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AS-Levels

Mrs. May: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many pupils entered AS-level modules in January; and how many of those are retaking those AS modules. [1957]

Mr. Ivan Lewis [holding answer 3 July 2001]: There is no information as yet on the number of pupils who sat the January AS unit tests. However, 214,384 unit entries were recorded from the analysis of the January results. The AS-level qualification is made up of three units: students may choose to sit all three unit tests in January or in June, or spread them throughout the year.

There is no statistical information on how many of the pupils who sat the AS units in January are retaking their modules.

PRIME MINISTER

Flooding (Torbay)

Q9. Mr. Steen: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to visit Galmpton, Torbay, to discuss flooding problems with residents. [717]

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so. I am aware that Galmpton has experienced flash flooding in recent years, and that this has caused distress and damage to local residents. Decisions on flood defence projects and their timing are the responsibility of local operating authorities, in particular the Environment Agency and local councils. I understand that the agency is currently discussing options for Galmpton with Torbay council, and will work with them urgently to address the situation.

National Missile Defence

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will discuss with President Bush unilateral proposals by the Rumsfeld Commission to delete article IX of the 1972 ABM treaty; [323]

The Prime Minister: I will continue to engage constructively with President Bush across the range of issues relating to his ideas for limited missile defence systems and a new strategic framework. The President has made no decisions on specific missile defence systems or their deployment and is currently engaged in wide-ranging international consultation with allies, Russia, China and others on his ideas.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with President Bush the concept of invulnerability through military supremacy in relation to the weaponisation of space. [325]

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The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so. I believe that the conference on disarmament is the appropriate forum for discussion of issues relating to the military use of space, and support the creation of an ad hoc committee to discuss the prevention of an arms race in outer space.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with President Putin the potential for the US policy on national missile defence to include a first strike capability. [327]

The Prime Minister: The US has made it clear that missile defence is envisaged as one element of a comprehensive strategy to deal with a new threat caused by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It is not aimed at defending against the Russian strategic arsenal, still less at giving the United States the capacity to attack Russia. President Bush has made it clear that it no longer considers Russia an enemy. I have discussed missile defence and related issues with President Putin on a number of occasions, and expect to continue to do so.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister (1) what assessment he has made of the impact of UK participation in US national missile defence on the (a) global moratorium on nuclear testing and (b) prospects of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty coming into force; [317]

The Prime Minister: President Bush has made no decisions on specific missile defence systems or their deployment and we therefore do not know what UK participation may be sought. The US is also currently engaged in a wide-ranging international consultation process, including with Russia. On both counts it is therefore premature to make such an assessment.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with the Secretary General of the UN, President Bush's proposal for a first test of a space-based laser in 2012. [319]

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will propose to the Presidents of (a) China, (b) France, (c) Russia and (d) the United States of America that the 1967 outer space treaty cover directed energy and laser weapons. [321]

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to make such a proposal.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with President Bush the restructuring of the missile technology control regime in relation to political initiatives based on arms control and confidence-building measures. [322]

The Prime Minister: We remain fully committed to the MTCR and have regular contacts with MTCR partners, including the US, to maintain and strengthen the regime and ensure it remains effective in the fight against the proliferation of long-range missiles capable of carrying weapons of mass destruction. The MTCR will continue to be a mainstay of the effort to combat missile proliferation, alongside complementary political

4 Jul 2001 : Column: 179W

initiatives such as the draft international code of conduct against ballistic missile proliferation in which the United Kingdom is also playing a key role.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss the position of modifications of non-ABM radars on UK territory with (a) Washington and (b) Moscow. [326]

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister what discussions he had with President Bush before he made his speech on 1 May 2000 about the future of the 1972 ABM treaty. [333]

The Prime Minister: I have discussed missile defence and related issues including the ABM treaty with President Bush on several occasions, both at our meeting at Camp David on 23 February and subsequently.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the dangers faced by the United Kingdom as a target for foreign powers, as a result of acquiescing in the construction of two new radomes at Menwith Hill. [334]

The Prime Minister: Two radomes have been constructed at RAF Menwith Hill as part of the European relay ground station for the space based infra red system, which is designed to detect the launch of ballistic missiles. This updates an existing system. We assess that the implications for the security of the UK have not significantly changed.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister what (1) discussions he has had with President Bush about the facilities to receive information for early warning and missile-tracking satellites at Menwith Hill ground relay station; [335]

The Prime Minister: None. As President Bush and I both made clear following our meeting at Camp David on 23 February, the US Administration has not yet decided how it will seek to deploy missile defences. That remains the case.

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will set up a Royal Commission to examine the consequences and implications of British participation in the extension of war-fighting into space. [318]

The Prime Minister: No.

Mr. Caton: To ask the Prime Minister what assessment he has made of the economic and political implications of British participation in the US National Missile Defence system. [2298]

The Prime Minister: The US has not yet decided how it will seek to proceed with missile defence and has not put forward specific proposals for UK involvement. We have made clear we would consider any such proposals

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carefully taking into account all relevant factors in light of circumstances at the time, including their implications for the UK.

Pine Bay Joint Space Research Facility

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with the Government of Australia UK participation in the Pine Bay joint space research facility, in relation to information detected by satellites covering the southern Hemisphere. [339]

The Prime Minister: I have no plans to do so.

NATO Expansion

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Prime Minister if he will discuss with President Putin the commitment not to expand NATO into the former Soviet Republics. [332]

The Prime Minister: NATO has made no commitment to Russia that it will not expand into the former Soviet Republics. In signing the NATO-Russia founding act in 1997, Russia acknowledged her commitment to:


NATO is committed to building and maintaining a strong working relationship with Russia, built on transparency and mutual respect. The regular meeting that takes place between NATO and Russia through the Permanent Joint Council (PJC) embodies this relationship.


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