11 Mar 2002 : Column 649W

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 11 March 2002


Challenger 2 Tank

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the MOD has for improvements to the Challenger 2 tank following the training exercise in Oman; what they will be; and if he will make a statement. [38279]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend the Minister for the armed forces gave on 22 January 2002, Official Report, column 733W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Clwyd, South (Mr. Jones).


Mr. Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions (a) coalition aircraft and (b) UK aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone in Iraq have (i) detected violations of the no-fly zones, (ii) detected a direct threat to a coalition aircraft and (iii) released ordnance in (1) January and (2) February, stating for each month the tonnage of ordnance released; what has been (A) the nature of the violation detected, (B) the nature of the threat detected and (C) the category of target attacked in percentage terms; and if he will make a statement. [38414]

Mr. Ingram: The information is:

(i) No-fly-zone (NFZ) violations are detected in several ways, though rarely (if ever) by tactical aircraft. For reasons of operational security we do not release details of detection methods. No violations of the southern NFZ were detected in January or February.

(ii) In January and February, coalition aircraft recorded threats on a total of 11 occasions, as follows:

10 of the recorded threats were attacks by anti-aircraft artillery. The remaining one was an attack by other weapons.

(iii) Coalition aircraft in the southern NFZ released 9 tons of ordnance in January, and none in February.

100 per cent. of ordnance released was in self-defence responses by coalition aircraft against military targets in the Iraqi Integrated Air Defence System.

Type 45 Destroyers

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the delays in the contract to build six type 45 destroyers; [39201]

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Dr. Moonie: As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced to the House on 10 July 2001, Official Report, columns 676–85, the timing of the contract was dependent upon the completion of satisfactory negotiations between the Ministry of Defence and the prime contractor, BAE Systems Electronics, and between the prime contractor, BAE Systems Marine and Vosper Thornycroft.

While it was originally planned that by September 2001 the parties would enter into a legally binding agreement, intensive work on the programme has clarified the timescales in which the shipbuilders had to make their investment decisions to maintain the T45 programme. The commitment, as announced by the Minister for Defence Procurement on 18 February 2002, has been made in time to allow the shipbuilders to make their investment decisions and participate in the programme as planned.

It should be emphasised that both shipbuilders have been working hard in the Type 45 programme under the prime contractor for around two years. The ship design, which is rapidly maturing, has been unaffected by the negotiations between the prime contractor and shipbuilders over the build contracts.

There are no additional costs due to the later than anticipated contract signing and we remain fully committed to achieving our scheduled in service date for the First-of-Class of 2007.

Army Personnel

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Lieutenant-Colonels, (b) Majors, (c) Captains, (d) Sergeant-Majors (Warrant Officer Class II), (e) Sergeants and (f) Corporals there are meant to be in the Army; and how many there are at the latest date for which figures are available. [39195]

Mr. Ingram: The following table shows the strengths, by rank, against the 2001 Manpower Planning Target.

Target figureStrength as at 1 February 2002
Sergeant-Major (WO II)4,4354,962

These figures do not include Lieutenant Colonels on the Special List (Lt Col (SL)), Warrant Officer Class I, Staff Sergeant or Lance Corporal.

The target figures for each rank are currently undergoing routine review; this will take into account the establishment changes made by individual budget holders since the 2001 targets were set. These establishment changes have, in particular, led to a marked increase in the requirement for staff officers at the rank of Major and Lieutenant Colonel.

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Nuclear Tests (Nevada)

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the joint UK/US Los Alamos National Laboratory underground sub-critical nuclear test which took place at Nevada on 14 February; and if he will give an undertaking that the information gathered from the test will not be used to design a replacement for existing Trident warheads. [40649]

Dr. Moonie: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 12 February 2002, Official Report, columns 165–66W, to my hon. Friend the Member for Cleethorpes (Shona McIsaac). The purpose of this experiment was to help us to ensure that UK nuclear weapons remain safe and reliable. No new warhead system is being designed by the UK and the experiment was entirely consistent with our obligations under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Court Martial

Mrs. Brooke: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people were sentenced to a period of imprisonment by court martial in the last year; and for what offences. [41362]

Mr. Ingram: During the year 2000, which is the most recent year for which complete figures are available at this time, the number of service personnel sentenced to imprisonment and military detention by courts-martial was as follows:

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Sierra Leone

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his plans for British troop deployments in Sierra Leone after the elections in that country. [40855]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 7 March 2002]: As I explained to the House on 11 February 2002, Official Report, columns 15–16, we are maintaining our current military presence in Sierra Leone of some 360 shore-based personnel over the period of the elections in May. Thereafter, our intention is that the International Military Advisory and Training Team will continue the task of developing the capacity of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.

Departmental Expenditure Limits

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 26 February 2002 to the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster), Official Report, column 1133W, on departmental expenditure limits, for what capital projects the sum of £261,594,000 transferred from the capital element to the resource element of the departmental expenditure limit had been earmarked. [41773]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 8 March 2002]: The circumstances that give rise to transfers between the Department's capital and resource expenditure limits were described in the answer given to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) on 6 March 2002, Official Report, column 325W. There are typically in excess of 1,000 capital projects and sub-projects under way in the Ministry of Defence at any given moment. It is not possible to attribute the sum transferred to individual projects, the spend profiles of almost all of which will have changed since the expenditure limits were set for the current year.

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