25 Oct 2013 : Column WA203

25 Oct 2013 : Column WA203

Written Answers

Friday 25 October 2013

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Questions

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Ministry of Defence has established a Royal Naval study team to establish the best way of using satellites, drones, passive sonar, helicopters and ships to fill or improve on the cover historically provided by large fixed-wing land-based aircraft.[HL2639]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The Ministry of Defence (MOD) has not established a Royal Navy study team for this purpose. However both Navy Command and Joint Forces Command are undertaking work studies to consider the use of small, medium and large manned platforms, hybrid air vehicles, unmanned aircraft systems and space assets to inform resource decisions ahead of and as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review planned for 2015. MOD is also planning to explore how rotary wing UAS might be used to fill a range of maritime roles when operating from a frigate or destroyer-sized vessel.

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much work has been undertaken to utilise further Merlin ASW helicopters in the north-west approaches and the Greenland, Iceland and United Kingdom gaps partly filling the loss of cover historically provided by large fixed-wing land-based aircraft.[HL2641]

Lord Astor of Hever: The Royal Navy has a contingent ASW Merlin capability in the UK to react to any requirement to operate in the North Atlantic. Work is underway to incorporate Nimrod MRA4 ASW technology in the Merlin Mk2. Once completed, the ASW Merlin will be better placed to provide further mitigation for the loss of the UK Maritime Patrol Aircraft programme. A number of assets such as Type 23 Frigates, C-130 Hercules and support from allies are also used to supply this capability.

Drones

Question

Asked by Lord West of Spithead

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there are any plans for the Royal Navy to own and use shore- or sea-based drones for wide area ocean surveillance.[HL2640]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): No decision has been made on whether the Royal Navy should own and use shore- or sea-based drones for wide area ocean surveillance. However, Navy Command is

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developing a Maritime Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) Strategy paper describing the requirement to 2050. The Navy is also working with UK industry to establish whether operational unmanned systems can provide maritime surveillance from ships including from the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier as part of the UAS Strategy.

Government Departments: Expenditure

Questions

Asked by Lord Davies of Stamford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the total expenditure of the Ministry of Defence in the current financial year (1) on current items, and (2) on capital items.[HL2620]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Astor of Hever) (Con): The Ministry of Defence's current estimate of spending on both current items and capital items in Financial Year 2013-14 was published in the Department's Main Estimates in April 2013. The Department will publish an update on our in-year financial position for 2013-14 in the Supplementary Estimates. We currently expect this to be during February 2014.

Asked by Lord Davies of Stamford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether there have been negotiations between the Ministry of Defence and HM Treasury with a view to securing an exemption for the Ministry of Defence from the normal Treasury rules on departmental spending; and, if so, what has been the result.[HL2623]

Lord Astor of Hever: The Treasury has agreed to exceptional budget flexibility for the Ministry of Defence; and has agreed that the full amount of the underspend against the core budget in 2012-13 can be carried forward to subsequent years.

Government Departments: Procurement

Question

Asked by Lord Methuen

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Treasury Solicitor's Office is paying its small suppliers within the time recommended by Government guidelines; and, if not, why not.[HL2619]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): The Treasury Solicitor's Department (TSo1) has made a commitment to pay all suppliers promptly and within 30 days. Over the past three years 85% to 90% of supplier invoices and fee notes were paid within this time frame.

The TSo1 systems do not capture information on the circumstances that result in payment after 30 days. However, over 50% of payments relate to fee notes received from barrister's chambers. These detail the work completed, the agreed hourly rate and any additional charges such as travel. The amount on a fee note is considered negotiable and where negotiations take place payment can take more than 30 days.

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Railways: Luggage Space

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Kramer on 21 October (WA 136), whether either of the current franchises have been consulted about the design of seating and luggage space on the new Intercity Express Trains.[HL2824]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): First Great Western and East Coast have been, and continue to be, heavily involved in the design of all aspects of the IEP design.

Railways: Signalling

Question

Asked by Lord Truscott

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what costs in terms of signalling will be required to permit classic compatible trains to run north of Lichfield to Glasgow and Edinburgh.[HL2722]

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The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Kramer) (LD): The HS2 Phase 1 cost estimate includes an allowance of circa £15m for signalling works to permit classic compatible trains to run north of Lichfield.

Social Mobility

Question

Asked by Baroness Scotland of Asthal

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their commitment to encourage social mobility.[HL2746]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): Improving social mobility is the principal goal of this Government’s social policy, which is why we have introduced policies such as early education for two year-olds from lower income families, the Pupil Premium, which will be worth £2.5 billion by 2014-15, and the £1bn Youth Contract to help young people who require extra help to get learning or earning. We have also created the Social Mobility Business Compact which has the specific goal of making sure that all young people have fair and open access to employment opportunities.