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17 May 2004 : Column 661W—continued

Satellite Digital Television

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions she has held with broadcasters on the introduction of a free satellite digital television service; and if she will make a statement. [172884]

Estelle Morris: The Department is in ongoing discussions with broadcasters and with Ofcom about the further development of digital television services. Ofcom have indicated that they will consider whether regulatory intervention is needed to secure a viable free-to-view satellite proposition before switchover.


BAE Systems

18. Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his Department's relations with BAE Systems. [173166]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence's relationship with BAE Systems is based on the need to purchase and maintain equipment to meet the requirements of the armed forces affordably and effectively.

BAE Systems is currently the largest defence supplier to the Ministry of Defence. The changing pattern of demand for defence equipment makes it important that
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the Ministry of Defence works closely with them and   other defence suppliers, in keeping with the Government's Defence Industrial Policy.

Our relations with BAE Systems' work force continue to be excellent. I pay tribute to their dedication and commitment.

Defence Logistics

19. Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes he has made to defence logistics operations in the light of lessons learned from Operation Telic. [173167]

Mr. Ingram: In light of the lessons learned from Operation Telic the Ministry of Defence has taken steps to address issues such as its holding of a range of desert equipments including body armour, clothing and boots. A package of improvements for logistics materiel management has been introduced which will greatly increase our visibility of logistic materiel in theatres of operations.

Future Rapid Effects System

20. Angela Watkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Future Rapid Effects System will enter service with the Army. [173168]

Mr. Ingram: The in-service date for Future Rapid Effects System will not be endorsed until the main investment decision, but on current plans, the intention is to introduce early variants into service around the end of the decade.


22. David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are to change the (a) number and (b) composition of British troops serving in southern Iraq; and how regularly this is reviewed. [173170]

Mr. Hoon: We keep under continuous close review the level of forces we require in Iraq. We are currently considering, with other partners, the levels and dispositions of forces in the context of the forthcoming crucial period from the handover of authority to the Iraqi Interim Government on 30 June, through to the election of the Transitional Assembly and Government around the turn of the year.

Claire Ward: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of investigations into allegations of abuse by the military in Iraq. [173169]

Mr. Hoon: Investigations by the Royal Military Police Special Investigations Branch into allegations of abuse continue and as I have already informed the House, I cannot put a precise timeframe on how long these might take. As I said, in my statement last week, it is essential that the integrity of the criminal justice process be maintained. This can involve detailed and lengthy processes, but these are crucial to allow the necessary impartial evaluation of the evidence. As I said last week, two cases have reached an advanced stage with decisions on prosecution pending.
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Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the legal immunity granted to coalition forces in Iraq from prosecution under local law will continue after the handover of power to the Iraq Governing Council. [162665]

Mr. Ingram: Following the hand over of authority to the Iraqi Interim Government on 30 June 2004, currently we expect that coalition forces will continue to be granted immunity from prosecution under local law by virtue of an amended Coalition Provisional Authority Order 17. However, they will be subject to the jurisdiction of their home state.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the role of UK forces in protecting (a) tankers at ports and (b) oil terminals in Iraq. [171419]

Mr. Ingram: Currently coalition forces, including those from the United Kingdom, are working closely with the Iraqis to provide effective protection of both ports and offshore installations within Iraqi territorial waters.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements are in place for families of Iraqis detained by British forces to (a) have access to information about the detention and (b) visit those detained; and if he will make a statement. [172304]

Mr. Ingram: Following the detention of a suspect the   individual is taken to the Divisional Temporary Detention Facility. Upon arrival at the detention facility the suspect is provided with a form setting out the reasons for their detention (this has been approved by the International Commission of the Red Cross) and is asked to provide details of a person who he wishes to notify of the detention. The military then inform the person nominated. Internees are entitled to three visits per week by members of their family.

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will name the Iraqi individuals whose treatment by UK armed forces personnel has been the subject of a Special Investigation Branch inquiry, broken down by individuals for whom (a) investigations are ongoing, (b) the finding is that there is no case to answer and   (c) a report has been submitted to the Army Prosecuting Authority. [172346]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 11 May 2004]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 19 January, Official Report, column 917–18W. In addition the death of Tanik S Mahmud in April 2003 is the subject of an ongoing RAF Police investigation and the deaths of Mr. Zaher in March 2003 and Ghanim Gala'e Hacham Daghir Roomi in January 2004 are the subject of ongoing Royal Military Police investigations. However, it would be inappropriate to disclose the names of living individuals whose alleged treatment has been the subject of a Service Police investigation.

Of the 33 cases I referred to in the statement I made to the House on 4 May 2004, Official Report, column 1213, 16 involve alleged ill treatment by members of the UK Armed Forces. Of these, eight are subject to ongoing Service Police investigations, four have been discontinued for lack of evidence and two have been referred to the Army Prosecuting Authority
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for consideration. In the remaining two cases the police investigation has concluded and legal advice is being sought in relation to what further action might be necessary.

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the outcome was of the investigation into the deaths of the six Royal Military Police soldiers killed in Iraq on 24 June 2003; whether Her Majesty's Government received a response to it from the families of the men; whether he plans to make public the relevant communications log; and if he will make a statement. [173319]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 12 February 2004, Official Report, column 1637W. Although extensive inquiries have been undertaken, the investigation is still ongoing and it remains unclear when it will conclude.

Aircraft Carriers

23. Mr. Sarwar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress with the aircraft carrier orders placed with BAE Systems. [173171]

Mr. Ingram: The Future Carrier (CVF) programme remains in the Assessment Phase. Ministers are currently considering proposals on the overall CVF programme, the Alliance strategy, and on when to proceed to the Demonstration and Manufacture phases.

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