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Armed Forces (Pensions)

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the report on the armed forces pension scheme will be published. [10108]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 29 October 2001]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 25 October 2001, Official Report, column 319W.

Departmental Assets

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what stocks of (a) antiques, (b) paintings and (c) fine wines are held by his Department; if he will list such assets sold over the last three years together with the sale proceeds from such transactions; what plans he has to sell further such assets over the period of the current Comprehensive Spending Review; and if he will make a statement. [10837]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 31 October 2001]: The Ministry of Defence has approximately 250 significant antiques, such as clocks and furniture, together with many more having little intrinsic value but some historic interest to the Department. The Department also has approximately 800 works of fine art, together with many more miscellaneous items of little intrinsic value, such as photographs, reproductions, maps and manuscripts. The Department has no stocks of fine wines. None of these assets has been sold over the last three years, and there are no plans to sell any over the period of the current Comprehensive Spending Review. The terms of bequest of many of the most important pieces prohibit disposal. Additionally, the Department is responsible for the many Regimental Museums throughout the country, whose collections are open to the public, and for minor collections of publicly owned works of art, such as the Sandhurst Collection, which are displayed at the Royal Military Academy.

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Debt of Honour Register

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set up a website giving a debt of honour register similar to that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, to provide personal and service details and places of commemoration for those armed forces personnel who have served and died for their country since the second world war. [12666]

Dr. Moonie: There are currently no plans to set up a website to commemorate those service personnel who have died since the end of the Second World War. However, the subject is being considered as an additional initiative which could be undertaken in collaboration with the proposals to establish a new memorial to armed forces personnel who have died in the post-war years, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 10 November 2000, Official Report, column 414W.

Challenger 2

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Challenger 2 main battle tanks failed to complete Exercise Saif Sareea 2 because of mechanical or technical problems. [11636]

Mr. Hoon: A total of 65 Challenger 2 were deployed on Exercise Saif Sareea 2. The exercise was designed, deliberately, to test the military equipment and personnel deployed on it. Its duration, complexity and the very harsh environmental conditions in which it was conducted combined to offer an excellent training opportunity, enabling us to identify, under realistic conditions, the challenges we might face in future operations. Complex equipment requires routine maintenance to ensure continued peak performance, resulting in temporary periods of non-availability. This is entirely to be expected for deployments of this nature and represents an integral part of the training process.

Experience gained from the early stages of the exercise in logistically sustaining the Challenger 2 fleet required some rescoping of the exercise programme to ensure that the required supply of spares could be sustained. Against this revised programme of activity, the average availability of Challenger 2 was in excess of 80 per cent. and would have been higher if there had not been a delay in a routine supply of track spares.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the expected life is of airfilters used in Challenger 2 main battle tanks in desert conditions. [11638]

Dr. Moonie: The designed life of the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank air filter was 14 hours when used in extreme desert conditions. Work is currently in hand to determine whether the expected life of the air filter needs to be adjusted in the light of recent experience gained from operating the tank in desert conditions. Stock levels will be adjusted accordingly.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the cost of converting Challenger 2 main battle tanks for desert conditions. [11637]

Dr. Moonie: Two options have been investigated for the desertisation of Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks (CR2 MBT). The first involves a modification package,

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and would cost approximately £140,000 per tank. The second option, which involves remodelling the main engine compartment, is based on the Omani CR2 MBT. This would cost approximately £250,000 per tank.

Army Foundation College

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when a decision will be made on the establishment of an Army Foundation College in Dundee; and where the other proposed sites are for this establishment. [12186]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 2 November 2001]: The Army needs to attract good quality young people by providing excellent education and work-related training in good facilities. The Army Foundation College (AFC) at Harrogate in Yorkshire provides this, but is currently oversubscribed. The Army are working on new proposals for a second more flexible college for the provision of improved facilities for a range of abilities and age groups. Various alternatives are under study, including establishing a second AFC delivered through partnership. If it were decided to pursue a second college by way of a Public Private Partnership, it would be announced through the Official Journal of the European Community in the normal way. It would then be open for an proposals for the college, including its location, to be put forward for consideration as part of the competitive process. We anticipate a variety of sites, including existing Ministry of Defence and other locations, to be proposed.

A decision on the way forward is unlikely before next year.

Royal Prerogative

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many ministerial decisions were made where authority for the same derived from the royal prerogative in the most recent calendar month for which information is available. [9369]

Dr. Moonie: Records are not kept of the individual occasions on which powers under the royal prerogative are exercised nor could it be practicable to do so.

Pharmaceutical Plants (Security)

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to ensure that plants which manufacture antibiotics for the treatment of anthrax and other biological or chemical weapons are given enhanced security. [10589]

Mr. Ingram: The level of security in place at commercial establishments that manufacture antibiotics and other agents to counter biological or chemical weapons is based on the threat pertaining to that establishment. In the first instance, security is a matter for the owners/operators of the establishments. Beyond that, security rests with the police who can, if they feel the threat is beyond their capacity, call on established procedures to augment security, for example, through military assistance, at such establishments. The security of such facilities is also under active review as a result of the events of 11 September.

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Role 3 Field Hospital

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much funding he is providing for the establishment of a Role 3 field hospital in partnership with the Netherlands; and if he will make a statement. [11781]

Dr. Moonie: We are not making any funding available specifically to establish a Role 3 field hospital in partnership with the Netherlands. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Netherlands setting out arrangements for the joint provision of an integrated Role 3 medical unit on future peacekeeping, peace enforcement or humanitarian relief operations in which both nations wish to participate. The aim is to make sensible and cost-effective use of valuable medical resources and avoid duplication of medical support. Existing resources will be used and the integrated Role 3 unit will be formed only when required. Medical personnel of both nations will undertake training and exercises together when possible to develop and foster interoperability.

HMS Ocean

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much time HMS Ocean spent in dock undergoing repairs, before being handed over to the Royal Navy; how much time she has spent in service at sea, since she was handed over to the Royal Navy; and if he will make a statement. [11755]

Mr. Ingram: During the period between HMS Ocean's launch in October 1995 and her handover to the Royal Navy in March 1999, she spent some 15 weeks in dock undergoing repairs. Since then, she has been available for programming, either at sea or in harbour, for a total of 904 days.

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