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C-17

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps have been taken in the past six months to lease further C-17s from Boeing to expand the capacity of the air bridge to Iraq. [45677]

Mr. Ingram: We keep our strategic airlift capability under review, and have considered a range of options for enhancing our capability. Over the past six months we have enhanced our capacity in support of operations in Iraq through the charter of large aircraft.

Conflict Prevention

Mrs. Riordan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of his Department's budget was allocated to conflict prevention in (a) 2003–04, (b) 2004–05 and (c) 2005–06. [47129]


 
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Mr. Ingram: All Defence expenditure contributes to the overarching Defence aim, which is to

Conflict prevention is an integral part of this.

The costs of specific conflict prevention activities (including security and peace-building tasks) are voted for separately by Parliament, through either the HM Treasury reserve or the conflict prevention pools. As such, these funds do not form part of the Defence budget.

On this basis, the Department was voted additional resources for conflict prevention activities of around £1.5 billion in 2003–04 and £1.1 billion in 2004–05. For the financial year 2005–06, the resources required based on the level of conflict prevention activity in the financial year will be reflected in the spring supplementary estimates.

Daedalus Site, Lee-on-the-Solent

Peter Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the (a) public and (b) other bodies which are negotiating to acquire an interest in the Daedalus site at Lee-on-the-Solent; what the nature of that interest is in each case; and if he will ensure that local authorities and other interested bodies have opportunities for consultation before any commitment to transfer land is finalised. [47994]

Mr. Touhig: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) will be acquiring a freehold interest in the airfield site, which will enable them to implement the Government's maritime safety policy. Hampshire police will be acquiring a leasehold interest from the MCA. This will enable the police authority to continue with its important surveillance operations.

The South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) will be acquiring a freehold interest in the balance of the Daedalus site. In accordance with the Regional Development Agencies Act 1988, SEEDA will promote regeneration of the area including business efficiency, investment and competitiveness, employment and contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

It is the intention to reserve a right for the RN Gliding Centre to continue its glider training programme in accordance with MCA's operational procedures.

Upon decommissioning of the site in 1996 the Daedalus Strategy Group was formed comprising Gosport and Fareham borough councils and Hampshire county council. Throughout the holding period, the Ministry of Defence has consulted fully with this group and all key stakeholders. It is now more appropriate that these consultations should be continued by SEEDA and MCA.

DCAE Cosford

Mr. McFadden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when he next plans to visit DCAE Cosford; [38985]
 
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(2) how many jobs DCAE Cosford supports (a) directly and (b) indirectly in the West Midlands economy; and if he will make a statement. [38988]

Mr. Touhig: DCAE Cosford directly supports 1,243 jobs. Of these 562 are military personnel, 481 are civilian staff and 200 personnel are currently engaged as contractors. The Department does not hold a figure for the number of jobs indirectly supported by DCAE Cosford in the West Midlands.

Defence Ministers have no plans at present to visit DCAE Cosford.

Departmental Websites

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of maintaining his main departmental website was for the last year for which figures are available; and how many visitors there were to the site in each of the last 12 months. [46301]

Mr. Touhig: The cost of maintaining the Ministry of Defence's main departmental website www.mod.uk was £127,192 in the financial year 2004–05. The website received the following number of visitors in each of the past seven months. Figures for the period January to June 2005 are unavailable.
Number of visitors
July 2005241,278
August 2005223,588
September 2005231,649
October 2005206,174
November 2005204,908
December 2005160,392
January 2006203,623

Aircraft Carriers

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the size of future aircraft carriers will prevent them from docking at (a) Portsmouth and (b) Plymouth; and if he will make a statement. [32169]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 30 November 2005]: Portsmouth was selected in 2002 as the base-port for the future aircraft carriers (CVF). The approach channel will be realigned and widened to permit safe access for the carriers, and some dredging work within the harbour will be also required. CVF will be too large to enter Devonport Naval Base.

Gulf War Illness

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research has been provided to the Government on a possible relationship between the self reported use of nerve agent pre-treatment tablets and incidence of Gulf war illness. [46694]

Mr. Touhig: Research provided to the Government on possible associations between ill health among veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict and exposures, including nerve agent pre-treatment set tablets, is generally in the form of published peer-reviewed medical/scientific papers and academic systematic reviews of such papers. Two reviews are considered of particular significance and authority.
 
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The active ingredient in NAPS tablets is the compound Pyridostigmine Bromide (PB). In 2000, the US Institute of Medicine's review Gulf War and Health: Volume 1. Depleted Uranium, Pyridostigmine Bromide, Sarin, and Vaccines", concluded that there was inadequate/insufficient evidence to determine whether an association does or does not exist between PB and long-term adverse health effects. In 2003, the UK Medical Research Council's review of research into UK Gulf veterans' illnesses noted that for many years PB has been used routinely to treat neuromuscular disease. This had involved much higher doses administered over long periods of time. No serious side effects have been observed as a result of the use of PB in this latter context.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many members of (a) the Fourth Armoured Brigade, (b) the Seventh Armoured Brigade, (c) the First Armoured Division Force Maintenance Area, (d) the RAF and (e) the Royal Navy involved in Operation Granby in 1991 have since been examined by the Gulf War Medical Assessment programme; how many in each category were found to be suffering from diagnosed neurological illnesses; and how many in each category are claiming war pensions for (i) neurological illnesses and (ii) non-neurological illnesses; [46864]

(2) how many cases of diagnosed (a) neurological and (b) auto-immune illnesses in 1991 Gulf war veterans have been examined by the Gulf War Medical Assessment programme since 1992. [46872]

Mr. Touhig: Since the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment programme was established in 1993, it has medically assessed 3,278 1990–91 Gulf veterans. Of those seen, 2,521 were Army, 299 Navy and 458 RAF, of whom 117,17 and 27 respectively had neurological disorders.

No unusual diseases or pattern of diseases were found. Of 161 cases of neurological disorder, the most common was migraine (43), followed by epilepsy (28) (22 idiopathic, 6 post traumatic) and multiple sclerosis (19). Of the 161 only one was medically assessed as a result of service in the Gulf. The remaining 71 veterans suffered a miscellaneous group of disorders, some of a genetic nature, others extant before deployment to the Gulf and others developing many years after return from the Gulf, none of which were assessed by Medical Assessment programme physicians to be caused by either deployment to the Gulf or medical countermeasures used during that campaign.

In relation to auto-immune illnesses, there have been three cases of systemic lupus erythematosus autoimmune disease, and three cases of common variable immunodeficiency. Two of the latter were asymptomatic and discovered by chance. None of these six cases was assessed as being due to service in the 1990–91 Gulf conflict. However, since 2002, routine investigations for immune diseases have not been routinely undertaken unless clinically indicated.

Information is not held centrally on the individual units that patients of the Medical Assessment programme served with in theatre, or the number of war pensions in payment to patients that have attended, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
 
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