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Fleet Air Arm

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Fleet Air Arm's inventory is of each type of Lynx helicopter; and how many are operationally available. [963]

Mr. Ingram: As at Monday 25 June 2001, the Royal Navy had a total of 38 Mk3 and 36 Mk8 Lynx helicopters. Of these, 25 Mk3 and 18 Mk8 aircraft were operationally available. These figures provide a snapshot on a specific date. Numbers can change as aircraft move in and out of maintenance.

Type 23 Frigates

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if type 23 frigates were procured to replace type 22 frigates; and if he will make a statement. [958]

Mr. Ingram: The type 23 class frigate was conceived in the late 1970s as a light anti-submarine frigate whose primary role was to meet the then Soviet nuclear

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submarine threat in the North Atlantic. This new class was intended to replace the Leander class frigate, which was developed in the 1950s and the type 21 class frigate, developed in the 1960s, as the backbone of the Royal Navy's surface ship anti-submarine force. The type 23 class frigate was not procured as a replacement for the type 22 frigate.

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of each of the Royal Navy's type 23 frigates. [967]

Mr. Ingram: The cost of HMS Norfolk, the first of the type 23 class frigates, was £135.449 million. The following 16 vessels have cost, or are estimated to cost where final payments are not yet due, between £60 million and £96 million depending on when the vessel was ordered and the scope of shipbuilder supplied equipment.

Merlin Helicopter

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Merlin helicopter will be cleared for night-time active sonar dipping operations; and if he will make a statement. [957]

Mr. Ingram: The Merlin helicopter is expected to receive appropriate clearance to conduct night-time active sonar dipping operations before the end of 2001.

Link 16

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of studies indicating significant operational advantages in fitting Link 16 to the Tornado GR4 and Harrier GR7 fleets; [968]

Mr. Ingram: The operational advantages offered by systems such as Link 16 are well recognised. The capability is already fitted in some aircraft types and it will be fitted more widely in our aircraft and ships. As with any defence equipment capability, decisions have to be made about priorities. Link 16 is not currently planned to be fitted to Tornado GR4 or Harrier GR7 aircraft as we have higher operational priorities.

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason he has decided not to install Link 16 on naval platforms. [971]

Mr. Ingram: No such decision has been taken. On current plans, we will install Link 16 in several in-service naval and air platforms as follows:

In-service platformISD with Link 16
Type 42 destroyer (Batch 2 and 3)2004
CVS (Invincible class)2004
Sea King AEW2002
Nimrod (R)2003
Sea Harrier FA22004

Major new naval and air platforms, such as Eurofighter and the Type 45 destroyer, will be provided with situational awareness through secure tactical data links, in many cases by installing Link 16.

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Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the prime contractors and their partner companies who have responded to the invitation to negotiate on the future strategic tanker aircraft project; what locations they have specified for their main operating base; and if any of the bids include any role for Dera or Quinetiq at Boscombe Down airfield. [867]

Dr. Moonie: We received bids on 3 July from two consortia: Air Tanker, consisting of Cobham, Thales, Brown & Root, EADS and Rolls Royce, and a consortium consisting of BAE Systems, Boeing, Serco and Spectrum Capital. Evaluation of the bids, which are complex and commercially sensitive, has only just begun. I am withholding further information under Exemption 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. I shall, however, write to the hon. Member as soon as our analysis of the bids permits.

Northumberland National Park

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the future use of Otterburn Training Area in the Northumberland National Park. [868]

Dr. Moonie: Otterburn Training Area is one of the Ministry of Defence's principal training facilities. In common with all training areas, military training was suspended at Otterburn in recent months due to foot and mouth restrictions, but resumed on 29 June.

As the hon. Member may be aware the MOD has plans to develop the Otterburn training area and our proposals have been subject to two lengthy sessions of a non- statutory public inquiry. The inquiry Inspector's report is with the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions and we await the decision.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Single European Currency

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what assessment the Government have made of the potential increase in (a) organised crime and (b) financial crime in the UK and elsewhere of UK entry into the single European currency, with particular reference to the planned maximum denomination of euro notes; and if he will make a statement; [1259]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Law enforcement and other competent authorities in the United Kingdom are already working with their counterparts abroad in preventing and combating crime in relation to the single European currency. Threat assessments have been carried out, at both the national level by the United Kingdom's National Criminal Intelligence Service and the European level by Europol, to determine the potential impact of organised

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and financial crime involving the Euro, including counterfeiting and money laundering. These analyses and the experience being gained would be fully taken into account if the Government were to recommend United Kingdom entry into the single currency and Parliament and the people in a referendum were to agree.

Work Permits

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 27 June 2001, Official Report, column 97W, on work permits, if he will place a copy of the affidavit received from a Trinidad and Tobago Football Association medical officer in the Libraries of both Houses. [2086]

Angela Eagle: No. The affidavit was provided for the purpose of considering applications for work permits and it is not the practice of Work Permits (United Kingdom) to disclose documents submitted in support of applications.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 27 June 2001, Official Report, column 97W, on work permits, what inquiries were made to validate the information contained in the affidavit provided by a Trinidad and Tobago Football Association medical official. [2087]

Angela Eagle [holding answer 3 July 2001]: There was no information to suggest that the evidence provided in the sworn affidavit was incorrect and in the absence of such information the Department did not think it necessary to make any inquiries to validate this information.

Telephone Tapping Warrants

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of the number of telephone tapping warrants issued in each reporting period since 1980; and if he will make a statement. [1456]

Mr. Blunkett [holding answer 4 July 2001]: The numbers of interception warrants issued in 1980–84 are set out in the White Paper "The Interception of Communications in the United Kingdom" dated February 1985 (Cmnd 9438), prior to the introduction of the Interception of Communications Act 1985 now replaced by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).

Numbers of warrants issued annually since 1985 have been published in the reports of the Interception Commissioners, copies of which are placed in the Library. The annual report for 2000 is not yet available.

Asylum Vouchers

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) when he will reform the no-change policy in relation to asylum vouchers; by what date he intends to publish the findings of the review of asylum vouchers; and if he will make a statement; [1511]

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Angela Eagle: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Lidington) on 25 June 2001, Official Report, column 50W. We are looking at the no-change rule as part of the review of the operation of the asylum voucher scheme. The Government have undertaken to place in the Library a list of those organisations which have contributed to the review and copies of their representations, once the review is complete.


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