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Soldier Deaths (Northern Ireland)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the dates since 1974 on which soldiers of the Ulster Defence Regiment and Royal Irish Regiment have died during training exercises indicating (a) where the death took place, (b) at which barracks those officers were stationed in Northern Ireland, (c) whether the soldiers had, during their military career, been seconded for special duties or on assignment to other regiments and (d) who was responsible for the investigation of the cause of death and what were their findings. [142334]

Mr. Spellar: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 17 July 2000, Official Report, column 14W. Since my reply of 17 July, the Training Accident Investigation Team based in Netheravon has completed its investigation into the incident and have forwarded their evidence to the Forensic Science Service for further analysis. Their findings will be passed to the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police, who will issue the final report into the incident.

Ministerial Travel

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list, for each year since 1995, the number of flights, including helicopter flights, taken by Ministers within his Department for UK and overseas visits; on how many occasions (a) charter flights were used and (b) first and club class tickets obtained; and who accompanied the Ministers on each trip. [143858]

Dr. Moonie: Ministers are under a duty to make efficient and cost-effective travel arrangements. This Government have given a commitment to publish an annual list of visits overseas by Cabinet Ministers costing more than £500 as well as an annual figure on spend by all Ministers on overseas visits. The list for 1999-2000 was published on 28 July 2000, Official Report, column 969W.

Detailed information in the format requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

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Patriot Missile

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has discussed with the United States Government the possibility of the United Kingdom procuring the Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missile. [143344]

Dr. Moonie: No.

Merlin Helicopter

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the recent loss of a Merlin production helicopter. [143331]

Mr. Spellar: On the morning of 27 October, a Royal Naval Merlin helicopter was forced to ditch in the sea off the cost of Scotland. None of the crew sustained any serious injuries. A formal accident investigation is under way and a Royal Navy Board of Inquiry has been convened to look at the broader implications of the accident. Sufficient evidence exists to confirm that the cause of the accident was limited to the crashed aircraft. Preparatory work to enable a phased return to flying is in progress and Royal Naval Merlin helicopters may be expected to resume limited flying this week.

Naval Carriers

Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence by what date he will take a decision on whether the Royal Navy's two new carriers will be built to carry (a) short take-off and vertical landing or (b) catapult take off and assisted landing aircraft. [143353]

Dr. Moonie: Assessment work to investigate design options for the Royal Navy's future aircraft carriers is on-going. A decision on whether the vessels will be built to carry short take-off and vertical landing or catapult take-off and landing aircraft will depend largely on the selection of the future carrier-borne aircraft. A decision on the demonstration and manufacture of the carriers is expected in December 2003.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the status is of the charter agreements for RFAs Sea Crusader and Sea Centurion; and if he expects to renew these agreements. [143033]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 15 December 2000]: The current contracts for Sea Crusader and Sea Centurion run out in January and April 2001 respectively.

However, in order to provide a continuing joint rapid reaction force (JRRF) deployment capability, the Ministry of Defence is seeking to charter three roll on/roll off vessels which come into service from September 2002 onwards. The MOD has received a number of tenders for the provisional service and a decision will be made in the new year on which three vessels will be taken up, once full technical and commercial evaluations have been completed.

Modernising Government White Paper

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much, for each financial year from 1998-99 until the latest date for which sums have been allocated, his

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Department has spent and expects to spend on the implementation of the Modernising Government White Paper. [143694]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given earlier today by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office, Official Report, columns 245-46W.

Sunday People

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many legal proceedings he is pursuing against newspapers, in addition to that concerning the Sunday People newspaper, in order to prevent publication of information about the force research unit. [143187]

Mr. Hoon: In addition to the action against the Sunday People, legal proceedings are extant against one other newspaper, The Sunday Times, although no action has been taken since I obtained an order in December 1999 preventing the publication of certain information about the force research unit which would put lives at risk or damage national security.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Treasury Solicitor hours were spent in respect of each of the five recent court hearings involving his Department and Mirror Group newspapers and at what cost; on how many occasions a solicitor of the Treasury Solicitor's Department was employed to deliver material by hand to the editor of the Sunday People and at what cost; and how many staff hours employees of his Department have spent in these actions and at what cost. [143188]

Mr. Hoon: Staff in the Treasury Solicitor's Department have spent a total of some 200 hours on work relating to all five recent court hearings involving the Ministry of Defence and Mirror Group Newspapers, at a total cost of approximately £16,700. Information as to the amount of time spent on each court hearing is not currently available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. A solicitor of the Treasury Solicitor's Department delivered court orders to the editor of the Sunday People personally on two occasions, at a total cost of £318.

Records of staff hours spent by MOD employees, including internal legal advisers, and their costs, or individual cases, are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

WALES

Ministerial Travel

Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many flights including helicopter flights were taken by Ministers within his Department for UK and overseas visits in each year since 1995; on how many occasions (a) charter flights were used and (b) first and club class tickets obtained; and who accompanied the Ministers on each trip. [143860]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Ministers are under a duty to make efficient and cost-effective travel arrangements. This Government have given a commitment to publish an annual list of visits overseas by Cabinet Ministers costing more

21 Dec 2000 : Column: 256W

than £500 as well as an annual figure on spending by all ministers on overseas visits. The list for 1999-2000 was published 28 July 2000, Official Report, column 969W.

Detailed information in the form requested is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Military Intelligence

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made in identifying the source of military intelligence documents found in August in Clough, County Down; and how many people have been charged and convicted as a result of this raid. [142323]

Mr. Ingram: The documents in question were photocopies in very poor condition of what are believed to have been montages produced by the military in the mid-1970s. Relevant records are not available for this period and therefore the origins cannot be definitely ascertained. One person was arrested and two persons interviewed in relation to this discovery. However, insufficient evidence was available upon which to sustain charges.

RUC Discipline

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many police personnel were questioned in the investigation of complaints made by Mr. Bernard Griffin; if he will list the issues of fact established in the criminal court; and how many disciplinary cases are pending; [142325]

Mr. Ingram: There is to be a judicial review associated with this case and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment at this time.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what representations he received (a) in mitigation of the offences of and (b) seeking early release for Darren James Neill, Michael Magowan, Andrew Timothy Lea and Matthew Shane Butcher. [142327]

Mr. Ingram: I have received no representations in mitigation of the offences of these four individuals or seeking the early release of Darren James Neill and Michael Magowan. Andrew Timothy Lea and Matthew Shane Butcher did not receive a custodial sentence for their offence but were each fined £1,000.

21 Dec 2000 : Column: 257W

One representation was received from a Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly in relation to Mr. Neill, asking that everything possible be done to protect the prisoner from threats and abuse from other prisoners. As Mr. Neill and Mr. Magowan were not convicted for a qualifying offence under the terms of the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998, they do not qualify for early release under the Good Friday Agreement.


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