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19 Mar 1997 : Column WA63

Written Answers

Wednesday, 19th March 1997.

US Ballistic Missile Defence: Deployment

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to allow United States forces in the United Kingdom or in United Kingdom dependencies to deploy ballistic missile defences intended to protect US forces while not protecting the adjacent civil population or property, and, if so, how control would be exercised.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): We are not aware of any intention by the United States to deploy ballistic missile defence in the United Kingdom or in the United Kingdom's dependent territories.

A.90 Road Conversion Plan

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they still expect to start converting the stretch of the A.90, formerly the A.92, between Balmedie and Tipperty in Aberdeenshire to dual carriageway between April 1997 and March 1999.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): No. Consideration of the scope for resolution of objections to the draft road orders for the scheme will, however, continue.

Defence Estate Organisation

Viscount Davidson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the future of the Defence Estate Organisation.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): The Defence Estate Organisation will launch as a defence agency of the Ministry of Defence on 18 March 1997. The Agency will be responsible for assisting MoD in managing the optimum estate of land, buildings and installations to meet the operating needs of the department. While the management of the estate will remain the responsibility of the occupying MoD budget holder, the DEO plays a vital role in: supporting budget holders estate staff; improving MoD's stewardship of the estate; ensuring MoD receives best value for money for estate services, property management and new works procurement; acting as MoD's centre of estate expertise; and maintaining a strategic overview of the defence estate.

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The DEO agency has about 1,400 staff in offices throughout the UK and abroad. The DEO's new headquarters will be at Sutton Coldfield.

The DEO's chief executive, Mr. Brian Hirst, is a widely experienced chartered surveyor recruited from the private sector, who has considerable public sector experience. He has been set the following key targets to be achieved by March 1998, by the end of DEO's first full year of operation. 1. Strategic Overview:

    (a) To develop the information systems infrastructure necessary to support a strategic overview of the Defence Estate by March 1998.

    (b) To develop a series of output-based targets for strategic overview. 2. To complete 30-35 establishment development plans across the Defence Estate in FY 97-98. 3. To achieve 90 per cent. of total disposals' receipts within year against the 1997-1998 target. 4. To meet the following contracts targets:

    (a) To complete 75 per cent. of construction contracts within one month of the contracted completion date.

    (b) To complete 90 per cent. of construction contracts within three months of the contracted completion date.

    (c) To have less than 10 per cent. average variation on financially complete construction contracts. 5. To meet the following efficiency targets:

    (a) To achieve a reduction in operating costs of 25 per cent. compared with the 1996-97 outturn.

    (b) To develop a volume measure for all of DEO's business, baseline it and propose targets for subsequent years. 6. To complete the rural defence estate maintenance CFQ scoping and feasibility studies by end of March 1997 and to complete a CFQ scoping study for the whole of the DEO by December 1997. 7. To develop a mechanism for measuring customer satisfaction, establish a base-line by September 1997 and propose targets for subsequent years. 8. To put in place an integrated compliance audit and effectiveness review system for projects by March 1998. I have arranged for copies of the agency's framework document and corporate plan to be placed in the Library of both Houses.

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Army Training Land

Lord Lyell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current requirement for Army training land in the United Kingdom and what arrangements there are for the sterwardship of such land.

Earl Howe: We have today published a document Striking a Balance '97, the second report on the management of the major Army training areas, following the original Striking a Balance, published in October 1995. The new document describes the work going on in a number of areas to ensure that the land on which the Army trains is managed with as much sensitivity as possible to the requirements of local people. The document also reports on the work we have done to analyse the Army's requirement for training land in the United Kingdom. This work shows that, following the return to this country of many units from Germany, and the introduction of new systems, the Army has a significant shortfall in training land in the UK. The report also shows a number of ways in which this shortfall can be reduced including by development of existing facilities and, in particular, the proposed development of Otterburn.

A copy of Striking a Balance '97 has been placed in the Library of the House.

Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons

The Viscount of Oxfuird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the use of the RAF's reserve personnel.

Earl Howe: I am delighted to announce that three new Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadrons are to be formed. An Air Transportable Surgical Squadron will form at Royal Air Force Leuchars on 1 April 1997, with an establishment of 71 reservist personnel. Two training and standardisation squadrons are also to be formed. The first at Royal Air Force Halton also on 1 April 1997 with an establishment of 21 personnel and the second at Royal Air Force Shawbury on 1 June 1997 with an establishment of nine. In addition, the establishment of No 4624 (County of Oxford) Movements Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force based at Royal Air Force Brize Norton will increase by 69 posts from 1 April 1997. From the same date, the establishment of the Inspectorate Royal Auxiliary Air Force also at Royal Air Force Brize Norton will increase from two posts to four. The new role support squadron concept, which my honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces announced last year with the formation of the Helicopter Support Squadron, is developing in an encouraging way.

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Government Business: Conduct Guidance

Lord Harris of Greenwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What instructions have been given by the Head of the Civil Service to the service about its professional relationship with Ministers until 1 May 1997.

Earl Howe: Guidance on the conduct of government business once an election is announced was issued to Departments on 17 March. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

Remploy: Performance Targets

Baroness Carnegy of Lour asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What targets Remploy has been set in its 1997-98 annual performance agreement.

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Lord Henley): I have written to the chairman of Remploy approving the 1997-98 annual performance agreement between the department and the company. This agreement covers the year from 1 April 1997. It has been negotiated by the chief executive of the Employment Service on behalf of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment. The targets are:

    --the average number of disabled people employed by Remploy Ltd. will be at least 9,800;

    --the average number of disabled people employed under the Interwork scheme will be at least 3,000;

    --at least 200 disabled employees will move from Remploy factories to Interwork, having been employed there for at least one year, or from Interwork or factories to open employment;

    --Remploy Ltd. will keep within a total unit cost target (operating deficit per disabled worker) of £10,000;

    --the unit cost of Interwork should be no more than £4,400;

    --Remploy Ltd. will keep within an operating deficit of £99 million (including reorganisation costs). The text of the annual performance agreement has been placed in the Library.

Abnormal Loads: Notifications to Highway Authorities

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the total number of bridge and highway authorities which abnormal load operators may be obliged to notify under the Authorisation of Special Types General Order as at (a) 1 March 1987 and (b) 1 March 1997.

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): Abnormal load operators are obliged to notify bridge and highways authorities when the weight of their vehicles and load exceeds those permitted for conventional vehicles by the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations.

The total number of authorities for England, Wales and Scotland are set out in the table below.

Roads Authorities Rail and Canal Bridge Authorities
1 March 19871 March 19971 March 19871 March 1997

The table shows the total of trunk road, motorway and local road authorities.

Rail and canal bridge authorities includes Railtrack and Babtie (representing British Rail Property Board's disused rail lines) for the railway network and British Waterways Board (BWB).

These figures do not include certain bridges which are not the direct responsibility of a highway authority such as the Dartford Crossing (QE2 Bridge), Severn Bridge(s), Humber Bridge and Haven Bridge (Gt. Yarmouth) and London Underground and Mersey Tunnels.

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