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26 Oct 2005 : Column 370W—continued

Royal Commission on Environmental Protection Report

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will carry out an investigation into whether a member of her Department leaked a copy of the recent report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Protection. [21153]

Mr. Morley: My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, has no plans to carry out an investigation into whether anyone from Government leaked a copy of the recent report by the Royal Commission on Environmental Protection (RCEP). The RCEP is an independent body and, as such, it is for them to decide how best to deal with the leak.

Sustainable Development

Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what measures are planned to improve the environmental performance of products and services within the framework of the Government's sustainable development strategy with particular reference to improved product design. [21507]

Mr. Morley: In the Sustainable Development Strategy, published in March, the Government stated its commitment to establish a new Sustainable Design
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Forum, that will bring together Government, business and the design community to explore and promote ways to embed sustainability in products and design thinking.

Since then Defra and DTI have been closely involved in developing proposals for the Sustainable Design Forum, as members of a Steering Group that includes representatives from the Design Council, the RSA, Forum for the Future and the Design Business Association. An interim consultants' report on the Forum's possible structure and terms of reference was presented to the Steering Group and published on the Design Council website in July.

Currently, the Steering Group is working with the consultants in refining these proposals and agreeing the way forward, with a view to establishing the Sustainable Design Forum early in the new year.

The adoption of the Framework Directive for the Eco-design of Energy Using Products (EUP) on 6 July this year will provide a streamlined and effective route for setting EU-wide environmental requirements for traded goods. The UK, via the Government's Market Transformation Programme, will work proactively with the Commission and other member states to influence and speed the delivery of measures under EUP.

Thames Gateway

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to ensure that private landowners in the Thames Gateway maintain effective flood defences within their property. [21068]

Mr. Morley: Responsibility for maintaining flood defences rests primarily with individual property owners. However the Environment Agency has a general supervisory duty related to flood defence and can in some circumstances use default powers to maintain and repair such defences.

As part of a new strategy for flood and coastal erosion risk management in England the Government are looking at ways in which we can encourage individual property owners to adopt measures to improve resilience and resistance to flooding.

In respect of new developments in the Thames Gateway, planning authorities will be guided by the advice contained in Planning Policy Guidance Note 25 on development and flood risk, which provides that current and future flood risk should be taken into account when making planning decisions. The Government plan to consult soon on a revised version of this guidance which will strengthen and clarify how planning authorities should take account of flood risk.

Water Affordability

Alison Seabeck: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the progress of the establishment of a pilot scheme in the south-west on water affordability. [19634]

Mr. Morley: The south-west affordability pilot study will assess the combined effect of benefits checks, water efficiency measures and metering on low income
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households. It will target, and assess the effectiveness of, water affordability assistance to lower income households in the south-west region.

The invitations to tender for the south-west pilot study were issued on 8 September. On 11 October we received tenders for the contracts being let for the pilot study. I understand that the timetable, at present, would see the contracts let in October and that the pilot study should be running by early next year.


Adjutant-General's Office

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any arrests have been made following the reports of fraud at the Adjutant-General's office; and if he will make a statement. [20880]

Mr. Touhig: No arrests have been made, but in order to avoid prejudice to an ongoing police investigation I am unable to comment further.

Airbus A400M

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the delivery schedule for the Airbus A400M; and what the (a) cost and (b) payment terms per unit are. [19437]

Mr. Ingram: The in-service date of the A400M (defined as acceptance into service of the seventh aircraft) is 2011. We expect delivery of the final (25th) aircraft in 2015. I am withholding the unit costs, as this information is commercially sensitive. There are five stage payments per aircraft.

Aircraft Crashes

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the limitations of the Automatic Flight Control System fitted to Chinook ZA721, which crashed on 27 February 1987, applied to the Chinook HC2 on its introduction to service. [20790]

Mr. Touhig: It has not been possible to locate a copy of the documentation relating to the Chinook HC1 that would have been in force in February 1987. However, the limitations on the Automatic Flight Control System on the Chinook HC 2 on introduction to service were the same as those that were in force in July 1987, with one exception. On the HC1 the Radar altitude hold was not cleared for use, the HC2 release to service did permit use of the Radar Altimeter hold, for

Air-to-air Refuelling Tankers

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how long the existing air-to-air refuelling tankers will remain in service; and what the fuel carrying capacity of the tankers is. [19544]

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Mr. Ingram: The current RAF air-to-air refuelling fleet is made up of Tristar and VC10 aircraft. On current plans these aircraft will all reach their out-of-service dates towards the middle of the next decade.

The fuel carrying capacity of these aircraft is as follows:
Tristar K1/KC1131,000
VC10 C1K70,420
VC10 K383,680
VC10 K470,390

These figures include fuel used to fly the tanker aircraft.

Armed Forces Deployment

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members, and what percentage, of the Territorial Army are available to be deployed. [17661]

Mr. Touhig: As at 1 September 2005 some 12,000 members of the Territorial Army (TA) were available to be deployed, representing 34 percent. of the total strength.

The right hon. and learned Member will note that the figure of 12,000 is reached by the exclusion of (among others) personnel who:

Brucella Bacteria

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether a release of material contaminated by
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brucella viruses has occurred at his Department's facilities over the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [21550]

Mr. Touhig: There has been no release of any material contaminated with the brucella bacteria at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory facilities in the last five years.

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