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Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 23 October 2001

DEFENCE

Merlin Helicopters

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many Merlin helicopters will be delivered to the Royal Navy in each of the next three years; [9696]

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Mr. Ingram: On current plans, the first squadron of Royal Navy Merlin helicopters will be fully operational and ready for deployment in May 2002 with further squadrons progressively achieving this status up to 2005.

A total of 44 Merlin HM Mark 1 helicopters has been ordered for the Royal Navy. Of the 34 aircraft already delivered, 14 are in the operational fleet. The remaining 10 aircraft are due to be delivered by the end of financial year 2002–03.

To date 31 Royal Naval pilots and eight RAF pilots have been trained to fly the Merlin helicopter, with a further five Royal Naval and two RAF pilots currently undergoing training.

Defence Aviation Repair Agency

Mr. Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what key targets have been set for the Defence Aviation Repair Agency for 2001–02. [10122]

Mr. Ingram: Key targets have been set for the chief executive of DARA for financial year 2001–02. The targets reflect the agency's move to trading fund status and are as follows:

DARA key targets for FY 2001–02

TitleDetailsTarget
KT 1—QualityThe Quality of Service of the DARATo have no more attributable Customer Concerns (recorded on F760/761) than the baseline set on the average performance of FY 99–00 and FY 00–01 as a percentage of quantity.
KT 2—FinancialA measure of the Return on Capital Employed (RoCE)To achieve a 6 per cent. Return on Capital Employed (RoCE)
KT 3—Efficiency 1A measure of the reduction in Unit Production PriceTo achieve at least an annual 2 per cent. reduction (with a target of at least a 15 per cent. reduction over five years) in unit production prices of a basket of products deemed to be representative of DARA business, baselined from the commencement of Trading Fund (1 April 2001)
KT 4—Efficiency 2Increase in Order Intake (Non-Allocated Work)To achieve a 100 per cent. increase in Order Intake (for the first three years of trading) from a FY 00–01 baseline
KT 5—Efficiency 3Increase in Commercial RevenueTo achieve a 15 per cent. increase in Commercial Revenue (from non-UK Armed Forces), from a FY 00–01 baseline

Serco

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the contracts being administered by Serco on behalf of his Department. [8575]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 October 2001]: The following contracts are being administered by Serco Ltd. on behalf of this Department.



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Further details on this list in its entirety could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Biological Detection Devices

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will open for public inspection at the Public Record Office the files located at DEFE 55/97 and DEFE 55/100 regarding tests of biological detection devices and joint US/UK biological detection experiments in 1977. [6579]

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Dr. Moonie: No. The reports include details of US biological detection equipment and I am therefore withholding the information in accordance with Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Biological Warfare

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many simulated exercises have been carried out in respect of biological and chemical weapon attacks on the UK in each of the last five years. [8622]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence is responsible for providing military aid to the civil authorities support to the Home Office in the event of a biological or chemical weapons terrorist attack upon the UK. On average, seven crisis response exercises are carried out by the MOD each year. In addition, a large number of low level training exercises are conducted each year at unit and sub-unit level.

The Home Office also supports a counter-terrorist exercise programme for police forces, other Government Departments and agencies. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will write to my hon. Friend with further details of that programme and a copy of the letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Armed Forces Pension Scheme

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to amend the armed forces pension scheme to allow benefits to be paid to partners of service men and women killed on active service; and if he will make a statement. [8204]

Mr. Hoon [holding answer 18 October 2001]: The Ministry of Defence does not currently have any plans to amend the armed forces pension scheme (AFPS) to allow benefits to be paid to partners of service men and women killed on active service. However, following the recently completed consultation period on the review of the AFPS, representations on a range of issues, including this one, will be taken forward for further consideration.

Departmental Contracts

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those sites operated by (a) his Department and (b) contractors responsible to his Department, which are (i) required to comply with and (ii) exempt from compliance with the Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Public Information Regulations 2001. [8761]

Mr. Ingram: I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Civilian Contractors (Insurance)

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements his Department has made to provide insurance for civilian contractors deployed on operations; and if he will make a statement. [9393]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) expects contractors to provide insurance appropriate to the conduct of their business. However, there are a limited number of risks that industry is unable to insure itself against, or where the cost of obtaining such insurance is

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prohibitive. In such cases the MOD would consider indemnifying industry for these specific and very limited circumstances. Hitherto, consideration of an indemnity for contractors and their personnel on deployed operations has been on a case-by-case basis, but the MOD is considering, with representatives of industry, standard arrangements for these activities.


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