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Mr. Kevan Jones: The Net Book Value of the Meteorological Office's assets as set out in its 2007-08 Annual Report and Accounts is approximately £206 million. I am withholding information on the estimates of the market value of Meteorological Office, as its disclosure would prejudice commercial interests.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the status is of the Helix Programme to update the United Kingdom's large aircraft capability; and if he will make a statement; 
(2) what factors underlay his Department's Project Helix decision to replace three Nimrod R1 aircraft with US RC-135 Rivet Joint Boeing jets instead of procuring the BAE Systems MRA4; what assessment he has made of the future of the BAE Systems Woodford production plant and aerodrome beyond 2012 as a result of his Department's decision; and if he will make a statement; 
(4) what assessment his Department has made of any operational benefits of the MRA4 replacement option for the Royal Air Force in terms of (a) capability, (b) in-service date and (c) value for money; and if he will make a statement; 
(5) what the total cost of the replacement of three 35-year-old Nimrod R1 aircraft based at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire with 46-year old US RC-135 Boeings is expected to be; and if he will make a statement; 
Mr. Quentin Davies: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Minister for International Defence and Security gave on the HELIX programme in another place on 13 October 2008, Official Report, column WA28, to the noble Lord, Lord Lee of Trafford.
No decisions have been made on the HELIX programme. We are comparing the three options under considerationNimrod RI aircraft, tailored Nimrod MRA4 aircraft and the US Rivet Joint system. This work will inform the main investment decision point, expected to be in 2009. In reaching a conclusion we will take into account all relevant factors including costs, impact on the defence industrial base and operational benefits in terms of capability, in-service date and value for money, as well as other criteria.
Sir Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the risks involved in stripping down military aircraft as part of his Department's procurement projects. 
Mr. Quentin Davies: The assessment of project risk is an intrinsic part of the procurement process during the concept and assessment phases. Refurbished, as well as new aircraft are assessed against the same standards, rules and regulations.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to minimise the impact of military bases have on their surrounding environment, with particular reference to naval ports. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth:
The MOD uses tools and policies such as sustainability and environmental appraisals and site based environmental management systems (EMS), to ensure that military bases (including naval bases) are managed to reduce their environmental impacts, and meet any legal and regulatory requirements. Full information and guidance on MOD environmental management tools and policies is contained within the
MOD Sustainable Development and Environmental Manual JSP 418, which is available on the MOD website at:
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 24 November 2008, Official Report, column 904W, on nuclear weapons, whether beryllium was used in the nuclear trials codenamed (a) Hurricane, (b) Totem, (c) Mosaic, (d) Buffalo, (e) Grapple, (f) Antler, (g) Grapple X, (h) Grapple Y and (i) Grapple Z. 
Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department was informed by the Pakistani government of the possibility of a US air strike on the village of Ali Khel before 21 November 2008. 
Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much (a) each board of inquiry and service inquiry into the deaths at Deepcut Barracks of (i) Private Sean Benton, (ii) Private Cheryl James, (iii) Private Geoff Gray and (iv) Private James Collinson and (b) each recall service inquiry into the deaths of Private Gray and Private Collinson cost, broken down by each category of cost, including transport and expenses. 
Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) number of sitting hours and (b) duration was of (i) each board of inquiry and service inquiry into the deaths at Deepcut Barracks of (A) Private Sean Benton, (B) Private Cheryl James, (C) Private Geoff Gray and (D) Private James Collinson and (ii) each recalled service inquiry into the deaths of Private Gray and Private Collinson. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: In the case of the Private Gray Board of Inquiry (BOI), the board took evidence over 20 days; and the reconvened board took evidence over one day. In the case of the Private Collinson BOI, the board took evidence over six days; and the reconvened board took evidence over one day. In neither case were the number of sitting hours recorded.
Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) witnesses were called and (b) statements were considered at (i) each board of inquiry and service inquiry into the deaths at Deepcut Barracks of (A) Private Sean Benton, (B) Private Cheryl James, (C) Private Geoff Gray and (D) Private James Collinson and (ii) each recalled service inquiry into the deaths of Private Gray and Private Collinson. 
