant ballistic missile threat to the mainland of the United Kingdom. We do, however, continue to monitor developments closely, particularly as they might affect deployed forces.

North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Syria all have ballistic missiles development and/or production programmes and have the potential to develop, or to obtain inventories of, longer-range ballistic missiles. North Korea and Iran already possess medium-range ballistic missiles and North Korea has the technology needed to develop ballistic missiles of intercontinental range.

Combat Effectiveness Gender Study

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the cost of the combat effectiveness gender study; and if he will make a statement. [1791]

Mr. Hoon: Work on the study into the effect of gender upon combat effectiveness has mainly been carried out by staff in the course of their normal business, and the costs have not therefore been recorded. Those costs that can be identified relate to work conducted on our behalf by contractors. This amounts to approximately £100,000.

4 Jul 2001 : Column: 183W

National Missile Defence

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the Danish Government about the use of Thule radar sites for national missile defence. [330]

Mr. Hoon: My Danish counterpart and I discussed missile defence in general terms when we met on 15 February 2001.

US National Ignition Facility

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on British participation in the national ignition facility at the Laurence Livermore laboratory in the US. [316]

Mr. Hoon: The UK remains committed to participating in the US national ignition facility programme in order to gain access to a high powered laser which is a key element of our warhead stewardship programme.

RAF Training Flight Paths (Wind Farms)

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact of proposed wind farm developments in Moray on RAF training flight paths; and if he will make a statement. [1978]

Dr. Moonie: As there is potential for wind farms to interfere with radar, low flying and other communications, each wind energy proposal received by the Ministry of Defence is evaluated on a case-by-case basis by several specialists; this includes the assessment of the impact upon RAF training paths.

The Ministry of Defence supports fully the Government's renewable energy policy. However, we must ensure that the defences of the United Kingdom are not jeopardised and that our aircrews are able to conduct training safely. Of the eight proposals we have had, we had no objections to seven and one is currently being assessed. Owing to the commercial sensitivity of the information I am withholding details of the sites under exemption 7 of the code of practice on access to government information.

Anti-satellite Weapons

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of anti-satellite weapons, called parasitic satellites. [328]

Mr. Hoon: Small satellites do not yet constitute a credible capability as anti-satellite systems; such threats continue to be monitored closely. The effectiveness of anti-satellite weapons is best assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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