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Decontamination Equipment

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what NBC (a) detection and (b) decontamination equipment is available to (i) RAF bases, (ii) naval bases and (iii) Army bases; what plans he has to upgrade it; what arrangements he has made for that equipment to be made available to the civil authorities; how deployable it would be in the event of an NBC attack on mainland Britain; and if he will make a statement. [25151]

Mr. Ingram: Sufficient detection and decontamination equipment is held by armed forces to ensure that they can maintain their effectiveness against the threat from NBC weapons on deployed operations. There are constant improvements in these capabilities.

The civil authorities have a detection and decontamination capability and are responsible for detection of NBC weapons in the UK and for

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decontamination if there is an attack. The Ministry of Defence would be available to provide support to civil authorities depending on circumstances.

Service Pensioners

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service pensioners there are; and if he will make a statement. [25838]

Mr. Ingram: As at 31 March 2001, there were 269,135 service pensioners.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel have served more than 10 years but less than that required for a full pension, in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. [25837]

Mr. Ingram: Full pension for other ranks is payable after completion of 37 years service. The figures in the table show those who have left having served more than 10 years but less than 37 years in the 12-month period up to 1 April in the specified years.

YearNumber
1 April 200178,823
1 April 200079,412
1 April 199978,638

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service widows qualify for service pensions; and if he will make a statement. [25835]

Mr. Ingram: As at 31 March 2001 there were 65,282 widows and widowers receiving service pensions.

Training Exercises

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many training exercises have been carried out by the armed forces in and from (a) Spain, (b) Portugal, (c) the Netherlands, (d) Germany, (e) Norway and (f) the United States in the last 12 months. [25793]

Mr. Ingram: The table indicates the number of unilateral or bilateral training exercises carried out in the last 12 months.

Number of training exercises
UK forces abroad
Spain6
Portugal1
The Netherlands 1
Germany14
Norway 10
United States 29
Foreign forces in UK
Spanish0
Portuguese2
The Netherlands6
German5
Norwegian0
United States16


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Harassment

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to review the internal complaints procedure for harassment experienced by armed forces personnel during training; and if he will make a statement. [25317]

Mr. Ingram: The armed forces take their obligations as an employer very seriously. The Armed Forces Code of Social Conduct sets standards of personal behaviour and we uphold a policy of zero tolerance towards any incidents of harassment, victimisation, unlawful discrimination or bullying. The well established procedures for dealing with harassment complaints within the Services do not differentiate between those under training and those who are trained.

Nuclear Base

David Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future (a) operation and (b) organisation of Britain's nuclear base on the River Clyde. [25426]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence is seeking to modernise arrangements for warship support and achieve best value for money for the Defence budget. At the Clyde, as at the other Naval Bases at Devonport and Portsmouth, we have received proposals from the Dockyard Companies for potential partnering arrangements. We have also received alternative proposals from the Trades Unions for the pursuit of efficiencies at the Naval Bases. All options are currently being considered, and decisions on the way ahead will be made in the near future. We have no plans to privatise the facilities.

The Naval Base Commander will remain in charge of the operation of the Base and in control of all the outputs. The proposals for partnering at the Clyde would entail Babcock Rosyth Defence Ltd. taking on the management of engineering support, facilities and estates management and certain logistics functions at the Naval Base. There would be no change to the overall operation of the Base. The proposals will not affect nuclear authorisation, or safety and security at the Naval Base.

Heavy Equipment Transporter

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to take receipt of the first heavy equipment transporter; and who is the prime contractor. [25695]

Dr. Moonie: I expect the first 20 heavy equipment transporters to enter service in 2003. The equipment will not be the property of the Ministry of Defence but will be owned and operated by the Fasttrax consortium, led by Brown and Root, under the privately financed service contract placed on 14 December 2001.

Armoured Vehicles

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Challenger II tanks, (b) Warrior, (c) Saxon, (d) FV430, (e) Sabre, (f) Scimitar, (g) Striker, (h) Spartan, (i) Sultan, (j) Samson and (k) Samaritan armoured vehicles were operational in (i) October and (ii) November. [25699]

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Mr. Ingram: The information requested is held quarterly and not monthly. The information for the quarter ending 31 December 2001 will be available at the end of this month. I will write to the hon. Member at that stage and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

WEU

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military planning officials from the WEU will be transferred to the EU military planning section. [25797]

Mr. Hoon: The WEU military staff ceased to function in June 2001. EU military staff posts are filled by national secondees. There has been no formal transfer of WEU military staff to the EU, although some individuals have been transferred.

A400M

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many A400M's have to be ordered by EU member states for the programme to be cost effective. [25801]

Dr. Moonie: The A400M contract signed on 18 December 2001 was for an initial order of 196 aircraft, well above the notional programme viability level of 180 aircraft. An offtake of less than 180 would impact on programme costs, which would clearly need to be considered by partner nations.

Aircrew Retention

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the series of issues affecting retention that the working party on Aircrew Retention has been examining. [25703]

Mr. Ingram: The main issues identified by the Aircrew Retention Review as to why aircrew leave the Services were:





Action to address some of these issues was already in hand (such as the creation of a Defence Leadership Centre); for others it will take longer to make an impact but, under the direction of the Defence Management Board, plans are being drawn up to address each of the issues raised by aircrew. In some cases the retention-negative factors are an integral part of life in the armed forces and, as an acknowledgement of this, Service pay is augmented by the "X" factor (currently 13 per cent.).

Royal Navy Ships

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the present deployment of Royal Navy ships. [25798]

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Mr. Ingram: As at 7 January 2002, 21 Royal Navy ships were deployed from their home ports. HMS Illustrious, HMS Fearless, HMS Cornwall and HMS Southampton are deployed in the Gulf region in support of Operation Veritas. The Armilla Patrol Ship HMS Kent is also in the Gulf. The survey vessel HMS Scott is deployed in the Arabian Sea. HMS Montrose, HMS Leeds Castle and the Ice Patrol Vessel, HMS Endurance, are in the South Atlantic. HMS Exeter, allocated to NATO's Standing Naval Forces Atlantic, is currently in the mediterranean as is the survey vessel HMS Beagle. HMS Chatham left Devonport on 6 January to rejoin NATO Standing Force Mediterranean. Other ships away from their home ports are HMS Cumberland, HMS Portland, HMS Campbeltown, HMS Somerset, HMS Middleton, HMS Dulverton, HMS Lindisfarne, HMS Dumbarton Castle and HMS Alderney. These vessels are deployed in or around UK waters, either on patrol, trials or transit.

HMS Sutherland is alongside at Devonport at 14 days notice to move to the Caribbean.

For completeness, as at 7 January 2002, a total of 14 Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships were also deployed in support of the Royal Navy ships.


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