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Law Commission

Mr. Borrow: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when the Law Commission intends to publish its 36th annual report. [46794]

Mr. Wills: The Law Commission has today published its thirty-sixth Annual Report, and copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Personal Injury Awards

Chris McCafferty: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when his

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Department will publish the impact analysis of the discount rate change for personal injury awards from 3 per cent. and 2.5 per cent. [47158]

Mr. Wills: The Lord Chancellor has today placed in the Libraries of both Houses the analysis of the impact of the discount rate change.

Parliamentary Boundary Reviews

David Wright: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department how many parliamentary boundary reviews have been undertaken in Shropshire since 1972. [45134]

Dr. Whitehead: I have been asked to reply.

Three reviews have been undertaken by the Boundary Commission for England since 1972.

The third periodic review of all constituencies in England commenced in February 1976 and was completed in February 1983.

An interim review, commenced in December 1986 and completed April 1987 considered the boundaries of Ludlow County Constituency, Shrewsbury and Atcham County Constituency, and The Wrekin Borough Constituency.

The fourth review of all constituencies in England commenced in February 1991 and was completed in April 1995.


Army Base Repair Organisations

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Army Base Repair Organisation. [46925]

Mr. Ingram: Following approval by this House and the enactment of the requisite Statutory Instrument, ABRO will become a Trading Fund from 1 April 2002.

This marks a significant stage in the development of ABRO as a flexible organisation able to respond rapidly to the demands placed upon it and equipped to shape its own future in both the defence community and the commercial arenas.

Operating as a Trading Fund gives the Chief Executive additional financial and management freedoms to manage ABRO along commercial lines.

The current Chief Executive, Mr. Michael Hayle, will continue to fill that position after conversion.

Chemical Protection Programme

Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the information submitted to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons about the UK's chemical protection programme. [46936]

Mr. Ingram: Under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) we are required to provide information annually to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on the UK's chemical protection programme. The programme is

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designed to protect against the use of chemical weapons and is permitted by the CWC, with which the UK is fully compliant. In accordance with the Government's commitment to openness, I am placing in the Library of the House a copy of the summary that has been provided to the Organisation outlining the UK's chemical protection programme for 2002.

Analytical Services Agency

Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what performance targets have been set for the Defence Analytical Services Agency for 2002–03. [46937]

Mr. Ingram: Key Targets have been set for the Chief Executive of the Defence Analytical Services Agency for Financial Year 2002–03. The targets build on the progress already made by the Agency since it formed in 1992 and are as follows:

Environmental Sustainability

Mr. Watts: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to publish his Department's approach to environmental sustainability. [46938]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence is constantly striving to meet and maintain the highest standards, both for the environment and the wider challenges of sustainable development. To this end we are launching an XAppraisal Handbook for Sustainability and the Environment" on 26 March 2002. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

The handbook is an easy-to-follow guide on how to conduct an effective environmental and sustainability screening exercise in applying the Government's policy of sustainable development. It will help MOD planners identify the potential environmental, social and economic impact of proposed programmes, plans or projects.

Investment Approvals Board

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the role of his Department's Investment Approvals Board. [46939]

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Mr. Hoon: The Investment Approvals Board (IAB) will have a broadly similar role to that of the Equipment Approvals Committee (EAC), which it will replace on 2 April. Its membership will consist of the Chief Scientific Advisor (Chair), the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, the Second Permanent Under Secretary of State, the Chief of Defence Procurement and the Chief of Defence Logistics. The IAB, like the EAC, will advise Ministers on major equipment and other investment projects. It will also have responsibility for the scrutiny and approvals processes for investment decisions on all non-equipment investment projects as well as equipment projects, including those considered by delegated approving authorities. It will be a major part of the IAB's task to ensure that proposals for Defence investment are soundly based and deliverable through robust project management and Smart Acquisition processes. There are no changes to the existing arrangements under which Ministers take and announce decisions on major projects.

Missile Defence Systems

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what financial provision has been made in (a) each of the last five years and (b) future years for investigating the possibility of deploying missile defence systems. [38953]

Mr. Hoon: It remains the case that we believe it is as yet premature to decide on acquiring ballistic missile defences to deploy either for defence of the UK or of deployed forces. But we have carried out a range of studies focused on assessing the threat and the feasibility of the technology available to counter it, and continue to do so. A Pre-Feasibility Study was completed in June 1996, and an extension to it was carried out during 1997 and 1998 at a cost of #300K. The Technology Readiness and Risk Assessment Programme (TRRAP) was carried out between 1998 and 2001 at a total cost of #12.5 million. A further programme of work beyond TRRAP to look further at the main technical risk areas it identified, and at the feasibility of defending against more complex and longer range threats, is underway. Studies are also assessing the significance of any capability gap in defence against theatre ballistic missiles, including the role that active theatre missile defence systems might play. The total cost of the current work in this financial year is #3.6 million. This work is due to continue until March 2003 with a similar level of financial provision.

Energy Costs

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on energy costs incurred by his Department in each of the last 10 years. [42443]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence units report their energy consumption, not the cost of their energy usage. Therefore, the information requested is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Non-proliferation Treaty

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made towards

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implementing the 13 point programme agreed upon at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2000; and if he will make a statement. [44651]

Mr. Hoon: The United Kingdom regards the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime. We remain firmly committed to the Treaty and also to the Final Document agreed at the Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2000. We are recognised as the most forward-leaning of the Nuclear Weapon States.

This Government has taken a large number of actions to promote nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Since 1997, we have reduced our operationally available stockpile to fewer than 200 warheads. We have reduced the readiness of our nuclear forces with only a single Trident submarine on deterrent patrol, carrying 48 warheads against a previously planned ceiling of 96 warheads per submarine. We have signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and continue to promote its entry into force, and we are still pressing for negotiations to begin at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

In addition to the measures set out above, we have signed and ratified the relevant protocols to both the Treaty of Raratonga (South Pacific Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone) and the treaty of Pelindaba (African Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone). We have placed fissile material no longer required for defence purposes under international safeguards, have been more transparent about nuclear and fissile material stockpiles and begun a national accounting for fissile material produced. We have also begun a programme to develop UK expertise in verifying the reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons internationally.

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