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Territorial Army

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to review the decision taken in the Strategic Defence Review to reduce the role of the TA in nuclear biological chemical reconnaissance; and if he will make a statement. [R] [9671]

Dr. Moonie: There are no plans to review the decisions taken in the Strategic Defence Review with regard to the role of the Territorial Army in nuclear biological chemical reconnaissance. Since the SDR a regular Joint NBC Regiment comprising Army/RAF elements has been formed at RAF Honington, and became operational in December 1999. Its role is NBC reconnaissance, survey, detection/identification/monitoring and decontamination. Currently, two squadrons of the Royal Yeomanry form the reserve element of the Joint NBC Regiment.

Exercise Swift Sword

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to use Exercise Swift Sword to increase recruitment to the armed forces. [10580]

Mr. Ingram: An Army recruiting initiative 'Operation London Soldier', from 10 to 23 September 2001, culminated in a competition on 30 September. The planned prize had been a period with Exercise Swift Sword. However, due to the events of 11 September, a replacement prize of one week of military/adventure training in Gibraltar was introduced instead.

Exercise Swift Sword, as with all such large exercises, served to heighten awareness of the armed forces, with considerable daily coverage in the media. In addition, the live footage and photographs from the exercise will be used to enhance and update the services' recruiting libraries and will provide up to date and topical material for future recruiting literature.

Afghanistan

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will urge his American counterpart to stop US forces using cluster bombs over Afghanistan. [10788]

Mr. Hoon: The cluster bombs used in Afghanistan do not contain anti-personnel landmines and are, therefore, legitimate weapons that have not been prohibited by any treaty or convention. They are used with discretion and

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proportionality and against legitimate and appropriate terrorist and military targets that are selected with great care.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the (a) use of and (b) preparedness to use napalm in Afghanistan of coalition forces. [11448]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 30 October 2001]: No napalm has been used by coalition forces operating in the Afghanistan region and there are no plans to do so.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on a bombing pause to assist the more effective delivery of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. [11647]

Mr. Hoon: As the UN has made clear, the military campaign as such has not hampered the delivery of assistance in any significant way. We have no plans at present to suspend military activity in Afghanistan in order to facilitate the delivery of aid, not least because a pause in the bombing would simply encourage the Taliban to harass humanitarian supplies more than at present.

Technology Readiness and Risk Assessment

Programme

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the Technology Readiness and Risk Assessment Programme; and when he expects studies to be complete. [10600]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 26 October 2001]: The Technology Readiness and Risk Assessment Programme was completed in August 2001. An unclassified summary of the final report is in preparation for publication and copies will be placed in the Libraries of the House in due course.

Drugs (Armed Forces)

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if disciplinary action over drug taking is exercised consistently between the three services. [10703]

Mr. Ingram: All the services have similar disciplinary procedures for dealing with drugs offences which include trial by court martial and, on a verdict of guilty, usually results in dismissal from the service following a period of military detention.

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel have been tested under the Compulsory Drug Testing programme in the last year in each of the three services; and how many have tested positive in each case. [10701]

Mr. Ingram: The figures for all service personnel in the calendar year 2000 are as follows:

ServiceUnderwent Compulsory Drug Testing (CDT) Tested positive
Royal Navy13,95150
Army117,659609
Royal Air Force11,61014

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what disciplinary action was taken by each of the three

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services in the last year in respect of service personnel who tested positive under the Compulsory Drug Testing programme. [10702]

Mr. Ingram: During the year 2000, no disciplinary action was taken against personnel from any of the three services for testing positive at a Compulsory Drugs Test (CDT). Failure of a CDT will normally lead to the Administrative Discharge of an individual on the basis that drugs are incompatible with service in the armed forces. A positive test by itself is not a criminal or disciplinary offence. Disciplinary action will only be invoked, in relation to CDT, if an individual commits the offence of failing to provide a urine sample for the purpose of testing.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to alter regulations and penalties for possession of cannabis among servicemen and women, following the changes proposed in civilian life by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. [11090]

Mr. Ingram: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary's proposal concerned the reclassification of cannabis. However, misuse of drugs, of all classes, will remain incompatible with the requirements of life in the armed forces.

Porton Down Veterans Support Group

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will invite the Porton Down Veterans Support Group to the next meeting of the Veterans Forum. [10902]

Dr. Moonie: Yes. The next meeting of the Veterans Plenary Forum is scheduled to take place on 17 April 2002.

Tomahawk Cruise Missiles

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Tomahawk cruise missiles have been fired by British forces during the present action in Afghanistan. [11014]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 29 October 2001]: Royal Navy submarines fired a small number of Tomahawk land attack missiles on 7 October and 13 October.

I am withholding the precise information requested under Exemption 1a of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, which relates to national defence.

Regular Commission Boards

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the future location and organisation of the regular commission boards. [R] [11270]

Mr. Ingram: The Regular Commission Board (RCB), which is currently based at Westbury in Wiltshire, is part of the Army Training and Recruiting Agency (ATRA). Its role is to select potential officers for entry to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS), also part of ATRA.

Historically, the RCB was part of the Directorate of Army Recruiting but in 1998 it was placed under the control of RMAS, as there is clearly a synergy between the selection and training of potential officers.

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We have now decided that RCB should be collocated with RMAS as from February 2003. Collocation of the two parts of what is essentially a single operation will further enhance coherence, achieve economies of scale and could enable ATRA to achieve a degree of estate rationalisation. The role and ethos of RCB will not change.

Territorial Commissioning Board

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the future locations and organisation of the territorial commissioning board. [R] [11271]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence is examining various options to determine the best way to operate the Territorial Commissioning Board and I expect a decision to be made by the end of the year. I will write to the hon. Member when I know the outcome and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Defence Industry

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the paper being prepared by the Defence Procurement Agency on the future of the defence industry to be published; and if he will make a statement. [11455]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 30 October 2001]: It is not intended to publish this paper as it is for the purposes of internal discussion and advice only. I am therefore withholding it under Exemption 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.


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