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Nuclear Security

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in (a) decommissioning redundant facilities and (b) decontamination of radioactively polluted land at the Dounreay nuclear site. [15580]

Mr. Wilson: Dounreay is being decommissioned. In October 2000 UKAEA published the Dounreay Site Restoration Plan, a comprehensive blueprint for restoring the site. Most of the radioactive hazards will be removed over the next 25 years. The plan is available on the UKAEA website (http://www.ukaea.org.uk/sites/dounreay/ rplan.htm).

Work is currently in progress on the Prototype Fast Reactor, the Dounreay Fast Reactor and redundant plants within the Fuel Cycle Area. New and upgraded facilities have also been commissioned for the management of wastes and discharges.

The programme includes the decontamination of areas of land where low levels of radioactive contamination has occurred in the past. The majority of identified areas have already been decontaminated.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made in decommissioning the Windscale plutonium production piles at Sellafield; and what is her estimate of the cost of decommissioning these piles. [15579]

Mr. Wilson: Both Piles are in a safe, stable condition and pose no threat to the public or the environment.

Progress on decommissioning the Pile 1 and Pile 2 reactors is as follows:

The air and water ducts of Pile 1 have been cleared and a contract for dismantling the core of the reactor for treatment and storage was awarded to a consortium in 1997. A comprehensive technical review is currently in progress to ensure that the project arrangements are robust before proceeding. Pile 2 is currently in safe care and maintenance pending decommissioning at a later stage.

UKAEA's detailed cost estimates for decommissioning both Piles will be completed when the plans for their removal are finalised.

Universal Bank

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when a decision will be made on how many customers the Universal Bank should serve. [10129]

Mr. Alexander: Our policy is to encourage benefit recipients to use the accounts that will best meet their needs. This matter is being considered further within the context of an overall migration and marketing strategy on which detailed work is in progress.

No-fly Zones

Mr. Whittingdale: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received about the establishment of no-fly zones around nuclear power stations. [13474]

20 Nov 2001 : Column: 169W

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 9 November 2001]: My officials and I have received a number of representations from hon. Members on behalf of their constituents, from the public, and from the nuclear industry. On 2 November, British Energy contacted my officials to raise concern about a recent number of flights over its nuclear power stations. In response to the concerns expressed, the system of flying restrictions over nuclear installations has now been extended to apply to all nuclear power plants with immediate effect. Restrictions were already in place for a number of nuclear installations.

Fair Trade

Mr. Weir: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what her Department's policy is in relation to departmental spending for supplies concerning the purchase of Fair Trade goods. [15215]

Ms Hewitt [holding answer 16 November 2001]: As my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development has stated, it is Government policy to promote fair trade products, subject of course to the need to obtain best value for money from public funds. In my own Department, for example, our caterers provide fair trade beverages.

Aggregates Levy

Mr. Cawsey: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what provision will be made to protect SMEs which are unable to pay the aggregates levy; [16088]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 15 November 2001]: I have been asked to reply.

A Regulatory Impact Assessment for the levy was published as part of Budget 2000. The aggregates levy will be payable only by those who commercially exploit aggregate.

DEFENCE

Operation Enduring Freedom

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 23 October 2001, Official Report, column 114W, to the hon. Member for Lewes (Norman Baker), on Operation Enduring Freedom, when he will place a copy of his letter in the Library. [15241]

Mr. Hoon: I expect to provide the information requested in due course.

Public Appointments

Mr. Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many appointments he has made to public bodies since 7 June; and how many are in his gift. [15487]

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Dr. Moonie: Information on the numbers of ministerial appointments to public bodies is included in the Cabinet Office's annual report, "Public Bodies". Copies of this are placed in the Library of the House and the report is published on the Cabinet Office internet website. The next edition of "Public Bodies", which will include numbers of appointments at 31 March 2001, will be published around the end of the year.

Since the current edition of "Public Bodies" was published, the War Pensions Agency (and its 14 public bodies) has transferred to the Ministry of Defence, and we have re-classified two existing committees as non- departmental public bodies (the Nuclear Research Advisory Committee and the Advisory Group on Medical Countermeasures). As a result, MOD currently sponsors 33 non-departmental public bodies, with a total of 423 public appointments. Since 7 June 2001, 31 appointments have been made to these bodies.

Sovereign Bases

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions the Government have had with the Commission for Racial Equality concerning the applicability of the Race Relations Act 1976 to service personnel serving on sovereign bases outside the European Union. [15641]

Mr. Ingram: There have been no such discussions to date.

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will amend the UK armed forces policy statements on equal opportunities to make it clear that service personnel serving wholly on sovereign bases outside the European Union are not covered by the Race Relations Act 1976 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. [15637]

Mr. Ingram: The armed forces policy statements on equal opportunities are kept under review and will be updated if necessary once the legal position for service personnel serving on sovereign bases outside the European Union is clarified.

In addition I refer the right hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 8 November 2001, Official Report, column 380W.

Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many S10 NBC suits his Department has in stock and what is the average life expectancy from first use. [16159]

Mr. Ingram: The current in-service NBC suit is the Mk4. There are sufficient stocks of the suit to meet defence planning assumptions. I am withholding the information relating to specific quantities under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

The Mk4 NBC suit has a shelf life, vacuum packed, of eight years. Once unpacked, the suit remains operational for 28 days. In adverse biological and chemical environmental conditions this time would be considerably reduced.

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Defence Academy

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) academic and (b) military staff are employed at the Defence Academy. [15349]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 16 November 2001]: It is expected that in April 2002, the Defence Academy will employ some 190 academic and 280 military staff. The academy will also employ some 240 Ministry of Defence civil servants and 740 contractors' staff. Apart from the head of the academy and his personal staff, the small HQ support staff will be found from within current resources of the existing colleges.

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) to which top level budget holder in his Department the head of the Defence Academy reports; [15347]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 16 November 2001]: The Head of the Academy will be responsible and accountable to the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff for the work and development of the Academy. He will manage the academy's budget, for which he will be accountable directly to the joint managers of the Ministry of Defence Central Top Level Budget. The components of the Defence Academy such as RMCS Shrivenham and the Joint Services Command and Staff College will become cost centres of the academy and will report financially to the Head of the Academy. The Joint Doctrine and Concepts Centre will not be a part of the Defence Academy and will continue to report to the Policy Director.


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