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6 Nov 2006 : Column 803W—continued

Cadets (Totnes)

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will arrange for the Cadet Centre in Totnes to be made available to the Totnes Youth Centre. [92796]

Derek Twigg [holding answer 12 October 2006]: To date, the Department has received no approach or inquiry by representatives of Totnes Youth Centre. However, I understand that there may well be an opportunity for the Totnes Cadet Centre to be made available for use, and I would advise the representatives of the Totnes Youth Centre to approach the Wessex Reserve Forces and Cadets Association:

Casualty Reports

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he receives a daily casualty report. [86327]

Des Browne: I receive a daily report on significant developments relating to UK military operations, including serious casualties to UK personnel deployed on operations. In addition, I am informed as soon as possible about fatalities of UK personnel.

Cluster Munitions

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) of 30 October 2006, Official Report, column 11, on cluster munitions, what definition he uses of ‘properly used’ in relation to the use of cluster munitions in conflict. [99418]

Mr. Ingram: We regard cluster munitions as being used properly when they are used against legitimate targets, and when their use against such targets is based on an assessment that takes into account the nature of that target, the weapons available, and the legal requirements. Prior to the use of any munitions, the UK follows a detailed targeting procedure, to ensure
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that the UK complies with the rules of proportionality, non-discrimination and distinction in International Humanitarian Law.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 30 October 2006, Official Report, column 11, to the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron), on cluster munitions, when he last carried out a review into the consistency of the use of cluster munitions with international humanitarian law. [99419]

Mr. Ingram: The lawful use of any weapon system, including cluster munitions, is scrutinised as part of operational planning, and during the targeting process. This includes consideration of International Humanitarian Law, including the principles of discrimination, proportionality, necessity and humanity.

Defence Organisations (UK Membership)

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the case for the UK simultaneously retaining its membership of the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en Matiere D’Armement and the European Defence Agency; and if he will make a statement. [98346]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 31 October 2006]: The UK remains firmly committed to our membership of both the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en Matiere D’Armement (OCCAR) and the European Defence Agency (EDA). These two organisations have differing purposes and memberships, and complement each other.

OCCAR is a project management organisation, managing a number of collaborative armament acquisition programmes, including the A400M programme. Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are members. OCCAR programmes are open to participation by non-member nations.

The EDA does not manage collaborative acquisition programmes. It works to promote and enhance such collaboration, by providing contractual services for collaborative research projects, through the identification of common military requirements, and by improving the transparency of the European Defence Equipment Market. All EU member states except Denmark are members of the EDA, and there is also an administrative agreement with Norway, enabling their involvement in EDA facilitated projects.

Departmental Staff

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department recognises the International GCSE as an acceptable substitute for a GCSE for the purposes of recruitment. [96736]

Derek Twigg: The Ministry of Defence does recognise the International GCSE as an acceptable equivalent to a GCSE for purposes of recruitment.


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Engagements

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on (a) a new generation of the nuclear deterrent and (b) the security situation in Iraq. [99077]

Des Browne: I have regular discussions with the Foreign Secretary on a wide range of issues.

European Defence Co-operation

Mr. Arbuthnot: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which projects in which the UK has an interest are being pursued by the (a) Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement and (b) European Defence Agency. [95694]

Des Browne: The UK has an interest in three projects being managed by the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement. These are the A400M project, the COBRA (COunter Battery RAdar) project and the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) element of the Famille des systèmes Surface-Air Futurs (FSAF) project.

In the European Defence Agency (EDA) a number of Research and Technology (R and T) projects have been transferred from the Western European Armaments Organisation, 13 of which involve the UK. Work in the EDA is still developing and we have so far confirmed interest in one ad hoc category B (in which not all EDA member states participate) R and T project on Scalable Multi-Function Radar which has yet to be contracted. The EDA’s role in this area is one of facilitating collaboration and providing contractual services.

Falklands War

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what preparations are being made to commemorate the 25(th) anniversary of the Falklands war; [98049]

(2) what grants are available to commemorate the 25(th) anniversary of the Falklands war at Chorley Cenotaph; [98050]

(3) what discussions he has had with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on preparations for the 25(th) anniversary of the Falklands war; [98053]

(4) what steps have been taken to ensure that all veterans of the Falklands war have the opportunity to participate in commemoration of the 25(th) anniversary. [98054]

Derek Twigg: I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my predecessor on 27 April 2006, Official Report, column 54WS in which he outlined plans to commemorate the 25(th) anniversary of the Falklands conflict both here in the UK and in the Falkland Islands. Preparations for these events are proceeding well and more details, including how veterans can apply for tickets, will be provided to the House on 13 November, in parallel with a media launch the same day.


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We are having close discussions with a range of stakeholders, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and veterans’ organisations, about the nature of the commemorations planned.

