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3 Jun 2003 : Column 290W—continued

Death-in-service Benefits

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on proposed changes to death-in-service benefits. [116144]

Dr. Moonie: The proposals for a new Armed Forces Pension Scheme, published for consultation in March 2001, included a number of improvements to current death-in-service arrangements; one of these was an increase to the death-in-service gratuity to three times pensionable salary. I expect to announce our final decision on the design of the new scheme before the Summer recess, taking account of responses to our consultation document.

Defence Estate Catering

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the (a) quantity, (b) quality and (c) source of non-UK produced eggs used in catering facilities on the defence estate. [115761]

Mr. Ingram: A total of 470,000 dozen non-United Kingdom produced eggs are purchased annually from various sources dependent upon the country in which the armed forces are operating annually at a cost of £347,000. Eggs supplied to units in Germany and the Balkans are sourced from Germany, eggs for Gibraltar are sourced from Spain and Cyprus source local eggs. All eggs and egg producers meet EU quality standards.

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Departmental Report

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of the publication of the 2001 Departmental Report. [112815]

Mr. Ingram: The cost of publishing the Ministry of Defence's annual Performance Report 2000–01 (Cm 5290) was largely borne by The Stationery Office, with whom the contract for producing Command Papers is held. The Stationery Office recoups these costs on a commercial basis through sales of the Reports.

The total cost to the Ministry of Defence was made up of two main elements: the number of copies purchased from TSO for our own use (e.g. internal distribution, MOD libraries), plus any additional printing/publication costs not covered by the TSO contract (e.g. overtime, special finishes or colours). For the 2000–01 Departmental Performance Report, the MOD paid The Stationery Office £12,610.

MOD staff costs associated with producing this Report cannot be accurately assessed without incurring disproportionate expense.

Departmental Underspending

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to reduce his Department's underspend in 2003–04 from that of 2002–03. [112768]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence is currently estimating financial outturn to be less than 1 per cent. below total DEL provision. Planned spending for 2003–04 is set out in the Ministry of Defence's Departmental Report published in May 2003 (CM 5912) and the Department will continue to manage the delivery of Defence outputs within Departmental Expenditure Limits.

Depleted Uranium

Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of post-war health and environmental issues arising as a result of the employment of depleted uranium weapons in the recent conflict with Iraq. [116040]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence welcomed the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) desk study on Iraq which commented on the use of depleted uranium weapons. The next step is for UNEP to conduct an in-depth survey of health and environmental issues. We look forward to this study and will do whatever we can to facilitate it.

Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) to what extent the recent conflict with Iraq has affected efforts to make safe and remove the remains of depleted uranium weapons employed in that region during the first Gulf War; [116041]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

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Drummore Harbour

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the plans to change the ownership of Drummore Harbour. [115816]

Dr. Moonie: Drummore Harbour is being considered as part of a wider review of associated facilities in the area. In the event that it becomes surplus to Ministry of Defence requirements, it will be sold in accordance with Government Accounting Regulations. As part of this process, all legal ownership matters, and any extant legal agreements for the use of the harbour, will be fully investigated and validated.

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many test-firing targets are stored at Drummore Harbour. [115817]

Dr. Moonie: None.

Efficiency Savings

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the target is for efficiency savings in 2003–04 expressed (a) in money terms and (b) as a percentage of the Department's expenditure limit. [114128]

Mr. Ingram: The efficiency target set for the Department in its 2002 Public Service Agreement is to increase value for money by making improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of the key processes supporting the delivery of military capability, such as training, equipment acquisition, and logistics. In percentage terms, the Department aims to achieve output efficiency averaging 2.5 per cent. per annum over the period from 2002–03 to 2005–06.

Because this target is set in terms of output efficiency, and because it applies to the processes supporting the delivery of military capability, and not to the overall Defence budget, it cannot be meaningfully expressed as savings in money terms or as a percentage of the Department's expenditure limit.

Field Hospitals (Gulf)

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many patients on average are being treated daily by TA medical services in field hospitals in the Gulf. [113899]

Dr. Moonie: The majority of Territorial Army medical personnel are now serving with 202 Volunteer Field Hospital at Shaibah Airfield, Iraq. Between 19 and 22 May, an average of 79 patients were treated daily by this unit.

Heathrow

Mr. Randall: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact on military flights at Northolt of a third runway at Heathrow. [115980]

Mr. Ingram: The Department for Transport has consulted the Ministry of Defence about the proposed third runway at London Heathrow. We believe that a third runway would preclude flying activity at RAF Northolt.

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Iraq

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many injured servicemen have been returned from the Gulf to the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement on (a) medical and (b) convalescence treatment available to them. [113662]

Dr. Moonie: Between 14 February and 21 May, 1,241 United Kingdom Service personnel were aeromedically evacuated from the Gulf, as a result of injury (including non-battle injuries) or for other medical reasons.

Medical treatment was available to UK Service personnel through the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Ministry of Defence Hospital units within NHS Hospitals, NHS Hospitals and the Royal Hospital, Haslar. The Defence Medical Services Rehabilitation Unit, Headley Court provides convalescence treatment for UK Service personnel.

