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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 12 July 2001


Defence Export Services Organisation

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will amend the means by which charges for services provided by the Defence Export Services Organisation are calculated to ensure that the full cost is recovered. [2709]

Dr. Moonie: The policy of the Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) is to raise charges against industry for activities undertaken on its behalf where Government independence from industry is not essential and when costs can be directly identified, calculated and recovered from individual companies. On this basis charges are raised for a proportion of the costs of demonstrations of defence equipment; market research and publications; DESO symposia and seminars; and inward visits.

In addition, the full costs of operating project offices in support of Government-to-Government sales are offset by receipts from customer Governments. In 2000–01 DESO's costs were as follows:

£ million
Net Operating Costs12.36

These net operating costs are more than offset by benefits to the Defence budget, estimated at over £400 million a year, arising from DESO's activities. These benefits include reductions in overhead costs for UK Procurement as a result of longer production runs, receipts from Commercial Exploitation Levy and disposal of surplus MOD equipment. Against this background, there are no plans to amend the charging policy for services provided by DESO.

ITAR Exemptions

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which issues in the negotiations on ITAR exemptions (a) have been agreed and (b) remain unresolved; and if he will make a statement. [2718]

Dr. Moonie: The Government warmly welcome the decision of the US Administration to continue to pursue the Defence Trade Security Initiative, including a limited International Traffic in Army Regulation Waiver for unclassified US exports to the UK, announced in May 2000. These measures, if put fully into effect, would be

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significant steps towards achieving the objective agreed between the Prime Minister and President Bush at Camp David in February 2001 of

Progress has been made in establishing that US and UK export control systems are comparably effective and that there is a high level of commonality between the US Munition List and the UK Military List. The proposals for the introduction, under the Export Control Bill, of UK export controls over electronic transfers of military technology will further increase convergence between the two systems. Key issues remain to be resolved concerning detailed terms for implementation of an agreement. Given their complexity early progress is not to be expected but discussions are continuing, constructively and amicably.

Defence Estates

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many defence estates have been sold since 1997; and if he will make a statement on the adequacy of training areas and accommodation space for British forces. [3008]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 10 July 2001]: Since 1997 the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has conducted in excess of 500 disposals. These range in size from airfields and barracks to small areas of land and individual houses.

Following the publication of "In Trust and On Trust: A Strategy for the Defence Estate" in June 2000, the MOD has embarked on a major "core sites" review covering all our 4,000 or more sites. This will determine how the estate can best be used to satisfy our long-term military needs and also guide future investment. Associated with this work, we are also considering the supply and demand for training as part of a Strategic Planning Study for the Army Training Estate (SPATE), which is largely concerned with the rural training estate. This should not be confused with the Defence Training Review, which is an advanced element of the "core sites" review and relates largely to the built estate.

While the MOD has no current plans to acquire significant additional areas of land, we do from time to time purchase land adjacent to existing training areas where this allows more efficient or effective use of the land we already own.

We recognise that some single living accommodation is below modern standards and the Secretary of State recently announced a huge programme of new investment in this kind of property, amounting to £1 billion over 10 years.

Sonar 2087

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what particular mitigation measures have been implemented to take account of marine life, human divers and swimmers in the operational procedures relating to Sonar 2087; and if he will make a statement; [3296]

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Dr. Moonie: Sonar 2087 is designed to detect submarines at distances greater than those from which potentially hostile submarines could engage our forces. Sonar 2193 is a mine-hunting sonar and will operate at short ranges. The exact frequencies the sonars will use are classified. I am withholding this information in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, which relates to defence, security and international relations. I can tell you, however, that in order to achieve detection at long distances, Sonar 2087 will operate at frequencies lower than systems currently employed by the Royal Navy, whereas Sonar 2193 will operate at high frequencies to achieve fine discrimination between objects.

As underwater noise can adversely affect the marine environment, the MOD is committed to using both Sonar 2087 and Sonar 2193 in an environmentally responsible manner.

The draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for Sonar 2087 was conducted for the Department by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency at the Southampton Oceanography Centre (SOC). The EIA was informed by a number of other studies of the possible effects of sonar noise on humans, mammals and fish. The total cost was in excess of £2 million. The EIA will continue to be developed during the demonstration and manufacture phases of the project, taking account of trials information. It will continue to be informed by evidence from leading experts both in the UK and US; this includes exchange of information on studies conducted by the US Navy. We also monitor relevant scientific and environmental research around the globe. The final EIA will be completed by the planned 2006 entry into service and will be subject to independent review. An EIA for Sonar 2193 has been commissioned, to be undertaken by QinetiQ at the SOC, at a cost of £143,000.

Sonar 2087 is designed to be used world-wide. To date, the EIA indicates that, for initial trials, the vicinity of the North-West Approaches would be a suitable area. All our trials will be preceded by EIAs specific to the area concerned and they will be conducted using mitigation measures to take account of marine animal life and human divers/swimmers. These measures will be integral to our operating procedures and will include monitoring of the area which will begin before active transmissions are started and continue while the activity is under way and

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also for a period after transmissions have finished. Exclusion zones will be operated around known sensitive sites such as breeding grounds and sanctuaries; and we will begin transmissions at low output levels to give marine life the opportunity to move away. Similarly, a minimum range will be established from known diving sites.

These measures will provide a sustainable balance between the requirement for essential trials and training and the equally important need to avoid causing significant adverse impact on the marine environment.


Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the lot numbers of the munitions used by the British Army at Archer's Post and Dol Dol in Kenya. [2781]

Mr. Ingram: I am withholding information regarding the lot numbers of the munitions used by the British Army at Archer's Post and Dol Dol in Kenya, in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

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