Grants are not available from my Department for local commemorations but the organisers of the Chorley event may wish to consider applying to the Awards for All scheme (A4A) which is run by the Big Lottery Fund.

Future Aircraft Carriers

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when each of the Future Aircraft Carriers will be ordered; and what their planned in-service dates are. [98173]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 1 November 2006]: The projected programme dates for the Future Aircraft Carriers, including when they will be ordered and the in-service dates (ISDs), will only be set following the main investment decision, and once they have been approved by Ministers. This decision has not yet been taken, and will only be taken when we know with confidence the risks, the costs and the associated contractual framework involved in building the carriers.

Future Rotacraft Coherency Study

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place a copy of the conclusions and recommendations of the Future Rotacraft Coherency Study in the Library. [94830]

Mr. Ingram: I am unable to provide a copy of the document requested as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests. However some elements of the Future Rotorcraft programmes were reported in the Defence Industrial Strategy and announcements were also made earlier this year. In summary we plan to prosecute the following:

A contract has been placed with Lockheed-Martin to ensure continuity of capability and introduce an open-systems architecture (to enable cost-effective management of obsolescence) on the Merlin Mkl—the Royal Navy's airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare capability.


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We also keep under constant review how best to sustain and refresh the helicopter capability provided to operations.

In addition, we are also pursuing work with a number of helicopter suppliers to implement revised and novel arrangements to support our current platforms through long-term, partnered contracts that require industry to provide serviceable aircraft at the front line. These arrangements have already been contracted for Sea King, Merlin and Chinook aircraft. Similar arrangements are being explored for other aircraft and we intend to focus efforts on ensuring convergence and that lessons are learnt, shared and implemented.

Helicopters

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) RAF, (b) Army Air Corps and (c) Royal Navy helicopters were sold to (i) the private sector and (ii) foreign governments during the period September 2005 to September 2006. [97286]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 1 November 2006]: The MOD’s Disposal Services Agency sold six helicopters between September 2005 and September 2006. Three Sea Kings, which were not in an airworthy condition, were sold via Agusta Westland, under a Commercial Marketing Agreement, to Australia for spares recovery; one Army Sioux was sold privately; and one Wessex and one Sea King were sold as scrap.

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether negotiations have been concluded with Boeing for the work to be carried out on the eight Chinook Mark 3 helicopters at Boscombe Down to make them certifiable for military flights; and if he will make a statement. [98220]

Mr. Ingram: Negotiations with Boeing have not yet been concluded.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of (a) the overall military helicopter fleet and (b) the helicopter fleet deployed in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan are considered (A) fit for service and (B) battleworthy, broken down by helicopter type. [98556]

Mr. Ingram: The MOD does not use the terms fit for service and battleworthy in describing helicopters. We use the term “fit for purpose”, which means those that are available, reliable, airworthy and capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date.


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Helicopter type Fit for purpose (Percentage)

A109

77

Apache

60

Chinook

61

Gazelle AH1

76

Lynx MK 3 and 8

57

Lynx MK 7 and 9

59

Merlin MK 1

48

Merlin MK 3

53

Puma

73

Sea King MK 3/3A

53

Sea King MK4/6C

51

Sea King MK 5

53

Sea King MK 7

56


The percentages shown in the table indicate the proportion of the helicopter fleet available to front-line commands, which are considered “fit for purpose”. These numbers will vary; the figures shown are the average for the period from 1 June to 30 September 2006.

All UK helicopters deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are considered fit for purpose, but not all will be available for operational flying each day due to routine maintenance requirements. However, these factors are taken into consideration, and sufficient helicopters are provided to meet current operational requirements. We continue to review these operational requirements and adjust as necessary.

Hercules Aircraft

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration was given to his Department's duty of care to Air Force crews when prioritising tasking over the fitting of foam to the Hercules fleet; and if he will make a statement. [92694]

Mr. Ingram: In prioritising the fitment of explosive suppressant foam (ESF) to Hercules C-130 aircraft, the Department considered a range of factors including: the safety of RAF crews and passengers; the nature of the threat to Hercules C-130 aircraft deployed on operations; the impact on the operational availability of the aircraft; and the capacity of industry to fit ESF to the aircraft.

HMS Southampton

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason and for how long the crew of HMS Southampton have been without normal supplies of fresh water; what the consequences have been; and when the problem is expected to be rectified. [99075]

Mr. Ingram: At no time has HMS Southampton been without fresh water.

On three separate occasions between 17 and 29 October the ship experienced difficulties with the distillation system that produces fresh water and restrictions were imposed to conserve stocks.

On 17 and 26 October 2006 the use of showers was stopped for a period of less than 12 hours each day. No other restrictions were imposed. On 28 October 2006 the use of fresh water for activities other than drinking, cooking and washing hands was restricted for a period of 14 hours.

The availability of fresh water for the ship’s galley, drinking supplies and personal hygiene remained unaffected throughout.


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