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Culture Online

Mr. Bryant: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport when Culture Online will be launched; and whether further funding will be available. [63907]

Tessa Jowell: I am announcing today the commitment of a further £10 million for Culture Online.

Together with over £3 million remaining development funding, this new investment will allow Culture Online to develop a range of innovative projects over the next two years. Culture Online will involve partnerships between cultural organisations and the private sector and we will be commissioning proposals for projects later this year. The funding will provide exciting new digital materials to enhance the school curriculum and lifelong learning. These new materials will be available through a Culture Online website and linked to the DfES Curriculum Online portal and the National Grid for Learning. Culture Online will monitor and evaluate projects to ensure the success of the programme.

DEFENCE

Departmental Expenditure Limit

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much and what proportion of the departmental expenditure limit for 2002–03 had been spent by 31 May; what the figures were for 2001–02; and if he will make a statement. [61011]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary (Mr. Boateng) on 17 June 2002, Official Report, column 130W.

Kashmir

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance he has offered to India and Pakistan to help secure the border of Kashmir; what assistance has been requested; and if he will make a statement. [62910]

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Mr. Hoon: In the context of the current crisis, I have not offered assistance to either India or Pakistan. Nevertheless, Her Majesty's Government believe that a verifiable end to cross-border infiltration from Pakistan into India is the first step in resolving the current tensions and have made this clear to the Governments of both countries.

Afghanistan

Angus Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what specialist troops Finland, Italy and Sweden have contributed to the ISAF; how long they will remain at ISAF's disposal; and if he will make a statement. [62894]

Mr. Hoon: Finland has contributed liaison teams and a civil military co-ordination team. Italy has contributed infantry, including an explosive ordnance disposal team, nuclear biological and chemical warfare reconnaissance troops, general support engineers and air transport. Sweden has contributed intelligence troops. How long those countries will leave their troops at ISAF's disposal is a matter for them. We were pleased with the swiftness and generosity with which contributing nations offered troops to ISAF when the UK was planning its leadership, and the large number of countries contributing demonstrates the strength of international commitment to the war against terrorism.

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions members of the UK armed forces have entered Pakistan during current operations based in Afghanistan. [62902]

Mr. Hoon: Since the United Kingdom element of the International Security Assistance Force was first deployed to Afghanistan, we have used a Forward Mounting Base in Pakistan. As a result, UK armed forces personnel regularly enter Pakistan.

Service Women

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the deployment of women into front line positions in the Royal Navy. [63175]

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Mr. Ingram: Women have served in the front line in surface ships since 1 September 1990. Women are currently excluded from serving in submarines and as mine clearance divers for medical safety reasons, but this policy is kept under review.

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the role of women in the Royal Marines. [63174]

Mr. Ingram: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 22 May 2002, Official Report, columns 363–64W to my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, North (Helen Jones). Women may serve in the Royal Marines Band Service and in units operating in support of 3 Commando Brigade. They are, however, excluded from the Royal Marine General Service. The policy will be kept under periodic review.

Colchester Garrison

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 17 June 2002, Official Report, column 37W, on Colchester garrison, on what date his Department's PFI project team and RMPA Services co-located in offices in central London; who owns the premises; who is paying the operating costs of (a) the premises and (b) staff; and how many (i) of his Department's and (ii) RMPA Services staff are engaged. [63458]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 19 June 2002]: Elements of the Ministry of Defence's Private Finance Initiative (PFI) project team and RMPA Services co-located in offices in central London on 7 February this year. The building is owned by a third party. Sir Robert McAlpine have taken a lease on one floor of the building and have sub-let offices to the MOD and RMPA Services, who are each paying their own costs for both offices and staff. Five members of the MOD Colchester project team (including consultants' staff) have been co-located with nine RMPA Services staff (including members of three partner companies: Sir Robert McAlpine, Sodexho and WS Atkins).

Red Arrows

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how long he expects the Red Arrows' Hawk aeroplanes to remain in service; and what his long-term plans are for their replacement. [63382]

Mr. Ingram: Current plans assume that the Red Arrows' Hawk aircraft will remain in service until 2010. It has not yet been necessary to make plans for their replacement.

Defence Attachés

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the countries in which UK defence attachés were in place in (a) July 1998 and (b) April 2002, stating in each case the number of attachés in post; and if he will make a statement. [51253]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 25 April 2002]: This information has been placed in the Library.

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TRANSPORT

Lewes Bypass

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent assessment he has made of the noise levels experienced by residents of Lewes arising from surface noise from the A27 Lewes bypass; if he will make it his policy to secure the early resurfacing of this road; and if he will make a statement. [62312]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 18 June 2002]: I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Tim Matthews, to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from Tim Matthews to Mr. Norman Baker, dated 20 June 2002:





Downing Street

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what legal curtailments are in place to prevent the exercise of rights to use the public highway in the case of Downing Street. [62663]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 18 June 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave to the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) on 7 February 2002, Official Report, column 1094W, and 19 December 2001, Official Report, column 538W.

Bus Services

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what mechanisms are available to local authorities to influence the quality, accessibility and coverage of bus services. [62967]

Mr. Spellar: The Transport Act 2000 requires local authorities to draw up a local transport plan with policies to promote and encourage safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport services and facilities. Every plan must include a bus strategy containing policies as to how they intend to use their powers to secure the provision of local bus services meeting local needs.

The Act also provides powers for local authorities to make quality partnership schemes with operators of local bus services, to make ticketing schemes to promote joint or through ticketing between operators, and to make provision for making information about bus services available to the public. The Act also provides for local authorities to make quality contract schemes, involving the tendering of an entire local network, where this is the only practicable way for them to implement the policies set out in their bus strategies.

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