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Depleted Uranium

Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock), of 5 February 2001, Official Report, column 358W, what steps have been taken to recover the depleted uranium munitions test-fired into the Adriatic Sea. [149649]

Mr. Spellar: The Royal Navy uses depleted uranium (DU) in its Phalanx close-in weapon systems fitted to some ships for anti-missile and aircraft defence. Each round contains only a small quantity of DU. We know from our monitoring of substantial quantities of DU fired into the Solway Firth over many years that this has no detectable impact on uranium levels in sediment or marine life. There are significant amounts of natural uranium in seawater, and the firing of a few Phalanx rounds containing small quantities of DU will have minimal impact on the marine environment of the Adriatic.


Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what medical advice was given to members of the armed forces deployed on Operation Palliser prior to deployment regarding the risks of malaria; what anti-malarial protection precautions were taken with regard to armed forces kit and equipment for Operation Palliser (a) before deployment and (b) in theatre; and if he will make a statement. [149178]

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

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department maintains sufficient supplies of anti-malarial and other drugs to provide maximum protection for members of the armed forces who might be deployed at short notice. [149889]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 12 February 2001]: The Medical Supplies Agency (MSA) has arrangements in place for the provision of medical supplies in support of operations, across a wide range of contingencies. These arrangements include stock held by the MSA and stock held by private vendor contractors that can be made available at short notice (within 24 hours). There have been occasional problems with some vaccines that have a limited shelf life. Last year, for example, there was a national shortage of Yellow Fever vaccine. Despite this, MSA procurement staff were able to put in place arrangements to meet operational requirements.

15 Feb 2001 : Column: 196W

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy not to send UK forces into tropical areas if they are not adequately protected against malaria and other tropical diseases. [150214]

Dr. Moonie: Medical issues are taken into account during the process of planning for any deployment of UK forces. It is our policy to provide all reasonable protective measures to prevent malaria and other infectious diseases, which troops might be exposed to during an overseas deployment to the tropics.

Press Releases

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many press releases were issued by his Department in the financial years (a) 1996-97, (b) 1997-98, (c) 1998-99 and (d) 1999-2000; how many have been issued in the current financial year; and what his estimate is of the total number for the current financial year. [149252]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 8 February 2001]: The number of press releases issued by the Ministry of Defence between the financial years 1996 to 2000 are indicated in the table:

Ministry of Defence press releases

Number issued
April 1996-March 1997239
April 1998-March 1998384
April 1998-March 1999315
April 1999-March 2000362

Between April 2000 to January 2001 the MOD issued a total of 266 press releases. The current rate of issue is expected to continue to the end of the current financial year.

Far East Prisoners of War

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for children of far east internees to receive compensation in cases where neither parent is alive. [150099]

Dr. Moonie: The ex gratia payment scheme, which I announced in the House on 7 November 2000, Official Report, columns 159-70, is for the surviving members of the British groups who were held prisoner by the Japanese during the Second World War. Where a person who would have been eligible for the scheme has died, his or her surviving spouse is entitled to receive it instead. The children of former prisoners are not eligible for the scheme unless they were themselves interned by the Japanese.

RAF Fylingdales

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many US military personnel have been stationed at RAF Fylingdales for each of the last three years. [150474]

Mr. Hoon: One.

Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the costs to the United Kingdom of installing National Missile Defence facilities at RAF Fylingdales. [150478]

15 Feb 2001 : Column: 197W

Mr. Hoon: None. Any estimate would be made in light of a request from the United States to install facilities at RAF Fylingdales. No such request has been received.

Warcop Common

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what restrictions on access to Warcop will result from his Department's plan to buy out the commoners. [150267]

Dr. Moonie: The proposals will lead to some restrictions but greater certainty of access. Mondays would be lost, but there would be guaranteed access on 12 non-firing weekends programmed across the year, linked where possible to public holidays. Furthermore, access will be available each Sunday from 13.00 hours. It is also intended to create new routes in the locality. The proposals are still being developed in discussion with English Nature, the Countryside Agency and local representatives of user groups such as the Rambler's Association.

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how many days a year his Department closes its land at Warcop for grouse shooting. [150268]

Dr. Moonie: None. Grouse shooting takes place only when the ranges are closed for maintenance.

Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how often grouse shooting at Warcop prevents MOD training. [150269]

Dr. Moonie: Grouse shooting at Warcop does not, and never has, prevented the Army from training there.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Vessels (Rosyth)

Ms Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the proposed refit and repair work for Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels, with particular reference to the share of this work, that will be allocated to Rosyth dockyard. [150120]

Mr. Spellar: I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.


Warwick University

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what discussions (a) he and (b) his officials have had with the University of Warwick regarding the university's requirement that students own or lease a computer as a condition of entrance; and what assessment he has made of the implications for the take up of courses of this policy. [150534]

Mr. Wicks: No discussions have taken place with the University of Warwick about this matter. The Department has, however, received a copy of the University's consultation document on their proposed e-strategy and has been invited to comment. The Government have made it clear, in regulations and guidance issued to higher education institutions in August 1999, what charges may be levied without breaching the proscription on top-up fees.

15 Feb 2001 : Column: 198W

Cheshire and Halton LEAs

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what has been the average expenditure per pupil in (i) primary and (ii) secondary schools in (a) Halton and (b) Cheshire local education authorities in (1) 1997-98, (2) 1998-99 and (3) 1999-2000; and what the amount is for 2000-01. [148847]

Ms Estelle Morris [holding answer 14 February 2001]: The following table sets out the overall resources per pupil made available to Halton and Cheshire local education authorities for compulsory primary and secondary education, in both cash and real terms.

Standard spending assessment and special/specific grants(1)

£ per pupil
Primary (5-10) (cash)Secondary (11-15) (cash)Primary (5-10) (real terms)Secondary (11-15) (real terms)

(1) Rounded to nearest £10

(2) Notional figures assuming an apportionment, in accordance with post April 1998 local government re-organisation

Under this Government, funding per pupil has already increased by over £300 nationally in real terms, and it will increase by a further £150 per pupil for 2001-02. Under the last Government, funding per pupil fell by £60 in real terms between 1994-95 and 1997-98. There will be further increases in funding following the year 2000 spending review, a further £370 per pupil over the three-year period, taking the total increase to nearly £700 between 1997-98 and 2003-04. The following table shows the average net institutional expenditure per pupil in pre-primary/primary and secondary schools in Halton and Cheshire, for the financial years 1997-98 and 1998-99, the latest year for which this information is currently available. These figures are not comparable with the funding figures above. They cover school based outturn expenditure, but not the cost of meals, or of centrally run activities such as home to school transport and certain special educational needs services.

Halton local education authority became a local education authority from April 1998. The figures shown here for 1997-98 are for Cheshire prior to the reorganisation.

£ (cash)


(3) Rounded to the nearest £10

15 Feb 2001 : Column: 199W

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