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Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is with regard to (a) Ministers And (b) officials in his Department giving evidence to (i) Scottish Parliament, (ii) Welsh Assembly and (iii) Northern Ireland Assembly committees; and to what categories of document he gives (A) full access, (B) restricted access and (C) no access to (1) Scottish parliament, (2) Welsh Assembly, (3) Northern Ireland Assembly and (4) House of Commons Select committees. 
Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office on 15 October 2001, Official Report, columns 100305W.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on bringing forward the programme for the new aircraft carriers. 
Dr. Moonie: It would be imprudent to bring forward significantly the programme to build the two new aircraft carriers, especially given their size and complexity. Time spent now in assessing the developing designs, in step with decisions on the aircraft to be operated from the ships (including the Future Joint Combat Aircraft and the Future Organic Airborne Early Warning Aircraft) will allow us to optimise the design of the ship so that it best meets our future operational requirements. This assessment phase is due to complete in 2003, and the planned In Service Dates of the two carriers remain 2012 and 2015.
Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what action his Department is taking to ensure sub-contracting work for the alternative ships logistics to be built on the Rivers Tyne and Clyde is awarded to United Kingdom companies; [R] 
Dr. Moonie: The Department's contract with Swan Hunter requires the company to maximise the use of competition when awarding sub-contracts for the build of the Alternative Landing Ships Logistic. However, the final choice of supplier must rest with Swan Hunter as the prime contractor. It is up to prospective UK suppliers to
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submit competitively priced bids to the prime contractor for equipment that meets the Ministry of Defence's requirements.
Swan Hunter has so far placed only a small number of sub-contracts. While Swan Hunter has indicated that most sub-contract work is likely to be placed with UK companies, it is too early to say how much work will be placed with companies in the north-east.
Negotiations are under way for the contract with BAE Systems Marine, Govan. The same conditions will apply to the sub-contract for the BAE Systems' vessel once a contract is agreed.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the development of the Technology Readiness and Risk Assessment Programme; and if he will place a copy of an unclassified version in the Library. 
Mr. Hoon: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 31 October 2001, Official Report, column 661W, to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin).
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions the Government have undertaken with the United States regarding the possible use of type 45 frigates as part of the USA's plan to develop a missile defence to protect the US and its allies. 
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the need for a light armoured vehicle for the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: The lessons we have learned from recent operations have shown that the procurement priorities we set out in the Strategic Defence Review, and its overall focus, were broadly correct. We keep these priorities under review. As part of this we have considered the capability which can be offered by light armoured vehicles, and we assess that they will contribute importantly to our forces' ability to react rapidly to global events. I set out how we currently intend to deliver this capability in my answer to the hon. Member on 26 October 2001, Official Report, column 406W.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if units have adequate fresh rations for the purposes of Swift Sword II; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: All forces deployed on Saif Sareea II had adequate fresh rations. Rations were scaled to provide five days fresh and two days Operational Ration Packs (ORP) in each seven day period with the ORP being consumed during training phases. The provision of rations on the exercise has proved extremely efficient and feedback from the forces and unit commanders has been positive.
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Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will make a down select decision on the Future Carrier Programme; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 30 October 2001]: We are currently in discussions about the CVF procurement strategy with both candidate prime contractors, BAE Systems and Thales Naval Ltd. We hope to be in a position to make an announcement about the way forward in the next few weeks.
Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effects of the use of cluster bombs in Afghanistan; and how many of these have been used in the conflict. 
Mr. Hoon [holding answer 30 October 2001]: Cluster bombs are the most effective weapon against certain targets and, while that remains the case, they will continue to be used in Afghanistan. As at 29 October, coalition forces had used cluster bombs against five targets: one terrorist camp and four Taliban military installations.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his most recent estimate is of the cost to the United Kingdom of the military action in Afghanistan; what estimate he has made of the weekly cost to the UK of (a) current and (b) planned deployment; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker) on 23 October 2001, Official Report, column 114W.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what modifications are required to be made to British helicopters in order to enable them to undertake operations in Afghan air space. 
Mr. Hoon: Equipment deployed by UK armed forces on operations is modified as necessary to perform in the environment in which it is used.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the sale of Hawk aircraft to India; when he expects contracts to be signed; what other medium to long-term prospects he has identified for overseas sales of Hawk aircraft; and what discussions he has had with BAE Systems at Brough on the implications for employment at the plant of sales of Hawk aircraft. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 31 October 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 29 October 2001, Official Report, column 626, to the right hon. Member for Fylde (Mr. Jack). Progress with commercial negotiations is a matter for the company and the Indian Government. The Ministry of Defence maintains contact with BAE Systems on employment at Brough relating to sales of Hawk. The Government will continue to support BAE Systems in whatever way we can with the promotion of this first class aircraft in appropriate markets.
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Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he has given to advancing an order for Hawk 127s as part of the RAF's Military Flying Training System. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 31 October 2001]: We are closely examining our future flying training needs with a view to putting in place a system that will meet the needs of all three Services. We will give full consideration to purchasing Hawk 127 but this will be part of an analysis of all available options.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much Kevlar is stocked by British manufacturers of body armour; where Kevlar is manufactured; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 31 October 2001]: Kevlar is a Dupont Commercial brand name for one product line associated with the Aramid family of materials. Information on the total quantity of Aramid materials held commercially is not available to the Ministry of Defence as the companies concerned consider it Commercial in Confidence. Recent inquiries of these firms have however, indicated that they have sufficient stocks available to meet the MOD's requirements.
Kevlar supplied to British manufacturers of body armour is manufactured by Dupont at their facility in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the tendering companies for body armour are British-based. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 31 October 2001]: On the last tender exercise for body armour, all of the five companies invited to tender were British-based.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if body armour can be constructed of materials other than Kevlar. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 31 October 2001]: Yes. Kevlar is a Dupont commercial brand name for one product line of the Aramid family of materials. Other manufacturing companies make their own Aramid fibres, for instance Twaron. Materials other than Aramids can be used for ballistic protection but have cost, weight and/or bulk limitations, which could affect individual performance.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many suits of body armour are on order by his Department; and what estimate he has made of the need for body armour in view of land operations in Afghanistan. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 31 October 2001]: There are no orders currently outstanding for body armour within the Department. There are currently sufficient stocks of body armour available to meet current planned deployments.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what tenders are open for the supply of body armour; when they will be concluded; and how many companies he expects to tender. 
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Dr. Moonie [holding answer 31 October 2001]: One tender exercise is currently on-going for the supply of a sample quantity of body armour fillers and plates. Once these samples have been evaluated, Invitations to Tender will be issued to up to five UK-based companies within the next month.
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