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16 Nov 2004 : Column 1290W—continued

Fishery Protection

Syd Rapson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is his policy that the Royal Navy should continue to provide the fishery protection service in the waters around England and Wales once the Department's existing agreement with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs comes to an end. [198430]

Mr. Ingram: The requirement for a fishery protection service beyond 2008 has yet to be discussed in detail with the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
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Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reservists have been called up for duty in Iraq; and what percentage of the reserve force this represents. [196581]

Mr. Ingram: There have been some 10,840 successful mobilisations for service in Iraq. This figure includes members of the Volunteer Reserve, the Regular Reserve and Sponsored Reserves. As some individuals have been mobilised for service in Iraq more than once, it is not possible to derive from this figure the number or percentage of the reserve forces that have deployed.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the numbers and condition of conventional and improvised weaponry held by insurrectionist forces in Iraq. [196586]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 8 November 2004]: Insurrectionist forces in Iraq hold a wide variety of improvised and conventional weaponry, including improvised explosive devices and various light weapons. Age, maintenance and serviceability of such weapons varies greatly.

Missile Defence

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has held with (a) the US Administration and (b) others concerning the placing of US interceptor batteries in (i) the UK and (ii) Europe; and if he will make a statement. [190184]

Mr. Hoon: None.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent on missile defence in each of the last three years; and what the spending plans are for future years. [190185]

Mr. Hoon: For the period up to 31 March 2004 I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 19 January 2004, Official Report, column 920W, to the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Keetch). For financial year 2004–05 expenditure on research specific to ballistic missile defence technology will be in the order of £6 million. The Ministry of Defence plans to spend similar sums in the following four years.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to brief Parliament on decisions by NATO to move forward on missile defence architecture; and if he will make a statement. [190186]

Mr. Hoon: Major decisions by NATO, which would include decisions on the acquisition of missile defences, are published in the form of communiques issued by meetings of Heads of State and Government and Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defence. Such decisions are open to parliamentary scrutiny and debate in the normal way, and any significant decision affecting the United Kingdom would be notified to Parliament.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to allow the US to base interceptor batteries in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [191348]

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Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 28 October 2004, Official Report, column 1372W, to the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Sir Menzies Campbell).

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether parliamentary approval is required before a proposal for the siting of US interceptor missiles in the UK can be authorised. [198036]

Mr. Hoon: Any decision on the siting of interceptor missiles in the United Kingdom would be open to scrutiny and debate in the normal way. Specific parliamentary approval would not be required.

Naval Navigational Aids

John Thurso: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the outcome was of the Assessment Phase undertaken for a long-term public/private partnership or private finance initiative acquisition programme for the future provision of marine services; [197354]

(2) what research he has commissioned into the provision of naval navigational aids for (a) military ports and (b) other Ministry of Defence maritime installations in the UK; [197351]

(3) what discussions he has had with (a) other Departments and (b) Trinity House on the provision of naval navigational aids by providers other than his Department; [197352]

(4) what discussions he has had with (a) public and (b) private sector bodies on the provision of navigational aids for military ports by providers outside the UK; [197353]

(5) what plans he has to review the provision of navigational aids at naval installations in UK waters. [197350]

Mr. Ingram: The Assessment Phase for the future provision of marine services has not yet concluded. Discussions on the provision of naval navigational aids has centred on the UK companies. Two proposals from UK registered bidders, plus one from the MOD's Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service (RMAS) who, together with Serco Denholm, are responsible for the current services through a Government Owned-Contractor Operated (GOCO) arrangement, are due by the end of the year. It is planned that the design authority for navigational buoys, as well as the supply of related mooring materials, will be transferred to the successful bidder who will have commissioned their own research to determine a solution that offers best value for money. Provision for this forms part of the range of services included in the Invitation to Negotiate. Separate discussions have been held with the General Lighthouse Authorities (Trinity House, Northern Lights and Irish Lights), non-departmental public bodies sponsored by the DfT, to determine whether they could take over the maintenance and upkeep of navigational buoys but it was concluded that such an arrangement offered little benefit to the MOD.
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Sustainable Energy (CHP Provisions) Order

