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9 Jun 2003 : Column 650W—continued

Document Disclosure

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what instructions he has given to his Department's officials on limitations on the disclosure

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of documents requested by (a) the investigation team of His Honour Judge Corey and (b) the Inquiry team of Mr. Justice Barry. [116868]

Mr. Ingram: I believe my hon. Friend refers to the Cory investigation into six cases where allegations of collusion by security forces have been made and the Barron inquiry into the Dublin/Monaghan and Dundalk bombings.

The Government are co-operating fully with Justice Cory's investigation and the inquiry of Mr. Justice Barron. In doing so, the Government must take account of its obligations to prevent real harm to national security and to safeguard the individuals right to life.

Falkland Islands

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 16 May 2003, Official Report, column 448W, on the Falkland Islands, when the last APT(S) came off station. [117658]

Mr. Ingram: The last Atlantic Patrol Task (South) ship, HMS Westminster, departed the Falkland Islands Area of Responsibility (FIAOR) on 26 October 2002 and finally left the Atlantic theatre of operations on 28 November 2002. For the majority of the gapped period, in addition to the Falkland Islands Patrol Vessel HMS Leeds Castle, the RN continued to contribute to the significant UK presence in the South Atlantic with the APT(S) tanker RFA Grey Rover, prior to her re-deployment on 31 January 2003 for Operation Telic duties, and the Ice Patrol Ship HMS Endurance, before she left the FIAOR on 18 March 2003.

Female Submariners

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Government's policy is on female submariners; for what reasons females may not serve in submarines; and if he will make a statement. [118190]

Dr. Moonie: Women are excluded from service in submarines because no assurance can be given regarding the safety of a foetus due to the presence of contaminants which build up in the atmosphere of a submarine. The medical evidence on this issue is kept under review, most recently by the Defence Scientific Advisory Counsel and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the summer of 2001. At present, there are no plans to change the policy of excluding women from the submarine service.

Gulf War (Compensation)

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if (a) medical reservists and (b) non-medical reservists in the Gulf are receiving compensation equal to their civilian salaries; and if he will make a statement. [118191]

Dr. Moonie: Under the provisions of the Reserve Forces Act 1996, any Reservists whose military salary is less than their civilian earnings may apply for financial assistance. This consists of a Standard Award that is calculated on the difference between civilian and military salaries. The amount that may be awarded is limited within set bands related to rank and specialism. If a Standard Award is insufficient to avert serious financial difficulties, a Reservist can also apply for a

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Hardship Award to cover essential outgoings such as mortgage repayments, school fees, child care costs etc. Hardship Awards are calculated on essential expenditure rather than actual earnings and there is no financial limit on the amount that may be awarded.

The regulations governing financial assistance for Reservists are contained in Statutory Instrument 309 of 1997 ("The Reserve Forces (Call-Out and Recall) (Financial Assistance) Regulations 1997"), and are currently under review.


Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to convert short fuselage C-130J Hercules C5 aircraft into long fuselage Hercules C4s. [112688]

Mr. Ingram: The Royal Air Force operates a fleet of 25 C130J aircraft, comprising 15 Mk 4 long fuselage and 10 Mk 5 short fuselage aircraft. There are currently no plans to convert short fuselage aircraft to the long fuselage variant. The balance between Mk 4 and Mk 5 aircraft will be kept under review, in the light, for example, of operational experience.


Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the availability was of the AS90, in percentage terms, on Operation Telic (a) on the first day of combat operations, (b) on 30 April 2003 and (c) on average for the duration of combat operations in Iraq; and if he will make a statement on its operational effectiveness. [111824]

Mr. Ingram: Post operational reporting will provide analysis and assessment of the performance of equipment deployed on operations in Iraq. It would, therefore, be premature for me to provide a detailed assessment of the performance or availability of individual equipments at this stage. However, the indications are that the AS90 fleet deployed on Operation Telic was very reliable and performed impressively.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Tomahawk missiles were used in Iraq during Operation Telic; and what plans there are to replace them. [111839]

Mr. Ingram: United Kingdom submarines launched a number of Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles during operations in Iraq. I am withholding the precise number of missiles fired and plans to replace them in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information which relates to Defence, Security and International Relations.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many prisoners have been released by British forces in the Gulf. [112078]

Mr. Ingram: As at 28 May 2003, 2,282 prisoners of war had been released by the United Kingdom.

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether extended SCUD missiles have been found in post-war Iraq. [112478]

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Mr. Hoon: As at 9 June 2003, Coalition Forces had not found any extended-range SCUD missiles in Iraq. Coalition Forces are initiating investigations into sites which may be connected with Iraqi programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction in breach of United Nations resolutions, and into other sources of evidence such as documentation or interviews with relevant Iraqi personnel. Investigations are at an early stage and we expect gathering and collating evidence from the various sources to be a long and complex task. 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.

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his estimate is of the cost of the clearance of unexploded ordnance left after military action by British forces in Iraq. [116260]

Mr. Ingram: A mix of abandoned Iraqi munitions, as well as United States and United Kingdom ordnance, exists in the UK area of operation. However, UK EOD forces are engaged in the clearance of unexploded ordnance in their area of operations, irrespective of its origin. The costs of the EOD force—in terms of salaries and explosives—amount to some £330,000 per month. A cost of clearance of UK munitions alone would not therefore be meaningful.

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the questions asked by the hon. Member for Southport on 8 May about specific details in the Government's dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as laid before the House on 24 September 2002 will be answered; and what is delaying a response. [117822]

Mr. Hoon: I have replied to the hon. Member today.

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the Prime Minister's statement of 14 April 2003, Official Report, column 615–17, on Iraq and the Middle East, how many of the possible sites for weapons of mass destruction have (a) been visited and (b) not been visited; what reasons have prevented sites being visited and inspected; and whether the list has been shared with the UN weapons inspectors. [112366]

Mr. Hoon: As at 4 June 2003, Coalition forces had initiated investigations into 140 sites within Iraq, from a master list of over 500, which may be connected to programmes to develop weapons of mass destruction. Additionally, investigations had been initiated into a further 67 sites identified since the conflict began. This master list subsumes the 146 sites referred to by the Prime Minister on 14 April 2003 and includes sites identified by our Coalition partners. These sites are being investigated as quickly as practicable and we expect further sites to be identified as investigations progress. Such sites are only one potential form of evidence; others could include delivery systems, documentation or interviews with relevant Iraqi personnel. We expect gathering and collating evidence from these sources to be a long and complex task.

The majority of the sites on the Coalition master list were already known to the UN, having been identified by UNSCOM and the IAEA during their previous inspections. Before the conflict began, UK personnel

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briefed UN inspectors on suspect activities and capabilities at around 60 of the known sites, and on around 40 additional sites of which we suspected the inspectors may be unaware. We believe that we were as helpful as possible to the UN, working on a presumption of disclosure unless there were pressing security reasons not to. It is likely that other nations shared similar information with the UN concerning possible WMD sites.

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