18 Dec 2001 : Column: 171W
Mr. Hoon: Our military training and assistance programme continues to make good progress towards its goal of developing a professional, accountable and effective Sierra Leone army, able to protect the security and integrity of Sierra Leone on its own. I announced in September that, following the completion of the work of British short-term training teams, our military presence would reduce to 360 shore-based personnel by January 2002, remaining at that level until April. Since then, it has been announced that presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone are to be held on 14 May 2002. I have therefore decided to maintain our presence at the force levels announced in September over the period of the elections. The International Military Advisory and Training Team will continue the military training and assistance task with the Sierra Leone army.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what decision his Department has reached with regard to a replacement for the (a) Rover and (b) Leaf class tankers; when these replacements will be ordered; and how many are planned to be ordered. 
Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answers given on 28 March 2000, Official Report, column 77W, to the hon. Member for Chingford and Woodford (Mr. Duncan-Smith) and on 3 May 2001, Official Report, column 717W, to the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Mr. Davies).
18 Dec 2001 : Column: 172W
I am withholding the precise number of cruise missiles fired in conflicts and for testing purposes in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information which relates to Defence, Security and International Relations.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Joint Strike Fighters the United Kingdom is planning to buy; what the projected cost and final delivery date is; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: Our current planning assumption is that 150 Joint Strike Fighters will be purchased to meet our requirement for a Future Joint Combat Aircraft. Final numbers will depend on the choice of variant and on the outcome of work to confirm future UK fast jet requirements. The estimated procurement cost would be up to £10 billion, dependent on numbers of aircraft required, variant selected and how it is to be supported through life. Under current planning assumptions, the last of the 150 aircraft would be delivered by the end of 2024.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much British involvement in the design, development and production of the Eurofighter has cost; what plans his Department has to purchase Eurofighters; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence investment in the design, development and production of the Eurofighter programme, to 31 March 2001, totals £5,444 million. The order for the first tranche of aircraft, placed in 1998, includes 55 for the United Kingdom. Orders for the remaining aircraft are expected to be placed during 2003 and 2007. These orders will include 89 and 88 aircraft, respectively, for the United Kingdom, bringing our total purchase to 232 aircraft.
18 Dec 2001 : Column: 173W
Porton Down in 1973, entitled "Wind Speed and Miosis from Nerve Agents"; 
Dr. Moonie: No. This document is classified Confidential. It contains an assessment of the effectiveness of nerve agent in field situations and the release of this report would assist potential proliferators. I am therefore
18 Dec 2001 : Column: 174W
withholding this information in the interest of national security under category 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates the Health and Safety Executive has conducted formal inspections of the chemical and biological defence establishment, Porton Down, since 31 May 2000. 
|May 2000||Explosives handling area||Formal inspection of explosive handling activities|
|August 2000||Safety cell||Introduce new HSE Inspector|
|October 2000||Biomedical sciences||Routine preventative visit|
|November 2000||Biomedical sciences||Routine preventative visit|
|November 2001||Biomedical sciences||Routine visit to discuss high containment facilities|
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer 9 April 2001, Official Report, column 364W, on Porton Down, if former service volunteers invited to visit Porton Down to view the original record books and discuss their experiences with current members of Porton Down staff are refunded for their travel expenses by his Department. 
Dr. Moonie: It is not Ministry of Defence policy to do so. However, some travel expenses were refunded when the Porton Down helpline was established in February 1998. Since November 2000, MOD policy has been to not refund volunteers' travel expenses on the ground that visiting Porton Down to view original records is a matter for the individual concerned and adds no further information to that previously communicated in writing.
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 15 November 2001, Official Report, column 824W, on Porton Down, if he will place in the Library copies of the (a) minutes, (b) agendas and (c) papers of the meetings between his Department's staff and the Medical Research Council on 2 and 3 August to discuss the epidemiological study into volunteers who took part in experiments at the Chemical Defence Establishment, Porton Down. 
Dr. Moonie: These meetings were not of a kind to require formal documentation of this type. The only formal document relating to either of these meetings is a note of the meeting of 3 August which was included in the pack of papers distributed in advance of the Medical Research council seminar on 9 October to those who had shown an interest in putting forward proposals for research into the health of Porton Down volunteers. I will place a copy of my note in the Library of the House.
Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel who took part in experiments at the chemical defence establishment at Porton Down have been given copies of technical reports relating to their own experiments since the establishment of the Porton Down helpline in February 1998. 
Dr. Moonie: There is no definitive list of the number of the volunteers who have received copies of technical reports. Volunteers who visit Porton Down are given copies of records that refer to them personally and copies of other documentation, including technical reports, where they add relevant information to that already located in the volunteer record books. This is decided on a case-by-case basis. In addition, copies of reports are included with the letter sent to the volunteer, detailing their attendance, where deemed appropriate.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|