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Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what dense metals are used in the hard-target penetrators of the (a) GBU-24, (b) GBU-32 (upgraded), (c) GBU-37, (d) AGM-86D, (e) AGM-65G, (f) AGM-154C and (g) M220-TOW weapons systems. [20340]

Mr. Ingram: Only two of the weapons listed—a variant of the GBU-24 and a variant of the AGM-65—are in service with UK armed forces. Neither use depleted uranium or any other "dense metal" in their warheads.

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what dense metals (a) are and (b) have been used in the (i) development, (ii) testing and (iii) operational use of the BEe/RO BROACH MWS warhead systems. [20333]

Mr. Ingram: The only dense metal contained in the BROACH MWS is a tungsten-based alloy. No other dense metal is or has been used in its development or testing. The BROACH MWS is not forecast to enter service before August 2002.

Forces Personnel (Health Care)

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many armed forces personnel have been treated in the independent health care sector at his Department's expense in each of the last eight years; and if he will make a statement; [18431]

Dr. Moonie: Information is not readily available for the costs and numbers of personnel treated in the independent health care sector for the period of the last eight years. However, a series of initiatives undertaken in 2000 and 2001 have covered in total some 2,600 personnel at a cost of £4.7 million. These figures include investigations and out-patient appointments as well as treatment.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Ms Drown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out the time scale for ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; and what plans the Government have for the deployment of under-18s after its ratification. [19534]

Mr. Hoon: Officials in both the Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office are actively working on ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and we aim to ratify as soon as possible. We hope this will be in early 2002. The UK made a statement on signature of the Optional Protocol in September 2000 clarifying its understanding of the obligation on states (Article 1) to take all feasible measures to prevent the direct participation in hostilities of personnel under 18 years of age. The current work is aimed at finalising the detailed administrative guidelines for the armed forces which will give form to that

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commitment. Meanwhile, we take great care of the types of duty on which personnel under the age of 18 may be employed and ensure that none are deployed unless fully trained.

No service personnel under the age of 17 are deployed on operations. No personnel under the age of 18 carry out operational patrols in Northern Ireland, although 17-year-olds can be based in the Province. Also, under-18s are not deployed as aircrew or in submarines and, in line with UN policy, we do not deploy personnel under the age of 18 on UN peacekeeping operations.

The UK believes that, if it is widely ratified and its provisions properly implemented, the Protocol will represent a major step towards preventing the exposure of children, sometimes as young as seven or eight, to appalling danger and brutality, often by forceable recruitment into non-government forces.

Key Point Defence

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment of key point defence he has made since 11 September; what the outcome was (a) in Scotland and (b) in the rest of the UK; and what assessment he has made of the resources available in the UK to guard key points in the event of an emergency; [20887]

Mr. Ingram: The security and defence of key points within the UK is a matter for the police. Should the threat warrant additional security, beyond that which a particular constabulary are able to provide, they can call on assistance from other police forces across the country and, ultimately, from the armed forces. Under current arrangements, regular service personnel would be used to augment the police. Arrangements for mutual aid between police forces and for military support to the police are the same throughout the UK.

All counter terrorist contingency plans, including those relating to key points in the UK as a whole, are being reviewed to ensure they remain robust and relevant in the light of the terrorist attacks of 11 September. As part of work on the New Chapter of the Strategic Defence Review, consideration is being given to a possible increased role for the armed forces including the Territorial and Reserve Forces, in homeland security.

Nuclear Liabilities

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his estimate of the value of liabilities owed by his Department arising from radiological contamination at or arising from (a) nuclear submarine bases and berths, (b) nuclear weapons manufacture, (c) nuclear weapons design and developments, (d) military nuclear materials production and processing, (e) radioactive waste conditioning and storage, (f) nuclear weapons explosive testing within the United Kingdom and abroad and (g) nuclear propulsion reactor research, development and manufacture. [19882]

Mr. Ingram: As at 31 March 2001, the Ministry of Defence's nuclear liabilities amounted to £3,574,809,000 (representing the liabilities discounted at 6 per cent. and

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expressed in 2000–01 money values) or £16,039,639,000 (undiscounted) mainly arising from the areas noted. A more detailed breakdown is not available in the form requested.

Provision for liabilities and charges is included in the MOD's annual Departmental Resource Account. The Account for 2000–01 will shortly be published and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.


Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what communications British military personnel located in Afghanistan have had with the US Marines based near Kandahar. [20241]

Mr. Hoon: British forces in Afghanistan are in regular contact with the US Marines based near Kandahar.

Saif Sareea

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of desert-proofing equipment used by the UK military in Oman; and if he will make a statement. [12399]

Mr. Ingram: The vast majority of the UK military equipment deployed to Oman for Exercise Saif Sareea required no modification in order to operate in the climatic conditions encountered during the exercise. Although individual units may, at modest cost, have taken measures to prepare equipment for the exercise, a decision was taken not to fully desertise all major items of equipment. An example of individual unit measures was the fitting of sand filters and protective blade strips to RN helicopters, the costs of which could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

SA80 Mk II Rifle

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the deployment of the SA80 MK II rifle in the Army. [20632]

Mr. Ingram: The main deployment of the SA80 A2 rifle is due to take place between early 2002 and mid 2006. However some weapons have already been issued to elements of two UK based Brigades on standby for Operation Veritas. The Service Shooting Teams have also received rifles as part of an early deployment programme and have successfully used them in international competitions.

Early Warning Radar

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what work is to be undertaken under the programme for upgraded early warning radar support in the UK, allocated to the US ballistic missile defence organisation in their 2002 fiscal year budget. [20523]

Mr. Hoon: We have received no request from the United States for the use of facilities in the UK for missile defence purposes. The US ballistic missile defence organisation's 2002 fiscal year budget is a matter for them.

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Armed Forces Headquarters

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the dispersal of (a) brigade and (b) divisional permanent headquarters. [20886]

Mr. Ingram: The Strategy for the Army (SFTA), a copy of which is in the Library of the House, stated that the Army should be based progressively in the UK over time, becoming more regionally focused, whenever opportunities present themselves. Decisions on the future basing of Army units will be made against this background.

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