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Third Airport (Paris)

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has made to the French authorities about the proposed building of a third airport for Paris on the Somme battlefields. [23598]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has made no representations to the French Government about any proposals for a third airport for Paris.


Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total cost to the taxpayer in respect of the construction, including the amount paid to the shipyard and the cost of weapons and sensor systems, incurred by his Department of (a) HMS Argyle, (b) HMS Marlborough and (c) HMS Lancaster. [23621]

Dr. Moonie: The information is not readily available. I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Military Bases

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those (a) Army, (b) Navy and (c) Airforce bases (i) whose closure has been announced since 1997 and (ii) where significant amounts of land or buildings have been sold since 1997. [24019]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has with other Government Departments when considering the (a) closure, (b) partial sale and (c) move of a military base. [24018]

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Dr. Moonie: While there are normally no formal discussions, as part of the decision making process for the closure, partial sale or move of a military base officials consider, where appropriate, the views of other Government Departments. However, as such decisions are primarily determined by operational requirements, the final decision rests with the Ministry of Defence.

Officials are fully aware of the impact of such changes on local communities and it is the MOD's policy to initiate an early and close dialogue with the local authorities and the regional government offices concerned. While it is for local authorities to deal with local concerns, officials seek to take local aspirations into account as far as possible in identifying alternative uses.

Sea Wolf

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Sea Wolf systems are to be upgraded as part of the Sea Wolf MLU programme. [23617]

Dr. Moonie: We currently plan to upgrade up to 46 systems.

Royal Ordnance Factories

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the Royal Ordnance factory in Chorley will play in defence contracts; and if he will make a statement. [23552]

Dr. Moonie: Royal Ordnance Chorley passed from Government ownership in 1988 and now forms part of Royal Ordnance Defence (ROD), itself a division of BAE Systems. The Chorley site presently provides ROD with munitions sub-component manufacture, assembly and testing facilities. Although the future use and utilisation of any ROD site is a matter for the company, I can confirm that ROD is currently reviewing its overall manufacturing strategy and I understand that the company has recently made an announcement to this effect to its employees.

Shegaird Radar Tests

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how the Shegaird radar tests affected low flying in west Somerset; and how many low flying aircraft were caught. [23550]

Dr. Moonie: The RAF police use a Skyguard radar system to undertake covert monitoring of military low flying aircraft and to record their heights and speeds. The results of this monitoring show that military aircrew operate in a professional manner. Data from the Skyguard deployment to the Minehead area between 3–7 December are still being evaluated. I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.


Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what deployment of British military personnel there is in Somalia; and if he will make a statement. [23640]

Mr. Hoon: There are no British personnel deployed in Somalia.

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Exercise Saif Sareea II

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the operational welfare package for servicemen and women not based at camps South and Sha'ata during Exercise Saif Sareea II. [21743]

Mr. Ingram: We have completed a First Impressions Report into the conduct of Exercise Saif Sareea II, which noted that there were some difficulties in delivering the Operational Welfare Package (OWP) to isolated detachments and to some units during the manoeuvre phases of the exercise. The report concludes that we should examine the requirement for a more mobile operational welfare capability but that, because there will always be limitations imposed by the essential nature of operations and exercises we should aim to deliver an OWP that can be provided within these constraints.

Work to address these issues is under way and the conclusions will be incorporated into an evaluation and review of the OWP, which starts in February 2002.

MOD Police

Dr. Palmer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the Quinquennial Review of the Ministry of Defence Police Agency. [24370]

Dr. Moonie: I announced terms of reference for Stage 1 of this review on 26 April 2001, Official Report, columns 307–08W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Regents Park and Kensington North (Ms Buck). The conduct and outcome of the review have not been connected with proposals relating to the MDP's jurisdiction in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill.

In line with central guidance on Quinquennial Reviews (QQRs), the central question for the review to date has been how far the Ministry of Defence continues to require the services of an in-house civil police force. The clear conclusion from Stage 1 of the review is that the MOD has a strong need for the MDP's services. Following careful analysis of the spectrum of crime risks facing the MOD, it is clear that the MDP provides by far the most cost-effective means of dealing with the most serious threats, of armed attack, public disorder, major theft and financial fraud. The study has clarified that the core role of the MDP is to apply civil police training and constabulary powers to combat these risks.

The MDP will, however, continue to provide other policing services both within MOD, and as now to external customers on repayment terms. They will also continue for the foreseeable future to provide a source of trained police manpower to deploy overseas, where required, in support of foreign policy objectives, as currently in Kosovo.

Although the new articulation of the MDP's core role focuses on specific categories of crime, this does not in any sense preclude the involvement of its officers in dealing with other types of offences on the Defence Estate, where it makes sense for them to do so.

We have also concluded that the MDP should remain an Agency within the MOD, in view of the benefits of improved management and increased visibility and accountability which this has already delivered. Important work continues in Stage 2 of the QQR, including an

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examination of the role of the MDP in providing policing support to MOD married quarters, the number and day-to-day employment of officers held in reserve to deal with unforeseen contingencies, and the operation of the Ministry of Defence Police Committee.

The QQR has underlined very clearly the vital importance of the MDP in helping to counter the risks to MOD of public disorder and armed attack. Sadly, the need for both these outputs has been highlighted recently by increased protest activity at certain Defence sites, and of course by the events of 11 September. I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the officers of the force, and civilians who support them, for the crucial work they are doing during these challenging and dangerous times.

I am placing a copy of the Stage 1 report in the Library of the House.

Medical Downgrading

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what he attributes the increase in servicemen medically downgraded between August 2000 and November 2001; and if he will make a statement. [21739]

Dr. Moonie: I assume that the figures to which the hon. Member refers are those given in my recent reply to him on 22 November 2001, Official Report, columns 369–70, and in a letter in response to a question from the right hon. and learned Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) in September 2000, Official Report, column 749W, dated 27 July 2000. The key figures are as follows:

1 August 20002,5109,1443,796
1 August 20019,7183,871
20 November 20013,678

Further work has now revealed that the November 2001 figure inadvertently included a group of some 850–900 personnel who do not fall within the 'medically downgraded' definition.

Regrettably it is not possible, from data currently held centrally, to provide an analysis of the causes of the increases. Improving data and analysis in this area is a high priority, on which action is already in hand.

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