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7 Dec 2005 : Column 1348W—continued

Army Uniform

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who is responsible for the purchase of mess dress for (a) Senior Non-Commissioned Officers and (b) Warrant Officers on promotion to that rank. [29534]

Mr. Touhig: Mess kit for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) is not mandatory uniform and is therefore not provided at public expense.

AWE Orion Laser

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to ensure that the plans for the AWE Orion Laser development at Aldermaston are tested by the normal planning process and that Crown immunity is not applied; and if he will make a statement. [34765]

Mr. Touhig: Under Crown exemption from planning legislation, the Ministry of Defence does not submit planning applications. In their place we use a consultation process under DOE Circular 18/84 which largely mirrors the statutory planning system. It is our normal policy to support any development proposals with the same level of background information that would be required under the statutory planning system.

The development at AWE Aldermaston is part of a scheduled programme of rebuilding works at the site. A range of background material has been submitted to West Berkshire council (the local planning authority) in support of these proposals mirroring the requirements placed on those which would be required of any private developer.


Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place copies of the 14 annexes and nine enclosures listed on page 52 of the Chinook HC1 Airworthiness Review report, in the Library. [21752]

Mr. Ingram: I have placed a copy of the requested annexes and enclosures in the Library of the House. Third party information not relevant to the request has been withheld, together with a very small amount of information that relates to information supplied by bodies dealing with security matters.

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when each of the source software codes necessary for testing the airworthiness of the Chinook HC2 and Chinook HC2a helicopters was provided to his Department by the manufacturers in the US. [21753]

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Mr. Ingram: Because of Intellectual Property Rights the source software codes have never been provided to the Ministry of Defence by the United States manufacturers.

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of all (a) reports, (b) documents and (c) memoranda produced by or on behalf of Boscombe Down in 1988 concerning software in the Chinook HC2 helicopter. [21755]

Mr. Ingram: The mid-life update programme to produce the Chinook HC Mk 2 had not been initiated in 1988; there are therefore no relevant reports from Boscombe Down produced in that year.

Departmental Tendering Policy

Martin Horwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on including (a) ethical and (b) environmental factors in tenders for services. [33329]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence and the armed forces exist to defend the United Kingdom and its interests. MOD policy on procurement of goods, works and services will support sustainable development, including its environmental and social aspects, within the framework of the Government's procurement policy and its overarching aim of achieving value for money, and the EC procurement rules.

Falkland Islands

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of the Falklands garrison has been in each of the last five years. [33905]

Mr. Ingram: The costs of maintaining the garrison in the Falklands for each of the last five years are as follows:
£ million

The reduction in costs from 2001–02 onwards is attributable, for the most part, to an adjustment to the accounts to reflect revaluations, resulting in a permanent diminution in the value of fixed assets.

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many landmines in the Falkland Islands have been cleared in the last 10 years. [33907]

Mr. Ingram: Under the Ottawa Convention, the United Kingdom is required to clear all anti-personnel mines from its territory by March 2009. The only UK territory affected is the Falkland Islands. At present, only those landmines that are close to perimeter fences and may pose a danger to the civilian community are cleared. Within the last ten years, 274 anti-personnel mines and 69 anti-vehicle mines in this category have been destroyed.
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Fire Fighting Duties

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what powers the Government have authorised the employment of members of the armed forces for fire fighting duties in the East Midlands area; and if he will make a statement. [29581]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 17 November 2005]: There has been no recent strike in East Midlands; the hon. Member probably intended to refer to the current strike in West Midlands. Section 2 of the Emergency Powers Act 1964 provides the statutory basis for deployment of members of the armed forces on non-military tasks. This enables the Secretary of State for Defence to authorise, through issue of a Defence Council Order, deployment of members of the armed forces on 'urgent work of national importance'. The deployment of armed forces personnel to provide emergency fire cover in the West Midlands was authorised by Defence Council Order on 7 November 2005 following a request from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, in support of a request from the Chief Fire Officer of the West Midlands.

Flight Lieutenant MacDonald

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total cost to public funds has been to date of the court case Flight Lieutenant MacDonald v. Ministry of Defence. [34426]

Mr. Touhig: To date the Ministry of Defence's legal costs in the case involving Mr. MacDonald are £169,700 which includes counsel's fees. These costs reflect the legal complexity of the case brought by Mr. MacDonald.

Mr. MacDonald claimed he had been discriminated against unlawfully on grounds of sex, contrary to the Equal Treatments Directive 76/207/EEC and Section 6 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1976. On appeal to the House of Lords, the Law Lords handed down a unanimous judgment in favour of the Ministry of Defence on 19 June 2003 rejecting Mr. MacDonald's challenge to the interpretation of the Sex Discrimination Act 1976.

All attempts to settle the matter, including the offer to Mr. MacDonald to rejoin the Royal Air Force, have so far been unsuccessful.

Future Aircraft Carrier

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the latest dates would be to sign a main gate contract for the first Future Aircraft Carrier in order for it to be able to enter service in (a) 2012, (b) 2013, (c) 2014, (d) 2015 and (e) 2016. [33617]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 6 December 2005]: We are in discussion with companies over the details of the way in which the future aircraft carriers will be built and, the costs and the time-scales involved. While those discussions are ongoing, and until we have signed manufacturing contracts, which will be after the main investment decision, we are not prepared to speculate on in-service dates.
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Landing Ships Dock (Auxiliary) Project

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress is being made on the second vessel to be built by Swan Hunter as part of the landing ships dock (auxiliary) project; and when he expects it to begin sea trials. [34028]

Mr. Ingram: Outfitting activities (for example, architectural work, furniture, pipework and deck coverings) on RFA Lyme Bay are continuing and sea trials are scheduled to commence in late 2006.

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