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3 Dec 2002 : Column 694W—continued

Headline Goal

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with European colleagues regarding the use of Russian assets to achieve the Headline Goal. [84846]

Mr. Hoon: The Nice European Council agreed that Russia, Ukraine, other European states with which the Union maintains political dialogue and other interested states could be invited to participate in EU-led operations. However, the Headline Goal is a target for EU member states. However, the ECAP panel on outsized transport aircraft is considering, along with other options, whether developing existing arrangements for chartering Russian transport aircraft might be part of an interim solution to the shortfall of airlift assets until A400M is delivered. Implementing solutions identified by the panel will be a matter for member states.

HMS Nottingham

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement about the future of HMS Nottingham; [84372]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the written Ministerial Statement made today.

Dr. Julian Lewis : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason HMS Sheffield has not been retained in service following the damage to HMS Nottingham. [84373]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the Ministerial Statement made today. This decision was taken as part of the process of ensuring that the best use of the capability available is made to meet operational commitments. HMS Sheffield, an anti submarine warfare frigate, is not required to meet these commitments.

Homeland Defence and Security

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with agencies and other Government Departments on homeland defence and security coordination and centralisation. [84843]

Mr. Ingram: Issues concerning homeland defence and security, including organisational matters, are addressed in a series of ministerial and official committees which meet regularly. The Government's position on coordination and centralisation was laid out most recently in its response to the Defence Select Committee's Sixth Report of Session 2001–02, 'Defence and Security in the UK'.

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Mrs. Mahon : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) preparing tanks for desert conditions, (b) enhancing medical support to improve hygiene conditions in field hospitals, (c) speeding up the purchase of temporary disposable accommodation, (d) improving military ambulances, (e) extra training in service and (f) communications and call up of reservists, in the event of war with Iraq. [84133]

Mr. Hoon: I am withholding the information requested under Exemption 1 (defence, security and international relations) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about (a) preparations for and (b) the sustainability of a Royal Naval task force for possible operations against Iraq. [84361]

Mr. Hoon: Exercise Saif Sareea II, in Oman towards the end of last year, fully demonstrated our ability to deploy forces to the Middle East and sustain them there. As I have already assured the House, we shall continue to take the appropriate steps to ensure that our armed forces are ready to take whatever action might be asked of them should Iraq fail to comply with UN Resolution 1441. It would be inappropriate to comment on the detail of any specific preparations at this stage.

Medical Reservists

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the Territorial Army are (a) medical officers, (b) nurses and (c) combat medical technicians. [83404]

Dr. Moonie: The following table shows the numbers of Doctors, Nurses and Combat Medical Technicians (CMTs) in Army Medical Services TA units (Field Ambulances, Medical Squadrons, Specialist Units, Ambulance Regiments and Field Hospitals), as at 29 November 2002:

Combat Medical Technicians1,463

In addition, other units throughout the TA are established for medical officers and CMTs. Information on which of these posts are filled is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Military Deployments

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what military forces are allocated to (a) NATO duties and exercises, (b) the EU Rapid Reaction force and (c) SEATO. [84844]

Mr. Hoon: The United Kingdom is a significant contributor to NATO and the majority of UK armed forces can be made available for NATO deployments. There is no standing EU Rapid Reaction Force: nations' forces would come together for specific EU-led crisis management operations, for which it is envisaged that

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the maximum UK contribution would be up to 12,500 personnel. The South-east Asian Treaty Organisation ceased to exist in 1977.

Monte Bello Islands

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussion his Department has had with the Australian Government concerning cancer risk among the civilian population surrounding the British nuclear testing in the Monte Bello Islands in the 1950s; and if he will make a statement. [85172]

Dr. Moonie: There have been no recent discussions of this type.

Nuclear Weapons Tests

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research his Department has conducted into the levels of internal radiological contamination of British service personnel and medical auxiliaries who were present at atmospheric British nuclear tests; and if he will arrange for the relevant documents to be posted on his departmental website. [84269]

Dr. Moonie: Stringent safety precautions were in place during the atmospheric nuclear tests and environmental monitoring was carried out at the time. Two comprehensive and independent epidemiological studies were carried out on the Ministry of Defence's behalf by the National Radiological Protection Board, in conjunction with the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. The studies showed that participation in the test programme has had no detectable effect on the participants' expectation of life or on their risk of developing cancer or other fatal diseases. Copies of both these reports, respectively NRPB reports R214 and R266, are available in the Library of the House. The results of a third study will be published next year.

Official Travel

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, (1) what the total expenditure of (a) his Department and (b) its agencies was on official travelling in 2001–02; [84795]

Mr. Ingram: Since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas undertaken by Cabinet Ministers costing £500 or more during each financial year. The Government have also published on an annual basis the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Details of travel undertaken during the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002 was published on 24 July 2002 Official Report, column 1374–75W). The cost of Ministers' visits overseas for 2002–2003 will be published as soon as possible after the end of the current financial year. Copies of the lists are available in the Libraries of the House.

All travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Libraries of the House.

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Police (Salisbury Plain)

Mr. Key : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to locate a regional headquarters of the Ministry of Defence Police on Salisbury Plain; and if he will make a statement. [84614]

Dr. Moonie: Consideration is being given to establish a western regional police headquarters at Bulford, Salisbury Plain, to cover the South West, Wales and the West Midlands. If this goes forward a new joint Ministry of Defence Police/Royal Military Police facility will be provided under Project Allenby/Connaught, which is the provision of new accommodation at the Aldershot and Salisbury Plain sites. The provisional time scale for completion is 2008–10.

The western headquarters will initially be located at the existing Operational Command Unit Headquarters at MOD Foxhill in Bath until the completion of the new accommodation.

Service Deaths

Mr. McNamara : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the dates and circumstances were of the deaths of each serviceman and woman (a) from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2001 and (b) from 1 January 2002 to 1 November 2002. [84871]

Dr. Moonie: Information relating to the causes of death of Service personnel in 2001 is contained in tables 2.25 and 4.2 of publication XUK Defence Statistics 2002" available in the House of Commons Library and on the DASA web site ( Information for 2002 is not yet available.

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