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Procurement (Interoperability)

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria are in place to ensure (a) current and (b) future interoperability with (i) UK, (ii) NATO and (iii) US systems when making procurement decisions; and if he will make a statement. [68677]

Dr. Moonie: Interoperability is a broad subject and no single criterion determines the Ministry of Defence's requirements for interoperability. The issue includes interoperability between different equipment capabilities, between operational and business applications, as well as with allies and coalition partners. The ability to operate effectively alongside NATO partners, including the United States, in multinational operations is considered crucial. For each new equipment project, the Business Case through which the project is approved will consider explicit requirements for interoperability. This will also express, as a Key User Requirement, specific and affordable interoperability requirements for the system.

Gulf War Veterans

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will pay no-fault compensation to former members of the UK armed forces suffering from Gulf war

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syndrome, in accordance with the recent ruling of the Pension Appeals Tribunal in the case of Mr. Shaun Rusling; and if he will make a statement. [67638]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 9 July 2002]: As my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the armed forces explained in his answers on 2 July, Official Report, columns 226–27W and on 4 July, Official Report, column 520W, the Ministry of Defence does not recognise Gulf war syndrome as a medical condition. Furthermore, the recent Pension's Appeal Tribunal's decision is specific to that case and does not set a legal precedent. It would be wrong to interpret from the tribunal's finding that Gulf war syndrome does exist. However, the fact that there is, at present, no proper basis for recognising Gulf war syndrome as an appropriate diagnostic label does not prevent a Gulf veteran getting a war pension which is paid on a no-fault basis. Gulf veterans may also be eligible for no-fault pension benefits under the armed forces pension scheme.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his policy of providing compensation to invalided soldiers, medical auxiliaries and their families suffering from illness arising from serving in the Gulf War. [68259]

Dr. Moonie: No-fault compensation for United Kingdom service personnel disabled as a result of their service is provided through the War Pension Scheme (WPS). The WPS applies to all those who have served in the UK forces. Veterans may also be eligible for an Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) occupational pension and, if they have been medically discharged, this is supplemented by attributable benefits linked to the degree of disability or non-attributable benefits linked to length of service, whichever is the greater. Both the WPS and AFPS provide benefits to the dependants of veterans who have died.

The Ministry of Defence has about 2,000 active notices from Gulf veterans and members of their families of their intention to claim common law compensation in respect of illness allegedly arising from the Gulf conflict. However, we have still yet to receive any writs or claims of sufficient detail to allow these cases to be taken forward. When compensation claims are submitted against the MOD, they are considered on the basis of whether or not the Department has a legal liability to pay compensation. Where there is a legal liability to pay compensation we do so.

Military Exports

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish a list of authorised exporters of military supplies based in (a) mainland UK, (b) the Channel Islands and (c) the Isle of Man. [68810]

Dr. Moonie: Such a list does not exist.

Nimrod MRA4

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of the Nimrod MRA4 programme; and what problems have been experienced. [69841]

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Dr. Moonie: Nimrod MRA4 is a highly complex, software intensive and sophisticated product. The degree of technical challenge has led to a delay in delivery, with the in-service date re-set in 1999 to March 2005. BAE Systems are driving hard for this target and the key interim deliverable of first flight, expected by the end of this year. The Ministry of Defence and the company are also ensuring that Day 1 and whole life support are in place as required. The capability to be provided will be a step change from that currently available. Nimrod will be the leading class product, evidenced by US interest in MRA4 as a contender for their Multi-Mission Aircraft programme.


Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many men have left the initiative to train a standing Afghan army. [69840]

Mr. Hoon: There have been some who have left the Afghan army training programme, but overall in the circumstances there appears to have been a reasonable retention rate, and we are pleased that this multi-ethnic force is beginning to take root.


Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the delays to the Eurofighter. [69843]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 23 May 2002, Official Report, column 478W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Vale of Glamorgan (Mr. Smith).

HMS Albion

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 10 June 2002, Official Report, column 736W, when the review of the in-service date with BAES Marine is expected to be completed; and if he will make a statement. [70129]

Dr. Moonie: It is expected that the review with BAES Marine of HMS Albion's in-service date will be completed shortly. I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House once the date has been confirmed.

Weapon Locating Radars

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many artillery hunting radars have been leased from Ericsson to fill the capability gap left by the delay in selecting a bidder; what the total cost was of leasing; and if he will make a statement. [70427]

Dr. Moonie: Four Arthur weapon locating radars were leased from Ericsson in April 2002 to satisfy an urgent operational requirement. The systems were deployed operationally by the end of April 2002. The cost of the lease is commercially sensitive and so I am withholding it under Exemption 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

A competition to satisfy the Army's requirement for a mobile artillery monitoring battlefield radar was launched in October 2001. Ericsson was selected as the preferred

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bidder and a contract was placed for four Arthur systems in June 2002. These are an upgraded version of those that have been leased and will offer an increase in capability when brought into service with the United Kingdom armed forces. There was no delay in selecting a preferred bidder, but work to confirm the requirement took longer than expected.

HMS Fearless

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the (a) Brazilian and (b) Argentinean Governments about a possible sale of HMS Fearless. [70163]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 16 July 2002]: I am withholding the information requested in accordance with Exemptions 1 and 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.


Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the re-tendering process for the engines for the A600M; what EU funding is available to (a) Pratt and Whitney and (b) Rolls Royce to assist with research and development of bids for the A600M engine project; and when he will announce the outcome of the re-tendering process for the A600M engines. [70162]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 16 July 2002]: I believe that the hon. Member is referring to the A400M aircraft. The A400M prime contractor, Airbus Military, is responsible for selecting the aircraft's engines. In December 2001 the company sought new tenders for the A400M engine after deciding not to proceed with its earlier choice of engine. The hon. Member will recall that the A400M contract is for the development and production of the complete aircraft, including its engines. Airbus Military is free, therefore, to select its suppliers on grounds of performance and cost, thereby ensuring that we obtain best value for money. No EU funding for research and development is available to either Pratt and Whitney or Rolls Royce in connection with the A400M engines. We understand that Airbus Military expect to announce their engine selection when the A400M prime contract becomes effective. Partner nations are working to bring the prime contract into effect at the earliest opportunity.

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