Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Morgan: I thank the Minister for that. However, we do not know the rate at which the shells deteriorate. Although he turned up his nose at the idea of 4.5 billion years, the problem will be with us for centuries, at least. Governments cannot bind their successors. Do we not have to deal with that problem?

Mr. Spellar: The hon. Gentleman should understand that a longer half-life for a radioactive substance indicates a lower level of radioactive dispersal. The dangerous stuff has a much shorter half-life, because it is dispersing radioactivity at a much higher rate. In fact, depleted uranium is 40 per cent. less radioactive than natural uranium, which, as I said, is found in the soil--on land and under the sea--throughout the world. This is a useful opportunity to bring that matter to the attention of the public and put it in an accurate context.

Our activities at Kirkcudbright have been characterised by considerable transparency. As the hon. Gentleman said, in 1995, an independent environmental assessment by the consultants W S Atkins, commissioned by the MOD, was released into the public domain. It concluded that there were no significant risks from exposure to DU released into the environment. Subsequently, those conclusions have been sustained and, from 1983 to date, the routine environmental monitoring programme has shown only very low levels of DU contamination, which are well below any level that could be considered a health hazard.

DERA has ensured that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Dumfries and Galloway council have both been informed of firing activities, and have also been provided with the annual environmental monitoring reports. DERA holds regular meetings with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and DERA

7 Feb 2001 : Column 1046

representatives have attended public meetings arranged by Dumfries and Galloway council to discuss the findings of the annual environmental monitoring report. Copies are also circulated to hon. Members and given to the Library.

On 15 January 2001, at a "community" meeting of Stewartry area committee, concern was apparently expressed in the public forum about recent press coverage of the firing of DU projectiles from the range at Kirkcudbright. A letter dated 23 January 2001 from the chief environmental officer to the Secretary of State requested a full report on the issue. We have had other representations from local residents. They will, of course, receive full replies. Meanwhile, however, I should like, through the hon. Gentleman, to provide that reassurance to the local population.

The fact is that, despite the recent media furore, no new evidence has emerged in the past month or so to change our assessment of the risks of DU or its effects on health or the environment. It is far more important for local residents to focus on the reassurance of our precautions, our monitoring of range workers and our environmental analysis of the impact of DU on the range and its environs. That material has been shared with them publicly for many years. The material shows that the risks of firing DU at Kirkcudbright are understood, monitored and managed, and that local residents, farmers and visitors to the ranges can be confident that it has a minimal impact on the range.

The risks, minimal as they are, have been acknowledged and handled throughout that period in accordance with the relevant statutory requirements, and our responsibilities to service and civilian personnel, as well as to the general public, are taken very seriously. That will continue, as our intention to conduct a new survey of the site clearly demonstrates.

The motion having been made at Ten o'clock, and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned at half-past Ten o'clock.

7 Feb 2001 : Column 1045

7 Feb 2001 : Column 1047

Deferred Divisions


The House divided: Ayes 329, Noes 7.

Division No. 108


Abbott, Ms Diane
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Bailey, Adrian
Baker, Norman
Ballard, Jackie
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Burden, Richard
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Davies, Rt Hon Ron (Caerphilly)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Fearn, Ronnie
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Christopher
Godman, Dr Norman A
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Greenway, John
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hancock, Mike
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Harris, Dr Evan
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoey, Kate
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Iddon, Dr Brian
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Mon)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
(B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon)
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Powell, Sir Raymond
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rapson, Syd
Raynsford, Nick
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Rendel, David
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Cov'try NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rogers, Allan
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tyler, Paul
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Woodward, Shaun
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek


Beggs, Roy
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Hunter, Andrew
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)

Question accordingly agreed to.

7 Feb 2001 : Column 1050

 IndexHome Page