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects that adequate supplies of Paludrine will be available for use by British forces serving in (a) Northern Iraq and (b) Basra. [109396]

Dr. Moonie: Adequate supplies of Paludrine are available for use by United Kingdom armed forces serving in Iraq.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what instructions have been given to military personnel on duty in Iraq to safeguard sites and collections of archaeological importance. [109932]

Mr. Ingram: The United Kingdom is committed to the protection of cultural property during any military conflict regardless of the Campaign. UK Service personnel are provided with briefings on the significance of sites of archaeological interest and museums, and are also informed of their responsibilities when conducting operations near such sites, in accordance with additional protocols to the Geneva Convention.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reports he has received of civilian casualties in Iraq as a consequence of the dropping of cluster bombs; and if he will make a statement. [110261]

Mr. Hoon: We are aware of no proven reports of civilian casualties caused by UK cluster weapons.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors underlay the decision to give responsibility for the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to the US. [110349]

Mr. Hoon: No such decision has been made. Operations to uncover evidence of programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction in Iraq are currently being conducted by coalition forces. Coalition forces include both United States and United Kingdom personnel, in an integrated command structure.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he is taking to (a) prevent further looting of cultural artefacts and antiquities in Iraq and (b) ensure the security of museums and other repositories of works of art and cultural value. [110599]

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Mr. Ingram: Since the liberation of Iraq, Coalition forces have been working to restore security through a number of different means including mobile patrols and vehicle checkpoints. In addition, certain key sites, which are assessed to remain at risk are currently being guarded, including the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad. However, in general the provision of static guards is not an effective means of providing a safe and secure environment.

Our approach is to re-establish local police and guard forces to undertake this task, initially trained and overseen by Coalition forces.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures were taken by Coalition forces to protect the contents of museums in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities during the recent conflict. [110603]

Mr. Ingram: Throughout the military campaign, Coalition forces have taken tremendous care to ensure that damage to museums and other sites of historic, archaeological or cultural importance has been minimised. Great care was taken to ensure that such sites were not targeted by Coalition aircraft. Ground troops were briefed on the need to be especially careful while conducting operations in the vicinity of these sites.

Some looting was reported as Iraq was being liberated, during which time Coalition forces were engaged in other high priority tasks, including war-fighting operations.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Coalition troops, broken down by country, (a) were in place on 10 April 2003 and (b) are currently in place outside Iraqi (i) museums, (ii) libraries, (iii) archives, (iv) monuments and (v) sites; and what proportion of total Coalition troops these figures represent, broken down by country. [110849]

Mr. Ingram: The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Whilst combat operations were under way, Coalition forces were not tasked to guard specific sites, as this would have meant that they would have presented themselves as targets, and prevented them from carrying out other high priority tasks. However, exceptions were made for key facilities, such as some hospitals.

Coalition forces are now guarding some buildings such as Ministries and also the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad. However, the preference is to conduct routine patrols that project an unpredictable presence over a wide area.

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what efforts the armed forces are making to secure former Iraqi government buildings; and if he will make a statement on the discovery by journalists of Iraqi government documents. [110877]

Mr. Ingram: Since the liberation of Iraq, United Kingdom forces have been working to restore security through a number of different means including patrols, vehicle check points and static guarding. Certain sites are currently being guarded by UK forces including key government buildings and public record offices. Overall,

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our approach is to re-establish local police and guard forces that will initially be trained and overseen by UK forces.

We are aware of reports that journalists have discovered Iraqi government documents in a building in Baghdad. However, this is an area under the control of United States forces and the decision on which buildings to guard is a matter for them.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to assess the exposure of Iraqi civilians to depleted uranium. [111281]

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) pursuant to his response of 12 May 2003, Official Report, column 38W, on depleted uranium, whether his Department will make (a) radio and (b) television public announcements in Iraq to alert the Iraqi people to the safety precautions needed with depleted uranium; [116214]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to my hon. Friends and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Ministry of Defence Hospital Units have been used for the treatment of casualties from hostilities in the Gulf. [112084]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence hospital units that have received casualties from the Gulf requiring in-patient treatment are the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine in Birmingham, and the MOD hospital units at Frimley Park hospital, Friarage hospital at Northallerton and the Royal hospital Haslar. The MOD hospital unit at the Derriford hospital at Plymouth has treated returned patients but on an out-patient basis only.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British military personnel are performing guarding duties at prisoner of war camps. [112080]

Mr. Ingram: Under the terms of an agreement reached between the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia at the outset of the conflict, prisoners of war captured by UK forces were held for an initial period by UK personnel before being transferred into the custody of the US. At present, therefore, only US personnel are carrying out guarding duties for prisoners of war held in Iraq. UK personnel have full access to prisoners captured by UK forces and the UK retains primary right of jurisdiction over all prisoners transferred from UK to US forces in respect of acts committed prior to their transfer.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the sources of the knowledge assembled on the Iraqi programme of weapons of mass destruction. [113537]

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Mr. Hoon: Sources of information on Iraqi programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction would include sensitive sources covered by Exemptions 1, 4 or 14 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. We will aim to release information concerning evidence of Iraqi WMD programmes when and where appropriate, as we did before the conflict began.

Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what evidence has been found following the conflict that Iraq had continued to develop weapons of mass destruction programmes, in defiance of UN resolutions. [114513]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 19 May 2003]: Coalition forces have identified materials which may be related to Iraqi programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction, including vehicles which appear to match descriptions of mobile biological agent production facilities in the document "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction" published on 24 September 2002, and as presented to the Union Nations Security Council by the United States Secretary of State. We currently assess that these vehicles are military, are transportable systems designed for producing micro-organisms, and as such should have been declared by Iraq under United Nations Security Council resolution 1441, but were not. Our investigations continue. We expect that the gathering and collating of evidence from various sources of Iraqi programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction to be a long and complex task.

Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence where the sites were from which Iraqi weapons of mass destruction could have been launched in 45 minutes; and whether they have been destroyed. [114515]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 19 May 2003]:We are aware of a large number of sites in Iraq which may be related to the development, storage or use of weapons of mass destruction. Investigations into these sites, their status and other potential sources of evidence concerning Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, such as mobile facilities, are underway.

Glenda Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 12 March 2003, Official Report, column 15, in what circumstances it would be inappropriate to publicise the identification of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. [114518]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 19 May 2003]: We will aim to release information concerning evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programmes when and where appropriate, as we did before the conflict began. In some circumstances it may be inappropriate to release certain elements of such evidence, for example details of sensitive sources covered by Exemptions 1, 4 or 14 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his US counterpart about the establishment of a UK base in Iraq. [114810]

Mr. Hoon: I have regular discussions with my United States counterpart on matters relating to Iraq. As we have stated on many occasions, Coalition forces will

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remain in Iraq only as long as necessary to help the Iraqi people to build their own political institutions and reconstruct their country.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many arrests have been made in Iraq of suspected al-Qaeda (a) operatives and (b) sympathisers since the fall of Saddam Hussein. [116401]

Mr. Ingram: I am unaware of any evidence to suggest that persons detained by the United Kingdom Armed Forces in Iraq have taken part in al-Qaeda operations, or that they have directly assisted or supported such operations.

Whether our coalition partners have such evidence in respect of persons they have detained is a matter for them.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance his Department is providing to members of the Territorial Army and Reserves who have lost their employment after being called up for Operation Telic; and how many such cases have been notified to his Department. [115322]

Dr. Moonie: All Reservists benefit from employment protection under the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985. Under the Act, an employer has an obligation to reinstate a Reservist his former job following demobilisation. If this is not reasonable or practicable, the Reservist must be reinstated on the most favourable terms of service available.

The Reservists' call-out pack includes information which reservists are required to give to their employer. This sets out the employers' statutory obligations under the Act. Reservists also receive information about their rights under the Act with their call-out notice. Furthermore, during the process of demobilisation, they are given further advice regarding how to apply for reinstatement.

To date, we are not aware of any Reservists who have been demobilised from Operation TELIC failing to be reinstated. Nor have there been any approaches to the Reinstatement Committees that are set up to rule on disputes between employers and returning reservists. We are aware of four Reservists who have lost their jobs while mobilised; however, in all these cases the employers are aware of their legal obligations and have given undertakings to discharge these.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel serving on Operation Telic have received (a) LOA and (b) LSSA payments. [115326]

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

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether (a) the Amariyah Sera and Vaccine Plant, (b) the Al Dawrah Foot and Mouth Disease Vaccine Institute, (c) Project Baiji at Al Shargat and (laid before the House on 24th d) the Ibn Sia plant at Tarmizah, referred to in the document 'Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction' September 2002, have been inspected subsequent to the conflict. [112479]

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Mr. Hoon: Investigations have begun into sites in Iraq which may be connected to programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction, including those referred to in the document "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction" published on 24 September 2002. We do not plan to give details of investigations conducted at individual sites until investigations are complete, as investigations may require more than one visit and there is a potential for evidence to be disturbed. We will aim to release information concerning evidence of Iraqi WMD programmes when and where appropriate, as we did before the conflict began.

Ms Bridget Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) support and (b) guidance the Government has provided to the Iraq Medical Aid Organisation since that organisation's first meeting on 27 April. [115348]

Dr. Moonie: I am not aware of any Government support or guidance provided to the Iraq Medical Aid Organisation.

Tony Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when NHS staff deployed as reservists in Iraq will return to this country. [115679]

Dr. Moonie: As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced in a written statement on 30 April 2003 Official Report, columns 15–16WS, we will continue to withdraw assets and personnel from the region where possible, but we will maintain an appropriate military presence for as long as is necessary. Therefore, while some Reservists will be demobilised now, others who have a role to play in the stabilisation and rebuilding of Iraq will remain in theatre to complete a six month deployment. As at 20 May 2003 some 1,149 Reservists serving on Operation TELIC had been demobilised. Specific figures for NHS employees are not available.


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