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3 Dec 2002 : Column 690W—continued

Solar Photovoltaics Industry

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in improving the UK's competitive position in the solar photovoltaics industry; and if she will make a statement. [84482]

Mr. Wilson: Renewables UK is planning to undertake a collaborative study of the renewable supply chain covering all technologies, including photovoltaics, during 2003. This will identify strengths and weaknesses of the industry, and identify opportunities for UK companies.

In the meantime, there is evidence that the UK PV industry is gearing up to meet the challenge of the £20 million first phase of the major PV demonstration programme. For example, after the first six months of the programme there are 28 installation companies provisionally accredited, and several companies are developing roofing and cladding products for the UK market, which could also be marketed overseas.



Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what military commitments have been made to the Afghan Government to assist in developing a stable democracy in that country; and if he will make a statement. [84194]

Mr. Hoon: Since the installation of the Afghan Interim Authority on 22 December 2001, we have deployed a range of land, air and sea forces to

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Afghanistan. We were the first Lead Nation of the International Security Assistance Force deployed in Kabul in support of the Bonn Agreement that will lead to democratic elections. We remain a major troop contributor to the ISAF with some 300 troops now in Kabul. ISAF continues to help Afghan authorities maintain stability within Kabul, an essential component to the success of the Transitional Authority.

Cadet Forces

Andy King: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment his Department has made of the implications of funding the sea cadets on the same basis as the army cadets and air training corps; [83774]

Dr. Moonie: The Army Cadets and the Air Training Corps are voluntary youth organisations sponsored by the MOD and are funded appropriate to the way they are organised. The Sea Cadet Corps is an independent youth organisation which is neither owned nor managed by the Ministry of Defence. However, it is jointly sponsored by the MOD and Sea Cadet Association (SCA). The Ministry of Defence supports the Sea Cadets in the form of financial assistance, material and limited manpower resources.

The Ministry of Defence has made no formal assessment of the implications of funding the Sea Cadets on the same basis as the Army Cadets and the Air Training Corps, and has no plans to do so.


Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the HK2 Chinook helicopters were sold back to the USA Government; whether the helicopters have been purchased outright; what the initial cost was of the helicopters; at what price they were resold to the US Government; whether there are plans to replace them; and what impact the sale of the helicopters has had on British forces' operational ability. [84572]

Mr. Ingram: We have not sold any of our Mark 2 Chinook helicopters to the USA Government. However, we have received an approach from US Department of Defence officials to purchase their new MH47'G' model Chinook in return for our UK Mark 3 model. However, no formal proposal has yet been made, and no decision will be made until such a proposal is presented and has been given full consideration.

Contingencies Funding

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what contingencies extra money has been allocated to his Department, as referred to by the Chancellor in his statement on the pre-Budget report; and if he will make a statement. [85122]

Mr. Ingram: The £1 billion special reserve allocation is being made available to cover costs of military and overseas operations to ensure that the United Kingdom can continue to play a leading role in the global war

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against terror. No assumptions have been made at this time as to the scope and nature of any operations that may be required.


Mr. Hancock : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will write to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South regarding his answer of 7 November 2002, Official Report, column 472W, concerning service personnel accommodation. [84075]

Dr. Moonie: The information requested is still being collated. I will write to the hon. Member once it is available and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Decontamination Training

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) military units in active service, (b) reserve military units and (c) Territorial Army units have specialised CBW decontamination training. [83530]

Mr. Ingram: All United Kingdom service personnel are trained to decontaminate themselves, their personal equipment and in some cases the equipment they operate. In addition, on Royal Navy ships and at Royal Air Force bases, teams can be formed to undertake decontamination as required to sustain operations. The Joint Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Regiment maintains three decontamination troops whose primary role is to decontaminate the regiment's equipment but who could also provide a capability for other units. Two of these troops are drawn from the Royal Yeomanry, a Territorial Army unit.

Defence Export Services Organisation

Mr. Streeter : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what extent he monitors the performance of the Defence Export Services Organisation; and if he will make a statement. [83863]

Dr. Moonie: The Defence Export Services Organisation is an integral part of the Ministry of Defence. Support to United Kingdom defence exports is an Additional Target in the Public Service Agreement 2000 and MOD's performance is formally monitored via the performance reporting system. The Head of Defence Export Services and his staff report frequently to Defence Ministers, who are often involved personally in supporting UK defence exporters in their overseas markets.

Mr. Streeter : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which defence contracts the Defence Export Services Organisation has been successful in achieving for British companies in the Middle East in the past three years. [83864]

Dr. Moonie: In the Middle East, between 1999 and 2001, United Kingdom defence industry secured business worth over £5.5 billion. The results of a survey of UK industry, completed in 1999, showed that they assessed that the Defence Export Services Organisation played a major role in securing some 75 per cent. of their successes.

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Mr. Streeter : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how often he meets the head of Defence Export Services to discuss the performance of DESO in assisting British companies. [83865]

Dr. Moonie: The Head of Defence Export Services meets Defence Ministers frequently to discuss the work of the Defence Export Services Organisation, including its support for British defence exports.

Mr. Streeter : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the most senior 50 employees of the Defence Export Services Organisation have a military background. [83866]

Dr. Moonie: There are currently 14 serving or retired military officers employed at Assistant Director level or above in the Defence Export Services Organisation.

Emergency Planning Centres (Somerset)

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where the emergency planning centres are in Somerset. [83392]

Mr. Alexander: I have been asked to reply.

The Ministry of Defence has no emergency planning centres in Somerset.

Planning for emergencies at the local level is the responsibility of a range of organisations, including local authorities and the emergency services. This ensures the degree of operational flexibility necessary for local services to respond to such emergencies, taking account of specific local needs. These organisations act within a framework of well established guidelines produced by central Government and professional bodies such as the Association of Chief Police Officers, in order to ensure effective co-ordination and consistency of approach.

Eurofighter Typhoon

Mr. Lindsay Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the second tranche of orders for the Eurofighter Typhoon. [84082]

Dr. Moonie: The order for the second tranche of Typhoons, of which 89 will be for the Royal Air Force, is planned to be placed by the four participating nations during 2003.

Gulf War Syndrome

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what working definition of Gulf War Syndrome he used in order to assess whether such a condition existed. [85003]

Dr. Moonie: Each medical syndrome comprises a set of physical signs and/or symptoms that distinguishes it from other medical conditions. As a group, Gulf veterans have reported more ill-health than other comparable groups. The pattern of their ill- health is not unique but they have reported symptoms with greater frequency and of more severity than those in comparable groups. Some Gulf veterans have recognised medical conditions, but a large number of non-specific, multi-system, medically unexplained symptoms have also been reported. The consensus of the

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international scientific and medical community is that this diversity of symptoms means that ill-health among Gulf veterans cannot be characterised as a unique Gulf related illness or syndrome. The Ministry of Defence's approach must be guided by medical science and so does not recognise XGulf War Syndrome" as a medical condition and has no working definition of such a syndrome.

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