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Rapid Reaction Force

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the Turkish/ US/UK Joint Paper on the Rapid Reaction Force. [58775]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) on 23 May 2002, Official Report, column 478W.


Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent on press and advertising campaigns in 2001–02; and what the planned expenditure is for 2002–03. [60916]

Dr. Moonie: Expenditure for press and advertising campaigns is spread among many different budgets and budget holders within the Ministry of Defence, and is not recorded centrally. However, outturn figures for advertising and publicity are published in the annual departmental performance report. Figures for financial year 2001–02 are currently being collated and will appear in the departmental performance report for 2001–02 which is due to be published later in the years.

Forecast information for financial year 2002–03 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Suez Medal

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many representations he has received in the past 12 months requesting that a medal be awarded for the 1951–54 Suez Canal Campaign; and if he will make a statement. [61265]

Dr. Moonie: Since 1 June 2001, the Ministry of Defence has received a number of representations from right hon. and hon. Members and the general public on the subject of a retrospective campaign medal for service in the Canal Zone during the period 1951 to 1954. From available records it has been determined that the Ministry of Defence has received at least:

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One parliamentary question for oral response, five parliamentary questions for written response, 122 letters from MPs on behalf of constituents and recorded as ministerial correspondence, two early-day motions, two Adjournment debates and four letters to a Defence Minister from other than a MP, which were answered direct by him or on his behalf by his office. The Ministry of Defence has also received 88 letters from members of the public which were variously addressed to the Prime Minister, a Defence Minister, or to the Queen and were answered by an official on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. A small number of veterans have written many times on this subject.

National Rail Academy

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what discussions he has had with (a) Railtrack, (b) Network Rail, (c) the Strategic Rail Authority and (d) the Rail Regulator for the Defence Rail Executive land at Bicester to be used for the National Rail Academy; and if he will make a statement; [61782]

Dr. Moonie: The Defence Rail Executive, which is responsible for the operation and provision of Defence Rail capability, is liaising with the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) regarding the potential for using assets and land at Bicester so support SRA plans to form a National Rail Academy. Discussions are at an early stage, and no commitment has been made.

Service Accommodation

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Department's personnel houses have been sold in (a) each of the last five years and (b) in 2002; and how many were sold (i) to private developers and (ii) to social landlords. [62429]

Dr. Moonie: Most of the Families Quarters estate in England and Wales was sold to a private company, Annington Homes Ltd. (AHL) 1996, on a 999 year lease, and the Ministry of Defence leases back the houses required for service families. Properties for which the MOD has no long term requirement are handed back to AHL, under the terms of the sale agreement, for disposal. The means by which AHL chooses to dispose of the surplus properties they own is a matter over which the MOD has no influence. AHL rents out or sells the properties as a commercial organisation.

The number of properties passed to AHL in England and Wales for the years in question are:

Properties handed back to AHL

Some houses, including all family quarters in Scotland, are still owned by the MOD and disposals are handled by Defence Estates. The figures for such properties covering the whole of the UK are:

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Social landlordsOther sales

(6) to date

The figures include sales of MOD-owned houses apart from Family Quarters. "Other sales" include sales of individual houses to private purchasers.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Department's personnel housing units have been sold in the Twickenham constituency in (a) 2000, (b) 2001 and (c) 2002 so far; to whom they were sold; for what purpose; and at what price. [62430]

Dr. Moonie: All the Service Families Accommodation in the Twickenham constituency, along with most of the Service housing in England and Wales, was sold to a private company, Annington Homes Limited, in November 1996. Ministry of Defence leases back from Annington the properties required for service families and these are administered and maintained by the Defence Housing Executive.

Properties for which the MOD has no long term requirement are handed back to Annington under the terms of the sale agreement, for disposal. No service housing in Twickenham was released for disposal in 2000 or 2001, but 24 properties in the constituency were passed to Annington for disposal in March 2002. The MOD has no influence over the manner of disposal of these properties; whether they are rented out or sold is a commercial decision taken by Annington. If they are sold, the price is arrived at in consultation with local agents and in the context of the local housing market at the time of sale.

