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Written Ministerial Statements

Friday 27 April 2007


Board of Inquiry (Loss of Lynx XZ614)

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): I am announcing today the findings of a Board of Inquiry (BOI) into the tragic incident in Basra, Iraq on 6 May 2006 when a Lynx helicopter based at Basra Air Station crashed, killing all five of its occupants—Wing Commander Coxen, Lieutenant Commander Chapman, Flight Lieutenant Mulvihill, Captain Dobson and Marine Collins. I pay tribute to them, and to the brave men and women of our armed forces, who continue to face hostile conditions on a daily basis. Our thoughts are with all their families and friends.

I will arrange for copies of the Military Air Accident Summary and the Main Board of Inquiry, redacted in accordance with guidance on the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act, to be placed in the Library of the House. Both documents will also be published on the MOD website at www.foi.mod.uk

The key conclusion of the BOI is that the Lynx was shot down by a surface-to-air missile using a Man Portable Air Defence System fired from the ground. The next of kin have been informed of the Board's conclusions and have been presented with copies of the relevant documentation. This information has also been provided to the Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner who is scheduled to hear the inquest into the deaths of these Service Personnel.

The BOI made seven recommendations. Action has been taken to implement all of the Board's recommendations and those arising from the subsequent Technical Investigation, details of which I am not making public in order to protect the security and operational effectiveness of our armed forces.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Veterinary Medicines Directorate (Performance Targets for 2007-08)

The Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): I have set the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) the following Performance Targets for 2007-08.

1. To authorise veterinary medicines according to legislative requirements and published standards and monitor reports of suspected adverse reactions to identify emerging trends and take appropriate action.

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2. To ensure that UK policy objectives are reflected in EC legislation and guidance and that UK legislation and guidance enables veterinary medicines to be used responsibly, effectively and safely.

3. To ensure the regulatory system is effective and contributes to protecting public health by taking risk-based action on the findings from surveillance of residues in food-producing animals.

4. To ensure that the appropriate infrastructure is in place to achieve targets 1, 2 and 3 and provide value for money and VMD achieves full cost recovery.

Further details are given in the VMD Business Plan for 2007-08, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.


Medical Training Application Service

The Secretary of State for Health (Ms Patricia Hewitt): The Department has been made aware of an incident on 25 April, whereby personal data held on the Medical Training Application Service (MTAS) was made available through unauthorised channels.

The security breach concerned the application details of medical students applying to the foundation programme. This breach had no impact on the current recruitment of junior doctors into specialty training. The data was accessible only for a short period of time on 25 April. Details of the website address were leaked to the media. The MTAS team removed the data as soon as the error was brought to their attention. The Department, of course, deplores such leaks.

On 26 April the Department was made aware of some problems on the MTAS site. We have therefore decided to suspend the site while we perform full independent security tests. We expect the suspension to have minimal impact on the current round of recruitment into specialty training.

We take security very seriously and the breaches are under urgent investigation by the Department. This investigation will seek to establish how the security breaches arose, who accessed any data without authorisation and what steps need to be taken to prevent a recurrence.

I will keep the House updated on further developments.

Trade and Industry

Government Chemist Review (2006)

The Minister for Science and Innovation (Malcolm Wicks): The 10th Annual Review of the Government Chemist has been received. The Review will be laid before the Scottish Parliament and copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses plus those of the devolved Administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland.

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