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Independent Assessor of Military Complaints

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what response he has made to the 8th annual report of the Independent Assessor of Military Complaints with particular reference to the recommendations of the report (a) to take steps to reduce the number of complaints about helicopters and to make pilots aware of the costs of compensation claims, (b) to carry out an independent evaluation of community awareness training and (c) to take steps to promote the informal resolution of complaints. [7083]

Mr. Ingram: The Independent Assessor of Military Complaints submits his report to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland as required by Section 98 and Schedule 11 to the Terrorism Act 2000. In the last couple of his reports the Independent Assessor has concentrated on helicopter complaints which is understandable given the continued need for the use of helicopters owing to the terrorist threat from Dissident Republicans.

The Ministry of Defence values the views of the Independent Assessor and has taken on board the three recommendations he made in his latest Report. Details of

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compensation awards as a result of helicopter activity are now sent to the Commander of the Joint Helicopter Force (Northern Ireland) so that pilots can be made aware of the financial impact their actions can have. Headquarters Northern Ireland (HQNI) are also considering how best the Community Awareness Training might be evaluated by an independent body and are looking at a number of agencies that may be able to carry out this task. The emphasis on informal resolution of complaints remains a priority for HQNI and they continue to work closely with the Civil Representatives from the Northern Ireland Office in achieving this goal.

HMS Dryad

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of HMS Dryad. [6572]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 19 July 2001, Official Report, columns 334–5W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, North (Helen Jones) in which I advised the House that, in parallel with the work on the Defence Training Review, the Naval Recruiting and Training Agency had conducted a comprehensive review of its training estate. As a result, work has been started on the development of the Integrated Maritime Warfare School at HMS Collingwood, in Fareham, which will deliver maritime warfare training from a single site and encompass the warfare training currently undertaken at HMS Dryad. Under this programme, as I advised the House at the time, HMS Dryad will become surplus to requirements.

The target date for closure is no later than 2011, but it is planned to transfer elements of training from HMS Dryad to HMS Collingwood progressively over the next few years, with a view to achieving an earlier closure if possible. This will help us to maximise the operational and financial benefits from the Naval Recruiting and Training Agency's estate rationalisation programme. While the closure of Dryad is expected to result in a reduction of some 70 Service and 40 MOD civilian posts in the NRTA, this will be more than offset by the proposed move of elements of Fleet to HMS Excellent, which will take place before the closure of HMS Dryad. Taken together these two proposals are expected to produce a net increase of about 25 Service and 60 civilian posts in the Portsmouth area.

Detailed proposals for all the above measures will be subject to normal consultative procedures at the appropriate time.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to the United Kingdom has been of helping to raise the Russian submarine Kursk; and if he will make a statement. [7185]

Mr. Hoon: There has been no United Kingdom Government involvement in the Kursk recovery operation and therefore no costs have arisen.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of QinetiQ's research and development projects will be focused on (a) defence

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technologies, (b) telecommunications, (c) health care and (d) non defence related technologies; and if he will make a statement. [7335]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence research contracts currently account for 35 per cent. of QinetiQ's income. A further 44 per cent. of QinetiQ's income comes from other non-research work such as project support work for the Defence Procurement Agency and technical advice to the operational commands. The balance of QinetiQ's income is from non-MOD sources including commercial customers. It would not be in the commercial interests of the company, or the Government as future vendor, to release detailed financial information at this stage in the PPP process.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much QinetiQ's new medium wave infra-red telescope cost to produce; and if he will make a statement. [7322]

Dr. Moonie: The medium-wave infra-red telescope is part of a Ministry of Defence research programme begun in the early 1990s designed to understand the phenomenology of aircraft infra-red signatures and investigate detector technologies. The telescope is owned by the MOD and operated by QinetiQ.

It is not our practice to release costs of individual research programmes as this may allow a detailed picture to be built up of the UK's defence research priorities and future defence capabilities. I am accordingly withholding the information requested under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information relating to defence, security and international relations.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much QinetiQ's new submarine research and technology centre cost to build; what alternative sites were explored; and if he will make a statement. [7341]

Dr. Moonie: The centre cost in the order of £462,000 to set up and was formed by co-locating existing research capabilities, facilities and equipment from QinetiQ laboratories at Winfrith and Bincleaves into one building on the Winfrith site. The figure does not include the past investment in equipment which has been co-located.

Several possible sites around the south coast area in Dorset were explored. The eventual decision reflected the most cost effective solution, and minimised disruption and inconvenience to staff.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the US State Department has given its approval to amend the manufacturing licence for the UK Apache Attack Helicopter to enable QinetiQ to access US proprietary data. [5860]

Dr. Moonie: The US State Department gave its approval on 1 October 2001.

RAF Chilmark

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he intends to dispose of the former RAF Chilmark site; and if he will make a statement. [7375]

Dr. Moonie: Much of RAF Chilmark including outlying areas has now been sold. Part of the remaining area is of high conservation and wildlife value, and a trust consisting of the local authorities and interest groups has

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been constituted with a view to buying and managing the site. The Ministry of Defence is in discussion with representatives of the trust, and it is hoped that terms for a sale to take place during 2002 can be agreed shortly.

The remainder of the site, which the trust does not intend to purchase, still requires clearance of explosive ordnance residues. A decision on the disposal of this final part will be made once the extent of residual contamination has been determined.

Hunting Plc

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the (a) total cost, (b) life span and (c) cost to his Department of each contract with Hunting PCC in the past five years; and if he will make a statement. [7193]

Dr. Moonie: Hunting PCC is not recognised as a Ministry of Defence supplier; it is assumed that the question is referring to Hunting plc and information is provided on that basis. Data at the level requested are not routinely held and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. I am, however, able to advise that during the past five years 130 contracts with a total value of just over £430 million have been placed with Hunting plc by the Ministry of Defence.

Indian Armed Forces (Training)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of India's armed forces have been in the UK for training over the last four years; what the cost to his Department has been; and if he will make a statement. [7196]

Mr. Ingram: During the period 1 September 1997 to 31 August 2001, 24 officers of India's armed forces were trained in the UK at a cost to the Ministry of Defence Fund of £317,822.59. The officers attended courses at the Royal College of Defence Studies, the Joint Services Command and Staff College, the Royal Military College of Science and the Royal Defence Medical College.

Overseas Procurement Contracts

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what support his Department has given to United Kingdom-based companies bidding for the New Zealand MoD contract for light armoured vehicles; and if he will make a statement. [7186]

Dr. Moonie: The Defence Export Services Organisation in MOD provided general marketing advice to a number of UK companies which were interested in the New Zealand requirement.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which United Kingdom companies his Department supported in a bid for the Polish MoD contract for a new 8x8 wheeled armoured carrier; and if he will make a statement. [7184]

Dr. Moonie: To date the Ministry of Defence has not been approached by British companies for support in connection with the Polish requirement. Should we be asked to provide assistance in the future, we would of

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course respond as positively as possible, in line with the Government support for UK defence industry and legitimate defence exports.

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