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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 22 June 2005, Official Report, column 1066, on the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability project, what the time scale is for the project in terms of (a) main gate approval and (b) an in service date. 
Mr. Ingram: On current planning we would expect main gate approval for the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) programme to be sought in 2008; the in-service date for the MARS vessels will not be endorsed until the main investment decision is taken at that point.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 22 June 2005, Official Report, column 1066, on the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability Project, if he will list the companies who have responded. 
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 5 July 2005, Official Report, column 260W, whether the maintenance of nuclear weapons by other countries will be a determining factor in the United Kingdom's forthcoming decision about replacing Trident with a new generation nuclear deterrent. 
John Reid: As the Government made clear in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review (Cm 3999) and in the December 2003 Defence White Paper (Cm 60411), because of the risks of proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the certainty that a number of countries will retain substantial nuclear arsenals, the UK's minimum deterrent is likely to remain a necessary element of our security.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the cost of a future generation nuclear deterrent will fall on (a) the Exchequer, (b) the Defence Budget and (c) the budget of the single service supplying the deterrent. 
No decisions on any replacement for the UK's nuclear deterrent have yet been taken, either in principle or in detail. It is therefore too early to speculate on the possible costs of a replacement programme, should one be required, or on how such a programme might be funded.
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Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what discussions (a) he and (b) officials in his Department have had with United States officials regarding the replacement of Trident; whom they involved; when they took place; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what discussions (a) he and (b) officials in his Department have had with (i) UK defence companies and (ii) overseas defence companies regarding the replacement of Trident; whom they involved; when they took place; and if he will make a statement. 
John Reid: No decisions have yet been taken on any replacement for Trident. Information obviously needs to be gathered from a variety of sources to support these future decisions, but it is not our general practice to comment on the detail of any such discussions with other Governments and industry.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the £1,050,000,000 to be spent over the next three years on upgrading facilities for the Atomic Weapons Establishment will be relevant (a) only to the existing Trident warhead stockpile and (b) also to a future generation of the UK nuclear deterrent. 
John Reid: The additional investment, averaging some £350 million over each of the next three years, is required to enable us to ensure the safety and reliability of Trident throughout its service life. This investment is required irrespective of future decisions on any replacement for the current deterrent system.
The purpose of project PRIME (thePortsmouth Regeneration and Investment in the Maritime Estate project) was to release part of the Portsmouth naval base estate for development. Work on PRIME has been halted after concerns emerged about the effect that proceeding with the project would have on the base's operational role. A key requirement, stated at the outset of the project, was to safeguard full operational capability of the base. After careful analysis it has been decided that the constraints that a development of this nature, in the heart of the historic dockyard, might place on operational capability outweigh the potential benefits of the scheme. Survey and technical work undertaken by the project will be fully utilised during the exploration of other options for the use of elements of the naval base estate.
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The Ministry of Defence's commitment to Portsmouth, as demonstrated by the move there of the fleet headquarters in 2002, will continue. It is to be the base for the next generation of warships and this represents a major investment that will preserve and enhance jobs in the area and safeguard Portsmouth's role as an operational naval base at the heart of the city's economic activity.
Mr. Ingram: The Fleet has a very robust defensive system against a variety of missile types. The Sea Dart missile system has recently been upgraded to enable it to combat more challenging threats. The Sea Wolf missile, fitted to RN frigates, is designed specifically to combat sea skimming threats. In addition, a range of decoy systems, provide defence against air and surface launched anti-ship missiles. Further developments in air defence are programmed to be implemented by 2009.
The air defence of the Fleet is comprised of a layered system based on a mix of early warning and protection systems which includes Sea Dart and Sea Wolf missiles, close-in weapon systems and decoys.
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