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Mines

Mr. Frank Cook: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the anti-vehicle mines held by the UK, including mine type, the quantities of stocks held anti-handling devices and fuse types. [152600]

Mr. Spellar: The UK currently holds five different types of anti-tank mines. These are:






Only the AT2 anti-tank mine has an anti-handling device.

None of the anti-tank mines held in the UK stockpile contravene the Ottawa Convention.

I am withholding the quantities of stocks held and fuse types in accordance with exemption 1.(a) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

RAF Northolt

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many aircraft movements there were in each of the last 10 years from RAF Northolt. [153568]

Mr. Spellar: A movement is defined as either a take-off or landing. According to available records, the number of aircraft movements, both military and civil, at RAF Northolt for the years in question are:

YearNumber of aircraft movements
200012,587
199913,476
199813,571
199715,181
199615,726
199514,467
199412,744
199312,960
199214,501
199113,800
199014,700

Note:

Figures prior to 1997 do not include flights for which landing fees were waived.


International Criminal Court

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations from the armed forces he has had regarding the proposed International Criminal Court; if he will place in the Library reports setting these out; and if he will make a statement. [153845]

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Mr. Hoon: None. The priority of the Ministry of Defence in the drafting of the International Criminal Court Bill and its passage through Parliament has been to ensure that members of the armed forces are fully protected from malicious or ill-founded prosecution by the ICC. The armed forces have been closely involved in the consultation process. I am confident that the Bill before Parliament provides all necessary protection.

Council Tax

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what regulations govern the payment of council tax by members of HM Forces serving (a) at home and (b) overseas; and if he will place them in the Library. [154071]

Mr. Spellar: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by the then Minister of State for the Armed Forces, my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson) on 23 July 1999, Official Report, column 695W. I also refer the hon. Member to the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (Chapter 14) and the Armed Forces' Pay Review Body Thirtieth Report 2001 (page 28), copies of which are available from the Library of the House.

Service Pensions

Mr. Jim Murphy: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the review of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme and the Joint MOD/DSS Compensation Review. [154523]

Mr. Hoon: I am pleased to announce that the emerging findings of these reviews are being published today for public consultation. I appreciate that both reviews are taking longer than originally intended, but they have raised complicated issues and I am determined that we should find the right package of benefits appropriate for our Armed Forces in modern society.

The review teams have carried out detailed analysis of the current arrangements and the options for modernisation. They have set out options in each area, working closely with the Services personnel staff. The next stage in the review process is to seek the views of individual Service personnel, ex-Service and Widows organisations and the general public. This will include wide circulation of material describing the proposed changes, both in hard copy and on a range of websites. We will also be going out to interested organisations to explain our proposals, answer any questions and seek views. Because of the complexity of the proposals I have allowed over four months for consultation. After this time we will publish a summary of the responses and consider how to take the package forward in the light of them.

Copies of the consultation documents will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses and will also be available on the MOD website. The Joint Compensation Review consultation document will also be available on the DSS War Pensions Agency website.

Offshore Patrol Vessels

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to replace the Island Class offshore patrol vessels. [154524]

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Dr. Moonie: I am pleased to announce that following a thorough tender evaluation, Vosper Thornycroft (UK) Ltd. have been selected as preferred bidder to provide an offshore patrol capability under a lease arrangement to replace the five existing Island Class Offshore Patrol Vessels employed on patrol and fishery protection duties on behalf of MAFF. Subject to satisfactory conclusion of negotiations, we plan to be able to place the associated contract with Vosper Thornycroft (UK) Ltd. in April 2001.

War Veterans

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will assess the desirability and cost of introducing regular four yearly health checks on war veterans with war wounds, for the purpose of ensuring that they receive the correct pension entitlement. [153382]

Mr. Bayley: I have been asked to reply.

The period for which a war disablement pension is awarded represents the length of time over which it is judged that the assessed level of service-related disablement will remain stable. Lengths of awards are based on individual case-specific facts, taking account of the nature and natural history of the disabling condition and any planned treatment.

Regardless of the length of any award, if at any time the war pensioner believes that their pensioned condition has deteriorated, he or she may request a review of the award and the assessed level of their service-related disablement, by the Secretary of State for Social Security.

These provisions are regarded as appropriate to ensure that war pensioners receive War Pensions at rates appropriate to their service-related disablements.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Fishing Vessel Licences

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to change the capacity penalty arrangements applying to the transfer and aggregation of fishing vessel licences; and if he will make a statement. [154475]

Mr. Morley: The operation of fishing vessel licensing arrangements has been recently reviewed by a joint industry/departmental working group and a copy of the group's report is being placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The working group has recommended that the existing capacity penalty arrangements should be maintained for the time being but that the penalty relating to the uprating of an existing engine, or to an increase in power following its replacement, should be based on the increase in the vessel's capacity rather than its overall capacity. The Fisheries Departments in the UK agree and arrangements are being made to notify the owners of licensed fishing vessels.

As of today a 20 per cent. capacity penalty will operate for the uprating or replacement of an existing vessel engine provided the resulting increase in engine power does not exceed 35 per cent. This penalty will be reduced

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to 10 per cent. where an engine is uprated or replaced before 31 December 2001. However, except in the case of pelagic vessels, where vessel capacity units (VCUs) are taken from vessels under 18 metres in overall length and aggregated onto licensed vessels measuring 18 metres or more in overall length, the capacity penalty will be 30 per cent. Provision will also be made for the splitting of fishing vessel licences for the purpose of engine power adjustments.

The Fisheries Departments, in conjunction with the European Commission, are also prepared to consider, on a case-by-case basis, waiving capacity penalties and compliance with tonnage rules for vessel improvements which relate exclusively to improved safety and which will not result in an increase in a vessel's fishing effort. Under EU legislation member states may apply for an increase in tonnage objectives under their relevant Multi Annual Guidance Programme to take account of increases in vessel capacity resulting exclusively from safety improvements. Advantage is now being taken of that facility.

In the longer term the Fisheries Departments in the UK wish to simplify the present capacity regime and, with the exception of engine power adjustments, plan to return to a situation where a single penalty applies. The present capacity penalties will therefore end on 31 March 2003 and be replaced on 1 April 2003 by a single penalty which will also apply to tonnage and engine power as well as vessel capacity units. Since two years' notice of these changes is being given, no provision will be made for so called pipeline cases. The views of the fishing industry and other interests are being sought on the level at which the capacity penalty should be fixed and whether this should apply to both licence transfers and aggregations or to aggregations alone.


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