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10 Mar 2003 : Column 58W—continued

Anti-personnel Mines

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on compliance by the UK with the Ottawa Convention on the use of anti-personnel mines. [102352]

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Mr. Hoon: The United Kingdom is fully in compliance with its obligations under the Ottawa Convention.

Astute Submarine

Mr. Breed: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how the delay in the Astute Submarine in service date will affect the Astute Class Training Service run by DSEI; what the cost will be to his Department; and if he will make a statement. [99925]

Mr. Ingram: A contract for the provision of an Astute Class Training Service was placed with FAST Training Services Ltd in September 2001. The Department is currently evaluating the impact of realigning the training programme to take account of delays in the ASTUTE submarine programme. A decision on the way ahead, based on the best value for money solution is expected later this year.

Civil Aircraft Contracts

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what experience of tenders for civil aircraft contracts was available to the assessor of the Wattisham Air Traffic contract. [101373]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 6 March 2003]: I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the competence of the technical assessor of the bids for the second Wattisham Air Traffic contract. The Wattisham contract was for the provision of air traffic control services, associated equipment maintenance and simulator services. As the most significant proportion of the contract was for air traffic control services for the Ministry of Defence, the most appropriate technical assessor was a military air traffic controller. Against this background it was not considered necessary for the assessor to have had experience of civil air traffic contracting.

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the main differences were between the risk assessments used in the first and second assessments of the Wattisham Air Traffic contract. [101374]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 6 March 2003]: The risk assessment used in the second competition for the Wattisham Air Traffic Contract benefited from lessons learnt in the first competition. The second competition utilised a better defined requirement, a more rigorous and explicit approach to the risk assessment and a different assessment team—all of which improved the quality of the risk assessment overall.

CVF Project

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether industrial co-operation between France and the United Kingdom on the CVF project will have an impact on his Department's contractual arrangements with (a) BAE Systems and (b) Thales UK; [97329]

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Mr. Ingram: While we have been exchanging information and discussing carrier procurement issues with the French Government, to date there has been no Anglo-French co-operation on CVF at the industry to industry level. As a result of France's decision to buy a second aircraft carrier we are exploring potential areas for co-operation—such as transferring design information and facilitating, in due course, industry to industry links—to inform the French decision-making process. Much will depend on the procurement route and solution selected by France. It is not envisaged that industrial co-operation will impact on our procurement strategy and our relationship with BAE Systems or Thales UK.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the firms bidding for the CVF project are estimated to have spent on their participation in the competition. [97330]

Mr. Ingram: From the start of the CVF Assessment phase contract in November 1999 to the end of the competitive stage on 20 November 2002, the Ministry of Defence paid around £39 million (VAT inclusive) to both BAE Systems and Thales UK. Additional spending by the companies is a matter for them.

Dean Hill

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether plans for the closure of Dean Hill munitions depot remain as before; and if he will make a statement. [101662]

Mr. Ingram: The closure of Dean Hill munitions depot remains on track and it is planned to cease operations by 1 April 2004.


Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 3 February 2003, Official Report, column 55W, on Gibraltar, whether the Government of Gibraltar have requested a meeting to discuss commemoration of 300 years of British sovereignty. [101815]

Mr. Ingram: The Government of Gibraltar have not requested any meeting with either British Forces Gibraltar or the Ministry of Defence to discuss the commemoration of 300 years of British sovereignty.

Home Defence

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the UK's home defence capability. [101670]

Mr. Hoon: Defence and security within the United Kingdom are primarily the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. The Ministry of Defence's contribution, including the enhancements currently being implemented, were described in Section 5 of the White Paper "The Strategic Defence Review: A New Chapter" (CM5566 vol. 1), presented to Parliament on 18 July 2002.

Media and Communications (Gulf)

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel from his Department

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with responsibility for media and communications operations are (a) in the Gulf and (b) on their way to the Gulf; and if he will make a statement. [101593]

Mr. Ingram: As at 7 March 2002, the Ministry of Defence had 160 specialist media operations staff deployed to the Gulf. There is one more member of staff due to be deployed within the next week.


Mr. Frank Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on new technologies for detecting and removing landmines; if he will list such new technologies that have been tested in the field; under what conditions such technologies have been tested; and in which mine-affected countries they are now operational. [101294]

Mr. Ingram: Research into mine detection, and destruction or removal, continues to be undertaken by several firms in the United Kingdom. A wide range of technologies have been tested, including: ground penetrating radar; magnetometers (sometimes combined with GPS locating equipment); aerial platforms for mine detection equipment; vehicle mounted mine detection and marking equipment; mine destruction flails; mine destruction and lifting rotators and scarifiers; and pyrotechnic disposal tools. Tests have included remote controlled equipment of all types. Testing work has also been carried out with explosive and mine detection dogs.

Technologies have been tested under control conditions against dummy targets (for example, a known number of targets buried at a known depth in a known location and in a certain type of soil), in dummy minefields laid in typical conditions found in various parts of the world, and under control conditions against live targets. Equipment that is derived from or has benefited from these tests is operational in the Middle and Far East, in Africa, and in Europe (including Bosnia and Kosovo).

Mr. Frank Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British service personnel are involved in landmine clearance; and in which countries they are working. [101295]

Mr. Ingram: There are no British troops currently involved in landmine clearance. British troops may be required to clear mines on a war fighting deployment in support of operations. They may also be required to carry out limited mine clearance operations or operations other than war if the local situation demands. However, mine clearance on humanitarian operations will normally be passed to appropriate United Nations or civilian contractors.

No-fly Zones

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions since October 2002 coalition aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone in Iraq have (a) detected violations of the no-fly zones,

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(b) detected a direct threat to a coalition aircraft and (c) responded in self defence; how much ordnance was released in each month since October 2002; and if he will make a statement. [99714]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 3 March 2003]: The information requested is only currently available up to the end of January. No-fly zone (NFZ) violations are detected in several ways, though rarely by tactical aircraft. The number of violations recorded, by month, in the southern no-fly zone, is as follows:

October 20022
November 20022
December 20029
January 20032

Coalition aircraft recorded threats on a total of 113 occasions, as follows

October 200214
November 200248
January 200333

Coalition aircraft in the southern NFZ responded in self defence against Iraqi Air Defence targets on 41 occasions in the period, and released 128.4 tons of ordnance.

Responses conducted in self defence

October 20026
November 200210
December 200213
January 200312

Tonnage of ordance released

October 200217.7
November 200233.6
December 200253.2
January 200323.9

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