Joint Strike Fighter

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the likely preferred variant type of Joint Strike Fighter for the future aircraft carriers. [58677]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence is currently undertaking a detailed evaluation of the Short-Take-Off/ Vertical Landing and Carrier Variants of the Joint Strike Fighter to establish which would best meet our needs. A decision is planned to be taken by autumn this year and an announcement will then be made.

Princess Royal Barracks

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has had from the families of soldiers killed at the Princess Royal Barracks at Deepcut, Surrey; and if he will make a statement. [62279]

Dr. Moonie: I met with the family of the late Private Geoff Gray on 15 May 2002. A number of written representations from Mr. and Mrs. Gray have been received

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by Ministers and other right hon. and hon. Members. There have also been a number of other representations made by Members on behalf of constituents.

The Surrey police investigation into the deaths of Private Geoff Gray and Private James Collinson is continuing. It would, therefore, be inappropriate for me to comment further at this stage.

The deaths in 1995 of Private Sean Benton and Private Cheryl James have both been subject to coroner's inquests and Army Boards of Inquiry (BOI). Privates Benton and James' next of kin have received copies of the respective BOI reports.

Powers of Arrest

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what powers of arrest military authorities will have in assisting civilian authorities in the event of a terrorist attack as described in 'The Role of the Reserves in Home Defence and Security'; and if he will make a statement. [62627]

Mr. Hoon: Except where specifically authorised by statute, the armed forces have no powers of arrest over and above those of an ordinary citizen. There are no proposals to add to existing armed forces powers. This does not, however, rule out the possibility of the armed forces being asked by the police for assistance in maintaining law and order.

'The Role of the Reserves in Home Defence and Security' discussion document proposes that the Reserves should play a greater role than is currently the case in support of the police and the civil authorities. They would do so at the request of the police and in close co-operation with them.

Gulf War Syndrome

Mr. Tyler: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the submission of his Department to the War Pensions Appeal Tribunal in the case of Mr. Shaun Rusling, with an explanation for the change in description of his illness from Gulf War Syndrome; and if he will make a statement. [61872]

Dr. Moonie: As the papers submitted by Veterans Agency to the Pensions Appeal Tribunal contain details of personal and medical information relating to Mr. Rusling it would not be appropriate for the Ministry of Defence to publish them. I am therefore withholding them in accordance with Exemption 12 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. Mr. Rusling was sent a copy of these papers prior to the tribunal hearing.

Decisions on war pensions are medically certified and aim to reflect case specific facts, the relevant standard or proof and contemporary medical understanding.

Mr. Rusling first claimed war disablement pension in December 1993 for post-traumatic stress disorder and "Gulf Syndrome", described as a list of non-specific symptoms. Various disorders/symptoms were certified as attributable to service with an award paid but "Gulf Syndrome" was rejected as "not found".

In December 1996 Mr. Rusling appealed against the rejection of "Gulf Syndrome". Mr. Rusling's case was governed by the relevant war pensions legislation which

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requires disablement to be accepted unless it can be shown "beyond reasonable doubt" that there is no service link. His case was reviewed and to reflect then emerging evidence and medical understanding of Gulf illness and the war pension standard of proof, the rejected "Gulf Syndrome" was replaced by the WHO International Classification of Diseases 10th ed. diagnostic category, Signs, Symptoms and ill-defined Conditions. This included the symptoms previously claimed under "Gulf Syndrome". Mr. Rusling's award of war disablement pension was increased accordingly. Mr. Rusling was notified of the details of the decision at that time.

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Gulf war veterans have been awarded war pensions for (a) chronic fatigue and (b) post viral fatigue syndromes. [61807]

Dr. Moonie: As at 13 June 2002, 114 war pension awards in respect of chronic fatigue syndrome and three in respect of post viral fatigue syndrome have been made to Gulf war veterans.

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