|Previous Section||Index||Home Page|
Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assistance his Department has (a) offered and (b) given to the Government and armed forces of Angola with regard to the planned integration of the UNITA rebel forces into the regular army; and if he will make a statement; 
10 Jun 2002 : Column 739W
Mr. Ingram: The assistance the Ministry of Defence provides to Governments and armed forces overseas is co-ordinated closely with that provided by other Government Departments. In the case of Angola, no assistance has been offered or given by MOD to the Government and armed forces, either during the time frame in question or in support of the planned integration of UNITA forces. However, Her Majesty's Government remain in close contact with the Angolan Government, the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative for Africa, and international partners, and have offered to the Government of Angola an opportunity to visit Sierra Leone to see at first hand the challenges of integrating ex-combatants. MOD will, of course, be involved as appropriate with this initiative, should it go ahead.
Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what regional organisation his Department has; and if he will list the counties and unitary authorities in each region in (a) 1997 and (b) 2002; 
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what purpose officials from his Department visited BioReliance in Stirling at the end of 2001; what other organisations were visited on the same basis; and on what dates these visits took place. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 23 May 2002]: During November and December 2001 representatives from Dstl Porton Down and the Medical Supplies Agency visited the facilities of the following biotechnology companies to discuss the procurement of a vaccine against smallpox: Excel Biotech on 12 November 2001, Q1 Biotech on 3 December 2001, BioReliance on 4 December 2001 and Powderject on 7 December 2001. In addition to these visits they also had discussions in London with Bavarian Nordic on 30 November 2001 and Acambis on 19 December 2001.
(2) Information to 27 May only
10 Jun 2002 : Column 740W
The figures relate only to those Press Releases issued by the Ministry of Defence's central Press Office. In addition to these, the single Services, the regional defence press offices and Defence Agencies also issue Press Releases. They also reissue some central Press Notices for local distribution. Accurate figures on these, which take account of any "duplicate releases", could only be provided at disproportionate cost.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many press releases were issued by his Department (a) in each month between May and December 1997 and (b) in each year from 1998 to 2001 inclusive. 
These figures relate only to those press releases issued by the Ministry of Defence's central press office. In addition to these, the single services, the regional defence press offices and defence agencies issue their own press notices. They also re-issue some central press notices for local distribution. Accurate figures on these, which take account of any "duplicate releases", could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Dr. Moonie: The Skill Force scheme forms part of the Ministry of Defence's contribution to our wider Government social exclusion policies. The initiative aims to prevent young people from feeling long-term disaffection with school and society. It is currently being piloted in 11 areas and in 47 schools in England and Scotland. Discussions are currently being held with a view to extending the pilot to Wales.
A feature of the scheme is the use of recently retired service personnel as instructors for selected children in years 10 and 11 in a number of state secondary schools; and this has proved very effective. Skill Force emphasises instruction in vocational subjects with the aim of acquiring the Award Scheme Development and Accreditation
10 Jun 2002 : Column 741W
Network modular vocational award at bronze/silver level. Participants also take part in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award; St. John's Ambulance Young Life Saver's award and the OCR First Certificate in Preparation for Employment. The Skill Force scheme is funded by MOD, Department for Education and Skills (DfES), HM Treasury's Invest to Save Budget and local partners.
An integral part of the Skill Force pilot scheme has been rigorous and independent evaluation by the British Market Research Bureau. The most recent evaluation report, based on the two original schemes that started in September 2000 in Newcastle and Norfolk, has been completed. The report has shown that Skill Force has helped to maintain attendance rates of over 90 per cent. among children who would otherwise have been expected to display sharply declining attendance, sometimes leading to exclusion, through years 10 and 11. Exclusions from these schools have been reduced by 72 per cent. compared with those predicted by the head teachers at the start of the scheme.
The Skill Force initiative has been supported by DfES from the outset, with the Invest to Save Budget bid being made jointly by the MOD, Home Office and DfES. In response to the Government's Street Crime Initiative, Skill Force is one of the schemes 11 local education authorities have been invited to consider to help them to deliver part of DfES's Behaviour Improvement Programme. A decision from the London education authorities on whether they wish to use Skill Force is expected shortly.
Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if the Trident refit complex at Devonport, Plymouth has received all the necessary certificates from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate; 
Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research programmes are being carried out by the Government (a) unilaterally and (b) in partnership with other Governments into the development of (i) non-lethal weapons and (ii) new techniques and equipment for use in urban warfare. 
Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has few research programmes that specifically address non-lethal weapons. There are, however, a wider variety of research programmes that might be considered to contribute to non-lethal capabilities, details of which I am withholding under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. The MOD's main non-lethal weapon is the baton round which is employed in forces world wide.
Work into alternatives to baton rounds and a broader range of public order equipment is currently under way and is being led by the Northern Ireland Office. This is in response to recommendations in the Patten report and
10 Jun 2002 : Column 742W
from the Association of Chief Police Officers, who are looking to enhance the police's range of less lethal weaponry.
On the question of international partnerships, the United Kingdom does not collaborate with any Government on non-lethal technologies. However, it does have information exchange agreements with both the US and our European partners. No research programmes in the fields of non-lethal weapons or new techniques and equipment for use in urban warfare are being carried out by the Ministry of Defence in partnership with foreign Governments.
On the development of techniques and equipment for use in urban warfare, it is not yet clear to what extent the UK will be involved in fighting in these areas in the future. We are, however, undertaking a number of studies into how existing and planned equipment and doctrine could be developed for use in an urban environment.
|Next Section||Index||Home Page|