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Hercules Aircraft

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training exercises in Wiltshire involving Hercules aircraft have been cancelled or postponed this month; and for what reasons. [21032]

Mr. Soames: The tactical air landing element of Exercise Lanyard 3, scheduled to take place at Keevil, Wiltshire between 15 and 16 March, was cancelled as a key participating unit of 5 airborne brigade was placed on operational standby. Hercules aircraft from RAF Lyneham are, however, supporting the land element of the exercise with re-supply drops.

Warrant Officer Ray Bristow

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list each of the vaccinations given to Warrant Officer Ray Bristow, of the Royal Army Medical Corps, during his service in the Gulf conflict in 1991. [21140]

Mr. Soames: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Menwith Hill RAF Station

Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the agreements which will cover the United States military occupation of Menwith Hill station after 30 May; and if he will make a statement.[21185]

Mr. Soames: RAF Menwith Hill continues to be made available for the use of US visiting forces on the same basis as other RAF sites in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what branches of the United States military will continue to occupy Menwith Hill station after 30 May. [21184]

20 Mar 1997 : Column: 869

Mr. Soames: Personnel from all four branches of the US armed services--Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps--will continue to be based at RAF Menwith Hill.

Mr. Madden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what terms the United States army occupation of Menwith Hill station has been terminated. [21220]

Mr. Soames: The US army presence at RAF Menwith Hill has not been terminated, nor are there any plans for it to withdraw from the station.

Careers Information Offices

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the Army careers information office in Micklegate, York to close. [21111]

Mr. Soames: The Army careers information office at Micklegate, York was due to close in April 1996. However, the office, together with a number of others, was retained as part of an initiative to increase recruiting. There are currently no plans to close the York office.

Mr. Bayley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the locations of each (a) Royal Navy and (b) Royal Air force careers information office functioning in Yorkshire and Humberside since 1990, indicating the dates on which they were opened and of subsequent closures. [21110]

Mr. Soames: The information requested is set out in the tables.

Royal Navy

OfficeDate openedDate closed
Hull8 February 1967Still open
Leeds25 March 19581995 (Now opened as a tri-Service AFCO)
Sheffield1964Still open

Royal Air Force

OfficeDate openedDate closed
Bradford2 January 19591 December 1995
GrimsbyPre 1989 (date u/k)3 March 1995
Huddersfield23 March 196031 March 1995
Hull8 February 1967Still open
Leeds31 March 19501995 (Now opened as a tri-Service AFCO)
Sheffield26 December 1964Still open
York30 September 19718 May 1996

AFCO = Armed Forces Careers Office.


Navy and Air Force Manpower

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the shortfall at 1 March in the manpower strengths of (a) the Royal Navy and (b) the Royal Air Force. [21144]

Mr. Soames: The shortfall in manpower strength of the Royal Air Force on 1 March 1997 was 1,588 trained personnel. Manpower figures for the Royal Navy for 1 March are not yet available. As at 1 February 1997 the naval service, including Royal Marines, had shortages of 1,586 trained personnel.

20 Mar 1997 : Column: 870

NATO Enlargement

Mr. Gapes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of his study on the costs of NATO enlargement, "Lines to Draw On"; and if he will make a statement. [21349]

Mr. Soames: It is not clear to me to which particular document the hon. Member's question refers. The position on the study of the resource implications of NATO enlargement was set out in my answer to the hon. Member of 11 February, Official Report, columns 90-91.

Tri-service Resettlement Organisation

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the total amount paid to consultants for the tri-service resettlement organisation in the last two years; what firms have been employed to provide this consultancy advice; what is this year's budget for the tri-service resettlement organisation; how much of the organisation's New Oxford street headquarters is currently unoccupied; what is the annual rental cost for the New Oxford street site; and if he will make a statement. [21142]

Mr. Soames: Some £1.01 million--excluding VAT-- has been paid for consultancy advice to the tri-service resettlement organisation in the last two financial years: £0.658 million to Marshall Tanous plc for corporate marketing advice and services aimed at generating awareness of service leavers' potential amongst employers; and £0.353 million to the PA Consulting Group for assistance with the competing for quality initiative to improve the long-term value for money of resettlement services. Figures relating to the TSRO's annual budget are restricted pending the outcome of negotiations in the current tendering exercise associated with the CFQ study. The TSRO HQ, located in St. George's court, New Oxford street, is a building occupied by a number of MOD units. The TSRO currently occupies all its allocated space. The building is in the process of vacation by the Department and the TSRO will shortly be moving to alternative accommodation at St. Giles court. The rental cost of St. George's court is commercial-in-confidence, but is at low historic lease levels.

Payment of Bills

Mr. Betts: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of bills to his Department for the financial year 1995 to 1996 were paid (a) in accordance with agreed contractual conditions and (b) within 30 days of receiving goods and services or the presentation of a valid invoice where no contractual conditions applied. [21210]

Mr. Arbuthnot: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on 18 July 1996, Official Report, columns 613-14.

Contracts (American Companies)

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was (a) the total value and (b) the number of defence contracts placed with American companies in each of the last five years. [21143]

20 Mar 1997 : Column: 871

Mr. Arbuthnot: For the years 1994 and 1995, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 28 February 1996, Official Report, column 559. For the years 1992, 1993 and 1996, the total value and number of contracts placed where the work has been carried out in the USA is as follows:

NumberValue (£)
1992241136,947,249
199321189,071,488
1996180215,408,837

The figures for 1996 are not yet complete. Additions are made to the database for three months after the end of the year in question.

Retired Service Personnel

Mr. Byers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he has to change the level of support available for the after care of people who have retired from the armed services. [21311]

Mr. Soames: Those people who have left the armed forces and their dependants are eligible to receive the full range of services provided by the social security system, the national health service and local authorities. In addition, following representation from the ex-service community, the Government are considering a proposal to establish an ex-service affairs unit.

Skyship 600

Dr. David Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the current operational state of his Department's airship, Skyship 600; when this airship was first purchased; what was its original cost; for what reasons the airship ended operational use; and if he will make a statement. [21141]

Mr. Soames: The Department's Skyship 600 was purchased in June 1993 at a cost of approximately £2.6 million. An incident, which resulted in rupture of the envelope, occurred during a masting operation at the Defence Test and Evaluation Organisation site at Boscombe Down in May 1995 following a day's trial flying. The envelope has now been replaced and the airship recommenced trials flying in November 1996. It is planned to continue flying against the current programme until July 1997.


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