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12 Dec 2002 : Column 427W—continued

Service Personnel (Deaths)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the results were of the investigations into the circumstances of the deaths of (a) Private Paul Cochrane on 30 July 2001 at Drumadd Barracks, Northern Ireland, (b) Private David Shipley in June 2002, in Germany, (c) Private Richard Robertson on 21 September 1995 at Catterick Barracks, (d) Private Gary Riches in Bosnia on 24 October 1995, (e) Private Alfred Manship in Osnabruck on 6 April 1992, (f) Private Dale Little in Bosnia on 22 July 1994 and (g) Trooper Aled Martin Jones in Bosnia on 18 July 1996; in each case, what time the police were called; what steps were taken to secure evidence at the scene of death; what the conclusions of the inquiry were; what the nature of the post mortem examination was; by whom it was carried out; what the findings were; when relatives of the deceased were informed; what the conclusion was of the coroner's inquest; when a board of inquiry was established; when it reported; and what measures were taken as a result of its findings; [86275]

Dr. Moonie: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost, if at all, as we do not know whether all of it is held on departmental files. Furthermore, information pertaining to the associated police investigations and boards of inquiry would not normally be placed in the public domain. Only the death of Trooper Aled Jones has, so far, been subject to a board of inquiry; a copy of the final report was passed to the next of kin in 1997. A board of inquiry into the death of Ranger Paul Cochrane is on-going. No decision has yet been made as to whether a board of inquiry will be held into the death of Private David Shipley; this is subject to an on-going investigation by the Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch, who have jurisdiction in this case. It would, therefore, be inappropriate to release any related information at this time.

Coroner's verdicts, in those cases where an inquest has been held, are as follows:

Private Richard RobertsonOpen
Fusilier Gary RichesOpen
Sapper Alfred ManshipSuicide
Private Dale LittleOpen
Trooper Aled JonesSuicide
Musician Ross CollinsOpen

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According to our records, the deaths of Privates Little and Riches occurred on 22 July 1995 and 25 October 1995 respectively.

Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employer Programme

Patrick Mercer : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the establishment of the Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employer programme. [85650]

Dr. Moonie: The Strategic Defence Review required the Reserve Forces to be integrated, relevant and usable. To ensure this requirement is met we need the support of those who employ members of the Volunteer Reserve Forces.

During the last 18 months the Ministry of Defence has carried out a review of its existing and long-standing campaign designed to win and maintain the support of Britain's employers for the Volunteer Reserve Forces. This has resulted in the launch of a new campaign called SaBRE (Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers). Its purpose is to explain to employers not only the benefits of employing Reservists but also the attendant rights and obligations that employers have, including the requirement to release individuals for mobilisation should it be necessary to do so.The SaBRE campaign has already made good progress. Its strategy is to make use of the expertise available in the commercial world combined with a regional network of civilian volunteers, to deliver a campaign with a national identity at a regional level. A number of organisations, including the Confederation of British Industry, the Institute of Directors, the British Chambers of Commerce, the Engineering Employers' Federation and the Trades Union Congress together with some 6,200 companies, who between them account for a substantial part of the nation's workforce, have previously declared their support for the Reserves of the Armed Forces.

Trafalgar Bicentennial

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to mark the Bicentennial of the Battle of Trafalgar. [86959]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence is working closely with a number of organisations to develop the Royal Navy's plans for the commemoration of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005. Lead by the Official Nelson Celebrations Committee, which brings together the interests of a wide range of maritime museums and associations connected with the Nelson heritage, a national and international programme of cultural and commemorative events is being discussed, among which a number of events involving the Royal Navy are being considered. At this stage, it is too early to be precise.

Unexploded Ordnance

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when and where unexploded ordnance has

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been found by contractors when clearing publicly accessible military training sites for construction and infrastructure projects since 1972; [86830]

Dr. Moonie: The information is not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the discovery of unexploded ordnance by Transco in the Brecon Beacons area. [86833]

Dr. Moonie: An amount of unexploded ordnance, believed to date from the Second World War period, was found earlier this year by Transco while working on a pipeline scheme in the Brecon Beacons National Park. The police were informed and the ordnance was subsequently disposed of by the Army.

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Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make funds available to enable abattoirs to provide additional space for hanging carcasses of animals over 30 months old slaughtered under the Beef Assurance Scheme separately from other animals. [85370]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 9 December 2002]: EU rules require that cattle for human consumption must be tested for BSE if aged over 30 months or, if subject to casualty slaughter or found sick at ante-mortem inspection, if aged over 24 months. In the event of a positive result, the carcase before and two carcasses after the positive case on the slaughter line must be destroyed unless there is a system in place preventing contamination between carcasses. The latter does not necessarily require significant extra space but this is a matter for the Official Veterinary Surgeon in individual abattoirs. There are no funds available to provide abattoirs with additional space.

Agriculture Expenditure

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much money is being reclaimed by the European Commission from the United Kingdom because of inadequate control procedures or non-compliance with EU rules on agricultural expenditure. [84522]

Mr. Morley: In 2001, the UK claimed #2.5 billion from the EU agriculture budget. Of this, #3 million was reclaimed due to non-compliance with EU rules on agricultural expenditure (which includes control procedures). The Commission has the right to reclaim further sums should additional cases of non-compliance come to light.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimates she makes, in respect of the last year for which figures are available, of the number of albatrosses killed within United Kingdom waters as a by-product of fishing by (a) Spanish and (b) other vessels; what percentage of the United Kingdom population this represents; and what steps she is taking to prevent such deaths. [86415]

Mr. Morley: Although the metropolitan United Kingdom is outside the normal migration range of albatrosses, there are globally important breeding sites in UK Overseas Territories in the Southern Hemisphere.

While there are no overall figures available, we do have information about the Falkland Islands, where the breeding population of albatrosses is about 382,000 pairs. Recent estimates of bycatch there have included

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between 85 and 193 albatrosses in a year in licensed long-line fisheries, and about 1,000 during the peak spring fishing season from licensed trawling (some three quarters of which is carried out by Spanish vessels). There will also be losses to illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries.

The UK and Spain are Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, the Commission of which is responsible for managing fisheries in the Convention area and imposes conditions aimed at reducing bycatch.

The UK intends to ratify early next year the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, which will require UK flag vessels fishing in the Agreement area to implement measures designed to mitigate bycatch. Our ratification will be extended to those Overseas Territories that wish to implement the Agreement and have appropriate legislation in place. Spain has also signed this Agreement.

The Falkland Islands Government is funding Falklands Conservation to study the effect on mortality resulting from birds being attracted to vessels by offal discarded as a by-product of on-board fish processing.

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