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Gothenburg Council

Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what communications he has had with his Swedish counterpart in respect of the shooting with live ammunition of demonstrators at the European Summit in Gothenburg. [1759]

The Prime Minister: Since I left Gothenburg, I have had no communication with the Swedish Prime Minister, Goran Persson, about the policing of the violent rioting at the recent European Council meeting there. This is a

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matter for the Swedish authorities. I understand that the Swedish Government have set up a commission to investigate all of the events surrounding the riots.

Public Service Agreements

Mr. Laws: To ask the Prime Minister which Department is responsible for overall monitoring of each Department's performance in relation to its public service agreements; and if he will make a statement. [1454]

The Prime Minister: Ministers in charge of Departments are responsible for delivering their public service agreements. I shall continue to hold regular meetings to take stock of progress against key objectives on crime, education, transport and health, with the support of the new delivery unit. The Committee on Public Services and Public Expenditure (PSX), chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and supported by HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office, has overall responsibility for monitoring performance on public service agreements.


CHARM 3 Proof Firing Programme

Rachel Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made with the CHARM 3 proof firing programme at Dundrennan in Kirkcudbrightshire. [2394]

Dr. Moonie: Due to the foot and mouth restrictions no firings are currently taking place at the Kirkcudbright range in Scotland. The results from the proof firings for the earlier batches of the CHARM 3 round have shown a consistently high standard of quality and performance. No changes are being made to the manufacturing process for the few, final batches and, based on advice from MOD's technical, safety and commercial experts, it has been agreed that the final firings can be waived. Further proof testing while the ammunition remains in service may be required, but this has yet to be confirmed.

There will still be a need for some CHARM 3 firings at Kirkcudbright. These firings relate to two safety trials for the Challenger 2 tank. The first is a worn barrel trial which is needed to establish with absolute certainty the amount of wear that can be permitted within a barrel while still being confident that the round can be fired safely. The second relates to trials prior to the acceptance of a new charge for A1 climatic conditions (very hot and dry). These safety trails could require the firing of an estimated maximum of 120 rounds.

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the companies and organisations which submitted expressions of interest in the provision of facilities management for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory; when he will issue invitations to tender; and when tenders will be due. [848]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 27 June 2001]: The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has advertised a future requirement for facilities management services in the Official Journal of the European Communities (OJEC) and the MOD "Contracts Bulletin".

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Expressions of interest detailing financial and relevant commercial experience were invited and respondents given the appropriate period in which to submit information in accordance with EC Procurement Directives. These advertisements generated significant response from potential suppliers. I am withholding details of potential suppliers under Exemption 7 of the code of practice on access to government information.

The anticipated date for release of invitation to tender documents was identified in the OJEC and MOD bulletin notices as 31 July 2001.

As Dstl is still in the process of defining its requirements of facilities management services, interested parties have been advised that invitations to tender will not be released before 1 October and that a revised date of release will be notified in due course. A four-month response period is to be allowed. Accordingly, tenders are anticipated in the period of spring 2002.

In accordance with MOD guidance, organisations invited to tender will be listed in the MOD "Contracts Bulletin" when invitations are issued.

Defence Diversification

Rachel Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the timetable is for, and what progress has been made on, establishing a Defence Diversification Council. [2202]

Dr. Moonie: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 26 June 2001, Official Report, column 57W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer).

Rachel Squire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to establish funding to encourage technological innovation for defence diversification purposes. [2201]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) encourages the widest possible exploitation of defence technology by the civil sector. Since its establishment in 1999, the Defence Diversification Agency has fulfilled this role by encouraging, fostering and facilitating the cross fertilisation of technology between the UK defence and civil sectors. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 26 June 2001, Official Report, column 57W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer). We have decided to bring the Defence Diversification Agency into the MOD head office where it will be best placed to continue to deliver defence diversification following the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency public-private partnership and the formation of the new company QinetiQ on 1 July 2001. We have no plans to change the roles and responsibilities of the Defence Diversification Agency nor to establish a separate technological innovation fund.

Future Joint Combat Aircraft

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors underlay his decision to rename the future carrier borne aircraft programme the future joint combat aircraft programme. [1596]

Mr. Hoon: The previous future carrier borne aircraft (FCBA) title dated from the period before the 1998 Strategic Defence Review when the programme was envisaged as a Sea Harrier replacement only.

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The decision to rename the FCBA programme as future joint combat aircraft acknowledges that Joint Force 2000 will operate from land bases as well as aircraft carriers. The name change also reflects ministerial signature in January this year of the UK/US memorandum of understanding which recognised that the joint strike fighter has the best potential to replace the current force of both Harriers and Sea Harriers.

Joint Strike Fighter

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in relation to the memorandum of understanding between the UK and United States Governments to participate in the next development phase of the joint strike fighter. [1595]

Mr. Hoon: The current JSF concept demonstration phase continues to make excellent progress. Following signature of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cover the UK's entry into the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of the joint strike fighter programme in January this year, the process to select a single company to be awarded the EMD contract has been proceeding to schedule. As a result of our decision to sign the MOU, UK personnel are fully involved in this process. The plan remains to award the contract in October.

RAF Air Tanker Programme

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of the RAF air tanker programme. [2139]

Dr. Moonie: The future strategic tanker aircraft will replace the RAF's fleet of VC10 and TriStar air-to-air refuelling and air transport aircraft from around 2007. This will provide the RAF with a modern fleet that will ensure that our forces have truly global reach.

The programme is at the vanguard of smart acquisition, and the integrated project team is forging innovative partnerships with industry to develop a public-private partnership solution to the requirement. Initial bids for a PFI service are due in today prior to a detailed negotiation and assessment phase. We are currently planning to make a final investment decision around mid-2002.

Future Large Aircraft Carriers

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which types of aircraft are expected to operate in the future large aircraft carriers. [2138]

Dr. Moonie: The types of aircraft aboard the future aircraft carriers will depend upon the operational circumstances at the time. However, the CVF will have the capacity to operate a wide range of aircraft, including the future joint combat aircraft; future organic airborne early warning platforms; and helicopters in a variety of roles, for example, attack, anti-submarine warfare and support.

Chatham Dockyard Radiation Workers

Mr. Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects former Chatham dockyard radiation workers to receive an offer of compensation under the no fault scheme for former radiation workers. [1949]

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Dr. Moonie: There are two cases involving ex-Chatham dockyard radiation workers that have been assessed by the British Nuclear Fuels compensation scheme for radiation-linked diseases as eligible for compensation. The level of compensation due in both cases is still being assessed and, following completion of this exercise, offers of settlement will be made. It is not possible to predict precisely when this will be. However, in an effort to move matters forward, my Department would be prepared to consider reasonable requests for interim payments of damages in both of these cases.

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