Previous Section Index Home Page

Nuclear Decommissioning

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many nuclear facilities, storage areas, fixed equipment and reactors (a) have been in the last 30 years and (b) are planned to be decommissioned by his Department; and in each case, what the cost was. [60394]

Dr. Moonie: Data on how many nuclear facilities, storage areas, fixed equipment and reactors decommissioned over the past 30 years within the Ministry of Defence is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, expenditure from 1997–98 was provided to my hon. Friend on 5 March 2002, Official Report, columns 162–63W.

As at 31 March 2001 (the latest available published figures), the MOD's nuclear liabilities amounted to £3,574,809,000 (representing the liabilities discounted at 6 per cent. and expressed in 2000–01 money values) or £16,039,639,000 (undiscounted). A more detailed breakdown is not available in the form requested.

Farnborough Airshow

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what support his Department is giving to the organisers of the Farnborough Airshow taking place in July; and if his Department is providing assistance to enable overseas visitors to attend it. [60616]

Dr. Moonie: In support of the Government's commitment to a strong United Kingdom defence industry, the Ministry of Defence undertakes a broad range of activities in support of The Society of British Aerospace Companies organisation of this prestigious show to help ensure its continued position as the world's premier business aerospace exhibition. Normal marketing support to United Kingdom exhibitors is provided by the Defence Export Services Organisation, and other assistance includes helping the organisers ensure the maximum exposure of United Kingdom products to potential customers by supporting official inward visits.

United Kingdom Hydrographic Office

Ann McKechin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made with the Quinquennial Review of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office; and if he will make a statement. [61910]

Dr. Moonie: I am pleased to announce today the outcome of the first stage of the Quinquennial Review of the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO).

12 Jun 2002 : Column 1260W

Phase 1 of the review, announced on 9 May 2001, was headed by Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, then Deputy CINCFleet. A steering group directed the work of the review team. It had an independent chairperson and comprised representatives of the Royal Navy, the UKHO, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Meteorological Office, HM Treasury, Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Defence's business improvement team.

The UKHO was established as a Defence support agency of the MOD in 1990, and has operated as a Trading Fund since 1996.

Evidence was taken from a wide range of stakeholders and customers, including the Royal Navy, commercial customers, other Government Departments, port authorities and other hydrographic offices, as well as from staff.

Phase 1 of the review recommends that the UKHO should seek to maintain its position as the leading hydrographic office internationally, and should focus on meeting UK defence and Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) obligations. It should continue as a trading fund for the immediate future, but its future status needs to ensure that it is best placed to maintain its self-financing structure in the digital era. While the strong national interest of the UKHO's work is deemed consistent with continued Government ownership and responsibility, the UKHO is encouraged to seek partnerships with the private sector to help it to better exploit both current and new wider markets.

I have accepted the Phase 1 report, in particular the recommendation that the UKHO should aim in the medium term to convert to a wholly owned, Government- owned, company if certain conditions relating to its future role in the digital era are met. Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive to report to the Hydrographic Office Ministerial Advisory Board in two years time, to allow the board to review progress towards viability as a Government-owned company in the digital era, covering both income and cost base, and the protection of data supply. I have placed copies of a summary of the report in the Library of the House.

Phase 2 of the Quinquennial Review will cover the implementation of the recommendations of Phase 1, and review efficiency measures. It will also cover the strategy for addressing the requirements of other Government Departments, and governance and scrutiny issues.

Reserve Forces

Mr. Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes he plans to the role of the reserves in home defence and security. [61911]

Mr. Hoon: The work to date on the New Chapter to the Strategic Defence Review indicates that there is scope for an additional role for the reserves in home defence and security tasks, which would draw on their strengths and skills in the response to a crisis and which the reserves would themselves welcome. To explain our concept and to seek views upon it, the Ministry of Defence has today issued a discussion document entitled "The Role of the Reserves in Home Defence and Security". Copies of the document have been placed in the Library of the House. It makes proposals for providing a significant

12 Jun 2002 : Column 1261W

enhancement to the support which the Department and armed forces can provide to the civil authorities in such circumstances in three areas:

This is a significant development for our reserve forces, and an important new challenge for them. We will take account of the views of the reserves and their employers on the discussion document in finalising our proposals. At that stage, we will also take a final view on the implications for the size and shape of our reserve forces.

Disposal Services Agency

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what key targets have been set for the Disposal Services Agency for financial year 2002–03. [61912]

Dr. Moonie: The agency was originally launched as the Disposal Sales Agency in October 1994, and was re-launched in November 2000 as the Disposal Services Agency. The agency provides much more than a sales function for surplus Ministry of Defence equipment and stores. It provides a total disposal solution by acting as a broker and adding value through expert advice across the public sector. The agency is therefore operating very much in line with the Government's aim of more joined-up delivery.

The chief executive of the agency has been set the following key targets for the financial year 2002–03.


Transport Projects

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will list the major transport investment projects that have been given final go-ahead by his Department since 7 June 2001. [59359]

Mr. Jamieson: I have been asked to reply.

12 Jun 2002 : Column 1262W

The following projects were fully accepted in the period:

24 major local transport schemes have been provisionally accepted, conditional on statutory procedures which are essential to the scheme, or where the scheme is dependent on a contribution from a third party.

Four schemes have been added to the targeted programme of improvements—these are still subject to statutory procedures.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what legal powers he will hold to require Network Rail to change the nature of the use of sub-contractors for network maintenance. [59332]

Mr. Jamieson: I have been asked to reply.

The management of maintenance contracts would be a matter for Network Rail, if it succeeds Railtrack as network operator. The guidelines issued by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 31 October 2001 specify that bidders should demonstrate proposals for focused and effective contract management. Network Rail has said it plans to improve relations with maintenance organisations through longer contracts, better alignment of incentives and by awarding contracts on the basis of best value assessments—not necessarily the lowest price.

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for railways regulation. [62144]

Mr. Darling: As the Government announced in October 2001, they have been considering whether the railways regulatory framework continues to be fit for purpose given the changing circumstances faced by the UK rail industry. The Government's considerations have been guided by a number of key overarching principles:

Having reviewed the current regulatory regime, the Government propose to build on the existing board structure of the ORR by establishing a statutory regulatory board. This is in line with Government policy on independent regulatory authorities, is consistent with the recommendations of the Better Regulation Task Force, and has been done in the case of the regulation of the gas

12 Jun 2002 : Column 1263W

and electricity industries (Utilities Act 2000) and postal services (Postal Services Act 2000) and is in the course of being done for the Office of Fair Trading (Enterprise Bill) and the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors (Communications Bill).

The regulator's duties include requirements to have regard to the SRA's strategies and budget. In view of the importance the Government attach to continued close working between the SRA and the regulator on these matters, I intend to issue directions to the SRA and guidance to the regulator on how I expect these requirements to be reflected in any future review of the network operator's revenue requirements.

The Government will need to continue to keep the effectiveness of the regime under review as the rail sector develops. The implementation of EU Directives already requires the Government to review the regulatory framework and adjust it in accordance with the Directives as necessary (the implementation of the First Railway Package of Directives is due by March 2003).

In making any further changes to the regulatory regime, the Government will continue to have regard to all of the principles set out above, treating the first one on independent economic regulation as an essential continuing requirement. Should the Government conclude that any change is required, they would consult key stakeholders on proposals in the normal way before bringing forward appropriate legislation.

Next Section Index Home Page