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Local Government Pensions

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what considerations guided him in proposing the change from an 80 to an 85 age/years of service formula in the Local Government Pension Scheme; and when he proposes to implement this change. [188723]

Phil Hope: Proposals to phase out the 85 year rule in the Local Government Pension Scheme are part of the Government's general policy to implement an age 65 retirement date for the public sector. They will also ensure compliance with age discrimination legislation, which must be in place no later than October 2006, and assist in our intentions to ensure the affordability and sustainability of the Scheme. The changes are planned to take effect from 1 April 2005.

Regeneration Projects

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how much expenditure has been allocated to regeneration projects in the North East, broken down by parliamentary constituency, in each year since the establishment of his Department; and what the planned expenditure is in the next financial year. [188293]


 
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Phil Hope: It is considered that the information requested can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Regional Assemblies

Ann Winterton: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister for what reason a preamble is to be included on the proposed ballot paper for the referendum on a regional assembly in the North East of England. [188805]

Mr. Raynsford: The purpose of the preamble is to ensure that electors are informed of the implications, particularly for local government, of voting on the establishment of a regional assembly.

The form of the ballot paper, including the wording of the preamble, is prescribed by the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003(a) , which was enacted by Parliament last year.

LEADER OF THE HOUSE

Recyling

Bob Spink: To ask the Leader of the House what the latest available 12 month figures are for the proportion of his Office's redundant documentation, waste paper and card that is recycled; and if he will make a statement on his Office's recycling policy. [188699]

Mr. Hain: The Privy Council Office has responsibility for the day-to-day building management of the Office of the Leader of the House of Commons.

100 per cent. of non-confidential paper and card waste is recycled by the Privy Council Office, in conjunction with Westminster City Council.

The Office's policy is to:

PRIME MINISTER

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster

Mr. Beith: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list the ministerial responsibilities he has assigned to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. [189119]

The Prime Minister: The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will have a cross-Government role in the co-ordination of Government policy. He will also be responsible for the work of the Strategy Unit and the Policy Directorate. He is, a Member of Cabinet and will sit on a number of Cabinet Committees. He will also be responsible for Duchy business.

DEFENCE

Armed Forces Modernisation

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of
 
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the ability of the United Kingdom to conduct military operations independently of the United States after the modernisation of the armed forces. [187567]

Mr. Hoon: The force structure changes detailed in the "Future Capabilities" paper that was published in July 2004 (Cm 6269) will provide a broad spectrum of capabilities to ensure that the UK is capable of conducting limited national operations, or of being the lead or framework nation for coalition operations at small and medium scale where the US is not participating. The full spectrum of capabilities is not required for large scale operations, as the most demanding operations could only conceivably be undertaken alongside the US, either as a NATO operation or a US-led coalition, where we have choices as to what to contribute.

Arms Exports

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how the Government monitors where permitted armament exports end up. [188132]

Mr. MacShane: I have been asked to reply.

The Government undertakes monitoring of such equipment in the recipient country when we believe this would genuinely help to minimise the risk of diversion and where such monitoring is practical. In addition, UK Overseas Posts have standing instructions to report any misuse of UK-origin defence equipment. Such misuse would be taken fully into account when the Government assesses any subsequent licence applications We may also, if appropriate, revoke other related licences, and consider whether to prosecute if any criminal offences had been committed.

Parliamentary Questions

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will reply to questions reference 174180, 173337 and 173317 tabled by the hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead. [178806]

Mr. Ingram: I replied to my hon. Friend on 10 June 2004, Official Report, column 604W, 14 July 2004, Official Report, column 724W and 1 September 2004, Official Report, columns 725–72W respectively.

Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst

Mr. Mackay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. [187481]

Mr. Caplin: The Ministry of Defence remains committed to the delivery of officer training at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Recent improvements to the site include substantial refurbishment of Victory College, and the building of a new Officers' Mess annex.

Russia

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the destruction of biological weapons material in the Russian Federation. [188334]


 
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Mr. Hoon: Under the G8 Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, a number of countries have undertaken to consolidate and secure collections of pathogenic material in the Russian Federation and other countries of the Former Soviet Union. In the biological area the UK has given priority to the risks of proliferation of scientific expertise rather than materials.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what support his Department is providing for the reform of the military in the Russian Federation. [188366]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence has a bilateral Defence Relations Activity Programme designed among other objectives to facilitate appropriate military reform. Key elements are:

Military to Military Co-operation

The Naval programme has established affiliations between UK and Russian counterparts and progressed into exercises conducted by both ships and training establishments. Army co-operation has covered specific activities of UK expertise, including countering Improvised Explosive Devices and Peace Support Operations. It is intended to advance this programme through the development of unit affiliations leading to field exercises in the peace support arena.

The Russian Resettlement Project

Trains members of the Russian armed forces in skills that will assist them in finding civilian employment following discharge. Since 1995, we have trained 20,800 former members of the Russian armed forces, of which 70 per cent. have found gainful employment.

The Arctic Military Environmental Co-operation (AMEC) Agreement

The Arctic Military Environmental Co-operation (AMEC) Agreement between Norway, USA, Russia and UK aims to deal with the legacy of Soviet military equipment and ameliorate its impact on the Arctic environment. Since joining in 2003, the UK has become involved in a range of projects, including the dismantling and stabilisation of nuclear powered submarines and surface ships.

Financial Reform

The Russian MOD requested advice on financial control in the military, which was delivered via in-depth briefings at the MOD to Deputy Defence Minister Kudelina in early 2004.

NATO-Russia Council (NRC)

The UK also supports Russian military reform as a member of the NRC, which facilitates engagement between the 26 member states of NATO and Russia. It provides a forum for discussion of key issues, including defence reform.

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his counterparts in EU member states about increasing the contribution of the European Union to non-proliferation efforts in the Russian Federation. [188369]

Mr. Hoon: None.
 
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