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Malcolm Bruce: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints were registered against his

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Department and its predecessor Departments in (a) 1990 to 1996 and (b) 1997 to 2002; how many are current; and what proportion were (i) taken up and (ii) upheld by the parliamentary ombudsman in those periods. [51589]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 22 April 2002]: Information on the total number of complaints registered against the Ministry of Defence is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Information on complaints submitted to the parliamentary ombudsman is contained in the ombudsman's annual reports, copies of which are available in the Library of the House or on the ombudsman's website at

Defence Expenditure

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much of the £950 million provided for defence since 11 September 2001 has been spent. [52361]

Mr. Hoon: The additions to the defence budget in 2001–02 from the reserve cover a number of heads, including the £252 million for the campaign against international terrorism. Final outturn figures for expenditure in 2001–02 are not yet available, but they are expected to show that most of the sum to which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor referred in his Budget speech has been spent in that year.


Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when aircraft designs for the A400M will be finalised; when contracts for the A400M will be signed off; when production of the A400M will start; and if he will make a statement on the A400M. [53418]

Dr. Moonie: The contract for the development and production of the A400M was signed on 18 December 2001, but its activation was subject to the German Government obtaining Bundestag funding approval. This was achieved in late March. The participating nations are in the process of implementing a jointly agreed mechanism designed to activate the contract at the earliest opportunity.

We expect that design work on the A400M will be completed by mid 2005. However, the progressive completion of the design will allow the manufacture of some major components to begin in 2004. Assembly of the first A400M aircraft is expected to begin in 2006.


Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether personal letters from lords-lieutenant to him are (a) treated officially and (b) delegated to junior ministers; [52340]

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Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 April 2002]: It is common practice for the Secretary of State for Defence to respond to letters addressed personally to him from members of the royal family and Members of Parliament who are fellow Privy Councillors. Letters from other hon. Members would normally be delegated to the responsible junior Minister for reply, although there will be some exceptions to this rule. Similarly, letters from Her Majesty's lords-lieutenant would normally be delegated to the responsible junior Minister or his private secretary. Letters from others will be handled on a case-by-case basis. Most will receive an official response, but some will receive a response from a Minister or one of his private secretaries.

Defence Medical Services

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with front-line commanders about the effects of medical limitations on their ability to deploy troops with particular reference to manning levels in the Defence Medical Services. [53873]

Dr. Moonie: The provision of appropriate levels of medical support to British forces is an integral element of operational planning. I am briefed regularly on operational issues.

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will (a) complete and (b) publish the Medical Manning and Retention Review; which outside organisation and individuals he will consult in the preparation of the review; and if he will make a statement. [53800]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 2 May 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 25 April 2002, Official Report, column 425W. The outcome of the review will be announced in due course. The review team includes an independent human resources consultant and we are also consulting the NHS, which is providing an adviser to the team, the Department of Health, the Office of Manpower Economics, the British Medical Association and the British Dental Association.


Mr. MacDougall: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many widows of Royal Air Force service men have been affected by his Department's error in deducting tax wrongly from their pensions; [54163]

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Dr. Moonie [holding answer 7 May 2002]: The potential for the issue of mistaken taxation of service invaliding pensions to apply to the Royal Navy and RAF as well as the Army was identified only very recently. Work is continuing to identify the extent of the error and I am therefore unable at present to provide numbers of affected RN and RAF pensioners. The total cost of the tax refunds to be paid will not be known until this work has been completed. No widow(er)s are directly affected as all widow(er)s' pensions under the Armed Forces Pension Scheme are taxable, regardless of whether their spouse was in receipt of an attributable pension. Some may, however, be affected indirectly as beneficiaries of a pensioner's will.

Overnight Accommodation

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what regulations it is permissible for non-service personnel to be given overnight accommodation at MOD bases; who has to agree to the stay; what notice has to be given; what notification must be given to security services; and if he will make a statement. [54263]

Dr. Moonie: Certain non-service personnel may be accommodated on Ministry of Defence bases in view of their duties or connection with the MOD, by authority of Defence Council Instructions. Commanding officers also have discretion to allow personnel to invite non-service personnel to stay in MOD accommodation, and to apply suitable rules. No requirements for periods of notice, or notification to the security services, are laid down centrally. Guests are registered with the MOD base authorities, generally by signing in at guardrooms or reception points.


Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to implement the recommendations of the second report of the Defence Committee, HC 348, on the threat from terrorism. [54165]

Mr. Hoon: The Government's response to the Committee's report was published on 7 March 2002 (HC 667). Work on the "New Chapter" to the Strategic Defence review is continuing. I expect to be in a position to publish some conclusions in the late spring or early summer.

Nuclear Weapons Tests (Compensation)

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on compensation claims made by former service men in respect of exposure to radiation in atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. [54213]

Dr. Moonie: We have every confidence in the independent studies carried out by the National Radiological Protection Board and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund that showed veterans' participation in the nuclear test programme has not had a detectable effect on their expectation of life, or on their risk of developing cancer or other fatal diseases. Consequently grounds do

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not exist for compensation to be paid to British nuclear test veterans or their surviving spouses and families. There are no plans to review this position.

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