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Forces Review

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which divisions of his Department are contributing to the Forces Review; and if he will make a statement. [14119]

Mr. Hoon: As I have made clear, the work we are conducting is not a new Strategic Defence Review. It is more the adding of a further chapter to the existing SDR to ensure that we have the right concepts, forces and

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capabilities in place to meet the additional challenges posed by asymmetric threats of the kind that we saw on 11 September.

A wide range of individuals are taking part in the work from many areas of the Ministry of Defence, because of their current responsibilities and/or their wider knowledge and expertise. We are also involving other Government Departments and other experts. At this stage, the work is being led by the policy area within the MOD.

Desert Combat Suits

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many desert combat suits are held at command ordnance depots. [14031]

Mr. Ingram: There are currently 53,647 pairs of desert trousers (across 27 sizes) and 118,490 desert jackets (across 13 sizes) held in UK ordnance depots. The Ministry of Defence does not hold information on the number of desert combat suits held in the Commonwealth depots.

Army Foundation College

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which MOD sites are under consideration for the siting of a new Army Foundation College. [13932]

Mr. Ingram: The Army is currently examining options for improving its system of initial training, including the establishment of a second Army Foundation College, together with the provision of improved facilities that are appropriate for the future and for a range of abilities and age groups, to build in the success of the existing college at Harrogate. These options include the provision of a college through partnership with the private sector. As part of this process, the Army is considering options that include existing Ministry of Defence sites, to select a Public Sector Comparator for the project. I am withholding the details of the MOD sites in question in accordance with exemption 7 (Effective Management and Operations of the Public Service) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. If it were decided to pursue the partnership option, this would be announced

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in the normal way through the Official Journal of the European Communities. It would then be open for any 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 MOD and other locations, to be proposed.

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

Strategic Defence Review

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what procurement spending commitments implicit in the Strategic Defence Review he will meet. [14123]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave on 29 October 2001, Official Report, columns 513–14W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann).

Defence Imports (Israel)

Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at what stage is the proposed purchase from Israel of the Gill-Spike anti-tank missile; what the results are of the tests of the missile by his Department in the UK and Canada; and if he will make a statement. [13667]

Dr. Moonie: Gill-Spike is already in service with the Israeli Ministry of Defence. The UK is currently evaluating Spike along with the US Javelin weapon to assess the most appropriate system to meet our requirement for medium range anti-tank guided weapons. The results of the trials will be considered, along with all other relevant factors including cost and time scales, before reaching a final decision. We expect to do so late next year.

Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the (a) quantity and (b) category of defence equipment purchased from Israel for each year from 1997. [13671]

Dr. Moonie: Since 1997, five contracts have been placed with prime contractors based in Israel:

YearCategory of equipmentQuantity
1997Spares: grenade sight capsInformation not held centrally
Small arms ammunitionIn the order of 25 million rounds of ammunition
1998Manual loader for air-to-ground missile60
1999No contracts placed
2000Concept StudyNot applicable
2001Anti-tank missile hardware for assessment trials14 missiles and associated equipment

Overseas Entertainment

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the (a) acts and (b) costs of artists performing for UK forces overseas, in the past five years. [14122]

Mr. Ingram: Information in the precise format requested is not held by the Ministry of Defence. Officials are, however, establishing with the Services Sound and Vision Corporation who organise "Combined Services Entertainment" details of the number of shows performed in each of the past five years, the overall cost for each show and examples of artists who have performed. I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House. I am withholding costs of the artists performing for reasons of commercial confidentiality in accordance with Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

RAF Coltishall, Norfolk

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the security of personal items of service men at RAF Coltishall, Norfolk; and if he will make a statement. [14325]

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Mr. Ingram: No assessment has been made of the security of personal items of serving personnel at RAF Coltishall, Norfolk. Service personnel are routinely briefed on how to ensure the security of their personal items.

Challenger 2

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if halt drills for Challenger 2 require filters to be cleaned. [13764]

Dr. Moonie: The halt drills for the Challenger 2 main battle tank do not require filters to be cleaned. There is, however, a requirement to check the warning light for the filter indicators and replace filters as required.

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes in halt drills have taken place since the introduction of Challenger 2. [13765]

Dr. Moonie: There have been some very minor changes to the halt drills since the introduction of the Challenger 2 main battle tank. These relate to checking the light source for the muzzle reference system and inspection of the main armament at periodic intervals.

TREASURY

Pensioners (Buckingham)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people of pensionable age there are in the Buckingham constituency. [14210]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the national statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. John Bercow, dated 12 November 2001:




Unemployment (Buckingham)

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the level of unemployment was in the Buckingham constituency in (a) September 2000 and (b) September 2001. [14204]

Ruth Kelly: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the national statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to Mr. John Bercow, dated 12 November 2001:


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