25 Nov 2002 : Column 1W
Mr. Paul Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what internal inquiries have been held into accidents involving Ministry of Defence property or equipment since 1997; what insurance policies the Ministry of Defence has in place to insure against accidents involving Ministry of Defence property or equipment; and if he will make a statement. 
Current departmental policy requires the relevant operating authority to convene a Board of Inquiry or a Unit, Ship or Station Inquiry in the case of accidents, resulting in significant damage to buildings or equipment, or affecting operational capability. Less significant accidents are likely to be investigated at local level.
Treasury guidelines generally discourage public bodies from insuring risks unless it can be shown that the potential cost of claims paid, together with the cost of handling such claims, will exceed the cost of purchasing insurance. As the cost of premiums compared to the amounts paid in compensation would normally favour insurance companies, the MOD self-insures its core activities, and funds claims for compensation and the repair or replacement of lost or damaged property or equipment from its current expenditure.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many extra deployable troops will result from his reorganisation of (a) 52 (Lowland) Brigade and (b) Headquarters 2 (South East) Brigade. 
Mr. Ingram: The two light infantry brigade headquarters (52 Lowland) Brigade and 2 (South East) Brigade are being re-roled from regional brigade headquarters to provide better command and control arrangements for the light infantry role battalions, all of which are currently deployable. Thus the reorganisation of the two brigades will not result in an increase in the number of deployable troops. The change will bring greater coherence to the way that these units prepare for operations, through improved co-ordination of training.
25 Nov 2002 : Column 2W
Jonathan Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the nuclear laundry facility at the former Chatham Dockyard, with particular reference to (a) physical and functional description and (b) outflow and drainage functioning. 
Dr. Moonie: The Health Physics Laundry within the nuclear complex at the former Chatham Dockyard was equipped with washing machines and dryers. The floor of the laundry was finished with an epoxy resin to facilitate decontamination if required.
Laundering was restricted to protective clothing with low or zero levels of radioactive contamination to enable its re-use. Clothing with higher levels of contamination was disposed of as radioactive waste.
The laundry effluent was discharged untreated to the ordinary sewer as permitted by the (then) Department of Environment's Radiochemical Inspectorate. It was subject to regular sampling, to demonstrate that the levels of activity discharged to the sewer were insignificant.
Jonathan Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the (a) physical and (b) functional characteristics of the washdown facility for radiation workers at the former Chatham Dockyard. 
Dr. Moonie: The Washdown Area within the nuclear complex at the former Chatham Dockyard was a purpose-built facility primarily for the decontamination of components from the submarine reactor and any associated tools and equipment that had become radioactively contaminated. Separate washing facilities were provided for personnel leaving radioactively contaminated areas.
The Washdown Facility had a stainless steel floor and stainless steel dividers and barriers. Large components were lowered and raised through roof hatches using an electric crane. Tented enclosures within the facility were used for some decontamination and close inspection work. Smaller equipments and tools were cleaned in stainless steel open vats using a solution of special detergents or demineralised water as required. The vats were positioned in an annexe to the Washdown Area with a continuous stainless steel floor, behind a stainless steel barrier, so enabling the containment and ready cleaning of any spillages. Water from the Washdown Area was directed via specific-to-purpose stainless steel drains into holding tanks in the adjacent Effluent Treatment Plant.
Decontamination facilities for personnel leaving radioactively contaminated areas consisted of hand wash facilities and associated monitoring equipment, to meet the requirements of the Ionising Radiations (Unsealed Radioactive Substances) Regulations 1968. In addition, there were showers for use in the extremely rare occurrences of bodily contamination.
25 Nov 2002 : Column 3W
awaiting decision; how many compensation claims have been awarded in full to former workers or their families; and how many claims are being processed. 
Dr. Moonie: There is one outstanding case involving an ex-Chatham Dockyard radiation worker that has been assessed by the British Nuclear Fuels Compensation Scheme for Radiation Linked Diseases as eligible for compensation. The level of compensation due has been assessed and an offer in full and final settlement was made on 16 September 2002. A formal response to the offer is awaited.
There have been no full (100 per cent.) awards made to former workers or their families by the Scheme. Two claims have been assessed as eligible for compensation at a lower level. One has settled and the other is as detailed above.
Dr. Moonie: Safety procedures for work in the dock at the former Chatham Dockyard were governed by the requirements of the Factories Act 1961 and subsequently the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, and subordinate legislation. The type of work being undertaken in the dock would have determined which safety procedures applied.
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the Civil Contingency Reaction Forces are operationally ready for service in the event of a (a) nuclear, (b) biological and (c) chemical attack on the United Kingdom. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 21 November 2002]: The decision to form 14 Civil Contingency Reaction Forces (CCRFs) from existing Volunteer Reserve personnel was announced on 31 October 2002. None of the CCRFs is yet operational.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the extra men training days that have been granted for the Civil Contingencies Reaction Force will be spent on (a) bringing each service man and woman to a common standard of basic training and (b) CBRN training. 
Mr. Ingram: The training plans for the Civil Contingency Reaction Forces are still being developed. They will be aligned with existing Volunteer Reserve training and, in due course, with the requirements of specific regional contingency plans as these are developed in conjunction with local authorities and emergency services.
25 Nov 2002 : Column 4W
Mr. Ingram: We expect that the 14 Civil Contingency Reaction Forces will be fully effective by the end of 2003, once they are fully recruited and have undergone an annual training cycle, and once the new regional liaison, planning, command and control arrangements are in place.
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 19 November 2002]: All civil servants are responsible for meeting the cost of their travel between home and normal place of work. The introduction of a Central London Road User Charge will not affect this basic condition of service. Accordingly, the Ministry of Defence has no plans for reimbursing the cost of the Road User Charge where it is incurred as part of normal commuting. However, civil servants travelling on detached duty to other establishments are entitled to claim the cost of the resultant travel. Where road user chargeswhether these be urban congestion charges or road/bridge tollsare incurred on such journeys, these costs can be claimed.