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15 Feb 2006 : Column 2095W—continued


Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of helicopter lift capability in the armed forces. [51836]

Mr. Ingram: Last year the Ministry of Defence conducted an analysis of our Battlefield helicopter requirement, which drew on military judgement and recent operational experience. This concluded that there are shortfalls in certain specific lift capabilities. In the short term, we are addressing these by looking at ways of delivering the maximum capability from our existing fleets, including by ensuring greater availability and utilisation through streamlined logistic support. In the longer term, the future rotorcraft capability programme is looking at building our helicopter fleets for the future.

Joint Combat Aircraft

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will continue with the proposed purchase of the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) without an agreement by the US to share the technological data required for future upgrading of the JCA. [50575]

Mr. Ingram: We continue to work closely with the United States Government at all levels to ensure that our needs for JSF technical information required to support our Sovereign capabilities are met. This is a key area in our negotiations on the Production, Sustainment and Follow on Development Memorandum Of Understanding.

Marine Life (Sonar)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the possible effects on marine life of Sonar 2087. [51296]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has conducted environmental impact assessments of marine habitats in which Sonar 2087 might operate. These assessments indicated that while Sonar 2087 has the potential to impact on the marine environment, a range of rigorous mitigation measures have been developed to minimise this and these are integral to our operating procedures. There have been no recorded incidents of harm being caused to marine life by Sonar 2087. We continue to support a sustained programme of research into the effects of active sonar.
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Copies of the environmental analysis reports relating to the Sonar 2087 sea trials conducted in 2002 and 2004 have been released to interested parties and are available in the Library of the House.

Met Office

Mr. Leech: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the likely net change in jobs in Manchester arising from the restructuring of the Meteorological Office Civil Centre Forecast Production Network. [50355]

Mr. Touhig: As a result of my recent decision to move forecast production from Birmingham, London, Belfast, Cardiff and Manchester to the Met Office Operations Centre in Exeter, the number of Met Office jobs at the Met Office's Manchester civil centre will be reduced from 31 to eight. The eight jobs remaining in Manchester will be customer account managers and forecast advisers.

Mine Countermeasures

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provisions are being made in the Future Mine Countermeasures Vision for the use of (a) remote sweep systems and (b) unmanned surface vessels. [51294]

Mr. Ingram: The Future UK Mine Countermeasures Strategy is in the early stages of development. It is too early to say what part remote sweep systems and unmanned surface vessels might play in the delivery of future capability.

Missile Defence

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on UK involvement in ballistic missile defence programmes; and if he will make a statement. [50616]

John Reid: The Government have not yet decided whether or not to pursue missile defence for the United Kingdom, but we continue to examine, with our NATO allies, the developing threat from ballistic missiles and the appropriate responses. We have agreed to the upgrading of the radar at RAF Fylingdales as part of the United States missile defence system, and we also have a programme of joint technical and research projects with the US exploring the relevant technologies.

Pingat Jasa Malaysia

Mary Creagh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the written statement of 31 January 2006, Official Report, columns 10–11WS, on the Pingat Jasa Malaysia, what steps veterans who wish to apply for such medals should take. [50556]

Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.

Information on how veterans can apply for the Pingat Jasa Malaysia can be found in the section entitled 'Medals' on the Ministry of Defence Veterans' Agency website at Members of veterans' or regimental associations should approach their own organisations which will co-ordinate their
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applications and arrange for them to be channelled to the Malaysian High Commission in London. Veterans who do not belong to an association can approach the National Malaya and Borneo Veterans' Association (NMBVA), which has agreed to co-ordinate applications for non-members as well as its own members. Full details of the NMBVA are included on the website.

Portland Port

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future use of Portland port by the Royal Navy. [50577]

Mr. Ingram: We intend to continue using berths in Portland port for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and occasionally for Royal Navy surface warships.

We will also pursue plans to develop the capability within Portland port to host occasional visits by RN nuclear powered submarines.


Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there are provisions in the contract signed with QinetiQ for the management of his Department's practice ranges to cancel the arrangement early; and what penalties would be incurred. [50513]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 14 February 2006]: As is common with contracts of this nature, the Ministry of Defence's Long Term Partnering Agreement with QinetiQ includes clauses that provide for early termination of the arrangement. The compensation payable would depend upon the circumstances of the cessation.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the agreement governing the Government's payments to QinetiQ pension fund prior to the initial public offering; and if he will make a statement. [51851]

John Reid [holding answer 14 February 2006]: The agreement between Ministry of Defence and QinetiQ governing the Government's payments to the company's pension fund is part of a commercially confidential agreement between MOD and the company and I am therefore unable to release it. However, a detailed summary of the key aspects of the pensions agreement appears on pages 83 and 286 of the QinetiQ prospectus, a copy of which was placed in the Library of the House on 26 January.

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the QinetiQ shareholdings, broken down by (a) size and (b) type, of QinetiQ managers, from board level to business group managers, broken down by (i) name and (ii) position. [51862]

John Reid: The shareholding interests of the senior executives in QinetiQ are set out in the QinetiQ IPO prospectus, a copy of which was placed in the Library of the House on 26 January. The prospectus also has details of the award of free shares worth £500 to each QinetiQ employee and the Employee Priority Offer, which formed part of the IPO on 10 February, and of the company's plans for employee share schemes after the
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IPO. Any further details are a matter for the company and should be addressed to the Chief Executive at the following address:

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what loans, grants and financial guarantees have been made by his Department to QinetiQ in the last five years. [51863]

John Reid: Over the last five years, the Department has made a number of different loan arrangements with QinetiQ, all of which have since been repaid in full:

MOD also has certain obligations in the form of contingent liabilities which have been presented to Parliament in departmental minutes dated 4 December 2001, 8 July and 17 December 2002.

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