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Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will identify the local education authorities whose information on teacher vacancies had not been validated when the statistical first release was issued. 
Mr. Timms: As in past years, the Government have no plans to publish the names of local education authorities whose information on teachers in service and teacher vacancies had not been validated when Statistical First Release 05/2002 was issued on 24 April. Statistical first releases are published on the basis that their contents should be considered to be provisional in their entirety.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the United States Government about their stance on the position of José Bustani in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. 
22 May 2002 : Column 362W
Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training courses run by his Department have been attended by overseas military personnel from (a) China and (b) Zimbabwe since May 1997. 
Mr. Ingram: During the period 1 May 1997 to 20 May 2002, 63 Chinese and 25 Zimbabwean military personnel have attended training courses at United Kingdom military establishments. A full breakdown of the courses attended and numbers trained by country is as follows.
(2) Financial year
(3) Military students
Numbers include Royal College of Defence Studies and Defence Diplomacy Scholarship Schemes.
|Course title||Number of students||Dates|
|Courses attended by China(4)|
|Royal College of Defence Studies||1||1997|
|Royal College of Defence Studies||1||1998|
|Royal College of Defence Studies||1||1999|
|International Intelligence Directors||1||19992000|
|Diploma in Defence Diplomacy||2||19992000|
|Royal College of Defence Studies||1||2000|
|Advanced Command and Staff Course||1||200001|
|Beaconsfield Military English Course||3||200001|
|English Language Training for China||3||200001|
|Defence Diplomacy ScholarshipMSc Global Security||1||200001|
|Diploma in Defence Diplomacy||2||200002|
|Royal College of Defence Studies||1||2001|
|Chinese English Language Training||6||200102|
|Advanced Command and Staff Course||1||200102|
|English Language Training for China||2||200102|
|Beaconsfield Military English Course||6||200102|
|Diploma in Defence Diplomacy||2||200102|
|Defence Diplomacy ScholarshipMSc Global Security||1||200102|
|Master of Defence Administration||1||200102|
|Diploma in Defence Diplomacy||3||200102|
|International Peace Support Briefing Package||4||200102|
|Royal College of Defence Studies||1||2002|
|Chinese English Language Training||6||200203|
|English for Advanced Command and Staff Course||2||200203|
|Peacekeeping Basic Skills Course||10||200203|
|Courses attended by Zimbabwe(4)|
|Preparation for Commissioning Course||4||199798|
|Advanced Command and Staff Course||1||199798|
|Military Vehicle Technology||1||199798|
|Artificer Weapons O/S||2||199798|
|REME Company Commanders Course||1||199798|
|Total Quality Leaders Course||1||199798|
|Royal College of Defence Studies||1||1998|
|Preparation for Commissioning Course||1||199899|
|Artificer Weapons O/S||2||199899|
|Advanced Command and Staff Course||2||19992000|
|MSc in Designing Information Systems||1||200101|
(4) 1 May 1997 to 20 May 2002
22 May 2002 : Column 363W
Mr. Hoon: Women play a vital role in the armed forces. They have made, and continue to make, a valuable contribution to recent and current operations. The great majority of posts in the armed forces are already open to them. Only posts in the Royal Marines General Service, Household Cavalry, Royal Armoured Corps, the Infantry and Royal Air Force Regiment remain closed for reasons of combat effectiveness.
Following a detailed study into the performance and suitability of women in these close-combat roles, I have concluded that the case for lifting the current restrictions has not been made. I am today placing in the House of Commons Library the report of this study, entitled "Women in the Armed Forces", together with a short paper explaining the reasons for the decision.
The key issue was whether the inclusion of women in close combat teams could adversely affect the combat effectiveness of those teams in a high-intensity direct fire battle. All the units in question operate primarily in small units as fire teams or tank crews.
The evidence available suggests that on operations other than close combat the presence of women in small units does not affect performance detrimentally. However, there is no evidence to show whether this remains the case under the extraordinary conditions of high intensity close combat.
22 May 2002 : Column 364W
Given the lack of relevant direct evidence, from either field studies or the experience of other countries, I have concluded that military judgment must form the basis of the decision. The military advice is that under the conditions of a high-intensity, close-quarter battle, group cohesion becomes of much greater significance to team performance and, in such an environment, the consequences of failure can have far-reaching and grave consequences. To admit women, therefore, would involve a risk without any offsetting gains in terms of combat effectiveness.
The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 allows the armed forces to exclude women from close combat posts. The judgment of the European Court of Justice in Sirdar v. the Army Board and the Secretary of State and relevant European Community equality law uphold that position, subject to a requirement periodically to assess the position.
The Ministry of Defence is committed to equality of opportunity consistent with the need to maintain combat effectiveness. It will continue to work with the Equal Opportunities Commission and discuss with it the results of further work to examine the wider issues raised by this study. Women must have the same opportunities as men to progress to the highest ranks.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the Government's policy on the United Kingdom's (a) possession and (b) use of nuclear weapons and the basis for this policy. 
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