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Thermobaric Weapons

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research into thermobaric weapons is being carried out by the Defence Research and Evaluation Agency at Fort Halstead. [145526]

Dr. Moonie: We are conducting research into new types of explosives. It would be irresponsible not to keep developments in this field under review, not least to develop protective measures for our own personnel.

As to the location and precise nature of that research, I am withholding information under Exemption 1 of Code of Practice on access to Government information.

Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date his Department first considered investigating whether to add thermobaric weapons to the British inventory. [145528]

Dr. Moonie: We are constantly conducting research into new types of explosives and have done so for many years. It would be irresponsible not to keep developments in this field under review, not least to develop protective measures for our own personnel.

On 23 August 2000, we issued a contracts bulletin asking industry to consider how best to provide an anti- structure weapon for the infantry in the urban environment. We acknowledged that this may involve using blast rather than fragmentation, but we have no specified how this capability is to be achieved.

DERA (Pollution)

Mr. Simon Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) who will take responsibility for pollution at DERA sites following DERA's privatisation; [144983]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence, with advice from specialist external consultants, is addressing the issues of liability and future responsibility in relation to

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all aspects of pollution. This work is on schedule to ensure that decisions are made on all pollution issues before the new company is vested.

The final decisions on the allocation of liabilities for any existing contamination will take into account the need to ensure that the arrangements will meet all relevant legislative requirements, as well as provide value for money to the taxpayer. Those elements of DERA which move into the private sector will be subject to the same legal obligations as any other private sector company.

Sierra Leone

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement regarding the presence, and length of stay, of British troops in Sierra Leone. [145269]

Mr. Hoon: British troops are in Sierra Leone to assist the democratically elected Government to establish effective and accountable armed forces. Our intention is to achieve this through a three-year programme by the UK-led International Military Advisory and Training Team (IMATT). This remains our ultimate aim, but the IMATT's work assumes a stable and permissive environment. Following the rebel attacks on UN peacekeepers in May 2000, this clearly was not the case. We have therefore deployed a series of Short Term Training Teams to supplement the IMATT. The future requirement for training, and the way ahead for the IMATT is kept under review.

Mr. Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the security situation in Sierra Leone. [144947]

Mr. Spellar: We welcome the ceasefire signed between the Government of Sierra Leone and the Revolutionary United Front, under the auspices of ECOWAS in Abuja on 10 November and welcome the subsequent decision by ECOWAS to deploy troops in the Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone border region. However, we are disappointed that the RUF have still not fulfilled the terms of the ceasefire agreement, in particular with regard to the return of UN equipment and freedom of movement throughout the country, and we look for evidence that they will do so. In the meantime, our training of the Sierra Leone army continues, and we remain committed to supporting the Government and people of Sierra Leone. We continue to support UNAMSIL and in particular its efforts to ensure the implementation of the ceasefire.

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Military Attaches

Mr. Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the breakdown of military attaches' time shown by the survey of attache output undertaken by his Department for the financial year 1999-2000. [144901]

Mr. Spellar: I refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave him on 27 November 2000, Official Report, column 429W and on 29 November 2000, Official Report, column 642W. The survey of attache output in 1999-2000 showed that the average percentage of an attaches' time devoted to promoting Defence Policy and related activities was 20 per cent., to furthering Bilateral Relations and the support of Wider British Interests was 36 per cent., and Defence Advice and Support to Other Government Departments/International Organisations/ Non Government Departments 33 per cent. The remaining 11 per cent. was, on average, devoted to supporting DESO.

Civilian Staff (Scotland)

Ms Roseanna Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Royal Navy, (b) Royal Marine, (c) Army, (d) RAF and (e) civilian personnel of his Department there are in Scotland. [145125]

Dr. Moonie: The latest data available are as follows:

Figures available for Civilian personnel employment levels are more recent than those for their Service counterparts. The Defence Analytical Services Agency is currently finalising figures for Service personnel for the year 2000. These will be available shortly and will be sent to you as soon as they are available.

Service Quarters (Scotland)

Mr. Swinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many married quarters are available to each service of the armed forces in Scotland, broken down by location; and how many are occupied by families. [145120]

Dr. Moonie: The Defence Housing Executive (DHE) allocates Service Families Accommodation (SFA) on entitlement on a Tri-Service basis. The following table shows the numbers of quarters in Scotland by location and occupancy. Smaller locations are included with the nearest major base. Details of the disposal programme are also noted.

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LocationPrimary serviceStock numbersOccupancyDisposal notes
EdinburghArmy76559792 in disposal
LeucharsRAF70649951 for demolition. Awaiting increased requirement
PerthArmy1614Steady state
Arbroath/DundeeRM/Army1689450 in disposal
RosythNavy1608492 in disposal
HelensburghNavy811353229 for disposal. 28 held for Short Term Families Accommodation Centre. Up to 150 unmodernised properties may be demolished
GlasgowArmy24718652 quarters in disposal
PrestwickNavy/RAF1178932 quarters to be reappropriated during 2001-02
BenbeculaArmy1131589 in disposal with Defence Estates
Saxa VordRAF8639Disposal linked to Station drawdown
KinlossRAF920713206 considered for disposal
LossiemouthRAF881672Awaiting increased requirement
BuchanRAF/Army197148Disposals linked to Station drawdown
InvernessArmy28020861 for disposal
ThursoNavy85Steady State

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Mr. Swinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many single accommodation places exist for each of the services in Scotland for (a) officers and (b) other ranks, broken down by location; and how many are occupied. [145121]

Dr. Moonie: The information requested is not readily available. I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.


Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assurances were given by the United States Government to Her Majesty's Government between 1980 and 1985 concerning plans to integrate the Strategic Defence Initiative of the United States with Fylingdales; and if he will make a statement. [145360]

Mr. Hoon: We are aware of no such plans or assurances.

Macrahanish Airport

Mr. Alasdair Morgan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what single bed accommodation there is at Macrahanish Airport; and how many married quarters there are. [145124]

Dr. Moonie: The former RAF Machrihanish has been passed to Defence Estates, which has responsibility for disposal of MOD surplus property. There are 172 single bedrooms within purpose built modern buildings and a further 121 spaces in older accommodation. In parallel with disposal action, MOD is currently considering whether there is any alternative military use for which the site might be suitable.

The former Married Quarters estate was sold in September 2000 and therefore no Service Families Accommodation remains in MOD hands.

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