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18 Apr 2006 : Column 7W—continued

HMS Kent

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the co-ordinates were of the location of HMS Kent on 26 January; whether there were any other vessels operating in this area at the same time; and whether anti-submarine sonar was being used. [62704]

Mr. Ingram: The co-ordinates of HMS Kent on 26 January 2006 were:

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There were two other Royal Navy vessels in this area at the same time. HMS Scott, a survey ship was alongside in Gibraltar and HMS Roebuck, another survey ship, arrived in Gibraltar. No anti-submarine sonar was being used by any of the vessels.

Human Rights Act

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Human Rights Act 1988 applies at UK bases used by United States forces, including bases in UK Overseas Territories. [62243]

Mr. Ingram: The Human Rights Act 1998 does apply at bases made available to the United States Visiting Force (USVF) in the UK. However, whether the Act applies in any specific case will depend on whether the acts of a public authority are being challenged. The USVF is not a public authority under the Act.

The Human Rights Act does not apply to UK overseas territories. The European Convention on Human Rights applies to UK overseas territories if Her Majesty's Government notifies the Secretary General of the European Council. Remedies for any breach of the Convention would be provided under local law or before the European Court of Human Rights.


Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many munitions containing depleted uranium were deployed by UK forces in Iraq in (a) 2002, (b) 2003 and (c) 2004. [56462]

Mr. Ingram: Depleted uranium is not widely used in munitions employed by United Kingdom Land Forces. Only the kinetic armour piercing ammunition used by our Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks is DU-based. For reasons of operational security, we do not publicise the precise amounts deployed in preparation for operations, but they comprise a very small percentage of the overall ammunition deployed to Iraq. For information on the use of weapons containing depleted uranium used in Operation Telic I refer the hon. Member to my answer of 24 May 2004, Official Report, column 1354W to the former Member for Blaenau Gwent (Llewellyn Smith).

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his reply of 13 March 2006, Official Report column 1947W, tabled by the hon. Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, whether United States armed forces personnel have shared with him evidence of the use of Beretta semi-automatic pistols by the Iraqi insurgency. [59360]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 17 March 2006]: British armed forces personnel have not received any evidence from US armed forces personnel of Iraqi insurgents using the Beretta semi-automatic pistol in Iraq.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether co-operation has been restored between British forces in Multi-National Sector (South-East) and council officials in Basra and Maysan provinces in Iraq. [61841]

John Reid: British officials continue to discuss re-engagement with Basrah and Maysan provincial council in an attempt to restore normal working relations as soon as possible. Co-operation between Maysan
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Provincial Council and British forces was restored soon after publication of the News of the World story but has since been unofficially suspended again. In the meantime, Multi National Forces continue to co-operate at all levels with the local Iraqi authorities including the Iraqi police and army in order to continue their valuable work on security sector reform.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many security internees are being held by (a) Multi-National Forces and (b) British forces in Iraq. [61845]

John Reid: As of the 27 March 2006 there were 14,580 security internees in Iraq in Multi-National Force custody and 51 security internees in UK custody.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq. [61848]

John Reid: It is not possible to estimate with any accuracy the number of al-Qaeda operatives in Iraq.

Iraqi Combat Battalions

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence by what date he expects all Iraqi combat battalions to be capable of carrying out independent operations. [62224]

Mr. Ingram: The Iraqi security forces are becoming increasingly capable. There are currently 112 combat battalions in the Iraqi Army and 60 of these are capable of taking the lead in counterinsurgency operations, with coalition forces only providing support as necessary. By the end of 2006, we expect most of the 10 divisions of the Iraqi Army to be taking the lead in areas of their responsibility, albeit with coalition support such as planning and logistics. Work to develop these capabilities will continue, so that coalition support will diminish over time, and Iraqi forces become capable of operating fully independently.


Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assurances were given to the MAN ERF workforce at Middlewich in relation to the operation of his Department's contract with MAN and MAN ERF UK. [61589]

Mr. Ingram: [holding answer 27 March 2006]: As a result of the Ministry of Defence placing a contract with MAN ERF UK Ltd, the company estimated that approximately 400 jobs would be created or sustained in the United Kingdom. The specific geographical location of these posts is however a matter for the company.

Missile Defence

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the last occasion was on which ministers in his Department discussed missile defence with counterparts in other countries; what aspects were discussed; and if he will make a statement. [62484]

John Reid: Defence Ministers have had no recent bilateral discussions on missile defence. Government Ministers attended the NATO Heads of State and Government Summit in June 2004 which directed that
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work on theatre ballistic missile defence should be taken forward by NATO. Subsequent meetings of NATO Defence Ministers have noted progress reports on theatre and territorial missile defence without substantive discussion.

Nuclear Deterrent

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what publication he plans to produce to inform the national debate he initiated in 2005 on the potential replacement of the UK's nuclear deterrent. [62414]

John Reid: The Ministry of Defence provided an initial memorandum to the House of Commons Defence Committee, which was published on 20 January 2006. While work to prepare for decisions on the future of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent has now started, it is still at an early stage and Ministers have not yet begun to consider the position in any detail. It is therefore premature to speculate on the nature of any future publications in this area.


Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on co-operation with Pakistan on defence issues. [62403]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 30 March 2006]: Pakistan is critical to achieving many of HMG's international objectives, including counter-terrorism, counter-narcotics, counter-proliferation, regional stability, managed migration, human rights and engagement with the Islamic world. Allied to this is the United Kingdom's commitment to the international security assistance force in Afghanistan, which is dependent on Pakistani support for the provision of a logistical line of communication from Karachi, as well as permission for RAF overflights.

Traditionally, the UK has enjoyed a warm defence relationship with Pakistan and this has deepened in recent years. In 2005–06 we provided in the region of £750,000 of defence assistance by way of training and liaison opportunities as part of the Defence Relations Activity Programme. Much of this activity, which includes meetings in Pakistan between senior Ministry of Defence and Pakistani officials, is facilitated by the defence adviser in our high commission in Islamabad.

Finally, the Ministry of Defence provided substantial assistance to the Government of Pakistan following the disastrous earthquake in Northern Pakistan and Pakistan-administered Kashmir in October 2005. Included in a package of assistance was three Chinook heavy lift helicopters deployed for one month to deliver much needed humanitarian aid to remote areas, and a Royal Marines commando engineer squadron deployed from November 2005 to February 2006 to build shelters for those whose homes had been destroyed. Both missions received much praise and recognition from the Pakistani Government and those affected by the earthquake.
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