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Regeneration (Morecambe and Lunesdale)

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what funding he has provided (a) to encourage employment opportunities and (b) to regenerate industrial estates in the Morecambe and Lunesdale constituency. [13768]

Ms Keeble: The constituency of Morecambe and Lunesdale has benefited from the following funding.


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Luneside Industrial Estate

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what discussions he has had with (a) the Government Office for the North West and (b) NWDA about improving access to the Luneside industrial estate. [13770]

Ms Keeble: Ministers have not had discussions with the North West Development Agency about improving access to Luneside industrial estate.

Regional Investment Funding (Lancaster)

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions which wards in the Lancaster City Council District are eligible for Objective 2 priority 3 strategic regional investment funding. [13772]

Ms Keeble: Eligible wards are:


Wessex Rail Franchise

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on his proposed timetable for the renewal of the Wessex Rail Franchise. [14295]

Mr. Jamieson: The Strategic Rail Authority has submitted proposals for a revised franchise replacement/ extension programme to the Secretary of State for consideration. An announcement will be made in due course.

DEFENCE

QinetiQ

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to divest QinetiQ; and when the funds derived from the sale will be credited to his Department's budget. [14626]

Dr. Moonie: QinetiQ will be floated as soon as its potential is judged to be suitably developed, subject to value for money considerations and provided the organisation has achieved appropriate performance

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targets. Since vesting of the company on 1 July 2001 work has mainly focused on preparing the company for a future transaction and assessing market conditions. It also remains possible that a strategic partner will be brought in to assist with the commercial development of the company prior to a flotation. The Ministry of Defence is likely to retain an interest in QinetiQ as a means to ensuring that taxpayers receive full value for the investment in past Government funded research. An announcement, hopefully early in the new year, will be made once a decision has been taken on the transaction route, and the proposed timetable.

It has been agreed with HM Treasury that the MOD will receive a credit of at least £250 million in FY 2001–02 in anticipation of a successful PPP. This receipt is not dependent on the actual timing of the final PPP transaction, nor is the figure an indication of the potential value of the transaction.

Veterans Task Force

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the Veterans task force meeting held on 7 November. [13766]

Dr. Moonie: At the first meeting of the task force on 6 November, my ministerial colleagues from other Departments with an interest in veterans issues, representatives from the veterans' community and I agreed terms of reference committing us to making our policy development and services responsive to the reasonable needs and concerns of veterans. We agreed a vision focusing on the key themes of partnership, identity, recognition, education and care, and agreed a cross- government action plan to take these themes forward. This work is being undertaken in partnership with experts from veterans organisations and will include reviews of resettlement for the most vulnerable of those discharged from the armed forces, of the educational material on veterans and their achievements provided for Key Stage 3 of the national curriculum and of ways in which we might improve the effectiveness of our communications with veterans. Ministers also agreed to review their relevant public service agreements to identify those in which there was a significant and discrete veterans problem that merited action in its own right. Particular areas to be considered were focused on the most vulnerable and included the levels of service-related problems among the prison population, among marital breakdowns and among the unemployed. Deadlines have been set for action plan work items, and overall progress with the initiative will be considered at the next meeting of the task force in May 2002.

I consider that the task force agreements represent substantial progress towards achieving our objective of raising the profile of veterans' issues in Government and more widely across the nation, and of improving the delivery of benefits to veterans, particularly the most vulnerable.

Afghanistan

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are for the inclusion of the Territorial Army in the operations against Afghanistan; and (a) how many will be deployed and (b) how they will be deployed. [13128]

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Mr. Ingram: There are no plans to include formed units of the Territorial Army in the operations in Afghanistan. However, a call-out order has been made under section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to permit up to 150 individual reservists from all three services to be called out for service in support of the current operation. They are needed to augment headquarters, and provide operational support to the Royal Air Force. Most will be based in the UK. Augmentation of this nature is a routine task for the reserves.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has to disarm unexploded cluster bomblets used by Allied coalition forces in the conflict in Afghanistan. [14266]

Mr. Ingram: The Prime Minister has made it clear that the United Kingdom will not turn her back on Afghanistan and that any political settlement will be supported and sustained through rehabilitation and reconstruction, of which the clearance of unexploded ordnance may form a part.

Aircraft Scrambles

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions and in what circumstances planes have been scrambled to deal with perceived emergencies at nuclear or other installations since 11 September. [13720]

Mr. Ingram: Aircraft have been scrambled once to deal with perceived emergencies at nuclear or other installations since 11 September 2001. On 27 October two F3 Tornado aircraft conducted air policing in the vicinity of Sellafield in response to what proved to be a hoax threat telephone call to civilian police.

No-fly Zones

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many instances there have been in each year since 1991 of military aircraft accidentally breaching no-fly zones over (a) nuclear power plants, (b) nuclear reprocessing plants and (c) military nuclear plants. [14261]

Mr. Ingram: I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Nuclear Installations (Security)

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations his Department has received in respect of the security of nuclear installations since 11 September. [14684]

Mr. Ingram: The security of nuclear installations is a matter for the Department of Trade and Industry. We are in close contact with the DTI and other Government Departments concerning any contribution the armed forces could make in this area, in response to the events of 11 September.

Exercise Saif Sareea 2

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of Exercise Saif Sareea 2 in Oman; and how successful it has been in developing the United Kingdom's Joint Rapid Reaction Force. [13512]

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Mr. Ingram: The exercise activity of Exercise Saif Sareea 2 ended on 29 October and the recovery of our forces and their equipment is under way.

The objectives of the exercise were to deploy and sustain a major joint force across strategic distances, and conduct realistic coalition war fighting training in a testing desert environment. As such it was a major test of some of the equipment and personnel that are part of the Joint Rapid Reaction Force.

It will take some weeks to analyse all the results of the exercise and the lessons identified. But it is already clear that the exercise did indeed provide very valuable training and many very useful lessons have already been identified. Overall, our initial judgment is that the exercise has met its aims most successfully. It has demonstrated the ability of the United Kingdom to project forces over a strategic distance, and in doing so reaffirmed UK commitment to the stability and security of the middle east region at an important time.


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