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Written Answers

Wednesday, 8th July 1998.

Baltic States: Visit by Secretary of Statefor Defence

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Secretary of State for Defence postponed his visit to Latvia scheduled for November 1997 and sent the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in his place; and when the Secretary of State will visit the Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.[HL2511]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Her Majesty's Government attach great importance to stability and security in the Baltic states. The United Kingdom enjoys a warm defence relationship with Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Regrettably, it proved necessary for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to postpone his proposed visit to the Baltic states last November owing to pressing Strategic Defence Review business. In his absence, the visit of my honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State reinforced our commitment to developing our bilateral defence relationships and continuing our contributions to the co-ordinated multilateral defence projects. My right honourable friend hopes to visit the Baltic states when his schedule allows.

RAF Gibraltar

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 3 June (WA 32), whether they will list the annual cost incurred by the RAF in supporting the civil operations at RAF Gibraltar for each of the last five years.[HL2229]

Lord Gilbert: Because of the integrated nature of the operations at RAF Gibraltar it is not possible to separate the costs of civil and military operations. However, for the financial year 1997-98 the cost of operating RAF Gibraltar beyond the hours which would normally be required for RAF operations amounted to £940,000. In addition, the need to support civil air operations during normal operating hours imposes demands on air traffic control, fire services cover and security, which are estimated to cost in the region of £660,000 per annum. Figures for previous years are not available, but would be of the same order, less an allowance for inflation.

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Armed Forces: Recruitment of Ethnic Minority Personnel

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps are being taken to increase the entry of Asian and Afro-Caribbean British citizens to armed forces officer training courses.[HL2293]

Lord Gilbert: This Government are committed to ensuring that the composition of the Armed Forces better represents the make up of the society that they seek to defend. The recruitment of more ethnic minority personnel is, therefore, one of our highest priorities. The ethnic minority recruitment goals for the financial year 1998-99 underline the Armed Forces' commitment to make progress in this area. The initiatives we have underway are designed to encourage young people from ethnic backgrounds to consider a career in the Armed Forces irrespective of whether they wish to be officers or other ranks. The services, however, are aiming to encourage more young people from ethnic communities to take up bursaries and cadetships at universities.

Recent measures include two tri-service initiatives underway in the Boroughs of Newham and Sandwell. The Army has recently completed an ethnic minorities recruitment campaign in the Borough of Brent, the results of which are awaited. In addition, there are a number of other single service initiatives in place and all three services supplement their initiatives with targeted advertising, marketing activity, and attendance at local ethnic minority festivals and careers conventions. The overall aim is to encourage interest in the Armed Forces from the widest possible ethnic minority audience.

NATO Members: Defence Expenditure

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the proportion of gross domestic product devoted to defence in each NATO member state both in the year 1997-98 and in the year 1987-88.[HL2409]

Lord Gilbert: The information requested for calendar years 1997 and 1987 is as follows:

Defence expenditure as a percentage of GDP


The figures for 1997 are our latest estimates and are based on information drawn from NATO sources. Those for 1987 are as published in the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1988 (Cm344-I).

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Where possible, these percentages have been calculated against a common definition of defence spending so that true comparisons can be drawn. However, some anomalies and inconsistencies will remain.

For the UK, the defence budget in the financial year 1987-88 amounted to 4.4 per cent. of GDP and in 1997-98 it is estimated to amount to 2.7 per cent. of GDP.

Project Horizon

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made with regard to the proposed tri-national destroyer programme; when the memorandum of understanding was signed by the United Kingdom, France and Italy; and whether subsequent study suggests that this project is likely to be either economically sensible or operationally worth while.[HL2420]

Lord Gilbert: The programme memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the common new generation frigate (CNGF) Project HORIZON was signed by the United Kingdom, Italy and France in July 1994, with its supplement for project definition and initial design signed in March 1996. The programme MOU for the vessel's principal anti-air missile system (PAAMS) and the supplement covering its full-scale engineering development and initial production (FSED/IP) were also signed in March 1996.

The tri-national contract for PAAMS FSED/IP is scheduled to be placed later this year. Project definition studies on HORIZON are scheduled to be completed next year, with the next stage being the placement of the design and build contract for the nations' three first-of-class ships.

The Government remains committed to the CNGF programme as offering a value for money solution to the Royal Navy's operational requirement.

Holy Loch

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Ministry of Defence has received reports from the Edinburgh consultancy firm Environmental Resources Management on the environmental condition of Holy Loch; if so, whether they have published these reports; and, if not, whether they will do so.[HL2399]

Lord Gilbert: The Ministry of Defence received reports from Environmental Resources Management (ERM). They have not been published as such, but

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copies have been made available for public information at the offices of the local Argyll and Bute council and can be acquired directly from ERM. Copies will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

US Exercise Eligible Receiver

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have discussed the United States exercise, Eligible Receiver, with the United States authorities; and what are the implications of the findings from this exercise for the Strategic Defence Review.[HL2402]

Lord Gilbert: Ministers and officials were briefed on the 1997 US exercise Eligible Receiver on 19 March 1998. The findings of the exercise were taken into consideration as part of the Strategic Defence Review.

International Defence Exhibitions

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will hold an international arms fair in 1998; and, if so, where it will be held; what it will cost; and to whom invitations will be extended.[HL2536]

Lord Gilbert: Her Majesty's Government will not hold any international defence exhibitions in 1998. The Government will, however, participate in September 1998 in the Farnborough International Air Show, which is a commercial event organised and run by the Society of British Aerospace Companies. The responsibility for major defence exhibitions previously organised by the Ministry of Defence has recently been transferred to the private sector. I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given in another place by the Under-Secretary of State for Defence on 8 June 1998 (Official Report, Col. 423).

Multiple Launch Rocket System

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on a future rocket for the multiple launch rocket system.[HL2657]

Lord Gilbert: The United Kingdom intends to join the collaborative programme to develop a guided rocket for the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). This guided rocket will replace the current MLRS rocket, which begins to reach the end of its service life early next century. The new rocket will have a greater range and accuracy than current rockets.

Guided MLRS is expected to be developed collaboratively with the US, France, Germany, and Italy, our partners in the original, highly successful MLRS programme.

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