19. Mr. Paice:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his assessment is of the threat to the UK and the rest of Europe from ballistic missiles. 
22. Mr. Flynn:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the perceived threat of attack on the United Kingdom by states with rogue Governments. 
We assess that there is currently no significant ballistic missile threat, nor any other significant threat of attack, on the United Kingdom at present. We do, however, continue to monitor developments closely. It is not for the UK to make such assessments in respect of other countries.
30. Mr. Clappison:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his Russian counterparts about ballistic missile defence. 
I last met my Russian counterpart on 7 December 2000 and discussed a range of issues, including missile defence.
Armed Forces (Retention)
21. Ms Keeble:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the steps being taken to improve retention in the armed forces. 
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the steps taken to improve retention in the armed forces. 
Armed Forces retention is being tackled as a high priority. Our aim is to maintain good levels of retention through policies that genuinely reflect the priorities of our people and their families.
Internal attitude surveys tell us that separation is a factor in both the retention and overstretch of our personnel. We have sought to mitigate the impact of overstretch upon service personnel and to make improvements to the welfare of those who are deployed on operations. For example, we have provided a guaranteed period of post operational tour leave for those returning from operations and wider access to e-mail facilities for personnel to remain in contact with their families.
In addition to these measures a number of single service retention positive initiatives have been or are being introduced.
36. Mr. Gardiner:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to improve (a) morale and (b) retention in the armed forces. 
High morale is a vital factor in retaining personnel which in turn improves manning levels, reduces overstretch and helps to obtain the optimum return on investment in training. Our aim is to maintain excellent
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levels of retention and morale through implementing policies that reflect the priorities of our people and their families.
Internal attitude surveys tell us that separation is a negative factor in the morale and retention of our personnel. We have sought to mitigate the impact that separation has on our people by introducing a number of welfare initiatives, for example:
A guaranteed period of Post Operational tour leave to enable Service men and women to spend some quality time with their families following an operational deployment;
20 minutes free telephone call time per week for personnel who are deployed on operations;
a greater spread of e-mail facilities to maintain family communications including electronic "blueys".
Recent enhancements to the families' Concessionary travel scheme give the families of personnel deployed on operations from an overseas base a wider range of choice when planning their return to the UK.
In addition to these measures, a number of single Service retention positive initiatives have or are being introduced; for example: the creation in each Service of easily accessible Career Managers for all ranks; Financial Retention Incentives have been introduced to stop the outflow of Leading Rate Operator Mechanics and Royal Signallers in the Navy and Army respectively; and the RAF has introduced the "Link-up" scheme to fund Civilian Pilots licences in return for longer service.
23. Ms Squire:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next plans to visit Sierra Leone; and if he will make a statement. 
I returned on 31 January from a short visit to Sierra Leone, and as yet I do not have further plans to visit.
I was able to see for myself the impressive work of the UK armed forces in training the Sierra Leone Army. It was clear to me that we are making a real difference in enhancing the capability and confidence of the Sierra Leone Army battalions that have been trained.
Army (Front-line Equipment)
24. Mr. Jim Cunningham:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to enhance front-line equipment for the Army. 
I refer my hon Friend to the answer I gave earlier today to my right hon. Friend the Member for Alyn and Deeside (Mr. Jones).
Army Support (Bosnia and Kosovo)
25. Mr. Edwards:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the role of the reserve forces in supporting the regular Army in Bosnia and Kosovo. 
We value the significant contribution which members of the reserve forces continue to make to operations in the Balkans. Reservists bring a wide range of specialist skills to the regular units they support in the combat, combat support and combat service support areas.
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The reserves have consistently provided between 10 and 14 per cent. of the manpower for the UK's contribution to NATO operations in the former Yugoslavia since operations commenced in 1995. Currently, reservists represent about 10 per cent. of our forces in Bosnia and Kosovo.
26. Mr. Blunt:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what savings his Department expects to realise from the Smart Procurement programme. 
Over the three successive annual planning rounds since the inception of the Smart Procurement Initiative, we have identified cost reductions attributable to Smart Procurement which total £2 billion over the ten-year period 1998 to 2008.
We expect to improve on this in the current and future planning rounds.
32. Ms Rosie Winterton:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many jobs have been created as a result of procurement decisions announced since May 1997. 
33. Helen Jones:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many jobs he estimates have been (a) created and (b) sustained as a result of procurement decisions announced since May 1997. 
Over 60,000 new contracts are placed each year and the Ministry of Defence does not record the number of jobs created or sustained as a result of each individual procurement decision. However, it is estimated that the number of UK jobs dependent on defence expenditure and equipment exports was 355,000 in 1997-98 and 345,000 in 1998-99.
These figures are drawn from the Defence Analytical Service Agency report on UK Defence Statistics 2000, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.
28. Mr. Bercow:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to meet the US Defence Secretary to discuss defence co-operation. 
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Members for Chipping Barnet (Sir S. Chapman) and for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson).
38. Mr. Gerald Howarth:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to meet the new United States Secretary for Defence to discuss the European rapid reaction force. 
There is no standing European Rapid Reaction Force. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Members for Chipping Barnet (Sir S. Chapman) and for Eastbourne (Mr. Waterson), Official Report, 12 February 2001, columns 1-3.
29. Mr. Simon Thomas:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is regarding the transfer of Royal Air Force equipment to new DERA following privatisation. 
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I refer the hon. Member to the announcement I made in the House on 24 July 2000, Official Report, columns 777-89, about our decision to proceed with the implementation of the Core Competence model for the DERA public-private partnership. Under Core Competence, around three-quarters of the current DERA organisation will be turned into a company, referred to as new DERA. For strategic reasons, the remainder will be retained within the Ministry of Defence to carry out functions that could not appropriately be transferred to the private sector.
At the present time no firm decision has been made as to exactly which assets currently held by DERA will be transferred to the new company. If, however, the equipment is RAF owned and on loan to DERA then it will retain that status and be issued to the new company under normal contractual arrangements.