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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 27 October 2003

Aircraft Landing Fees

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was paid by his Department in respect of landing fees for British military aircraft using commercial airfields (a) in each of the last three years and (b) so far in 2003, broken down by airfield. [133624]

Mr. Ingram: Information on landing fees is not held by airfield, and cannot be provided in this format. Figures are available for the United Kingdom and overseas, by budget area, but these figures include handling charges and associated costs (e.g. parking, training, transport and navigation). In some cases the figures are not available from current records and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

£

Financial year 2001–02Financial year 2002–03Financial year 2003–04
Strike command
UK2,538,2791,944,807855,204
Overseas915,8121,960,0651,759,346
Fleet
UK(1)(1)406,344
Overseas(1)(1)12,707
Land (joint helicopter) command
UK(1)162,34854,364
Overseas(1)17,18512,957

(1) Disproportionate cost.


Army Regiments

Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has held with Scottish army regiments on restructuring. [134008]

Mr. Ingram: There have been no recent discussions with Scottish regiments on restructuring.

Bechtel

Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the contracts for consultancy and work carried out by Bechtel in each year since 1997, stating in each case (a) the nature of the work, (b) the value of the contract and (c) the duration of the contract; and if he will make a statement. [133581]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 22 October 2003]: The Ministry of Defence has placed one direct contract with Bechtel Limited since 1997. It covers the provision of project management services in support of a programme of assistance to the Russian Government in respect of chemical demilitarisation. The contract was placed on 24 January 2003 with a three year duration with two separate one year options to extend.

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The contract is funded jointly by the UK MOD, which has contributed £9.1 million, the Norwegian Government, and the European Union.

C130 Aircraft

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many C130J Hercules have been delivered; and how many serviceable engines there are; how many C130J Hercules aircraft are grounded because of a shortage of (a) spares and (b) software; and if he will make a statement. [134276]

Mr. Ingram: Twenty five Hercules C-130J aircraft have been delivered to the RAF.

The RAF currently holds 81 serviceable engines. At 09.00 hours 24 October 2003, five Hercules C130-J aircraft were unavailable to Front Line Commanders while awaiting spares.

Colombia

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 16 October 2003, Official Report, columns 321–22W, on military aid to Colombia, if he will break down the figures of (a) £48,296 and (b) £77,934 into major expenditure category. [134120]

Mr. Ingram: These figures relate to the cost of courses attended by two officers of the Colombian Armed Forces in the UK. One officer attended the Royal College of Defence Studies course and one is currently attending the Advanced Command and Staff College.

The figures supplied cover course tuition, and accommodation and airfares for the students and entitled accompanying family members. A detailed breakdown of these figures is not held centrally.

Depleted Uranium

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with representatives of Governments participating in the International Security Assistance force in Afghanistan about the use of depleted uranium ammunitions (a) during and (b) after the conflict in Afghanistan; what Governments raised concerns about this matter; what those concerns were; how they were addressed; and if he will make a statement. [133643]

Mr. Ingram: Depleted Uranium (DU) ammunition has not been used by Allied Forces in Afghanistan and has therefore not featured significantly in the discussions that take place amongst nations participating in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Fast Jet Pilots

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many trained fast jet pilots are serving in flying roles in the RAF; and how many have served in each year since 1997. [134459]

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Mr. Ingram: The number of trained Fast Jet Pilots serving in flying roles in the RAF at 1 October 2003 was 533. The numbers since 1997 are shown in the following table:

Number
1 April 1997639
1 April 1998615
1 April 1999581
1 April 2000543
1 April 2001545
1 April 2002523
1 April 2003548

The numbers of flying posts in the RAF are subject to constant review and will change throughout a year.


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Hawk Trainer

Tony Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what name is to be given to the new Hawk trainer. [133954]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 23 October 2003]: The new Hawk 128 is planned to meet the United Kingdom's Advanced Jet Trainer requirement. There are no plans to rename it.

Hired Tankers

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many tankers have been hired by his Department to transport fuel for the Royal Navy and at what cost, in each of the past three years. [134464]

Mr. Ingram: The information requested is shown in the table.

Financial yearShipCost (£)Remarks
2001–02MV Tees fisher17,750Coastal Tanker to supply HMS Albion with fuel post build
MT Bardsey45,178Coastal Tanker to supply fuel to HMS Ark Royal post refit
2002–03MV Mersey Fisher98,242Coastal Tanker to supply HMS Invincible with fuel post refit
2003–04MV Dicksi87,500Ocean/Tanker to supply fuel to Oil Fuel Depot Thanckes(2)
MT Black Rock44,678Coastal Tanker to supply fuel to HMS Bulwark post build
MV Mersey Fisher24,375Coastal Tanker to supply fuel to HMS Bulwark post build
317,723

(2) This vessel had to be chartered by the Department because the MOD's vessel, the Maersk Rapier was delayed while on a commercial charter. Cost of this voyage is in the process of being entirely recouped by the MOD as compensation against the third party who chartered the MOD's vessel and were responsible for the delay.


