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PFI Programmes

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilians are employed in connection with MoD PFI programmes. [50789]

Mr. Ingram: There is a small central team with 15 civilian personnel that is responsible for developing policy and best practice for the Ministry of Defence's Private Finance Initiative (PFI) programme and other types of Public Private Partnership. The central team is supported by smaller teams within the Defence Procurement Agency, Defence Logistics Organisation and other management areas, which are responsible for managing the programmes within their own areas.

The management and delivery of the PFI programme also involves managers, both military and civilian, at all levels as members of project boards, scrutiny and approving authorities, commercial advisers and customer representatives. MOD legal and finance staffs are also involved, although they usually do not work on PFI programmes full-time.

PFI projects are run by dedicated integrated project teams, the size of which varies with the size of the project and the stage it has reached in the procurement cycle. The teams can include civilian and military personnel, as well as industry representatives. External consultants may be engaged by project teams. A small number also sit on project boards.

Once contracts have been signed, they are monitored and are managed by MOD personnel, both civilian and military depending on the services concerned. But contractors' personnel deliver the services themselves and it is up to the contractors to determine the size of the civilian workforce necessary to meet our requirements.

A substantial number of civilians within and outside the MOD is employed on MOD PFI programmes, full and part-time, in a variety of roles. Information on the number of civilians employed in managing and delivering the programme and individual projects is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Royal Navy

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Fleet's fully operational destroyer and frigate strength will be in December 2002, excluding vessels held at states of low readiness. [49759]

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Mr. Ingram: In December 2002, on current plans, of the Fleet's 32 Frigates and Destroyers, 26 will be operational or engaged in preparing for service, conducting trials or training. The remaining six will be either undergoing docking periods or refit or held at a low level of readiness.

HMS Fearless

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what savings will be made from the early withdrawal of HMS Fearless. [49765]

Mr. Ingram: The earlier than previously planned withdrawal of HMS Fearless will accrue savings of at least £2 million. This will be achieved by cancelling a previously programmed assisted maintenance period and through the reduction in operating costs. Moreover, HMS Fearless is nearly 37 years old and is in poor material condition. The unique nature of much of her machinery such as boilers and steam plant make repairs and maintenance difficult and it is highly probable that further unprogrammed and potentially costly work would have been required to maintain her at the previously assumed readiness state.

HMS Illustrious

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the main elements will be in the refit of HMS Illustrious; how long the refit was originally planned to take; and how long it is expected to take. [50874]

Mr. Ingram: The main elements of HMS Illustrious's refit concern maintenance, repair and improvements to ships systems and equipment to overcome obsolescence, meet safety and environmental legislation and enhance capability in command, control and communications systems and in aviation facilities.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 14W which indicated that the refit was originally planned to take about 23 months. Detailed negotiations with the refitting contractor are currently under way, and may result in some programme adjustment.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost of the refit of HMS Illustrious is. [50815]

Mr. Ingram: The refit of HMS Illustrious is estimated to cost approximately £110 million excluding costs attributable to Ministry supplied material and naval manpower.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 10 April 2002, Official Report, column 14W, on Navy vessels, how many (a) officers and (b) crew will remain on HMS Illustrious until her refit commences; what their duties will be; how often officers and crew will be redeployed; how many officers and crew will remain with HMS Illustrious during her refit; and what HMS Illustrious's reduced state of readiness will be until October. [50777]

Mr. Ingram: HMS Illustrious remains fully staffed as the Fleet Flagship until 27 May 2002. Following this her role changes to Standby Preservation by Operation. She requires 15 officers and 196 ratings in this role, whose duties will be essential safety checks, low level maintenance and preservation checks at her reduced state

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of readiness. On commencement of her refit the crew numbers reduce to nine officers and 36 ratings. Personnel will then be employed as required in support of the refit. They will be subject to normal drafting and appointing notice, but as a reduced manned ship will, as far as possible, be protected from short notice movement of personnel. HMS Illustrious will then gradually build up to achieve full manpower by October 2004.

Helicopter Hangars

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans there are to provide temporary helicopter hangars on HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark; [50816]

Mr. Ingram: There are currently no plans to provide temporary helicopter hangars on the landing platform dock (replacement)s (LPD(R)s HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark although these could be incorporated without fundamental modification of the vessels.

The lack of hangars on the LPD(R)s will have an impact on the serviceability of helicopters. This impact was taken into account when the decision about a hangar was made and assessed as manageable. HMS Intrepid and HMS Fearless, which HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark will replace, were not fitted with helicopter hangars.

Future Rapid Effects System

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress on the Army's Future Rapid Effects System project. [50004]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 17 April 2002]: The Army's Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) is in the concept phase. The operational requirement that FRES is expected to meet is close to being finalised. Initial Gate for the programme is planned for the end of 2002. We continue to review our existing armoured fighting vehicle programmes to ensure that they are coherent with the requirement for 'rapid effect'.

Ammunition Stocks

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what ammunition stocks are held in the UK; [50931]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has a stockpile of munitions held against the risk of short notice conflicts. The method of calculating the size and composition of this stockpile has undergone significant development in the last three years, and it now reflects more accurately the likely nature of the conflicts that the UK armed forces could become involved in. Specific information relating to ammunition stock levels is withheld under Exemption 1 (Defence, Security and International Relations) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has classified the secure supply of ammunition as being of strategic importance. [50934]

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Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has always considered security of supply and value for the taxpayer's money to be key criteria in the procurement of safe and reliable munitions for the armed forces. The issue of security of supply was examined in detail by the House of Commons Defence Select Committee in 1999 and the committee recognised that in balancing security of supply against cost, it is likely that there are very few capabilities that must, on strategic grounds, be retained in the UK.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances it is the Government's policy to subsidise ammunition manufacturers in the UK to ensure its supply. [50935]

Dr. Moonie: The framework partnering agreement between Royal Ordnance Defence and the Ministry of Defence provides the company with contracted ammunition requirements for a rolling three-year period, firm requirements for a further two years, and a best forecast up to the 10-year point. The agreement is not a subsidy; it is intended to provide a vital link to industry to help ensure the supply of safe and reliable munitions for our armed forces.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contractual guarantees exist to safeguard the supply of ammunition by overseas manufacturers in (a) peace and (b) war. [50933]

Dr. Moonie: During the past year the Ministry of Defence has only obtained around 8 per cent. (by value) of its ammunition from overseas manufacturers. Supply and re-supply arrangements are taken into account when letting contracts. There is no difference in contractual arrangements for re-supply in peace or war. The supply of military stores and components for the UK armed forces from overseas is not a new venture, as our many collaborative projects demonstrate. Such contracts can meet both our requirements and demonstrate added value for money.

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