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Precision-guided Missiles

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the United Kingdom is part of the Netherlands- led consortium to purchase precision-guided missiles from the United States of America; and if he will make a statement. [2723]

Mr. Hoon: The UK is not part of any Netherlands-led consortium for the procurement of precision-guided missiles from the United States of America.

Armed Forces Pension Scheme

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will publish the review of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme; and if he will make a statement. [3490]

Mr. Ingram: The public consultation period on the emerging findings of the review of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 16 March 2001, Official Report, column 756W, ends on 31 July. A summary of the views expressed during this period and a response to them will be published when the comments have been fully considered.

Armoured Reconnaissance Unit

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the 4th Armoured Reconnaissance Unit will be stationed at Stanley Barracks, Bovington; and which regiment will be fulfilling that role at that time. [3488]

Mr. Ingram: In his answer on 12 April 2000, Official Report, column 147W, the then Minister of State for the Armed Forces, my hon. Friend the Member for Warley (Mr. Spellar) stated that the 4th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment will be the Queen's Dragoon Guards who would move into barracks at Bovington in August 2003. Since then a number of factors have emerged that might affect this plan and there has therefore been a need to re-address the options. I shall write to the hon. Member when the position is clearer.

16 Jul 2001 : Column: 5W

Medical Services

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the policy is for fast-tracking of service personnel for medical treatment (a) in Ministry of Defence hospital units and (b) elsewhere. [2862]

Dr. Moonie: Service patients are mainly treated in Ministry of Defence Hospitals Units (MDHUs), in other NHS hospitals as NHS patients, or in Defence Secondary Care Agency (DSCA) directly managed units (DMUs) in the UK and overseas. The British Forces Germany Health Service provides secondary care for service personnel in Germany where there are generally no waiting lists.

The DSCA has set waiting time targets for the treatment of patients from the armed forces in its DMUs and MDHUs. The contracts between MDHUs and their host NHS trusts include financial payments to encourage trusts to achieve these. The contracts also allow service personnel needed for operational deployment to receive a priority out-patient opinion. In addition, contracts were placed last year with independent sector health care providers to treat service personnel in shortage categories to relieve overstretch. Referrals under these contracts ceased in March 2001. Planning has recently been approved for another rapid treatment initiative.

Military personnel referred to NHS hospitals outwith MDHU arrangements are treated in accordance with NHS waiting times on the basis of clinical need.

MOD Property (Belfast)

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what land and property is in the possession of his Department in North Belfast; and on what terms. [3077]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has two properties in the parliamentary constituency of North Belfast. The Regular Army is based in Girdwood Barracks, part of which we hold freehold and the remainder is leasehold. The Territorial Army is based at Dunmore Camp, which is held under freehold.

A400M and Meteor

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library the memorandums of understanding for the A400M and Meteor that he signed in Paris in June. [2969]

Dr. Moonie: The memoranda of understanding for the A400M and Meteor programmes will become effective when all participants have signed them. We do not anticipate all signatures being in place until September 2001. Copies of the documents will be placed in the Library of the House when they become effective.

Helicopters

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total (a) budget and (b) cost was of purchasing and commissioning the Merlin helicopter for the Royal Navy. [4337]

Mr. Ingram: The total budget for purchasing the Merlin helicopter was £4,931 million. The total forecast cost of purchasing the Merlin helicopter is £4,903 million. This includes the UK element of the development costs. The development of the Merlin Mk1 was part of the

16 Jul 2001 : Column: 6W

EH 101 UK/Italy collaborative project. The forecast also includes an estimate for the initial provisioning of capital spares, the cost of the avionics weapon system, the Merlin Training System and the supply of ground support equipment.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the full squadron of Royal Navy Merlin helicopters will be fully operational; and if he will make a statement. [4338]

Mr. Ingram: On current plans the first full squadron of Royal Navy Merlin helicopters will be fully operational in May 2002 with the further squadrons achieving this status within a rolling programme up to 2005.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if QinetiQ plc is included in the manufacturing licence agreement for the Apache AH MK I helicopter. [3487]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 13 July 2001]: No. The Manufacturing licence for the UK Apache Attack Helicopter is between Westland Helicopters Ltd. and the Boeing Company. Westland Helicopters Ltd. is currently seeking an amendment to the licence to enable QinetiQ to access such US proprietary data as it needs to undertake its work on the UK Apache programme. US State Department approval will be required for the amendment.

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what will be the impact of the failure of the full mission simulator software on the date for operational readiness of the WAH-64 helicopter. [3572]

Dr. Moonie: Problems with software integration have delayed the availability of the Full Mission Simulator for the UK WAH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter. This has, in turn, delayed the start of our training programme. As a consequence, we currently expect the readiness date for the first operational Apache squadron will be August 2004, a slip of seven months.

RAF Menwith Hill

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) US and (b) UK (i) military and (ii) civilian personnel are deployed at RAF Menwith Hill. [4176]

Mr. Ingram: As at 13 June 2001, at RAF Menwith Hill there were 459 US military, 1,012 US civilian, five UK military and 404 UK civilian personnel (excluding GCHQ staff). I am withholding the numbers of GCHQ staff under exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the Space Based Infra- Red System radomes to come on line at RAF Menwith Hill. [4175]

Mr. Ingram: At present there is no firm date for when the European Relay Ground Station for the Space Based Infra-Red System located at RAF Menwith Hill will come on line.

16 Jul 2001 : Column: 7W

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the legal status is of the United States personnel stationed at RAF Menwith Hill. [4180]

Mr. Ingram: The US personnel stationed at RAF Menwith Hill are there at the invitation of Her Majesty's Government, and are members (or dependants of members) of a visiting force or the civilian component of a visiting force to which Part 1 of the Visiting Forces Act 1952 applies.

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason US Menwith Hill was renamed RAF Menwith Hill. [4173]

Mr. Ingram: The base was renamed RAF Menwith Hill in February 1996 bringing it into line with other sites made available to United States visiting forces in the UK.

Ministerial Visits

(Menwith Hill and Fylingdales)

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date a Minister from his Department last visited (a) RAF Menwith Hill and (b) RAF Fylingdales. [4174]

Mr. Ingram: RAF Menwith Hill was visited by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 5 July 2001. RAF Fylingdales has not been the subject of a ministerial visit since 1 May 1997.

Roving Sands Exercises

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many United Kingdom personnel were involved in the exercises known as Roving Sands; and for what purpose. [4172]

Mr. Ingram: Exercise Roving Sands is an annual multinational Air Defence exercise hosted by the US Army at Fort Bliss, Texas, USA, involving UK, Dutch, German and Canadian Air Defence forces. The purpose is to exercise in a joint and combined integrated defence environment as part of a joint forces headquarters. This year, we planned to deploy 264 personnel from 7 Air Defence Brigade to participate in the exercise between 6 June and 1 July. Owing to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the UK, however, the US Department of Defense asked the UK not to import vehicle or heavy equipment into Texas for the exercise. The UK participation in the exercise Roving Sands 01, therefore, consisted of 22 personnel from 7 Air Defence Brigade deployed to Fort Bliss where they were integrated in the Headquarters of the 31 Air Defence Brigade, US Army.


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