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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to place orders to (a) upgrade and (b) replace torpedoes. 
Dr. Moonie: There are currently three torpedoes in service with Her Majesty's Armed ForcesSting Ray, Spearfish and Tigerfish. Spearfish is replacing Tigerfish as the Royal Navy's heavy weight torpedo, and significantly enhances its anti-submarine and anti-ship torpedo capability. The production of Spearfish torpedoes is currently running to time and cost. Contracts for Concept work for a mid-life update of the Spearfish torpedo have been placed with QinetiQ and BAE Systems Electronics Ltd. Underwater Weapons Division, Waterlooville.
Sting Ray is the Forces' light weight torpedo and is the main anti-submarine weapon for surface ships, helicopters and the Nimrod Maritime Patrol Aircraft. It is the subject of a comprehensive life extension programme which will, over the coming years, improve its capability against the modern submarine threat.
Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) for what years the War Pensions Agency has destroyed records of service men and women who served in the Army Catering Corps; 
(3) which classes of documents fall within the deemed destroyed range of the War Pensions Agency. 
Dr. Moonie: In 1989 the War Pensions Agency carried out a retention and destruction exercise. Files were destroyed where no action had been taken on the case for more than 30 years, no pension was in payment and the claimant was over the age of 80. Files relating to former members of the Army Catering Corps which met these criteria were destroyed as part of the exercise.
Regrettably, in some instances correct procedures were not adhered to and some files were destroyed erroneously.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what steps his Department is taking to reduce the slippage rate of the 18 major procurement projects outlined in the Major Projects report; 
Dr. Moonie: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House following the hearing.
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Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what were the annual overhead costs of the Defence Aviation Repair Agency of (a) RAF St. Athan, (b) RAF Sealand, (c) Fleetlands and (d) Almondbank in (i) 19992000 and (ii) 20002001 expressed in (1) cash terms, (2) real terms and (3) as a proportion of the income of each site. 
Mr. Ingram: The annual overhead costs of the DARA during 19992000 and 200001 are as follows.
|Financial year 19992000||Financial year 200001|
|RAF St. Athan||20,900||26,111||18,937||32,603|
(19) Resource accounting and budgeting
With regards to expressing these as a proportion of income, this is not possible as DARA was not a trading fund until 1 April 2001 and as such did not generate income from Ministry of Defence work prior to this date.
Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what were the repair turn round times in the Defence Aviation Repair Agency, at (a) RAF St. Athan, (b) RAF Sealand, (c) Fleetlands and (d) Almondbank in (i) 19992000 and (ii) 200001. 
Mr. Ingram: The Defence Aviation Repair Agency has many thousands of items to which measured turn round times (TRTs) apply and it would only be possible to list all of these items and their TRTs individually at disproportionate cost.
Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel were employed at DARA in (a) RAF St. Athan, (b) RAF Sealand, (c) Fleetlands and (d) Almondbank on 1 November. 
Mr. Ingram: The following numbers of personnel were employed at the Defence Aviation Repair Agency sites on 1 November 2001:
|RAF St. Athan||2,521|
Please note these figures to not include RAF support units at St. Athan or Sealand or other lodger units on sites.
Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to encourage an international ban on the use of cluster bombs. 
Mr. Ingram: It would not be appropriate or realistic to take steps to encourage an international ban on the use of cluster bombs. They are a legitimate weapon that provide a capability against certain targets which cannot be effectively achieved in other ways. We are aware of concerns that have been expressed about the humanitarian effort of unexploded cluster bomblets and are exploring
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in the context of the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) how this can be minimised.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to work to implement the recommendations of the International Committee of the Red Cross on the use of cluster bombs. 
Mr. Ingram: The International Committee of the Red Cross have proposed limitations on the use of cluster bombs in the context of their proposal for a protocol on explosive remnants of war to the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, for which the review conference will be held on 11 to 21 December. The United Kingdom will work for a positive outcome to minimise the risk to civilians from unexploded weapons, including cluster bombs.
Dr. Jack Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) for what reason test firing using depleted uranium contaminated gun barrels from Eskmeals was carried out at Shoeburyness; who authorised the transfer of the gun barrels; and if he will make a statement; 
(3) what environmental impact assessment was carried out, and by whom, before depleted uranium contaminated gun barrels from Eskmeals were used in test firing at Shoeburyness; 
(4) who was the radiation protection adviser; for which organisation he or she worked; whether the Defence Radiology Protection Service was (a) consulted and (b) involved; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 30 November 2001]: Test firing using depleted uranium (DU) contaminated gun barrels is required as part of the effectiveness and safety trials to determine the effect of firing a variety of rounds through worn barrels. The Challenger II tank worn barrel trial is planned to commence in January 2002. The trial involves firing a range of non-DU based ammunition natures such as high explosive and training rounds. The trial will involve the use of barrels that have not fired DU rounds as well as those that have. More recently, between 20 to 29 November, one gun barrel stored at QinetiQ Eskmeals, that had fired DU in the past, was used in a CHARM 3 Training Round (a non-DU round) trial at the Shoeburyness ranges. Test firing is being carried out at Shoeburyness because it meets the minimum firing distance required and provides a round recovery facility and a suitable cost-effective solution. There is no reason on health and safety grounds why the work cannot be carried out at this site.
No specific authorisation to transfer barrels allocated to support these trials is needed. Each barrel that has fired DU in the past has a record annotated accordingly and is accompanied with appropriate precautionary advice.
In the November trial, 71 rounds were fired and none were recovered. The worn barrel trial in January is planned to use 184 rounds and it is planned to recover
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some rounds to ascertain any effects on the round's stability and performance. Recovered rounds fired will be monitored for DU.
No environmental impact assessment was undertaken immediately before the CHARM3 training round trial and none is planned for the worn barrel trial. However, a risk assessment for the routine use of DU contaminated barrels was carried out by the Department's Radiation Protection Adviser, the then DERA Radiation Protection Services, in May 2000. Although this assessment concludes that no DU will be released from the barrel, environmental monitoring was conducted at the start, during and after the firings on 20 November. This involved a base line survey taking soil and grass samples and monitoring around the gun, passive air sampling, and a swab sample of the inside of the barrel when firing was complete. The monitoring will also be conducted in support of the worn barrel trial.
The barrels used at Shoeburyness were monitored before transfer. The monitoring in this case showed that the barrels contained less than 10 kilobecquerels of DU and thus confirmed that the material presented very little risk. This conclusion is based on the generic risk assessment conducted in May 2000, which is applicable to all barrels containing less than 10 kilobecquerels of DU.
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