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23 Oct 2002 : Column 347W—continued

Troops from Neutral Nations

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the development of troops from neutral nations under the European Security and Defence Policy; and what restrictions govern the deployment of these troops. [76372]

Geoffrey Hoon: Any decision to contribute forces to an EU-led operation is a matter for individual member states. At the time of a decision to launch an operation, it will be for the neutral nations, as for others, to consider what forces they can make available and for what purpose.

Clansman Radio Systems

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Clansman radio systems have been in operational service in each of the past five years. [76350]

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Mr. Ingram: Clansman is a single system of seven radio variants. In total the system comprises almost 50,000 radios. Clansman user availability has, over the past five years, remained within agreed operational availability parameters.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if spare parts are being manufactured for Clansman radios; and if Clansman radio systems are cannibalised for spare parts. [76349]

Mr. Ingram: There are support contracts in place to provide the required range of spares, to ensure continued support to Clansman equipment. Where appropriate, Clansman equipment is cannibalised for spare parts.


Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he anticipates that the ESDP will be fully operational by 2003; and when he expects European Union military forces will be able to deploy under its auspices. [76371]

Geoffrey Hoon: The European Council has agreed that the EU is capable of undertaking some crisis management operations, and that it will be in a position to take on progressively more demanding operations, as the assets and capabilities at its disposal continue to develop. Further offers of capability from nations will be necessary during 2003 if we are to meet the Headline Goal agreed at Helsinki in 1999. Any decision to undertake and contribute to an operation will be made by national governments and will depend on the circumstances at the time.

Phoenix Systems

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Phoenix systems are operational. [76362]

Mr. Ingram: As at 21 October 2002, of the six Phoenix systems (each of which comprises nine air vehicles) two are available for operational deployment at high readiness (five days notice to move) and the other four at a lower readiness (of between 30 and 60 days notice to move).

Challenger II

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many REME personnel have been qualified to work on Challenger II in each year since the tank has been in service. [76351]

Mr. Ingram: Challenger 2 is a very complex vehicle with many different component parts ranging from the engine to the electronic gunnery systems, necessitating a wide range of personnel from different trades and specialisations to work on them.

Depending on the type of repair required, the damaged part can be fixed in the field, in a workshop or returned to the manufacturer. In many cases the part is replaced and the damaged part returned for repair. All Challenger 2 crewmen are able to replace parts as necessary provided the part is carried on board. Crewmen are not REME personnel.

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Vehicle Mechanics are those REME personnel trained to work on many of the Army's vehicles, including Challenger 2, both in the field and in

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workshops. The following table gives the numbers of Vehicle Mechanics who became qualified to work on Challenger 2 in each year since 1997–1998.



* to end September 2002.

Defence Intelligence Staff

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the service breakdown of the Defence Intelligence Staff is; and from which service the Chief of Defence Intelligence is drawn. [76348]

Mr. Ingram: There were 3,933 permanent staff employed by the Defence Intelligence Staff on 30 September 2002. This figure excludes contractors and reservists.

This is broken down as follows:

Royal Navy354

The Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) can be drawn from any of the Services; the current CDI is an Air Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

Apache Helicopters

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when 16 Air Assault Brigade will become operational with its Apache helicopters. [76361]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 25 October 2002 (Official Report, column 322W) to the hon. Member for New Forest (Mr. Swayne).


Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many SSBNs are operational; and what refit, maintenance and lay up periods he expects each vessel to have in the next two years. [76358]

Mr. Ingram: Three SSBNs are currently operational. On current plans, no SSBNs will be laid up over the next two years. The refit and maintenance planned to be undertaken at varying times during the next two years is as follows:

October 2002 to October 2004


Ammunition and Explosives

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much ammunition and explosives was reconditioned in the UK in the last two years. [76136]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence does not normally recondition ammunition and explosives. Defence Munitions depots have undertaken routine maintenance on 14700 gross tonnes of conventional munitions in the United Kingdom during the last two years, this is part of normal stockpile management.

Running Risks

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what form of risk assessment is required before taking a squad of soldiers for a run. [76324]

Mr. Ingram: For all military training a formal risk assessment is required to be carried out in accordance with the guidelines set out in the Ministry of Defence Health and Safety Handbook, and appropriate single Service guidance.

Chemical Warfare

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what inoculations against biological weapons and prophylactic measures against exposure to chemical weapon agents have been implemented in respect of United Kingdom armed forces and military auxilaries this year. [75873]

Dr. Moonie: Medical countermeasures form one part of the package of capabilities which protects our troops and enables them to respond effectively to biological threats. This package includes warning systems, detection capabilities, protective clothing and equipment, decontamination procedures and training.

The immunisation currently available to protect United Kingdom Service personnel against exposure to biological warfare agents is a routine programme of voluntary immunisation against anthrax. We have expanded this programme within the last year; I refer the hon. Member to the answer which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave on 13 June 2002 (Official Report, columns 1344–1345W) to the hon. Member for High Peak (Mr. Levitt).

Medical countermeasures against chemical warfare agents (such as Nerve Agent Pre-treatment Sets (NAPS) tablets) are issued only when the threat from chemical agents is assessed to be immediate. This has not proven necessary within the last year and so no such measures have been implemented by UK Armed Forces or reserves.


David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he takes to ensure that the Iraqi

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regime is not able to purchase indirectly British arms from the arms fair in Oman; and if he will make a statement. [76327]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 22 October 2002]: I presume the hon. Member is referring to the recent Special Operations Forces Exhibition in Amman, Jordan.

There is a UN embargo on arms exports to Iraq. The Government takes all appropriate measures to ensure that United Kingdom exporters do not breach the terms of the embargo.

Defence exports from the UK, including goods that are displayed by industry at overseas defence exhibitions, require appropriate export licences. The Government considers applications on a case by case basis and against our Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. In doing so, we take into account the risk that exported goods might be diverted to an undesirable end-user.

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