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DEFENCE

US-UK Strategic Defence Initiative Memorandum of Understanding

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the titles of the Letters of Offer and Acceptance agreed under the auspices of the 1985 US-UK Strategic Defence Initiative Memorandum of Understanding since 1 May 1997, specifying when each one was signed and the name of the United States Government agency involved in each case. [152051]

Mr. Hoon: Five Letters of Offer and Acceptance have been agreed since May 1997. All have been signed on behalf of the US Ballistic Missile Defence Organisation. US Federal Acquisition Regulations do not now require titles but contract numbers only. The five Letters of Offer and Acceptance were signed on 1 September 1998, 12 December 1998, 30 June 1999, 5 December 2000 and 1 May 2000.

Dartmore Training Area

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to find alternative sites for dry military training on Dartmoor when the present licence expires. [151691]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 5 March 2001]: Dartmoor Training Area covers an area of approximately 30,000 acres, of which 3,442 are the freehold property of the Ministry of Defence. The remainder is licensed from three landlords: the Duchy of Cornwall, the Maristowe Estate and South West Water. The Duchy and Maristowe licences do not expire until 2012 and we have not yet, therefore, begun exploring the possibility of alternative

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sites. The licence for the land on Cramber Tor and Combshead owned by South West Water does, however, expire later this year but the training currently conducted in this area could not be absorbed elsewhere within the Dartmoor Training Area, nor on other land in the vicinity. The Ministry of Defence has work in hand to extend its rights to train on this land.

Explosions (Foulness Island)

Mr. Gale: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the effect of the noise, shockwaves and vibration caused by the detonation of high explosives at Foulness Island upon those living in Herne Bay suffering from terminal cancer. [152134]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 5 March 2001]: Two vibration assessments have been carried out between 30 January and 28 February 2000 and between 5 October and 5 November 2000.

Both studies concluded that at no time during the survey period did any of the vibration levels, ground or airborne, approach those levels necessary for the possible onset of the most cosmetic of damage. The reports also highlighted that there seemed to be no correlation between events at Shoeburyness, recordable vibration levels and complains, and that passing traffic produced greater vibration levels.

The reports did not cover the impact of noise and vibration levels on specific susceptible individuals; nor have any other assessments been made of effects on cancer sufferers.

Veterans' Assessment Centre

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to establish a veterans' assessment centre. [151689]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 5 March 2001]: There is already a Ministry of Defence Medical Assessment Programme for Gulf Veterans and Porton Down Volunteers. The possible requirement for a Veterans' Assessment Centre to deal with health concerns that arise from time to time is addressed in the consultation document entitled "Introduction of a Voluntary Screening Programme Following Health Concerns in Respect of Depleted Uranium", published on 13 February. We will consider the merits of a veterans' assessment centre as part of our evaluation of the responses received.

Departmental Estate (Plymouth)

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which of his Department's properties and lands (a) are in the process of being sold in Plymouth and (b) are being considered for sell off; and what their value is; [152539]

Dr. Moonie: Properties and lands sold by my Department since 1997 are provided in list 1. The value of each sale remains commercially confidential and is therefore withheld under exemption 13 of the Code of

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Practice on Access to Government Information, unless the purchaser provides agreement to its disclosure. However, the total receipts from these sites were over £10 million. The properties and lands in the process of being sold in Plymouth and being considered for sell off are provided in list 2. Disclosing the valuations of such sites in disposal would not assist my Department in securing the best value for the taxpayer from the market.












































Defence Bills Agency

Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what performance targets have been set for the Defence Bills Agency for the financial year 2001-02. [152675]

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Dr. Moonie: Targets have been set for the Defence Bills Agency for the financial year 2001-02 in accordance with the Agency's Service Level Agreement with the Ministry of Defence. The key targets build on the already high standards of service provided by the Agency since its formation in January 1996 and are as follows:







Depleted Uranium (Iraq)

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many weapons dropped by the RAF on Iraqi installations since the UK began patrolling the no-fly zone have had depleted uranium tips; and what the total estimated amount of radioactive dust generated was; [152079]

Mr. Hoon: None of the weapons dropped by the RAF on Iraqi installations since the UK began patrolling the no-fly zone have had depleted uranium tips.

Devonport Dockyard

Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the demolition of part of Devonport Dockyard wall; and if he will make a statement. [152540]

Dr. Moonie: Preliminary plans have been drawn up to build a new single distribution facility, which will then enable the South Yard Wall of HM Naval Base Devonport to be realigned and thus some of the peripheral land to be given back to the local community.

While no funds have yet been allocated for this project, and it must be judged against other pressing requirements, a number of potential funding routes are being explored.


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