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The Defence Evaluation and Research Agency

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many lawyers are employed by DERA; and at what cost in the last 12 months. [39146]

Dr. Moonie: As part of the implementation of the DERA public-private partnership, the DERA Trading Fund Agency was disestablished on 1 July 2001. From its constituent parts two new organisations were created: QinetiQ plc, a wholly Government owned company, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), an agency of the Ministry of Defence.

Prior to vesting of the company, DERA employed three lawyers and 11 patent attorneys and would have also used the services of the MOD's legal department and consulted external legal advisers where appropriate. These costs fell to a number of different departments within the former DERA and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Since vesting, Dstl has used the services of the MOD's legal department and occasionally employed external legal advisers. QinetiQ employs six barristers/solicitors and 11 patent attorneys to deal in the main with intellectual property matters. It also employs external lawyers as and when necessary in connection with its joint venture and other business activities. In addition, a number of external lawyers have been contracted to advise on aspects of the PPP, including intellectual property, trademark and contractual issues. I am withholding details of costs in accordance with Exemption 14 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Special Urgency Provisions

Mr. Luff: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how often the Department has applied the special urgency provisions in paragraph 22 of Circular 18/84 (Development by Government Departments) to a development by the Department; and if he will make a statement. [38711]

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

Ministry of Defence Police

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent guidance has been given to the MDP on the compatibility of their responsibilities for guarding (a) civil and (b) defence sites; and if he will make a statement. [39538]

Dr. Moonie: The primary responsibility of the Ministry of Defence police is to provide policing services to the Ministry of Defence. I refer the hon. Member to the

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answer I gave on 18 December 2001, Official Report, column 176W to my hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Dr. Palmer), about the ongoing Quinquennial Review of the MDP. The MDP will however continue to provide certain policing services, as now, to external customers on repayment terms.

Submarines

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when it is planned that each of the S and T class fleet submarines will be paid off. [40312]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 4 March 2002]: HMS Swiftsure was operationally decommissioned in 1992. The planned operational decommissioning dates for the remainder of the Royal Navy's S class submarines are given in the table.

Swiftsure class SSNPlanned operational decommissioning date
HMS Sovereign2005
HMS Superb2006
HMS Sceptre2010
HMS Spartan2006
HMS Splendid2003

The planned operational decommissioning dates for the Royal Navy's Trafalgar class submarines are shown in the table.

Trafalgar class SSNPlanned operational decommissioning date
HMS Trafalgar2007
HMS Turbulent2008
HMS Tireless2011
HMS Torbay2021
HMS Trenchant2023
HMS Talent2017
HMS Triumph2019

QinetiQ

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total cost was to QinetiQ of its proposal to base the future strategic tanker aircraft fleet at Boscombe Down airfield. [39315]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 4 March 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 9 April 2001, Official Report, column 368W, on the costs incurred by DERA, prior to its disestablishment as part of the DERA PPP on 1 July 2001, on its bid to base the future strategic tanker aircraft fleet at Boscombe Down. Information relating to any further costs incurred by QinetiQ since it was vested as a plc is commercial in confidence and is therefore withheld under Exemption 14 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

RAF Chilmark

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what have been (a) the costs to date of achieving certificated explosive ordnance clearance, (b) the revenue from sale of part of the site and (c) the area sold at RAF Chilmark. [39316]

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Dr. Moonie [holding answer 4 March 2002]: The cost over five years since the closure of RAF Chilmark for clearing explosive ordnance has been in the region of £1.7 million. Receipts from sales of parts of the site since the closure total £1.5 million. The area of RAF Chilmark which has been sold is 65.2 hectares (161 acres).

Axis Chemical Weapons

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the classification of documents relating to the dumping of Axis chemical weapons in the Baltic Sea by the Allies after World War Two. [40621]

Dr. Moonie: In accordance with custom and practice after World War Two, many records of sea disposals of munitions, including chemical weapons (CW), were destroyed when they were perceived to be of no further administrative use. As a result of this practice, a detailed inventory of all munitions and CW dumped at sea does not exist.

Where relevant British records on sea dumpings of munitions and CW have survived, these have been declassified and transferred to the Public Record Office in accordance with the terms of the Public Records Act, 1958 and 1967. Furthermore, as the disposals took place largely between 1945 and 1948, prior to the creation of NATO, we are not aware of any NATO papers on this issue.

War Cemeteries

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has made to the French Government about plans to build on war cemeteries for a new Paris airport. [40582]

Dr. Moonie: Her Majesty's Government have made no representations to the French Government about plans to build on war cemeteries for a new Paris airport. At this stage the matter is entirely the responsibility of the French authorities. However, following media speculation about the possibility that First World War cemeteries containing some British and Commonwealth casualties may be affected if the project goes ahead, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which is responsible for the maintenance of the graves, has written to the French Ministry of the Interior seeking further clarification of the proposals. They have drawn attention to the concern expressed in the UK and have asked to be kept informed of any developments.

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has made to the Belgian Government on plans to extend the A19 over war cemeteries. [40583]

Dr. Moonie: The Government have had no discussions with the Belgian Government regarding the proposal to extend the A19 motorway across a previously undeveloped section of Pilckem Ridge, a battlefield in the Ypres Salient. In view of the number of British soldiers who lost their lives in this campaign and whose bodies were never found, it has been suggested that the area should remain untouched as an historical heritage site, but this is a matter for the Belgian Government to decide on.

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However, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has had discussions with the Belgian authorities seeking clarification of the proposals. The Commission has been assured that while the proposed route has not as yet been finalised, it will not interfere with any of the cemeteries it maintains.

US Visiting Forces

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total strength is of US visiting forces based in the UK; and where they are located. [39849]

Mr. Ingram: As at 28 February 2002, 13,457 members of the United States visiting forces were present in the United Kingdom. Numbers of the USVF by location are shown in the table.

SiteUSVF numbers at each site
RAF Alconbury/Molesworth/Upwood1,098
RAF Croughton/Barford St. John377
RAF Daws Hill/West Ruislip Eastcote/USN London1,118
RAF Digby47
RAF Fairford/Welford189
RAF Feltwell132
RAF Fylingdales1
RAF Hythe5
RAF Lakenheath4,853
RAF Menwith Hill1,396
RAF Mildenhall3,913
Northwood18
RAF Oakhanger1
RAF St. Mawgan309

In addition, there are approximately 140 US service personnel present in the UK, mainly serving in singleton posts at a wide variety of locations who are either participating in UK/US exchange programmes or engaged in specific bilateral projects or operational posts.


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