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Haslar Hospital

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors underlay his Department's decision to relocate the facilities at Haslar to Queen Alexandra, Southampton and Selly Oak hospitals; what the overall cost is of these changes; and if he will make a statement. [146604]

Dr. Moonie: The judgment was made in 1998 that the Royal Hospital Haslar would not remain viable as a stand-alone military hospital as it did not have the case mix and volume of patients to support the training accreditation required for Service medical personnel. Following an internal review the decision was taken to close Haslar and to open a MOD Hospital Unit at the Queen Alexandra hospital in order to retain a military medical presence in the Portsmouth area. In parallel, it was decided to establish a Centre for Defence Medicine (CDM) to provide a strong professional focus for Defence medicine. After competition, the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust, which embraces the Queen Elizabeth hospital and the Selly Oak hospital, was selected as our principal partner in the CDM, and as such, it will play an important part in the running of this important academic, teaching, and clinical centre. There are no plans to relocate any facilities from Haslar to Southampton.

It has been the practice of successive Governments to withhold detailed financial planning assumptions (under exemption 2 of the Code of Practice of Access to Government Information). In broad order terms, however, we estimate that over the next four years (our formal

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planning period) establishing and developing the Centre for Defence Medicine--including the move of Royal Defence Medical College functions--and preparing for the move from Haslar to Cosham will cost about £30 million in additional running costs and capital expenditure. It is not yet certain, however, whether all the capital expenditure will need to be incurred. The annual running costs of the Centre for Defence Medicine will be more than offset by the savings at Haslar and Royal Defence Medical College once the transition is complete.

Thermobaric Weapons

Mr. Horam: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research is being undertaken into thermobaric weapons at Fort Halstead; and if he will make a statement on the development of these weapons in the UK. [146626]

Dr. Moonie: I have nothing to add to the answers I gave to the hon. Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Fallon) on 15 January 2001, Official Report, column 44W.

Maritime Graves

Mr. Nicholls: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what external legal advice he is taking on measures available in international law to protect the sites of maritime graves; and if he will make a statement. [146442]

Dr. Moonie: From time to time my officials meet academics and other experts in international Maritime Law.

Most recently they have had discussions with Mr. Mike Williams, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Wolverhampton, Nick Gaskell, Professor of Maritime and Commercial Law, University of Southampton and Dr. Sarah Dromgoole, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Leicester. The international and domestic aspects of the protection of military remains and the law of salvage were discussed on both occasions.

These discussions form part of the wider consultation process that I referred to during the Adjournment Debate, on 1 November 2000, Official Report, columns 243-50WH.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) on 23 January 2001, Official Report, columns 535-36W.

Employment (Scotland)

Mr. Salmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of each of Her Majesty's Forces are stationed in Scotland; how many civilians are employed by his Department in Scotland; and what the projected figures are in each case for (a) 2001-02 and (b) 2002-03. [146173]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 22 January 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Perth (Ms Cunningham) on 15 January 2000, Official Report, column 46W.

The latest data available for civilian personnel levels indicate that as of 1 December 2000, the Ministry of Defence employed 9,464 personnel in Scotland.

Projected figures for service personnel are not available at this time. I shall write to the hon. Member with details of these projections as soon as they are available.

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The Ministry of Defence does not produce projected employment statistics for civilian personnel.


Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the circumstances surrounding an attack on Samawa, Iraq, on Saturday 20 January; how many people were killed; and what damage there was to buildings. [147182]

Mr. Hoon: On Saturday 20 January coalition aircraft conducting humanitarian patrols of the Iraqi no fly zones, were subjected to repeated attacks from Saddam Hussein's forces, including multiple attacks by surface-to- air missiles as well as anti-aircraft artillery. Faced with these immediate threats to their safety, coalition forces responded in self-defence against Iraq's Integrated Air Defence System.

We are aware of Iraqi claims that civilian facilities were hit and casualties caused by this action. While it is impossible categorically to disprove Iraqi allegations, painstaking battle damage assessment indicates that all weapons released hit their intended military targets, and that there was no damage to any Iraqi civilian facilities. Baghdad's claims, as ever, should be treated with the utmost caution. We know that Iraq systematically claims that military personnel injured or killed in such incidents are civilian. Iraq claims also that targets have been bombed when no weapons have been released.

Commercial Exploitation Levy

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the countries which are exempted from the commercial exploitation levy, indicating the reason in each case. [146069]

Dr. Moonie: There are no countries exempted from the payment of the Commercial Exploitation Levy, although there is a reciprocal arrangement in place with the US which allows, under certain circumstances, waiver of levy.

Sierra Leone

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the UK military personnel will play in the deployment of UNAMSIL peacekeepers to the RUF-controlled areas of Sierra Leone. [146481]

Mr. Hoon: There are currently 15 UK military personnel serving as observers with UNAMSIL, and seven serving as Staff Officers within the Headquarters of UNAMSIL including the Chief of Staff. It is a matter for the UN Force Commander to decide on their involvement in any UNAMSIL deployments, although ultimately, the Commander of the UK contingent may overrule a decision concerning the deployment of UK personnel, as may those of other countries over their nationals.

Medical Staff

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the non-availability of his Department's medical staff is reflected in the funds provided for medical support; on what basis staff in a medically downgraded category can participate in military operations; and if he will make a statement. [146601]

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Dr. Moonie: As a result of the Strategic Defence Review additional funds were allocated for medical equipment and medical personnel. Further funding has recently been made available over the current and next financial years specifically to provide expedited medical treatment to personnel in shortage categories so that they can be returned to deployability more quickly.

The deployment of personnel with medically downgraded categories on military operations is considered on a case-by-case basis. Personnel, with for example, conditions that can be controlled by medication or other intervention may be unable to undertake unrestricted operational military service, but may be suitable for duties in supporting roles.

Nuclear Weapons

Mr. Tony Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if Her Majesty's Government will forthwith cease to deploy the Trident weapons system on the basis that it is illegal. [147189]

Mr. Hoon: No. The Government remain confident that our entirely defensive minimum nuclear deterrent is consistent with international law.


Ethnic Minorities

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on what dates he has held minority ethnic press receptions; and which publications and programmes were represented. [146677]

Mr. Robin Cook [holding answer 23 January 2001]: I have not hosted a reception exclusively for the minority ethnic press. Representatives of the minority ethnic press are regularly invited to social events hosted by me and my Ministerial team.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the UK ethnic minority publications to which his Department subscribes, indicating the editors and producers he has consulted more than once in the last year. [146676]

Mr. Robin Cook [holding answer 23 January 2001]: This information will take some time to collate. I will write to my hon. Friend shortly and place copies of the letter in the Libraries of the House.

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