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Porton Down

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is regarding the selection of films held in the archive of the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down to be transferred to the Imperial War Museum for permanent preservation; and what plans he has to change this policy. [43454]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 9 May 2001, Official Report, column 196W. Films held in the archive at Dstl Porton Down are gradually being transferred to the Imperial War Museum in accordance with Ministry of Defence policy. The final decision on which films should be preserved for permanent preservation rests with the Imperial War Museum. There are currently no plans to change this procedure.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what dates since 1 January 1999 the Independent Ethics Committee overseeing human experiments at the Chemical Defence Establishment, Porton Down has discussed the long-term effects of nerve gas on humans during its meetings. [43453]

Dr. Moonie: The Independent Ethics Committee overseeing the conduct of the Service Volunteer Programme at Dstl Porton Down has not discussed the possible long term effects of exposure to nerve agents during its meetings since 1 January 1999.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the report produced by the Chemical Defence Establishment, Porton Down in 1973 entitled "The effects of a chemical agent on the eyes of aircrew". [43444]

Dr. Moonie: Yes.

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many films are held by the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment, Porton Down, of its biological warfare trial known as Operation Ozone which was conducted in 1954 off the Bahamas; and if he will place a list of the titles and dates of these films in the Library. [43456]

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Dr. Moonie: Dstl Porton Down holds two canisters of 16 mm film entitled Operation Ozone 'Master' and Operation Ozone 'View' together with a videotape, entitled "Operation Ozone—1954", which contains footage extracted from the 16 mm 'Master' shot during the trial.

However, the titles of the 1,200 films in the archive at Dstl Porton Down have not been catalogued and in many cases are not very informative. It would involve disproportionate cost to collate a compete list of films. It is not, therefore, possible to say if the two canisters of film and the videotape detailed above represents the sum total of Dstl Porton Down's film holdings in relation to Operation Ozone.

Overseas Territories/Sovereign Bases

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when (a) he, (b) a member of the Chief of the Staff and (c) a naval vessel last visited each of the (i) British Overseas Territories and (ii) sovereign bases. [44034]

Dr. Moonie: The information requested is as follows:


The last visits by naval vessels were as follows:


Incapacitated Personnel

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action he is taking to facilitate the continuing employment by the armed forces in (a) a military or (b) a civilian capacity of those who become incapacitated to serve in front-line units. [44268]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence is pursuing initiatives to reduce the numbers who are temporarily unfit for operational purposes because of injury. These initiatives include measures aimed at prevention of injury,

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for example, improvements to the physical fitness training programmes for new entrants. The measures also include swifter assessment and better treatment of those who are injured, especially through the creation of additional rehabilitation facilities. These steps are expected to lead to a reduction in the numbers of personnel who are medically downgraded, including a reduction in the numbers who are invalided as a consequence of injury.

Any personnel developing a permanent condition which degrades their functional capacity may require to be permanently downgraded or invalided as appropriate. The recommendation will be made in accordance with the service's medical boarding procedures. A Medical Board may recommend that an individual's medical condition is compatible with continued service in a permanently reduced medical category but the final decision will be made by the employing authority, taking into account the ability for the service to continue to employ an individual with the relevant restriction. If, despite efforts to the contrary, this turns out not to be practicable, the individual will be invalided.

In the case of officers invalided from the service, subject to meeting the health requirements laid down, eligible individuals may apply for employment under the MOD Retired Officer scheme. Alternatively, there are no restrictions on disabled people being employed in civilian jobs in the MOD. The Department complies fully with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and was one of the first Departments to achieve the Employment Service two-tick "Positive about disabled people" symbol in May 1995. The MOD also has its own Disability Fund to pay for specialist equipment and training to help disabled employees develop their full potential at work. The Department is a member of the Employers' Forum on Disability and currently funds three disability bursaries through the Cabinet Office scheme. Around 5 per cent. of the civilian workforce of the MOD has a declared disability. This percentage is broadly in line with the estimated numbers of economically active disabled people in the working population as a whole.

Finally, the Veterans Agency will run an integrated website and free-phone helpline from 2 April 2002 to provide the first point of contact for veterans and their dependents seeking advice and information.

Medical Staff

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the establishment of (a) doctors by specialty, (b) nurses and (c) technicians required by (i) field hospitals of the TA AMS, (ii) medical squadrons of the TA AMS and (iii) TA AMS specialist units, stating in each case the number of (A) doctors by specialty, (B) nurses and (C) technicians serving in each category; and if he will make a statement. [38319]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 27 February 2002]: The answer to this question consists of an extensive set of tables, which I will place in the Library of the House.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the operational deployments of each (a) TA AMS field hospital, (b) TA AMS medical squadrons and (c) TA AMS specialist units in each of the last five years,

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stating in each case the number of (i) doctors by specialty, (ii) nurses and (iii) technicians deployed; and if he will make a statement. [38320]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 27 February 2002]: We do not have centrally collated records for 1997, but in the four years since 1998 no TA AMS field hospitals, TA AMS medical Squadrons or TA AMS Specialist units have been deployed on operations. Individual members of the TA AMS have, however, been deployed on operations as follows:

Profession1998199920002001Operational theatre
Anaesthetist0525Balkans
Surgeon0362All Balkans(1)
Nursing Officer9171516Balkans
Medical Officer014104Balkans
Technicians14463132Balkans

(1) Except one to Sierra Leone in 2001


Property Fraud

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many of his Department's property managers there are; how many have attended fraud awareness training sessions; and if he will make a statement; [43010]

Dr. Moonie: The Defence Housing Executive (DHE) has 20 Property Manager posts, two of which are vacant. Of the 18 staff in post, 17 have attended the DHE's own Property Managers' course, which includes a fraud awareness module. The remaining individual, a new entrant, will attend the next available course, which all DHE Property Managers are mandated to attend. In addition, there are wider Ministry of Defence fraud awareness seminars for property management and estate and finance staff, at which attendance may include appropriate DHE personnel.


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