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Mr. Chaytor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the military value of tungsten as an alternative to depleted uranium. [8237]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 22 October 2001]: The Ministry of Defence has funded research into both the metallurgical and ballistic aspects of tungsten penetrators in tank ammunition over a period of more than 30 years. With other UK research this has produced extensive data on the performance of different tungsten materials and designs. Depleted uranium has consistently outperformed tungsten alloy equivalents as a kinetic penetrator when employed in anti-armour weapon systems; its use, therefore, offers increased operational effectiveness. In recent years, a new tungsten round has been developed for the Royal Navy's Phalanx close-in-weapons system. Anti-armour properties are not important for this weapon system; in this case, a tungsten round offers improved performance. Since 1996 all replacement ammunition for the Phalanx system has been of the tungsten variety.

Sovereign Bases

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights is applicable to servicemen serving on sovereign bases. [10503]

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Mr. Ingram: While the European Convention on Human Rights does not apply within the UK sovereign base areas on Cyprus, Service personnel are able to assert their rights under Article 6 of the Convention against UK public authorities wherever they are stationed.

Biological and Chemical Threats

Mr. Heath: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of measures to detect biological and chemical threats to British forces. [8360]

Dr. Moonie: We take very seriously the need to protect UK armed forces personnel against all threats, including the potential hazards presented by chemical and biological weapons. We therefore constantly monitor the threat, and make adjustments to our response as changing circumstances warrant. Service personnel are protected by a combination of detectors, protective equipment, medical countermeasures and operational procedures, supported by a proactive research and development programme to enhance our defensive capability in this area.

Depleted Uranium

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what use of depleted uranium has been authorised by his Department for use in the production of military equipment or materials of any kind within the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. [10630]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence employs depleted uranium (DU) in three principal ways. It is used in ammunition for the weapons systems for the Challenger II tank and the Royal Navy's Phalanx close in weapon system. A DU-based round was also developed for use in the Challenger 1 tank for use in the Gulf conflict. C-130J/K Hercules and Tristar aircraft and some Wessex helicopters use DU as either a counterweight or as ballast. DU is used to shield radiological sources (such as nuclear reactors) and in nuclear medicine. In addition, small amounts of DU are used for defence research purposes, and some nuclear weapons also contain uranium in this form.

Northern Ireland

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what immediate changes to armed force deployment in Northern Ireland he plans; and if he will make a statement. [11016]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to the House on 24 October 2001, Official Report, columns 302–19. While the Government have made it clear they will consider further moves on normalisation, any subsequent measures will take account of the prevailing security situation at the time.

Service Complements

Mr. Mark Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects each of the three Services to reach their full manning strengths. [8359]

Mr. Ingram: Although the Naval Service will not achieve broad manning balance by the year 2003–04, it is determined to do so before 2005 and work continues on measures to achieve this. The RAF is in broad manning

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balance and aims to achieve its Public Service Agreement target of full manning by March 2004. The Army remains committed to full manning by 2005.


Payroll Services Review

Brian Cotter: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when Mr. Patrick Carter's review of payroll services will be completed. [8272]

Dawn Primarolo: Patrick Carter's review of payroll services has been completed.

Expenditure (Scotland)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his answer of 17 October 2001, Official Report, column 1261W, how much money in real terms has been spent in Scotland on policy areas which are the responsibility of (a) the Scottish Executive, (b) the Scotland Office and (c) other UK Government Departments since 1 July 1999. [10125]

Mr. Andrew Smith: Information on expenditure by the Scottish Executive and the Scotland Office is published in the Annual Expenditure Report of the Scottish Executive and the Scotland Office Departmental Report. The latest available breakdown of identifiable total managed expenditure by country was published in Chapter 8 of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses in April 2001.

NHS Funding

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research his Department is conducting into different mechanisms for funding the national health service; and if he will make a statement. [9955]

Mr. Andrew Smith [holding answer 25 October 2001]: Budget 2001 announced that Derek Wanless, former Group Chief Executive of Natwest bank, would be leading the review commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to provide a long-term assessment of the technological, demographic and medical trends over the next two decades that will affect the health service.

In the light of these trends, the review will identify the key factors which will determine the financial and other resources required to ensure that the NHS can provide a publicly funded, comprehensive, high-quality service available on the basis of clinical need and not the ability to pay. The review will report to the Chancellor by April 2002.

National Changeover Plan

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost to date has been of the Government's national changeover plan. [10248]

Ruth Kelly: Details of expenditure on national changeover planning were included in the Fourth Report on Euro Preparations, published on 6 November 2000. Copies of the report are available in the Library of the House.

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The Government will provide an updated breakdown of public sector spending in the next progress report, which will be published later this year.

Climate Change Levy

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what revenue would be forgone if full exemption from the climate change levy were applied to combined heat and power plants. [10431]

Mr. Boateng: No such estimate has been made.

Frozen Assets

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what will happen to the assets that were frozen by the Government from the bank accounts under UN Resolutions 1267 (Taliban), and 1333 (Usama bin Laden). [10160]

Ruth Kelly: UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1333 call upon states to freeze the assets of the persons listed in the annexes to each UNSCR. The assets will remain frozen until the Security Council repeals the resolutions.

Departmental Assets

Mr. Banks: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) for what reason it was decided to dispose of items of silver originally ordered for the Privy Council; and if he will make a statement; [10082]

Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans his Department has to sell off (a) silver candlesticks, (b) silver candle snuffers, (c) silver trays, (d) silver meat-skewers, (e) paintings, (f) antiques, (g) fine wines and (h) furniture; if he will list such items (i) sold by his Department since May 1997 and (ii) planned to be sold by his Department over the next two years; if he will list the age and value of each item; and if he will make a statement. [9729]

Ruth Kelly [holding answer 24 October 2001]: The introduction of Resource Accounting and Budgeting is encouraging a number of Departments, including HM Treasury, to reduce their asset holdings in order to focus public resources where they are most needed. That process will continue.

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The Government remain of the view that HM Treasury is not the most appropriate long-term owner of the four lots of silver items made for the Privy Council and referred to in the question. However, they recognise the case which has been made for ensuring that those items are available to be seen by the UK public.

A number of possible future owners of these items have come forward. To allow discussions with those parties to proceed, the items have been withdrawn from auction. Any further proposals which may come forward will also be explored.

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