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Navigational Aids

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what navigational aids are employed by the Ministry of Defence; where they are stationed; and at what cost, in each of the last five years for which figures are available. [141742]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence uses both sea and land based navigational aids. For sea based aids the Department currently operates four vessels used to lay/recover and undertake annual maintenance of some 205 navigational buoys, 120 moorings and 15 targets around the coast of the British Isles. The Department also maintains 12 Oceanographic Data Acquisition System buoys for the Meteorological Office. The sea based navigational aids are provided to mark channels, boundaries or hazards contained within the dockyard ports, trials ranges and areas of interest to MOD.

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This work is to be included in a PPP/PFI Acquisition programme for future provision of Marine Services, and I am withholding details of expenditure in accordance with Exemption 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information (Effective management and operations of the public service).

The requested information on land based navigational aids will take some time to collate and I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Northern Ireland Veterans

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many claims have been made to the Veterans' Agency for post traumatic stress disorder-related illnesses attributed to service in Northern Ireland since 1973; [142741]

Mr. Caplin: The information is not available in the format requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Northern Ireland veterans have taken their own lives (a) after and (b) during their service in Northern Ireland since 1973. [142742]

Mr. Caplin: Between 1984 and 2002 there have been 45 deaths among Regular Service personnel serving in Northern Ireland recorded with a suicide verdict or an open verdict from a coroner. During this period there were three other deaths among Regular Service personnel serving in Northern Ireland for whom we are waiting for a coroner's verdict. Information on deaths prior to 1984 is not held centrally. Information on other Service personnel who may have served in Northern Ireland, but died in Service elsewhere is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Information on deaths of Service personnel after they have left the Service is also not generally available to the Ministry of Defence.

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reports he has received from associations or organisations specifically set up to support Northern Ireland veterans. [142860]

Mr. Caplin: The Ministry of Defence has not received any reports from organisations specifically set up to support Northern Ireland veterans. The recently formed Northern Ireland Veterans Association has been invited to attend the next Veterans Plenary Forum on 24 March 2004 which I chair as Minister for Veterans.

Nuclear Deterrent

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances it would be necessary to replace Trident; and what implications this would have for the renewal of Article III of the Mutual Defence Agreement. [142319]

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Mr. Hoon : I refer my hon. Friend to paragraph 3.11 of the Defence White Paper (Cm 6041) which was laid before the House on 11 December, in which the Government stated that

Reserve Forces

Mr. Meale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to encourage more employers to enable their workforces to participate in the reserve forces. [142985]

Mr. Caplin: The SaBRE (Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers) campaign aims to win and maintain the support of employers for the Volunteer Reserves. This is achieved through a combination of highly targeted direct marketing and the establishment of a network of Employer Support Executives to focus employer support at the regional level. We are confident that SaBRE succeeds in generating increased levels of interest in, and support for, our Volunteer Reserve forces, and demonstrate to employers the benefits of employing reservists in their organisations.

In addition, as part of the overall process of identifying lessons learned from all aspects of Operation Telic, we will be reviewing the employer support package, including the right to claim financial assistance to cover the additional costs resulting from the call out of a member of staff.

Also as a result of our experiences during Operation Telic we intend to foster greater involvement of employers in "intelligent mobilisation" in the future. This process recognises that, if there is time, it is better to seek volunteers for specific posts whose employers have given permission for them to be mobilised. Where possible, we will also endeavour to provide reasonable notice of mobilisation plans and improve the flow of information to employers about mobilised Reservists.


Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether HMS Bridport has been placed in (a) reserve and (b) extended readiness. [143258]

Mr. Ingram: The terms 'in reserve' and 'extended readiness' are broadly similar, although the latter is in more common usage and describes the very low level readiness state in which HMS Bridport is currently held.


Art Acquisition

Norman Baker: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office how much his Department has spent on the acquisition of works of art in each year since 1997, broken down by amounts spent on (a) paintings and (b) sculpture; what the single most expensive piece of art purchased by his Department since 1997 was; how

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much it cost; and what the total revenue raised by his Department through sales of its works of art has been since 1997. [142364]

Mr. Alexander: The Cabinet Office has not spent any monies on the acquisition of works of art since 1997. No revenue has been raised by the Cabinet Office through sales of its works of art.

Fair Trade Products

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office whether it is the policy of his Department to use fair trade products, as a matter of course, in (a) sales on departmental premises and (b) receptions and meetings involving staff and visitors. [142812]

Mr. Alexander: It is Cabinet Office policy to purchase on the basis of value for money. Whilst we have no specific policy on purchasing Fair Trade products, we encourage our contracted catering providers to purchase Fair Trade products where commercially practicable and viable.

Hutton Inquiry

Mr. Cameron: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet Office for what reason the document 'Submissions of the Government to the Inquiry' (CAB/28/0002–0017), submitted to the Hutton Inquiry, was not published; and if he will make a statement. [142056]

Mr. Leslie: I have been asked to reply.

Lord Hutton conducted the inquiry on the basis that all the evidence given by witnesses at the inquiry and all the documents referred to in evidence, together with the oral statements of Counsel to the inquiry, would be made public, but that the written submissions of the parties would not be made public, pending the publication of his report. After the publication of the report Lord Hutton will decide whether some or all of the written submissions should be published.


Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 in combating electoral fraud in Northern Ireland. [142692]

Mr. Spellar: We are satisfied that the Electoral Fraud (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 has proved to be successful in combating electoral fraud and has improved public confidence in the electoral process. Furthermore I am also pleased to see that a report, published by the Electoral Commission on 9 December, concludes that the register more accurately reflects those entitled to be registered than the previous register.

However, we also recognise that work still needs to be done to ensure that all those entitled to have the opportunity to register. We will continue to work closely with the Electoral Office and the Electoral Commission to ensure this happens.

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