15 Jan 2002 : Column 121W

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 15 January 2002

DEFENCE

HMS Invincible

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the refit of HMS Invincible will be completed; when she will be ready for service; and if he will make a statement. [26711]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 342W, to the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray).

Police

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the results from the review of the MOD police and the Atomic Energy Police will be announced. [27414]

Dr. Moonie: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 18 December 2001, Official Report, columns 176–77W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer). Stage 1 of the Ministry of Defence Police Quinquennial Review was completed last year and a copy of the Stage 1 report was placed in the Library of the House. Stage 2 has now commenced and will be completed as soon as possible. Issues relating to the UK Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many MOD police officers and staff there were in January (a) 1999, (b) 2000, (c) 2001 and (d) 2002. [26640]

Dr. Moonie: The staff figures for the Ministry of Defence Police Agency for the years 1999 to 2002 were as follows:

PoliceCivilian
1 January 19993,625240
1 January 20003,568271
1 January 20013,449273
1 January 20023,328263

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the Defence Police Federation on the size of the MOD police establishment since 11 September; and if he will make a statement. [26636]

Dr. Moonie: No discussions have taken place between Ministry of Defence Ministers and the Defence Police Federation regarding the size of the MOD police establishment since the events of 11 September. MOD police strength, however, is kept under constant review in the light of calls on the resources of the force.

15 Jan 2002 : Column 122W

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what vehicle the Chief Constable of the MOD police uses. [27413]

Dr. Moonie: The Chief Constable Ministry of Defence Police currently has the use of a Ford Scorpio. The vehicle is a force asset and can be utilised for other requirements.

Gibraltar

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many training operations have taken place in Gibraltar in the last three years. [27496]

Mr. Ingram: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 11 December 2001, Official Report, column 740W, to the hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray).

Wind Turbines

Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what resources have been made available to his Department for the fulfilment of its obligations under PPG 22 in advising district councils during the process of the issue of planning consent for an onshore wind turbine. [27333]

Dr. Moonie: No specific additional resources have been made available to the Ministry of Defence to enable them to assess onshore or offshore wind turbine proposals.

The consultation procedure mentioned in PPG 22 is known as Safeguarding. This is a statutorily based system whereby local planning authorities are required to consult the Defence Estates Safeguarding (DE Safeguarding) team on planning applications for development near to certain sites such as aerodromes, explosives storage areas or communications facilities. Safeguarding ensures that no development occurs that would interfere with the safety or effectiveness of military operations. There is no statutory obligation for the local planning authorities to consult DE Safeguarding on developments outside Safeguarded areas. However, as it is now widely recognised that wind turbines may interfere with radar, communication aids and low flying anywhere in the UK, the Safeguarding team is routinely included in consultations.

Defence Estates Safeguarding section acts as a focal point to co-ordinate the MOD response to both informal proposals from the wind energy industry and formal planning applications from local planning authorities. There are 10 technical advisers within the MOD who are consulted by Defence Estates on wind turbines proposals, all of whom undertake the assessment of the impact of the proposals in addition to their operational duties.

EU-NATO Co-ordination

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the co-ordination required between the Helsinki Initiative in the European Union and the Defence Capabilities Initiative in NATO countries; and if he will make a statement. [26855]

Mr. Hoon: Coherence and transparency between the two initiatives is very good and improvements achieved under either will be mutually beneficial. NATO experts have been closely involved with EU colleagues in work

15 Jan 2002 : Column 123W

to elaborate, identify and address the capabilities required for the Headline Goal. A large proportion of the capability requirements identified under European Security and Defence Policy, including those where shortfalls remain, are also being addressed by the Defence Capabilities Initiative.

Petersberg Tasks

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action will be taken to improve the level of enabling forces and weapons which are required to meet the Petersberg Tasks prior to 2008; and if he will make a statement. [26707]

Mr. Hoon: Under the Helsinki Headline Goal, EU member states are to be able, by 2003, to deploy and sustain for at least a year up to 60,000 personnel, with air and naval support as necessary, capable of conducting the full spectrum of Petersberg Tasks.

At a Capabilities Commitment Conference in November 2000 and the further Capabilities Improvement Conference in November 2001, member states contributed a wide range of forces and capabilities to this target. Member states have also agreed to put in place a European Capabilities Action Plan to address remaining shortfalls based on voluntary efforts and building on existing national and multinational initiatives. This work is now being pursued under the Spanish Presidency.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the upper range of possible Petersberg Tasks; what consultation there has been with other EU countries on Petersberg Tasks since 1992; and if he will make a statement. [26856]

Mr. Hoon: The Petersberg Tasks, as defined at the Western European Council of Ministers in Bonn in June 1992 and subsequently adopted by the EU in the treaty of Amsterdam are: humanitarian and rescue tasks; peacekeeping tasks and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking. It is impractical to define precisely the upper range of such operations, as this will change depending on the circumstances at the time. The work carried out since Helsinki to elaborate the requirements of the Headline Goal has included as a working assumption a potential use of EU-led forces to separate warring factions.

Aircraft Carriers

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the three aircraft carriers. [27499]

Mr. Ingram: Both HMS Ark Royal and Illustrious will continue in service into the next decade until the two new aircraft carriers enter service. HMS Invincible, the oldest ship of the class, will retire from service towards the end of this decade.

Battle of Trafalgar

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Government are making to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. [26528]

15 Jan 2002 : Column 124W

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence is working closely with a number of organisations to develop the Royal Navy's plans for the commemoration of the Battle of Trafalgar in 2005. Led by the Official Nelson Celebrations Committee, which brings together the interests of a wide range of maritime museums and associations connected with the Nelson heritage, a national and international programme of cultural and commemorative events is being discussed, among which a number of events involving the RN are being considered but, at this stage, it is too early to be precise.

Fraud

Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate his Department has made of the cost to its budget since 1 May 1997 of fraud; and if he will make a statement. [27295]

Dr. Moonie: The reported estimated cost to the Department of fraud since 1 April 1997 is £4,666,853.

No abatement is made for subsequent recoveries. The figure relates to a combination of suspected and proven frauds and thefts with estimated values refined from time to time as investigations, sometimes lasting a year or more, reach a conclusion. A significant element of estimated cost or value in any given year relates to initial "at risk" estimates applied to suspected procurement fraud. The majority of these are resolved as "no crime" or have a proven value significantly lower than original estimates.


Next Section Index Home Page