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Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what requests he has received from the Health and Safety Executive Nuclear Installations Inspectorate for information on changes to the organisational structure of the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE); and what estimate he has made of the effect on the number of AWE posts with responsibility for monitoring and enforcing safety or environmental performance of those changes. 
Peter Luff: I have not received, nor would I expect to receive, any such requests in respect of regulatory matters between the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) and AWE plc. Ministry of Defence (MOD) Officials are, however, kept informed of AWE plc's interfaces with regulators, including the NII and the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR).
The NII and DNSR have carried out a joint assessment of organisational changes that have recently been proposed by AWE plc. The NII and DNSR have indicated jointly to AWE plc that, subject to ongoing dialogue and regulatory oversight, they have no objection to the implementation of these changes. No separate MOD estimate has been made of the effect on the numbers of AWE plc personnel required, nor is one needed.
Mr Mike Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what account he plans to take of environmental impact assessment regulations in implementing proposals for a new hydrodynamics facility, project Hydrus, at Atomic Weapons Establishment Aldermaston. 
The regulations allow for individual defence environmental impact assessment exemption directions to be sought in order to safeguard national security. In cases where exemptions are granted, it is our practice to supply, in place of a statutory environmental statement (ES), a defence exempt environmental appraisal with the relevant planning documents. In this way, only information considered sensitive and prejudicial to national defence is not published; all other information normally included in an ES is included with the application to the local planning authority.
Nick Harvey: In recent years there have been a number of high level visits between the respective Chiefs of Navies and their Senior Commanders, underpinned by successful working level visits. Such activities generate greater knowledge of each others' intentions, culture and ethos, which promote mutual trust and reduce the risk of misunderstanding. The UK has recently welcomed China's participation in the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) group, which manages the plethora of multi-national and national counter-piracy activity in the Gulf of Aden. Naval ship visits also play an important part in the development of navy-to-navy relations.
Mr Robathan: Over the last five years, the Ministry of Defence has on average conducted four external consultations per year on a variety of Defence-related topics. Information about the cost of conducting these consultations is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mark Tami: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many drivers provided by his Department were involved in transporting the Minister for Veterans to France and to his constituency on 29 and 30 May 2010. 
Mr Robathan [holding answer 7 June 2010]: One driver was used to transport the Minster for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans to join commemorations of the 70th anniversary of Dunkirk. However, in accordance with the EC regulations and working time regulations on the number of hours that a driver can work within a 24 hour period, one additional driver was used in the UK to complete the return journey to the Minister's constituency.
Peter Luff [holding answer 7 June 2010]: The Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA) with QinetiQ, which covers the operation of the Hebrides Range and other facilities, already provides for commercial usage by third parties. Nonetheless, it is recognised that further, appropriate, incentivisation could help QinetiQ to attract more work of this kind. However, we must also ensure that in doing so we comply with our EU Treaty obligations and avoid any state aid. These are complex issues, but my officials are working to develop an incentive regime for all LTPA facilities, which would meet these criteria.
Peter Luff [holding answer 7 June 2010]: It has not yet been possible to set in place a legally compliant regime to attract new commercial business to facilities covered by the Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA) with QinetiQ, including the Hebrides Range. The LTPA provides for third party usage of facilities and contains complex gain-share provisions covering the attribution of revenues between the Ministry of Defence, the owners of the sites in question, and QinetiQ. However, I am withholding the precise details of these arrangements as disclosure could damage QinetiQ's commercial interests.
Mr Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how long RAF Brize Norton was closed as a consequence of the incident on a Hercules aircraft on 6 May 2010; and how many flights were (a) diverted to RAF Lyneham and (b) cancelled. 
One operational flight was cancelled as a result of the airfield being unavailable, although this task was absorbed into a subsequent flight. 11 training flights from RAF Brize Norton were also cancelled. This small backlog of training has now been recovered.
Mr Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effects on the Afghanistan Airbridge of the incident involving a Hercules aircraft at RAF Brize Norton on 6 May 2010; and if he will make a statement. 
Nick Harvey: There was only minor disruption to the operation of the Afghanistan Airbridge following the incident involving a Hercules C-130 aircraft at RAF Brize Norton on 6 May 2010. All scheduled dispatch and recovery of personnel and equipment was achieved within required time scales.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what operational safety reviews are in place for the UK's nuclear submarine fleet; and for what reason such reviews did not detect the safety valves faults on HMS Tireless and HMS Turbulent; 
The UK's nuclear submarines operate within strict safety management arrangements. The nuclear safety elements of these are regulated by the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator (DNSR) who investigated this issue working with other interested parties including the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.
Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the potential effects of a malfunctioning safety valve on board a vessel of the UK's nuclear submarine fleet on active service. 
The relief valves provide a relief path in the event of over-pressurization of certain secondary, non-nuclear elements of the propulsion system. Hull valve blanks would have blocked this relief path. In practice, however, the likelihood of an event occurring that would require the operation of the relief valves is small during normal operation. This is because the relief system in question is a back up to other system components and safeguards that were operating correctly.
Nick Harvey: Typhoon already undertakes Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duties at RAF Coningsby. On current plans Typhoon will begin to take up QRA duties at RAF Leuchars, in conjunction with Tornado F3, from late 2010 and will take over complete responsibility in April 2011 when Tornado F3 retires from service.
Mr Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the RAF received notification from any other national agency of the flight path of the Russian Blackjack bombers intercepted on 10 March 2010. 
Nick Harvey: The detection and identification of aircraft within the NATO Air Policing Area for which the UK is responsible is carried out by the Royal Air Force Air Surveillance and Control System. The system draws on data from a range of RAF and Royal Navy assets as well as from the civilian Air Traffic Control centres and from those NATO allies with responsibility for adjacent Air Policing Areas.
Mr Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions (a) RAF Typhoons and (b) RAF Tornados have been deployed over Scotland in a Quick Reaction Alert capacity in the last 12 months. 
Nick Harvey: In the last 12 months, from 1 June 2009, RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) aircraft were launched on 15 separate days. Not every launch resulted in an interception, as some incidents were resolved before this occurred.
For the requested period no aircraft was intercepted or escorted over Scotland. QRA aircraft were launched for Russian Military aircraft in the NATO Air Policing Area for which the UK has responsibility, but they remained in international airspace at all times.
Mr Bellingham: We are working closely with the Government of Anguilla as they prepare their 2010 budget to be implemented by the end of June, and a three year plan to return public finances to sustainability.
Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment he has made of the economic stability of (a) Anguilla and (b) the Turks and Caicos Islands. 
Mr Bellingham: The downturn in the global economy has had a severe impact in both Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI). Public finances have also suffered as both territories have relied heavily on tourism and construction for a large part of their revenue base. Between 2008 and 2009 Government revenues fell by 28% in Anguilla and by around 33% in the TCI. This sharp downturn in Government revenues has put pressure on public finances and-as in other jurisdictions-there has been a need to reduce public expenditure. The Governments of the TCI and Anguilla are aware of the need to take action to put their public finances on a sustainable footing. We are working closely with both to address these challenges, including funding revenue studies in both Territories, and an expenditure study in Anguilla.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to monitor the economic and financial position of the Overseas Territories. Officials from the FCO and the Department for International Development undertook a joint mission to the TCI in May to assess the situation. The FCO will send a similar mission to Anguilla in June.
Chris Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has made a recent assessment of threats to biodiversity in (a) the Falkland Islands, (b) Ascension Island, (c) the British Indian Ocean Territory and (d) British Antarctic. 
Mr Bellingham: Responsibility for environmental issues in the Falkland Islands and Ascension Island has been devolved to their respective territory governments, who assess and evaluate their own biodiversity priorities.
In the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), the BIOT Commissioner's scientific/environmental adviser travels to the territory annually and reports on environmental issues there, including threats to biodiversity if appropriate. In February 2010, a scientific expedition team travelled with him to undertake environmental monitoring for improved conservation management. This was funded by the Overseas Territories Environment Programme.
The threats to biodiversity in the Antarctic were addressed in the comprehensive Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research report on "Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment" published in November 2009. Several of the lead authors and editors were from the British Antarctic Survey.
Mr Bellingham: The Government takes the protection of human rights very seriously. We will ensure that all new Overseas Territory constitutions contain a Bill of Rights, including a non-discrimination clause that reflects at a minimum the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Mr Jeremy Browne: The human rights situation in Colombia is of significant concern. High levels of poverty and inequality, and the continued internal conflict fuelled by the cocaine trade, continue to undermine respect for human rights. Human rights defenders, including civil society activists, lawyers, trade unionists, journalists and religious leaders continue to suffer frequent violence and intimidation. We receive regular reports about human rights abuses committed by state security forces, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), illegal armed groups and criminal gangs. The high level of impunity exacerbates the problem.
The UK will continue to raise concerns with the Colombian government at a senior level and give support to those who are affected by the violence. We will also work with our EU and other international partners to ensure that human rights is core to the new government's policies when it is elected later this month. And in practical terms, subject to the review of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office programme budgets, we will continue to support projects on the ground that help improve human rights.
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