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Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): We have been greatly encouraged by the response to the consultation on the future of the Defence Diversification Agency (DDA) and were particularly pleased by the many words of encouragement and support for the agency and its work. We continue to support a strong UK defence industry and recognise fully the significant role it plays in our wider industrial base. It was for these reasons that we set up the DDA with three key aims: to extend technology and expertise within the defence sector to civilian use; to foster partnerships and joint development programmes, recognising that the civil sector has much of potential benefit to defence; and to inform and assist the defence industry's own diversification planning.
We intend that the DDA should continue to be a highly effective technology broker and achieve its aims in support of our overall defence diversification strategy. We believe that, to do this successfully, the DDA must remain part of the defence community. But it cannot remain as part of the Defence Evaluation Research Agency (DERA) as now because of the planned public private partnership. MoD's strategy of putting an increasing proportion of its research work outside QinetiQ (as the new company will be known) and the Defence Scientific and Technology Laboratory (Dstl; the retained part of DERA) means that DDA would, in the longer term, be poorly placed if wholly located in either. There is also the need to ensure commercial confidentiality and fairness to all defence research suppliers.
We have decided to bring the DDA into the Ministry of Defence head office. Existing DDA technology development managers will be transferred in their current locations to QinetiQ and Dstl. This recognises that QinetiQ and Dstl will remain our major suppliers of defence research for some time and, importantly, this option commanded the highest level of support from the DDA staff themselves. It will also have the benefit of allowing us to retain DDA's existing regional structure, thus ensuring that the existing close links are maintained with both
Once we have experience of how the DDA will operate in practice under the new structure, we will proceed with determining the appropriate composition and terms of reference for the Defence Diversification Council.
Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Customs do prosecute operators of rebated gas oil laundering plants in Northern Ireland and in the last 12 months have successfully prosecuted three individuals.
In addition, Customs have been disrupting such operations to a greater extent than ever before. In 2000-01 they successfully broke up five times as many laundering plants as in 1999-2000.
Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:
The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): No decision has as yet been taken to amend the government indemnity scheme.
Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): I have today laid before Parliament an Order under Section 1 of the Damages Act 1996 setting the discount rate at 2.5 per cent. This rate will come into effect on 28 June 2001.
My reasons are set out in the document Section 1 of the Damages Act 1996: Reasons for Decision, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
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