The MOD also has the Maersk Rapier on permanent charter. The Rapier is a multi-tasked tanker which not only supplies all fuel to the naval facilities in the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Falkland Islands and Souda Bay, Crete but it is also chartered to supply aviation fuel to Cyprus, Ascension Island and Falkland Islands. The MOD charters the vessel to commercial companies when it is not in use for defence requirements.

Iraq

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on recent developments regarding plans to disarm Iraqi civilians. [125245]

Mr. Hoon: Our aim for Iraq is a stable, united and law-abiding state, no longer posing a threat to its neighbours or to international security.

In accordance with this aim, Coalition Provisional Authority policy, which states that no person shall possess small arms in a public place with the exception of Coalition Forces and those who have been authorised to carry weapons by Coalition Forces, is being enforced with due sensitivity to local customs.

The recent efforts to create a new Iraqi army and an Iraqi police force are an integral part of our efforts to ensure a secure environment for the people of Iraq.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how often he plans to rotate British troops in Iraq. [132121]

Mr. Ingram: Troops will be rotated as often as appropriate and necessary. For most units a six-month tour, with appropriate opportunity to acclimatise, has now been established.

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it Government policy to launch inquiries into incidents in which Iraqi civilians have been killed in Iraq by United Kingdom and United States military forces since the end of the conflict. [129531]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 15 September 2003]: We investigate every incident in which we can confirm that there has been a civilian fatality, and it has allegedly been caused by United Kingdom military personnel.

We are not in a position to comment on incidents involving US forces.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the United States Administration in respect of the publication of the report of the finding of the Iraq Survey Group; and when it will be published. [131113]

Mr. Hoon: I have frequent discussions with the United States Administration on a wide range of issues of mutual interest. The Iraq Survey Group is one such issue.

Dr. David Kay published his Statement on the Interim Progress Report on the Activities of the Iraq Survey Group on 2 October. It can be found at www.cia.gov and copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to visit Iraq to view the reconstruction programme. [132128]

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Mr. Hoon: I have recently returned from a visit to Iraq where I discussed infrastructure development with United Kingdom forces, the Coalition Provisional Authority and local leaders. I witnessed first hand the hard work and determination to ensure the success of reconstruction and security sector reform in Iraq.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement outlining the circumstances under which the test tube of botulinum was discovered in Iraq and how long it had been stored in its place of discovery. [132343]

Mr. Hoon: The Iraq Survey Group was led to the vial of "Clostridium botulinum" okra B in the home of an Iraqi BW scientist. It was found in the kitchen in a container with other vials, which are believed to have been stored there for some time.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement regarding his assessment of the United Kingdom Government's claim that Niger was prepared to sell uranium to Iraq. [132344]

Mr. Hoon: Niger sold some 270 tonnes of uranium ore to Iraq in the early 1980s. The Government have made no claim that Niger was prepared to sell uranium to Iraq since then.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence why British experts on the Iraq Survey Group have not been given access to the classified version of the report presented by David Kay; and if he will make a statement. [132345]

Mr. Hoon : The classified version of Dr. David Kay's Interim Report on the work of the Iraq Survey Group was drawn up in consultation with United Kingdom, United States and Australian experts working in the field in Iraq.

Since Dr. Kay's return to Iraq, ISG personnel from all three coalition countries with a need to know and the appropriate clearances have been granted access to the completed report.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the test tube discovered in Iraq contained (a) the bacteria botulinum and (b) the toxin itself; what strain it was; how many times more toxic than the nerve agent VX the B strain is; and if he will make a statement. [132346]

Mr. Hoon: The vial contained viable "Clostridium botulinum" type B organisms. This would have allowed the Iraqis to grow from this seed stock increasing quantities of "Clostridium botulinum" from which its toxin could be derived. The toxin could then have been weaponised.

The vial was labelled as "Clostridium botulinum" strain Okra B. This micro-organism can produce botulinum toxin type B. "Clostridium botulinum" toxin type B is many times more toxic than VX nerve agent.

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The comparison varies depending on the route by which each is applied, on the methods by which the botulinum toxin is prepared and on the subject to which it is applied.

Mr. Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to receive the final report from the survey group in Iraq on weapons of mass destruction. [133155]

Mr. Hoon: The Iraq Survey Group will take as long as necessary to complete its investigations into Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programmes and produce a final report.


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