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Helicopters

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the replacement of (a) Lynx, (b) Gazelle and (c) Sea King helicopters at RNAS Yeovilton. [64618]

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Mr. Ingram: The Battlefield Light Utility Helicopter project, planned to enter service from the middle of this decade, is intended to replace the capability provided by the Lynx Marks 7 and 9 and the Gazelle. The Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft (SCMR) project will replace the capability currently provided by the Maritime Lynx Marks 3 and 8. SCMR is currently planned to enter service towards the end of this decade. A number of existing helicopter designs are potentially able to meet these requirements, including the Future Lynx proposal from Westlands Helicopter Ltd., and these will be considered further in the assessment phases of these projects.

The Support Amphibious and Battlefield Rotorcraft programme is designed to replace the capability provided by the Sea King Mk4 early in the next decade. The project is in its early stages and we have yet to decide on how the capability requirement will best be met.

On current plans the Lynx, Gazelle and Sea King helicopters (and their replacements) currently based at RNAS Yeovilton will continue to be based there. The planning assumption for naval helicopters to remain at Yeovilton will be reviewed when the Harrier force departs in 2006.

Amber Fox

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are for the EU to take over the operation Amber Fox; and if he will make a statement. [64812]

Mr. Ingram: NATO has been invited by the Macedonian Government to extend the mandate of Operation Amber Fox for a further four months until 26 October 2002. The Netherlands took over from Germany as lead nation on 26 June 2002.

At its recent meeting in Seville, the European Council expressed the European Union's willingness to take over from NATO in Macedonia at the end of NATO's current mandate provided that the permanent arrangements between the EU and NATO are in place by then.

Any follow-on mission would be at the invitation of the Macedonian Government.

Sub-continent (Weapons Capability)

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations his Department has received concerning the acquisition by India of Hawk aircrew training simulators. [65427]

Mr. Hoon: I am not aware of any such representations.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what discussions he has held with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry since December 2001 regarding arms export licence grants to (a) India and (b) Pakistan; [65448]

Mr. Hoon: I am withholding this information in accordance with Exemption 2 (Internal Discussions and Advice) of Part II of the Government's Code of Practice on Access to Government information.

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Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on arms sales to India and Pakistan. [65404]

Mr. Hoon: All relevant export licence applications for India and Pakistan are considered on a case by case basis against the Consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria, in the light of the answer given on 15 March 2002, Official Report, columns 1296–98W by my hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Bradshaw) to my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Love). The Government are keeping a very close eye on developments in the region and continue to apply the Consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria carefully and rigorously.

DECS PPP

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what savings he expects to achieve for the DECS PPP (a) as a result of changes in management practice and (b) as a result of inventory effectiveness; and what savings the DECS PPP has achieved so far. [64801]

Mr. Ingram: The Defence Electronic Commerce Services (DECS) Public Private Partnership (PPP) provides an electronic portal and associated infrastructure through which we can do business more effectively with our industrial partners. DECS hosts software applications, each of which are contracted individually. The first service, covering e-purchasing, has already enabled the DLO's Non-Project Procurement Office to generate savings of over £350,000 and the savings for May 2002 alone were estimated to exceed £100,000 when compared to the cost of transacting business in the traditional manner. We expect further savings to be generated as the DECS applications are developed and become more widely used across the Department. However, because DECS is designed to enable the defence acquisition community to operate more effectively, savings are not broken out and attributed directly to the system itself, or to management practise or inventory effectiveness.

Defence Attachés

Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the overall cost was of defence attachés in each financial year since 1999–2000. [65271]

Mr. Ingram: The overall cost of defence attachés in each financial year since 1999–2000 is as follows:

£ million

Financial yearCost
1999–200023.895
2000–0125.455
2001–0228.704

The Queen Mother

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his letter of 25 June to the hon. Member for Pendle, how many service personnel were involved in the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. [65255]

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Mr. Ingram: 2,922 service personnel, including Commonwealth troops and service chiefs, were involved in the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Merlin

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to give the Merlin helicopter an air to surface capability. [66032]

Mr. Ingram: There are no current plans to equip the Merlin helicopter with an air to surface capability. This is being kept under review.

Colchester Garrison

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the Investment Advisory Board has given consideration to the Colchester garrison PFI; and if he will make a statement. [66255]

Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence's Investment Approvals Board advises Ministers on major defence investment projects. The Board expects to consider this project again in the near future.

NATO Defence Ministers' Meeting

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals were made by the US Administration prior to the recent NATO Defence Ministers' meeting; and if he will place the relevant papers and letters from the US Administration in the Library. [66256]

Mr. Hoon: This is a matter for the United States Administration.

Royal Navy Bases

David Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future basing of Royal Navy ships and submarines and the future requirement for three naval bases. [66801]

Mr. Ingram: A joint Royal Navy/Warship Support Agency study team has recently completed a wide-ranging review of the base porting arrangements for Royal Navy warships and Royal Fleet Auxiliaries, and the infrastructure required to support them. Their recommendations have been endorsed by Ministers, and will be implemented subject to trade union consultation.

The three existing naval bases at Portsmouth, Devonport and Clyde are able to provide sufficient capacity to support the ships and submarines that are in-service, on order or planned.

The future aircraft carrier—the CVF—will be based at HM naval base Portsmouth. While it should be possible to berth two CVFs in Portsmouth simultaneously, for military reasons this may not be desirable. Options are therefore being considered to make use of an occasional stand-by berth for the high-readiness CVF. Further work on the design, operating patterns and manning are needed before a final decision can be made, although initial indications who show that Southampton could provide such a facility if required.

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As has been previously announced on 26 June 2002, Official Report, column 908W the batches one and two of Astute Class submarines will be based at HM naval base Clyde, and the Trafalgar Class will remain at Devonport.

With regard to the remainder of the fleet, the T45 Destroyers will progressively replace the T42 Destroyers based at Portsmouth. The two new amphibious ships, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, will join HMS Ocean at Devonport, creating an amphibious shipping centre of expertise. The current arrangements for the Vanguard Class nuclear powered ballistic missile Submarines, Frigates, Survey Ships and Minor War Vessels work well and will not be changed.


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