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Heavy Sea Lift Capability

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which vessels will be used to provide a heavy sea lift capability for the armed forces after the ending of the chartering arrangements for RFAs Sea Crusader and Sea Centurion. [147762]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 21 December 2000, Official Report, column 254W.

RFA Sea Crusader is being re-chartered from 1 February 2001 to 1 March 2003.

Motor Vessel Dart 10 is being chartered from 8 March 2001 to 1 November 2002.

A third vessel has yet to be chartered to replace RFA Sea Centurion on 18 April 2001. This vessel cannot be named until contractual negotiations have been concluded.

Harpoon Missiles

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he plans for the Astute class submarine to be capable of launching submarine-launched Harpoon missiles; [147764]

Dr. Moonie: It has been assessed that, beyond 2003, our anti-surface ship capability needs can be met through the use of other platforms and weapons systems. These include air and surface launched Harpoon missiles. Under current plans we intend to withdraw the Royal Navy Sub-Harpoon from service 2003.

We are considering whether RN submarines should retain a capability to fire the new Harpoon Block 2 missile which has increased capability. On current plans the submarines of the Astute class will be capable of launching Harpoon missiles.

The precise mix of weapons and the chosen variants of each which the Astute class will carry is still under review. It will, however, carry the Spearfish torpedo which does have an anti-surface ship capability.

Armoured Vehicles

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will list the (a) original in-service date, (b) current in-service date, (c) estimated or actual cost, (d) years of peak expenditure and (e) prime contractor for the (i) Armoured Patrol Vehicle, (ii) third line weapons transportation vehicles, (iii) Mine Detection, Neutralisation and Route Marking System, (iv) M3 amphibious bridging, (v) Future Fuel Vehicle, (vi) Future Cargo Vehicle, (vii) Future Wheeled Recovery Vehicle, (viii) Armoured Heavy Wheeled Tractor System and (xi) Engineer Tanks (Trojan and Titan); [147776]

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

South Jason Island

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received relating to activities by HM armed forces and their effect on wildlife in South Jason Island. [147198]

Dr. Moonie: Although there has been some discussion locally on this subject, my right hon. Friend has received no representations relating to activities by HM armed forces on South Jason Island, and their effect on the wildlife there.

On Friday 12 January, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team from the British armed forces successfully disposed of a number of items of unexploded ordnance on South Jason Island, located on the north west coast of West Falkland, as part of a programme of clearing an aircraft crash site left over from the Falklands conflict. We have a legal obligation under the Ottawa Convention to remove such unexploded ordnance from the Falkland Islands, and these operations are carried out with every caution to personnel and the environment.

Despite precautions that were taken during the operation, a fire broke out on the island. A joint effort by the British armed forces and the Falkland Islands Fire Service extinguished the fire by the evening of Thursday 18 January, despite a strong, northerly, 40 knot wind which hampered fire-fighting efforts and caused the fire to spread quickly.

HQ British Forces Falkland Islands is currently conducting an investigation to establish how the fire started.

Advice from a conservation expert who has since visited the island is that the damage to the wildlife was significantly less than first reported. Only a small number of dead birds were found whose death can be directly linked to the fire. Therefore, although there has been some regrettable loss of wildlife, the conservationist assessed that this could in no way be classified as an environmental disaster.


Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans NATO has for clearing up battlefields in Kosovo [147197]

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Mr. Spellar: The primary responsibility for the clearing up in Kosovo is the civilian authority, which is currently the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The United Nations Mine Action Service (MAS) is responsible for the longer term task of fully clearing Kosovo of unexploded ordnance, and has established a UN Mine Action Co-ordination Centre (MACC) in Pristina to this end.

However, when KFOR deployed to Kosovo in June 1999, there was an immediate requirement to clear ordnance (both from Allies and Milosevic's security forces) that would have posed a hazard to peacekeeping forces. British service personnel were engaged in this activity. KFOR also took on the immediate task of making schools safe for the returning population of Kosovo prior to the UN establishing its own clearance programme. The NATO Secretary General's report "Kosovo One Year On--Achievement and Challenge" published on 21 March 2000, explained that KFOR soldiers and the international community have cleared unexploded ordnance and mines from some 16,000 homes, 1,165 schools and almost 2,000 kilometres of roads.

KFOR troops continue to provide mine disposal assistance to UN when requested, to make areas safe for the return of displaced persons.

Departmental Underspends

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) for what reason there were underspends in (a) subsections G2 and G3 of the 2 Sea Lord Account, (b) subsection H2 of the Adjutant General Account, (c) subsections 12 and 13 of the RAF Officer Commanding-in-Chief RAF Personnel and Training Command, (d) subsections J2 and J4 of the Second Permanent Under Secretary of State Account, (e) subsection K2 of the Defence Permanent Agency Account, (f) subsection L2 of the Defence Systems Procurement Accounts and (g) subsections R2 and R4 of the 2 Permanent Under-Secretary of State Account; [147766]

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Mr. Hoon: The information requested is not held centrally and so the Budget Holders concerned will need to be consulted. I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.


Hinduja Brothers

Mr. Baker: To ask the Prime Minister on what date (a) discussions first took place between a Minister and the Hinduja brothers, (b) correspondence was sent by a Minister and (c) correspondence was received by a Minister concerning the possible sponsoring of the Faith Zone in the Millennium Dome by the Hinduja brothers; and if he will make a statement. [147176]

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Prime Minister by what date he has asked Sir Anthony Hammond to (a) commence his inquiry, (b) complete his inquiry and (c) submit his report to the Government. [147718]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 25 January 2001]: Sir Anthony Hammond QC began his review on 25 January. His aim is to complete the work and to submit his report as quickly as possible, consistent with the need to conduct a thorough investigation. I understand that on the information currently available to Sir Anthony, he would hope to complete the review by the end of February.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what the powers and terms of reference are of the inquiry by Sir Anthony Hammond which he announced on 24 January; [147716]

The Prime Minister: The terms of reference of Sir Anthony Hammond QC's review, which I announced on Wednesday 24 January, were:

Sir Anthony has no special powers. It is for him to decide how he carries out the review, what papers and files he needs to see to carry out his review and to whom he needs to speak. The Government will provide all the access that he needs.

Mr. Chope: To ask the Prime Minister if he will ensure that the notes of the meeting of 6 October 1998 between the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Mr. S. P. Hinduja and Mr. G. P. Hinduja are placed in the Library and made available to the inquiry he announced on 24 January. [147818]

The Prime Minister: All relevant papers will be made available to the inquiry being conducted by Sir Anthony Hammond QC including, if he wishes, the note of the meeting on 6 October 1998. The extent to which he discloses the content of papers will be a matter for him to

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decide. Subject to that, it is not the normal practice of Government to release details of meetings with private individuals or companies.

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