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1 Mar 2005 : Column 1138W—continued

Falcon II

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Falcon II tactical radio sets have been used in Iraq since November 2004. [218131]

Mr. Ingram: The Bowman PRC325 High Frequency patrol radio and the AN/PRC117F radio are both variants of the Falcon II range of radios. Some 330 Bowman PRC325 have been delivered to Iraq for use by UK forces since November 2004. A small number of AN/PRC117F radios have been used by UK forces in Iraq since November 2004.

Infantry Future Army Structure

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 24 January 2005, Official Report, column 50W, on Infantry Future Army Structure, what procedure will be used for a regiment with two or more battalions in deciding which Sandhurst officer cadets are to join which battalion; and whether the procedure is the same for all super regiments. [215950]

Mr. Ingram: Recruitment of officer cadets under the Future Infantry Structure will be by regiment rather than by battalion. An individual posting policy is presently being developed and therefore the procedure for assigning officer cadets to a specific battalion has yet to be determined. However, individual posting preferences will be accommodated where possible, while recognising that the interests of the Regiment and the Infantry must come first.

Iraq

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when UK armed service personnel first received the United States military planning document on the Iraq war which contained references to P day, A day and G day. [210737]


 
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Mr. Ingram [holding answer 24 January 2005]: P, A and G day are standard US military planning terms. They refer to the day a presidential decision would be required for military action (P day), in order for action to commence in the air (A day) and on the ground (G day) by specified dates.

As set out in the Butler report, UK and US military personnel had frequent discussions on Iraq dating back to June 2002. However the decision to resort to military action to ensure that Iraq fulfilled its obligations imposed by successive UN Security Council Resolutions was taken only after other routes to disarm Iraq had failed. The decision to commit UK forces was taken after approval of the House had been secured in the vote on 18 March 2003.

Joint Strike Fighter Programme

Mr. Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his Department's current estimate is of the cost of the Joint Strike Fighter programme. [218167]

Mr. Ingram: The United Kingdom's procurement cost is likely to be up to £10 billion, depending on the eventual number of aircraft required. In service support costs will be determined by whatever through life support strategy we decide to adopt.

Military Bands

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to his Department is of maintaining the military bands of (a) the Royal Navy, (b) the Army, (c) the Royal Air Force and (d) the Royal Marines. [204945]

Mr. Caplin: The approximate annual costs to the Ministry of Defence of maintaining military bands are as follows:
£ million
Royal Navy0
Army24.0
Royal Air Force5.5
Royal Marines8.4

The costs comprise band personnel and associated expenses, e.g. travel, but not infrastructure costs. Personnel costs include time spent on other duties, e.g. first aid support.

Queen's Flight

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions in each of the past three years an aircraft from the Queen's Flight carrying Ministers on official business has stopped off at a UK airport other than RAF Northolt during a return flight from overseas. [213984]

Mr. Caplin: The number of occasions in each of the past three financial years an aircraft from 32 (The Royal) Squadron carrying Ministers on official business has stopped off at a UK airport other than RAF Northolt is as follows.
 
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Number
April 2002 to March 200317
April 2003 to March 200417
April 2004 to February 20058

Since RAF Northolt is not open on a 24 hour basis, these figures include occasions when aircraft from 32 (The Royal) Squadron have had to land at London Heathrow when RAF Northolt was closed.

RAF Personnel (Warton)

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many RAF personnel work at BAE Warton, broken down by rank. [216555]

Mr. Ingram: The numbers of RAF personnel who were posted to Warton at the 1 July 2004 are shown in the table. These are Trained RAF Regular Forces and Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) personnel:
Number
Wing Commander and above
Squadron Leader5
Junior Officer5
Total Officers10
Master Aircrew and Warrant Officer5
Flight Sergeant10
Chief Technician30
Sergeant (including FTRS)30
Corporal5
Senior Aircraftsman/woman
Total Ranks80
Total RAF personnel95


(27) Denotes fewer than 5.
Notes:
1. Figures are rounded to the nearest 5.
2. Due to rounding methods used totals may not equal the sum of their parts.




Secondary Monitoring

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which naval bases have a policy of mandatory secondary monitoring; which do not; and if he will make a statement; [218441]

(2) what the reasons were for implementing mandatory secondary monitoring at (a) HM Rosyth and (b) HM Base Devonport; [218442]

(3) what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the effect on levels of safety of introducing mandatory secondary monitoring at HM Base Clyde Faslane; [218443]

(4) whether he plans to introduce mandatory secondary monitoring for radiation at HM naval base Clyde Faslane; what modifications of existing facilities would be required to allow such monitoring; and if he will make a statement. [218444]

Mr. Ingram: At HM Naval Base Clyde (Faslane) staff working in the Active Processing Facility and the Nuclear Repair Workshop are required to use routine secondary monitoring. Staff exiting submarine reactor compartments are monitored by suitably qualified and
 
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experienced workers, using appropriate hand held instrumentation, capable of detecting very low levels of radioactive contamination. This monitoring is precautionary as work procedures and protective clothing are designed to minimise the chance of becoming contaminated. Secondary monitoring (using a walk-through monitor), which takes place after the worker has completed primary monitoring and removed his protective clothing, is mandatory when contamination is suspected or found. All nuclear safety matters relating to the Royal Dockyards at Rosyth and Devonport are a responsibility of the owners of the Dockyards: Babcock Rosyth Defence Limited and Devonport Management Limited respectively. However, they must comply with nuclear safety regulations including the Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999.

There are no plans to make secondary monitoring mandatory at the Clyde Naval Base as current arrangements within existing facilities comply with legal requirements and have been assessed by the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (HSE/NII). A recent review of the options for enhancing monitoring arrangements for new facilities has been completed and will inform future worker monitoring protocols. There are no further plans, at this stage, to commission research into whether levels of safety would be increased by introducing mandatory secondary monitoring.

Swan Hunter Contract

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 February 2005, Official Report, column 1017W, on Swan Hunter, what the clerical error was; what investigation he has conducted into the reasons for the error; and if he will make a statement. [217910]

Mr. Ingram: I have looked into the reasons behind this error and Ministry of Defence officials have found that:

Shortly after the parliamentary question was received by the Department on 24 November 2004, officials drafted a reply. That draft reply accurately reflected the situation at that time. This was forwarded to the Department's parliamentary branch on 25 November 2004. As the question concerned a defence procurement issue, the reply was passed to my hon. Friend the Minister for Defence Procurement (Lord Bach)'s Private Office for clearance.

My hon. Friend the noble Lord was on official duties overseas between the periods 29 November to 5 December, 6 to 9 December, and 9 to 10 December. Some time between the period 5 to 21 December, my hon. Friend the noble Lord cleared the draft reply. Our records do not show the exact date this happened, but this was more likely to have been towards the end of this period.

On 9 December, the Department concluded its negotiations with Swan Hunter regarding the Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) project and a contract
 
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amendment was signed. At this point, the reply which had been drafted no longer accurately reflected the situation.

By the time the reply was signed out of Minister (DP)'s Private Office on 21 December, the answer was incorrect. This was not identified by the Private Office.

I approved the reply at some point between 21 December 2004 and 7 January 2005, on the assumption that the reply and supporting advice provided was accurate. The reply was returned to the Table Office on 7 January 2005. The reply appeared in the Official Report" on the next sitting day, 10 January 2005.

This was a regrettable incident resulting from a genuine error. There was no intention by Ministers deliberately to mislead the House. My hon. Friend the noble Lord has put in place measures to improve the handling procedures in his Private Office which should help prevent such an incident happening again.


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