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will break down his Department's Winter Supplementary Estimate 2008-09 on the same basis as in his answer of 14 July 2008, Official Report, column 168W. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 8 December 2008]: The Tornado GR4 aircraft will meet the middle east theatre entry standard on deployment to Op Herrick and is currently undergoing a programme of capability enhancement. As with the Harrier GR9 the Tornado GR4 capability will remain under constant review in theatre to ensure that it is optimised to meet the evolving operational requirement.
Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects a decision to be taken on the initial Gate Report on the Trident replacement programme; whether the House will make any such decision; and if he will make a statement. 
[holding answer 10 December 2008]: As we have said before, it is our expectation that decisions will be taken on the Initial Gate for the programme to develop a new class of submarine to replace the current Vanguard class in autumn 2009. It is not normal for Parliament to be involved in Initial Gate decisions for
procurement projects. Main Gate for this programme is still several years away. As we have also said before, we propose to update Parliament on progress after Initial Gate.
Tessa Jowell: Major Peter Underhill is the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games' competition manager for shooting. KPMG was instructed by the Olympic Delivery Authority to assist in the evaluation of the options analysis for a number of temporary venues. As announced after the Olympic Board in November, the KPMG report will be published. However, we do not yet have a final copy of the report and there are no plans for specific discussions between KPMG and any other parties to be published.
Mr. Malins: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on representations received on the venue for shooting sports at the London 2012 Olympics. 
Tessa Jowell: I will discuss with the Secretary of State for Defence as soon as the conclusions of the KPMG review are finalised. Our officials meet regularly to discuss matters relating to Woolwich Royal Artillery Barracks.
Tessa Jowell: The Inspire Mark is awarded by London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and the IOC the first time a host city has been accorded this to high-quality fully funded non-commercial projects and programmes which have been clearly inspired by the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, and which achieve across sport, culture, education, the environment, volunteering or promoting business opportunities. Projects and programmes licensed to use the mark specify in the application process the manner in which they wish to use the mark on promotional material.
We are fully committed to ensuring that everyone in the UK can be part of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We aim to do this through cultural events across the country, more opportunities to take part in sport and to be physically
active, and a range of volunteering, jobs and skills initiatives as well as business opportunities. The Legacy Action Plan which I published in June sets out more details on how we propose to deliver this vision.
I am also keen for regions to identify what is important to them. At a regional level this work is being taken forward by the Nations and Regions Group (NRG) who are working hard to optimise local benefits of the Games. The north-east representative is Peter Rowley, chair of the Regional Sports Board. The north-east launched its regional plan to maximise the benefits of the Games on 18 July 2007. This can be found on the North East Regional Development Agency website:
Progress on legacy in the north-east is already being made. Of the 23 eligible local authorities in the north-east, 16 have agreed to offer free swimming to those aged 16 or under and seven have agreed to offer free swimming to those aged 60 or over only. 19 Olympic and eight Paralympic facilities from the north-east are included in the official London 2012 Pre-Games Training Camp Guide; 40 events took place in the region during the Cultural Olympiad Open Weekend and 22 special handover flags were raised. Additionally, 97 schools and colleges in the north-east hosted Paralympic Games-focused activities for children and young people as part of Paralympic handover celebrations.
Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Minister for the Olympics what assessment she has made of the impact of introducing a lower rate of value added tax on the overall costs of the London 2012 Olympic Games. 
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of the availability of housing and housing materials for refugees in Afghanistan who have been repatriated from Iran and Pakistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Douglas Alexander: Reliable nationwide data on housing for refugees are not available. However, in the eastern region more than 10,730 returning families (over 59,800 people) required shelter support from UNHCR in 2008. This amounts to approximately 35 per cent. of the total returning to the region. Eastern Afghanistan received 63 per cent. of all refugee returnees in 2008.
There is no shortage of building material for Afghan housing, usually constructed of mud and bricks. However, there is a shortage of skilled labour and this, coupled with rising material costs and the high number of refugees returning (over 275,000 in 2008), is slowing the rebuilding process.
Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development with reference to the Answer of 15 September 2008, Official Report, column 2177W, on Commonwealth scholarships, if he will list the contribution his Department (a) made in each of the last five financial years and (b) plans to make in financial years (i) 2008-09, (ii) 2009-10 and (iii) 2010-11 to UK programmes for overseas scholars. 
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