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2 Dec 2002 : Column 486W—continued

Territorial Army

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason expenditure on the National Employers Liaison Committee (Territorial Army) decreased from 2000–01 to 2001–02. [84539]

Dr. Moonie: The National Employers Liaison Committee, which operates the Volunteer Reserve Forces Campaign, had a reduction in expenditure in the year 2001–02 absorbed by a reduction in the advertising budget for the campaign. The reduction was one of a number of readjustments in the overall budget for the Ministry of Defence and was taken out of cash expenditure not already committed.


Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what evaluation has been made of the possible health impact on British service personnel and medical

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auxiliaries of inoculations and other prophylactics provided to those being prepared to deploy to the Gulf region, to protect against chemical or biological toxins. [84264]

Dr. Moonie: No decision has been made to commit United Kingdom forces to operations in Iraq.

Medical countermeasures against chemical and biological agents routinely available to service personnel deploying on operations to the Gulf are licensed products that have been rigorously tested for safety and efficacy. We are confident there should be no significant adverse health effects associated with their use.

Procedures are in place for reporting and monitoring any health effects that do occur. Individuals who have elected to receive immunisation against anthrax are briefed on, and instructed to report, any adverse reactions to the vaccine under the Department's anthrax voluntary immunisation programme. Any adverse reactions reported to medical staff are recorded and made known to the Medicines Control Agency under the XYellow Card" reporting scheme.

UN Peacekeeping Missions

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK troops are committed to United Nations peacekeeping missions. [84196]

Mr. Ingram: Some 460 United Kingdom troops are committed to United Nations mandated missions, under UN command. These missions are in Georgia, Sierra Leone, Congo, Kuwait, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Cyprus.


Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the terrorist threat to Royal Navy warships (a) in home waters and (b) overseas. [84365]

Mr. Ingram: The assessment of threat to HM ships, submarines and royal fleet auxiliaries from terrorist attack is kept under constant review. In common with other terrorist threats, this assessment is provided to the Ministry of Defence by the national authority, the Security Service. It is then the MOD's responsibility to determine what counter-measures need to be taken, both at home and overseas, taking account in home waters of the Government-wide terrorist alert state.

Warships (Suicide Attacks)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision he has made to protect warships from suicide attacks by terrorists in high-speed small craft. [84362]

Mr. Ingram: The protection of HM ships, submarines and royal fleet auxiliaries from terrorist threats of all kinds is kept under constant review, and appropriate measures are put in place.

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Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the warships (a) currently and (b) scheduled to be fitted with low-angle, close-range machine guns for protection against suicide attacks. [84363]

Mr. Ingram: The requirement for force protection is kept under review. I am however, withholding full details of the Royal Navy capability in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Young Recruits

Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many young service men have left the armed services in each of the last five years as a result of 2 Xunhappy under 18s" regulations. [82937]

Dr. Moonie: The type of data held on this subject varies according to the schemes operated by each of the Services and is not, therefore, available in a common format. The information that is available is as follows.

Royal Navy

The number of young personnel who have left the RN (and Royal Marines) in 2002 and each of the past five years as 'unhappy juniors' or 'unable to settle during the first 12 months' is shown in the table.


(2) To end September 2002


Statistics for exits under the 'unhappy under 18' scheme are recorded under the same code as other reasons for exit. The number of authorised discharges of under 18s in each of the past five years in the data category which will include 'unhappy under 18s' is shown in the table.


(3) To end October 2002

There is no Army data held in this detail prior to 1999.


The RAF did not introduce an 'unhappy under 18' scheme until mid 2002, since when two people have left under its provisions. Prior to that, all those under 18s who left the RAF at their own request did so under 'Discharge as of Right' provisions; and the number of such exits in 2002 and each of the last five years is shown in the table.


(4) To end October 2002

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Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the Mortimer Report on Biodiesel will be published; and what contribution her Department made in influencing the content of the report. [83915]

Mr. Meacher: The report from Sheffield Hallam University was commissioned by the Department to provide an independent, comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of the comparative energy, environmental and socio-economic costs and benefits of biodiesel production in the UK. The terms of reference for the study were agreed with the Government-Industry Forum on the Non-Food Uses of Crops and with industry. A draft of the report was published for consultation in June this year and, in finalising the report, the authors have looked carefully at the points made and have taken account of new evidence put forward. We expect the report to be peer reviewed in December and published in January 2003. The Department has had no influence over the content of the report. For bioenergy, this Department plans and manages independent research through its Science Directorate to inform the development of policy. All research reports are published and clarity of presentation is the only factor considered.

Energy Crops

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what financial incentives are available for those who wish to grow biomass crops. [84198]

Mr. Meacher: This Department has allocated £29 million under the Energy Crops Scheme, part of the England Rural Development Programme, for establishment grants for short rotation coppice (SRC) and miscanthus and for SRC growers to set up producer groups. The Government are also providing £70 million of funding through a package of measures which will develop markets for biomass, including energy crops, in heat, combined heat and power and electricity generation. Short rotation coppice and miscanthus can be planted on set-aside land and receive payments under the Arable Area Payments Scheme. The European Commission has published initial proposals for further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy to take effect from 2004. Under these proposals, no crops would be grown on set-aside land. A new carbon credit of 45 per hectare is proposed for energy crops, to be paid to producers entering into a contract with a processor. The proposal includes a maximum guaranteed area of 1.5 million hectares eligible for this additional payment.

Building Specifications

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many times the national building specification (Government works) standards format has been used for specification purposes on Government construction, redevelopment and refurbishment projects in the last three years; and what those projects were. [83926]

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Mr. Boateng: This information is not available centrally.

Common Agricultural Policy

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what action she has taken to ensure that organic farmers receive more subsidies under the CAP. [83912]

Mr. Meacher: None. It would not be consistent with our policy on agricultural production subsidies to put in place such payments for organic farmers. However, because of the environmental benefits organic farming delivers, we provide conversion aid to farmers under the Organic Farming Scheme and we intend next year, subject to approval from the European Commission, to extend the coverage of the scheme to organic farmers post-conversion. We also provide free advice to prospective organic farmers through the Organic Conversion Information Service and support an organic R&D Programme.

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