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Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Council if he will ensure that each new Bill undergoes pre- legislative scrutiny similar to that of the Communications Bill. [60065]

Mr. Robin Cook: As I made clear to my hon. Friend in answer to his question of 23 May 2002, Official Report, column 395, it is our intention that pre-legislative scrutiny should become the norm for Government legislation. However, capacity constraints, including the number of the Parliamentary draftsmen, mean that it may take some years to achieve this. The appropriate form of scrutiny will vary from Bill to Bill. Many draft Bills will fall naturally to pre-existing Select Committees, some may be scrutinised by Joint Committees and others by ad hoc Committees of either House. The detailed method of scrutiny is a matter for the Committee examining a particular Bill.

The Government nevertheless welcome the use of electronic forms of communication to involve the public in such scrutiny.


Mr. Allen: To ask the President of the Council if he will ask the Commission to amend the rules concerning spouse warrants to enable hon. Members' families to travel more often. [60066]

Mr. Robin Cook: This is not a matter for the Commission. I am not aware of great demand for an increase in the present number of 15 return journeys for

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spouses and each child, but this would be an issue the Speaker's Advisory Panel could consider if there are substantial concerns.


Armed Forces Pension Scheme

Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 12 February 2002, Official Report, column 178W, on the armed forces pension scheme, when he will write to the hon. Member. [43325]

Dr. Moonie: I wrote to the hon. Member on 6 June and a copy of my letter has been placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the agencies that have been responsible for the administration of armed forces pensions since 1972. [60543]

Dr. Moonie: Until 1997, when the Armed Forces and Administration Agency (AFPAA) was formed as a partnership between Ministry of Defence and Electronic Data Services (EDS), administration for the armed forces pension scheme was undertaken in-house by the three single services. From 1997, AFPAA has undertaken the administration, ie the calculation and award, of pensions on behalf of Navy and RAF personnel, with administration for the Army remaining with that service until 1 October 2001, when it too became part of AFPAA.

The actual payment of pensions to retired forces personnel has since been made on MOD's behalf in respect of Navy and RAF personnel and Army officers, by the 1830s Paymaster (formerly Paymaster General). Payments of pensions for other ranks in the Army were retained in house until 1 October 2001, when these payments were also transferred to Paymaster.


Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the agenda is of the meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in Prague from 18 to 24 November; and what the United Kingdom's objectives are for the meeting. [59822]

Mr. Hoon: The NATO summit will take place in Prague on 21–22 November. There is no formal agenda as yet, although we expect that capabilities, enlargement, the new relationship with Russia, NATO's adaptation to the changed strategic setting, strengthening of the NATO-EU relationship and partnership will be discussed. The United Kingdom's principal objective at Prague will be to ensure the continued effectiveness and relevance of an enlarged Alliance in the face of new challenges.

Nuclear Deterrents

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people working in the armed forces are directly employed in the area of nuclear deterrent. [60284]

Dr. Moonie: There are currently some 1,509 full-time armed forces posts in the Ministry of Defence and its agencies for tasks directly related to the nuclear deterrent,

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though not all posts are filled at any given time. In addition, a number of other service personnel spend some of their time directly or indirectly on such tasks but comprehensive data are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

David Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the cost (a) of retaining the nuclear deterrent by the UK in each year since 1990 and (b) of being a part of NATO and the percentage this was of the defence budget in each year since 1997. [60283]

Mr. Hoon: The estimated total acquisition cost of the Trident programme is £9,764 million. As described in the Strategic Defence Review Supporting Essay 5 of July 1998, a copy of which is in the Library of the House, the average annual operating cost of the Trident force is expected to be around £280 million. As a percentage of the defence budget, the capital and running costs for retaining the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent for each year since 1990 were as follows:

Financial yearCapital costsRunning costs

These figures do not include the costs of the WE177 free-fall nuclear bomb and Lance nuclear artillery system that went out of service in 1997–98 and 1992–1993 respectively.

The United Kingdom's contributions to NATO's Security Investment Programme and Military Budget are funded by the Defence budget. For each year since 1997, these were as follows:

Financial year£ millionPercentage

Final figures for 2001–02 are not yet available.

Public Consultation

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the public consultations undertaken by his Department since June 2001, stating in each case the (a) number of respondents and (b) percentage of those specifically consulted who responded. [60143]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 10 June 2002]: Since June 2001 the Ministry of Defence has completed or undertaken the following public consultations:

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The MOD also issued a public discussion document on the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) New Chapter during this period.

1,500 Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) Review and Joint Compensation Review (JCR) consultation documents were issued in March 2001 with a closing date of 31 July 2001 for responses. These were issued to all units of the three services and also sent to ex-service organisations such as the Forces Pension Society, Widows Associations and the Royal British Legion. 20,000 leaflets were also distributed to serving members of the armed forces and the consultation documents were issued on the MOD website. 203 responses were received in total, with some respondents commenting on both the AFPS and JCR. Responses were received from all the principal ex-service organisations specifically consulted.

The 2nd consultation on the Introduction of a Voluntary Screening Programme for Depleted Uranium was issued in April 2001 with a closing date of 4 July 2001 for responses. A total of 21 responses were received by the Department and a full summary of the responses received is available on the MOD website.

I am unable to provide the requested information for the MOD Police Quinquennial Review in the time available. I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

In addition, the SDR New Chapter public discussion document has attracted a wide range of constructive responses, some 315 to date. The closing date for responses was 15 March 2002 and all have been given full consideration in the continuing SDR New Chapter work.

Nuclear Test Veterans

Mr. Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on compensation for the families of nuclear test veterans. [60780]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has 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 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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