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures his Department (a) has undertaken and (b) plans to undertake to comply with the Sustainable Energy (CHP Provisions) Order 2003. [194424]

Mr. Caplin: The Ministry of Defence is pursuing options for buying Combined Heat and Power (CHP) generated power from the electricity market. From April 2005 bids will be sought from licensed electricity suppliers that include a percentage of electricity sourced from good quality CHP. In line with Government targets, the percentage will start at 2,5 per cent. rising to 15 per cent. by 2010, subject to the market being able to supply the electricity at competitive rates.

The MOD's usage and occupation of its estate limit the options for the steady heat and power loads required to make CHP viable for self-generation. Nevertheless, the MOD intends to undertake a study, in partnership with the Carbon Trust, to examine the costs and viability of the use of on site CHP (in all its forms, sizes, and fuel types) on the Army Estate.


Free School Milk

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will ensure that milk is available in schools for all those pupils entitled to receive free school milk. [197780]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: There is no statutory requirement for milk to be provided in schools, but local education authorities (LEAs) and schools may decide to do so. The Government encourage LEAs and schools to make milk available for those pupils who want it. Where milk is provided, it must be made available free of charge to children eligible for free school meals.

Adoption Cases

Vera Baird: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills pursuant to the answer of 5 July 2004, Official Report, column 460W, on adoption cases, when the Association of Directors of Social Services survey on past family cases concerning children and expert medical evidence will be placed in the Library. [194996]

Margaret Hodge [holding answer 2 November 2004]: The Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) has now completed its survey, and I have today placed a copy of the results in the Library.

This is the second stage of the survey of family court cases concerning children and expert medical evidence, conducted by the ADSS this year following the judgment in the case of R v. Cannings. The first stage of the survey, the results of which are already in the Library, looked at the cases of children who were the subject of current care proceedings. Across the 130 local authorities who responded to first stage of the survey, disputed medical evidence featured, or was anticipated to feature, in only 47 out of 5,175 cases. Where the impact of this evidence was known, there was a change to the local authority's care plan in one case. The first
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stage of the survey did not consider children who were already the subject of a care or related order, which has been the subject of the second stage survey.

Across the 127 local authorities that responded to the second stage survey, which was conducted during July and August 2004, 28,867 children were the subject of care orders or freeing orders on 31 March 2004. 26 cases involved a serious disagreement between medical expert witnesses. Of these, five cases involved a serious disagreement between medical expert witnesses in which any doubt has been expressed about reliability of the evidence following the judgment in R v. Cannings. Of these five cases, the care plan remains unchanged in three cases. In one case the plan had been changed already in light of new information reviewed in 2003 and in one case further consideration of medical evidence by the court is being awaited.

The figures collected in this survey will not include any care orders which have previously been discharged through the courts on the basis that it is safe for the child to do so, quite independently of any specific review being undertaken by the local authority. Approximately 1,000 applications for discharge of current care orders are made each year, of which around 80 per cent. are granted. This survey only includes children who are currently under the care of the local authority—not cases where the care order has been discharged.

Expert witnesses' medical evidence is only one of the many factors in the complex and difficult decision-making process that surrounds the safeguarding of children through the courts. As the survey shows, very few cases where children are currently being looked after by local authorities depend on the evidence of medical expert witnesses.

The courts must have access to the best possible expert witnesses, and the Chief Medical Officer is currently leading a programme of work, expected to be completed by early 2005, to ensure the availability of competent, quality-assured medical expert resources to the family courts.

In addition, as I indicated in my statement to the House on 17 June, I am also now issuing a Local Authority Social Services Letter setting out key aspects of the recent Appeal Court cases of Re LB and Re LU, which make clear the implications of the criminal court judgment in R v. Cannings on family proceedings, and also details the case of Dr. Colin Paterson, currently suspended by the General Medical Council, pending an appeal, as a result of his activities as an expert witness.

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