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Dr. Moonie: There are no current plans to increase the number of TA soldiers equipped and trained for nuclear, chemical and biological (NEC) warfare. All TA units hold training stocks of equipment and all TA soldiers undertake basic NEC training as part of their recruitment training and annual Individual Training Directives.
Dr. Moonie: The volunteer reserves are a capable, integrated and usable part of the armed forces. They are able to play a role in military operations of all types at home and overseas, including those undertaken in response to requests to assist the civil authorities in the event of incidents in the United Kingdom. Additional measures are being put in place as a result of the Strategic Defence Review New Chapter to enhance the capability of the armed forces in general, and reserves in particular, to provide assistance in civil contingencies. These include the establishment of some 700 new Territorial Army posts, principally to give the regional command structure the capacity to sustain 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week working, and to provide a headquarters component for the 14 new Civil Contingency Reaction Forces.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what extra training reserve forces have received over the past 12 months in dealing with a terrorist incident involving (a) chemical, (b) biological and (c) radiological agents. 
Dr. Moonie: None. The training plans for the new Civil Contingency Reaction Forces in relation to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents 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.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of brigades with full personnel protective equipment which would be needed to deal with a major terrorist incident using chemical or biological agents. 
Mr. Ingram: Terrorism in the United Kingdom is criminal activity. The police and the Home Office consequently have responsibility for preventing and responding to the threat. According to the nature of the event, lead responsibility for managing the consequences of an attack from a chemical or biological agent would fall to a number of Departments, and in particular, the Department for Environment, Food and
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Rural .Affairs or the Department of Health. Other Departments and Agencies provide support as appropriate.
The armed forces may be called upon to provide support, from available resources, using specific military skills. The extent of assistance would, of course, be dependent on many factors, and in particular, the precise nature and scale of the incident. Most elements of the armed forces are, however, trained to operate in an environment where chemical or biological agents have been released, and they could, if necessary, provide support to the civil authorities using standard armed forces NBC equipment. As a result of work undertaken during the SDR New Chapter, NBC training will also be provided for those reserve personnel forming Civil Contingencies Reaction Forces, again using standard NBC equipment.
Dr. Moonie: No specific training has been given to the Territorial Army to deal with major terrorist incidents. Additional training for volunteer reserves for operations in support of civil contingencies (including terrorist attacks) was one of the New Chapter decisions announced on 31 October 2002. The arrangements for its implementation, for the Territorial Army generally and for those who volunteer to join the new Civil Contingency Reaction Forces, are being made by Headquarters Land Command at the moment.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training has been conducted in the last 12 months in each of the armed forces in dealing with a terrorist attack involving chemical or biological agents. 
Mr. Ingram: The armed forces are not responsible for dealing with a chemical or biological attack in the United Kingdom. The Home Office, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Health would take the lead and could, if appropriate, call upon the limited skills of the armed forces. These skills are subject to constant refinement through training and exercises.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the stock of equipment to deal with a chemical or biological incident; and what plans he has to increase this stock; 
Mr. Ingram: The primary responsibility for dealing with the consequences of a chemical or biological terrorist incident in the United Kingdom rests with Civil Departments. They are able to call upon the resources of the Ministry of Defence if they are available and are thought to be relevant. There are sufficient stocks of chemical and biological protective equipment for those members of the armed forces so called upon. The MOD stocks of protective equipment are geared towards military requirements.
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Mr. Ingram: Regular consultation takes place at both ministerial and official level about the threat from terrorism, the resilience to attack, and managing the consequences of an attack. These mechanisms were outlined in a joint memorandum by the Home Office, Ministry of Defence and Cabinet Office to the Defence Select Committee on 22 May 2002 (House of Commons 518-II page Ev258, dated 24 July 2002).
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures have been taken to ensure that the communications between the armed forces and emergency services are compatible in the event of a terrorist attack. 
Mr. Ingram: A procurement initiation is in train to provide 2 (National Communications) Signal Brigade with AIRWAVE equipment compatible with communications being procured by the police and other emergency services. This will provide the regional chain of command and deployed force elements with communications to support all operations undertaken in response to requests for assistance from the civil authorities. An interim solution is being put in place now to provide an improved mobile network capability in advance of the introduction into service of AIRWAVE.
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the independent training review programme; and what actions he intends to take on the decisions of the programme. 
Dr. Moonie: I assume the hon. Member is referring to the outcome of the Defence Training Review (DTR), which was announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 27 March 2001, Official Report, column 545W. Work is now complete on over a third of the DTR recommendations. Key achievements have included the formation of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom on 1 April 2002 and, more recently, the establishment of the Director General Training and Education organisation to provide the central policy focus for defence individual training and education. The programme to rationalise a number of specialist training streams, about which my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces last updated the House on 25 November 2002, Official Report, column 2WS, is also proceeding as planned. Implementation of the remaining DTR recommendations is continuing.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when (a) HMS Albion and (b) HMS Bulwark will be ready for active deployment in the Royal Navy; what the original contract dates were; and if he will make a statement. 
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Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on discussions between his Department and Mr.Nigel Farrow in respect of blast-cleaning techniques for warship hulls. 
Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence had a meeting with Mr. Farrow at the Defence Procurement Agency in Bristol on 25 November 2002. The Ministry of Defence fully explained its position in relation to Mr. Farrow's UK patent 2344348 in respect of alleged infringement activities at Portsmouth dockyard. The Ministry of Defence considered that the activities at Portsmouth did not infringe that patent.
At the meeting Mr. Farrow raised further allegations concerning another patent and activities at other dockyards. The Ministry of Defence undertook to investigate the further allegations. It was made clear that the investigation would take some weeks, and would cover alleged patent infringement and validity issues. It will also consider possible contractual responsibilities in the matter. Mr. Farrow is aware that these investigations are on-going.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) the differences and (b) the similarities are between blast-cleaning techniques for warship hulls (i) employed by his Department and (ii) patented by Mr. Nigel Farrow. 
Mr. Ingram: Following an approach from Mr. Farrow concerning alleged use of his patents, the Ministry of Defence has undertaken to investigate the cleaning techniques in use in naval dockyards. The Ministry of Defence indicated that this investigation would take some weeks and is well under way. The outcome is expected early in the new year.
Techniques relating to blast cleaning of ships are well known and used extensively. Mr. Farrow has proposed particular parameters for use in such systems and it is the alleged use of the particular parameters that is the subject of the investigation.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what legal costs have been incurred by his Department in consequence of its disagreement with Mr. Nigel Farrow in respect of his claim of breached patent rights for blast cleaning techniques for warship hulls. 
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Mr. Ingram: No external legal costs have been incurred by the Ministry of Defence. Investigation has been by the Ministry of Defence's intellectual property group, and is overseen by a chartered patent agent. Approximately two man weeks of internal effort have been expended on investigation and searches.
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