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FYR Macedonia

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what military aid is being given by the UK Government to the FYR Macedonia; and what plans his Department has to give military aid to the FYR Macedonia in the next six months. [45243]

Mr. Ingram: A small number of British military strategic planners are providing advice to the Macedonian Ministry of Defence. These planners are led by a United Kingdom Defence Adviser to the Macedonian government, whose role is to advise on Macedonia's NATO Membership Action Plan and on improvements in the Macedonian government's ability to carry out defence planning. The UK provides similar Defence Advisors to the Ministry of Defences of other NATO aspirant nations.

We have a well-established outreach programme of bilateral defence assistance with Macedonia, designed to help establish democratically accountable, cost-effective armed forces that are capable of contributing to national, regional and international security. The programme includes English language training in the UK and at the Military Academy in Skopje; multi-national seminars and courses; arms control training; and assistance with personnel and budgeting matters.

Recently a British Military Advisory and Training Team provided advice on how to conduct low-level counter-insurgency training for the Macedonian Rapid Reaction Brigade, so as to meet Western standards for such training. We expect this programme to continue over the next months and will investigate what military assistance we can best provide for the Macedonian for the longer term.

During 2001 the UK donated a range of non-lethal military equipment to the Macedonian Government. The equipment gifted was body armour, mine detectors, global positioning system devices, a remote control bomb disposal vehicle, and parachute flares.

RAF Lyneham

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when contracts will be issued for the construction of (a) the new gym and (b) the community centre on the NAAFI site at RAF Lyneham. [45458]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 March 2002]: The construction of the Physical Training and Recreation Centre and the Community Centre has been postponed pending the outcome of the Strategic Review. The study will report in the summer and I will be in a position to answer this more fully at that time.

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Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what infrastructure improvements are (a) in hand and (b) pending at RAF Lyneham. [45459]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 March 2002]: All of the planned infrastructure improvements at RAF Lyneham have been completed for this Financial Year, and only emergency maintenance is currently being undertaken. The number of emergency improvements changes on a daily basis but on 20 March 2002, we estimate that there were some 60 such works being undertaken at the Station. The number of infrastructure improvements runs into many thousands over the year sine they are often very small-scale tasks. If there are specific improvements in which the hon. Member is interested, I will provide details of those.

Harrier Aircraft

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the upgrade of the RAF's GR7s and Royal Navy's FA2 Sea Harriers to type GR9 Harriers will cost; and if he will make a statement. [46031]

Mr. Ingram: I refer to the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 13 March 2002, Official Report, columns 1166–1167W.

The Royal Navy's Sea Harrier fleet will be withdrawn from service by 2006 and are not part of the Harrier GR9 upgrade programme.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the measures introduced to combat sexism in the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. [46028]

Mr. Ingram: The Armed Forces strive to provide an environment in which every individual is respected and valued and given the opportunity to realise their potential without fear of harassment or unlawful discrimination. All three Services have in place complaints procedures, issue guidance on behaviour, undertake training, and appoint Equal Opportunities advisers in every unit. They monitor results through attitude surveys, focus groups, and longer-term studies. Although the number of complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination are small the Services see no room for complacency and aim to confront unacceptable behaviour at every opportunity.

Helicopter Crash (South Armagh)

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on (a) the casualties injured in the RAF Puma helicopter crash in South Armagh on 17 March and (b) the probable causes of the crash. [46369]

Mr. Ingram: Out of the three RAF crew and six passengers on board, seven were taken to hospital for treatment following the crash, four of whom were detained. As of Monday 25 March one of the casualties remains listed as seriously ill. Our thoughts are with all of the inured.

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A Royal Air Force Board of Inquiry has been convened to determine the cause of the accident. However, in the interim, I can confirm that it was not terrorist related.

MoD Police

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the sites from which MoD police have been withdrawn from security duties since 1997, stating in each case the (a) reason for withdrawal, (b) company who have replaced MoD police duties, (c) terms of the contract for such companies, including cost to the MoD per year, (d) expected savings to his Department and (e) the contingency for armed cover; and if he will make a statement. [44721]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Chinook Crash

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what legal advice he has recently requested in relation to his Department's review of the handling of the investigation into the crash of the ZD 576 Chinook helicopter in June 1994; and if he will make a statement. [45861]

Mr. Ingram: The House of Lords Select Committee expressed the opinion that the applicable standard of proof of absolutely no doubt whatsoever was not met by the Board of Inquiry finding. In the light of these comments, I have asked for further opinion in order to satisfy myself as to whether or not the legal approach adopted at the time was fully justified.


Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces are deployed in Northern Ireland, broken down by service; and what the equivalent figures were a year ago. [46306]

Mr. Ingram: The number of Armed Force personnel, broken down by service, under the command of the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland (GOC NI) and stationed in Northern Ireland at the 28 February 2001 and 2002 is set out in the following table.

As at 28 FebruaryArmyRAFNavy

The level of Armed Force personnel in Northern Ireland fluctuates throughout the year depending on the security situation. The GOC NI also has under his command troops that are rear based in Great Britain that can be called forward to the Province as and when required. In addition other troops can be made available to the GOC NI from Land Command if required for example during the marching season.

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Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the strength of the armed forces deployed in (a) the Balkans, (b) Macedonia, (c) Kosovo and (d) Bosnia (i) is and (ii) was a year ago. [46304]

Mr. Ingram: Some 4,900 UK Armed Forces personnel are currently deployed to the Balkans region. Of these 3,000 are deployed for KFOR operations, and 1,900 are deployed for SFOR operations. These numbers are approximate only. Around a dozen Armed Forces personnel are deployed to Macedonia.

One year ago, some 4,800 UK Armed Forces personnel were deployed to the Balkans region. Of these 3,100 were deployed for KFOR operations and 1,700 were deployed for SFOR operations. These numbers are approximate only. In addition, a Defence Attache, a Defence Adviser and two staff assistants were deployed to Macedonia.


Reserve Expenditure

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide a breakdown for each financial year since April 1992 of (a) the proportion and (b) the amount in real terms spent from the reserves. [34141]

Mr. Andrew Smith: The level of the Reserve within the overall control limit on departmental spending (Departmental Expenditure Limits since 1998–99, Control Totals previous to that) is set out at the beginning of each financial year in the Financial Statement and Budget Report. Outturn against departments' individual control limits, including any additions made from the Reserve, is given each summer in the Public Expenditure Outturn White Paper.

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