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HMS Sussex

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement concerning his agreement with Odyssey Marine Exploration over the recovery of the wreck HMS Sussex and treasure contained in it; [210907]

(2) what steps will be taken properly to record archaeologically the wreck of HMS Sussex and finds from the wreck; and if he will make a statement; [210909]

(3) what steps he will take to preserve the archaeological integrity of the site of HMS Sussex; and if he will make a statement; [210913]

(4) what the Government's share of the proceeds of sale of any finds from the wreck of HMS Sussex will be; and if he will make a statement; [210911]

(5) if he will publish the project plan for the proposed operation by Odyssey Marine Exploration on the site of HMS Sussex before work starts; and if he will make a statement. [210914]

Mr. Caplin: On 27 September 2002, Ministry of Defence's Disposal Services Agency (DSA), on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, signed a Licence Agreement with the United States firm Odyssey Marine Exploration for the archaeological excavation and recoveries from the wreck of what is believed to be the wreck of the Sussex, a British warship lost in 1694.

A copy of the Partnering Agreement Memorandum, setting out the main provisions of the Licence Agreement, and a copy of a Synopsis of the Archaeological Requirements contained within the Licence Agreement were placed in the Library of the House on 25 November 2002.

It is intended that the Project Plan will be published before any intrusive work begins on the site.

Details of the Project and Frequently Asked Questions have been published on the DSA's website

Infantry Regiments

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for
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Colchester (Bob Russell) of 10 January 2005, Official Report, column 73W, on infantry battalions, which nationalities make up the strength of each regiment at the date shown. [209175]

Mr. Caplin: It is not possible to publish the details of this answer so I intend to write to my hon. Friend and place a copy of the letter and attachments in the Library of the House.


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether detainees initially detained in Iraq in connection with weapons of mass destruction have been moved outside Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [210660]

Mr. Hoon: Never.

Ministerial Visits

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what occasions in the last two years a Minister has made an official visit to (a) an injured soldier and (b) bereaved families of soldiers; and who the Minister concerned was in each case. [212225]

Mr. Hoon: Over the last two years, Ministers have made frequent official visits to injured personnel.

Ministers have also visited units in Iraq or when personnel have returned from Iraq. On some of these occasions they met injured personnel. As this was not the main focus of the visits, the exact details have not been recorded.

Ministers have also met the families of personnel killed in Iraq on numerous occasions. Between 29 March 2003 and 2 July 2003 eight repatriation ceremonies, to mark the return of soldiers killed in Iraq were conducted at Brize Norton. Each minister attended two of these ceremonies, where they met the bereaved families.

The Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Defence, the Minister for Armed Forces, the Minister for Defence Procurement and the Under-Secretary of State for Defence met bereaved families at the Remembrance Ceremony at St. Paul's Cathedral in October 2003.
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Ministers have also held over 20 private meetings with bereaved families of personnel killed in Iraq and elsewhere. These are arranged at a family's request. To ensure that the wishes and privacy of the family are respected, full details of such meetings remain confidential.

Nuclear Disarmament

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps towards compliance with the UK's commitment to pursue disarmament negotiations in good faith under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty have been taken with regard to entering the Trident system into nuclear disarmament treaties. [211436]

Mr. Hoon: The United Kingdom is committed to all its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), including under Article VI, and has a good record on disarmament. For example, we have reduced the total explosive power of our nuclear forces by over 70 per cent. since the end of the Cold War and in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review we announced that only one Trident submarine would be on deterrent patrol at any one time. That submarine would normally be on several days notice to fire with its missiles de-targeted.

The Conference on Disarmament (CD) based at the United Nations in Geneva, is the designated permanent multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community. The priorities for nuclear disarmament were agreed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference and were the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) at the CD and signature and ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The First Plenary Session of the 2005 Conference on Disarmament opened on 27 January, but the CD has been unable to agree a programme of work since 1997. The UK continues to support the entry into force of the CTBT, and negotiation of a FMCT.

Porton Down

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action the Government have taken to investigate the claims of national servicemen who volunteered for experiments at Porton Down and who believe that they have suffered damage to their health. [208868]

Mr. Caplin: Although there is no scientific evidence of a pattern of unusual illness or disease occurring as a result of exposure to agents at Porton Down, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) nevertheless recognises that some former Porton Down volunteers have concerns about their health. In order to address these concerns the MOD is funding an independently-run epidemiological study, overseen by the Medical Research Council, to assess the incidence of cancer and mortality among former Porton Down volunteers. The study is expected to report in 2006 and it is intended that the results will be published soon after.

In addition, any former volunteer concerned that their health has been affected by participation in the Porton Down Service Volunteer Programme can be referred by their GP to the Medical Assessment
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Programme (MAP), based at St. Thomas' Hospital in London. There they will have a thorough clinical examination with a consultant physician; tests and investigations if appropriate; and the opportunity to discuss symptoms or conditions and their possible linkage, if any, to the particular trials in which they took part.

Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions his Department has held with the Director of Infantry on the proposal to cut one of the Fusilier battalions of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. [204871]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 16 December 2004]: I refer the hon. Member to the statement I made on 16 December 2004, Official Report, column 1795.

Royal School of Engineering

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to move the Royal School of Engineering from Chatham; and if he will make a statement. [211474]

Mr. Caplin: None.

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