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8 Jun 2005 : Column 577W—continued

Gulf War Syndrome

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many claims in respect of Gulf War related illness have been (a) rejected and (b) accepted by the Veterans Agency office in Blackpool; and how many claims have been allowed the right of appeal. [2052]

Mr. Touhig: Our records indicate that as at 30 April 2005,1,477 claims have been accepted and 119 rejected in respect of Gulf War related illness. All decisions issued by the Veterans Agency carry a right of appeal.

HMS Turbulent

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the destination of HMS Turbulent following departure from Devonport was on 16 January 2004. [2117]

Mr. Ingram: HMS Turbulent's destination was Rame Head, near Plymouth.
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Joint Strike Fighter

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the deployment of the Joint Strike fighter aircraft in the RAF. [2119]

Mr. Ingram: RAF Leeming, RAF Cottesmore, RAF Marham, RAF Lossiemouth and RAF St. Mawgan, are currently being considered as potential bases for the Joint Strike Fighter (the procurement solution to the Joint Combat Aircraft requirement). I expect to make a decision on basing later this year.

Life-expired Ordnance

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department has taken to ensure that the destruction of life-expired ordnance at Shoeburyness by QinetiQ will not detonate explosives contained within the SS Montgomery sunk in the Thames Estuary. [1352]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 6 June 2005]: The wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery is well outside all the Shoeburyness Range danger areas. No incidents of any nature have been reported as a result of the activities at Shoeburyness. The wreck is examined by diver and sonar survey on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on a regular basis.

Low-flying Aircraft (Wye Valley)

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many low flying aircraft were used in the Wye Valley between Hay-on-Wye and Builth Wells from 27 May to 2 June. [2378]

Mr. Touhig: Information is only recorded in such a way as to enable us to provide data for the whole of Low Flying Area (LFA) 7, which covers almost all of Wales. The number of aircraft booked into LFA 7 over the period in question are shown in the table.
Friday 27 May56
Tuesday 31 May38
Wednesday 1 June6
Thursday 2 June7

The Low Flying System is closed at weekends, and was also closed on 30 May, as this was a bank holiday. At such periods, special permission from the Directorate of Air Staff is required for aircraft to operate in the low flying system. The only aircraft that are recorded as having operated in the system over this period were the Red Arrows, who flew through LFA 7 on both Saturday and Sunday; and the Dakota from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which operated on Sunday and Monday.

Military Exercise (English Channel)

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) UK and (b) other nations' vessels were involved in the Thursday war military exercise in the English Channel on 15 January 2004. [2118]

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Mr. Ingram: The only Royal Navy vessels involved in the Thursday war exercise on 15 January 2004 were HMS Cumberland, HMS Edinburgh and RFA Brambleleaf. No vessels of other nations were involved on that day.

Nuclear Weapons (Lakenheath)

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK nuclear weapons are available for use by the Government; and how many US tactical nuclear weapons there are at RAF Lakenheath. [2335]

John Reid: In line with the policy set out in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, the United Kingdom maintains a stockpile of less than 200 operationally available Trident warheads, 48 of which are onboard the single submarine on deterrent patrol.

On the issue of US nuclear weapons, NATO's Strategic Concept (paragraph 63) states that:

Numbers of US nuclear weapons in the UK can and do vary, and the capability for deployments of such weapons to and from the UK remains extant regardless of the particular number of weapons in the UK at any given time.

It is NATO and national policy not to comment on the detail of such nuclear deployments.

Panther Vehicle

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the difference is between the UK specification for the Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle and the version commissioned by the Italian Army. [386]

Mr. Ingram: As a Command and Liaison Vehicle, Panther will provide protected mobility and, through the Bowman communications and information system, a sophisticated communications capability. Since the roles of the UK's Panther Vehicle and the Italian Light Multirole Tactical Vehicle are different, their specifications are also different; there will be differences in areas such as protection, situational awareness and communications.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) design, (b) manufacture and (c) licence costs are of the Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle to (i) Iveco and (ii) other non-UK contractors. [387]

Mr. Ingram: The Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle contract with BAE Systems Land Systems (formally Alvis Vickers Ltd.) is £166 million for 401 vehicles. Further contracts are envisaged for the fitting of Bowman radios, and other systems, therefore the total value could reach £193 million. This price includes the design and manufacture of the vehicle. The licence cost paid to Iveco and to non-UK contractors is withheld given its confidential nature.
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Prince Andrew

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions HRH Prince Andrew has used his Department's vehicles, vessels and planes for private use in (a) 2003 and (b) 2004; and at what cost. [2048]

Mr. Touhig: His Royal Highness the Duke of York has not made private use of the official transport facilities of the Ministry of Defence in 2003 or 2004.

Project Connaught

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent by his Department on Project Connaught; and how much was spent on the Aspire Consortium's involvement. [1120]

Mr. Touhig: Project Connaught started in the summer of 1999. The following year it combined with its Salisbury Plain counterpart, Project Allenby, to form Project Allenby/Connaught, since when cost records have been kept on a combined basis. As at the end of financial year 2004–05 total expenditure on the project was some £23.3 million, of which the cost of the Aldershot based project team was some £1.9 million.

To date there has been no MOD expenditure on the Aspire consortium as we are still in negotiations.

Royal Irish Regiment

Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Class 2 Royal Irish Regiment warrant officers (a) applied for and (b) took part in promotion boards in each of the past five years, broken down by (i) gender and (ii) religion; and how many of these applications were (A) successful and (B) rejected. [2184]

Mr. Touhig: The information requested in respect of gender is set out in the following table. All eligible candidates are considered by the promotion board.
Candidates eligible

(13) Fewer than five.

Figures for candidates eligible have been rounded to the nearest multiple of five, in line with our normal practice for published statistics. As lists of successful candidates are published and the gender breakdown can be determined from the list, actual figures are given for those appointed.

These figures do not include part-time Royal Irish, as this information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

A breakdown by religion is not held in a readily retrievable form and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
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