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Atomic Weapons Establishments

Mr. Salter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if in future he will place in the Library copies of submissions made to local planning authorities concerning the atomic weapons establishments as they occur, and inform the House as they are deposited. [63451]

Dr. Moonie: No. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence complies with Department of the Environment Circular 18/84 (Town and Country Planning Act 1984) in a similar manner to all Government Departments, non-Department authorities and other Crown bodies regarding submitting and advertising of Notices of Proposed Development (NOPD). The local planning authority treats the NOPD in the same way as they do a planning application submitted under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. NOPDs are advertised in the local press by the planning authority in the same manner as a planning application. Standard orange Notices from the planning authority are displayed at the gates of AWE Aldermaston and at the entrance to The Mearings at AWE Burghfield for the statutory 21 days.

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The public are at liberty to view and purchase copies of all Notices and the outcome of same from the local planning authority.

Suicide (Service Personnel)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many suicides by service personnel on duty have been investigated by civil authorities, broken down by each of the armed forces, since 1997; and if he will make a statement; [63678]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Shoeburyness

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many controlled explosions were carried out at the Shoeburyness ranges in each of the last 20 years; [63784]

Dr. Moonie: A search of the archives is being undertaken to ascertain what records we have for the period requested. I will write to the hon. Member when this search has been completed and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implication of the changes in ownership of QinetiQ for range activities at Shoeburyness; and if he will make a statement. [63783]

Dr. Moonie: The Shoeburyness Range site, which is currently managed by QinetiQ, remains in Ministry of Defence ownership. In common with all MOD's contractors, it is QinetiQ's responsibility to ensure that its activities comply with the law in meeting its contractual obligations to the MOD. MOD has retained those legal and regulatory controls necessary to meet its responsibilities as the site's owners.

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Gulf War

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in identifying the factors that have caused ill health in Gulf War veterans; and if he will make a statement. [63551]

Dr. Moonie: As a group, Gulf veterans report significantly more ill-health than other comparable groups. A number of possible factors for this have been suggested but peer-reviewed scientific research, confirmed and validated by other researchers, has no identified the cause. Further important research is underway, and the Government is committed to carrying out some such further research. I hope to announce some new areas of research shortly. I would encourage members of the scientific community who have other new ideas to submit proposals for further work to the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC will assess the proposals and recommend to the Ministry of Defence those which it considers to be soundly based and of sufficient scientific merit to justify being taken forward.

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set up a Royal Commission to investigate the causes of Gulf war illnesses; and if he will make a statement. [63773]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence accepts that some veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict have become ill and that many believe this ill health is unusual and related to their Gulf experience. There is evidence that Gulf veterans report more ill-health than other comparable groups. The Government attach great importance to investigating the causes of this and believe that the best way of doing so is through scientific and medical research. A number of important research projects are currently under way and I hope to announce further work shortly. The Government do not believe that a Royal Commission to investigate the causes of Gulf veterans' illnesses would be helpful at this time.

Defence Diversification Agency

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the Defence Diversification Agency and proposals to establish defence diversification councils. [63809]

Dr. Moonie: The Defence Diversification Agency now has 15 offices throughout the United Kingdom, and is continuing to work closely with regional development agencies and the UK business community as a whole to enable the exploitation of defence-funded science and technology.

Work is on-going to establish a Defence Diversification Council and I hope to make an announcement in the near future.

Lance Corporal Robert Lyttle

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the outcome was of the trial of Lance Corporal Robert Lyttle of the RIR; and what the outcome was of disciplinary measures taken against this soldier. [63953]

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Dr. Moonie: Lance Corporal Robert Lyttle of the Royal Irish Regiment was tried at Edinburgh High Court on 21 April 2002; he was found guilty of indecent assault and was subsequently sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Howe Barracks

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what conclusions have been reached following the investigation of the circumstances leading to a child being taken to hospital having taken an ecstasy tablet alleged to have been supplied by an individual based at the Howe Barracks in Kent. [63849]

Mr. Ingram: During investigation by the civil police, six members of the Royal Irish Regiment were questioned in respect of allegations of supplying an ecstasy tablet to a child. One Ranger was subsequently charged with supplying ecstasy; the case is now with the Crown Prosecution Service. One Ranger was cautioned for possession of ecstasy and one received a reprimand for possession.

Defence Estate

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what works are in hand to improve the fabric of the defence estate in each establishment in Wiltshire. [63828]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Married Quarters

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the quality of married quarters for service families in Wiltshire. [63827]

Dr. Moonie: Service families accommodation in mainland United Kingdom is managed and maintained by the Defence Housing Executive. Of the 2,205 properties in Wiltshire, 134 are at standard 1 for condition, 1,512 at standard 2, 539 at standard 3 and 20 at standard 4. Standard 1 for condition is achieved when a property meets a series of criteria which have been agreed with the services and families' representatives. They included modern bathroom and kitchen facilities, double glazing, energy efficiency and security measures.

Training

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent in the last 12 months on training by the (a) Royal Navy, (b) Royal Marines, (c) Army and (d) RAF in the United Kingdom; and what proportion of these totals was spent in Scotland. [63929]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 3 April 2002, Official Report, column 1019W.

Royal Prerogative

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what decisions have been made by his Department in the last year under authority from the Royal Prerogative. [63126]

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Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 5 November 2001, Official Report, column 25W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice).


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