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Yachts (French Nationals)

Mr. Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will hold discussions with (a) the European Commission and (b) the French Government on the operation of the French national rules requiring that yachts registered in France must be captained at all times by French nationals, with regard to the freedom of movement of labour within the EU; whether she has assessed the impact of these rules on the employment of UK nationals; and if she will make a statement. [62098]

Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 18 June 2002]: I have been asked to reply.

We support the principle of free movement of labour within the EU and the need to ensure that exceptions are clearly justified.

Government officials have previously been in contact with the European Commission about the French national rules, which the French Government have argued in the past reflect public duties placed on the captains of French vessels. The Commission has expressed the view that these appear compatible with Community law. My Department will consider any particular case that is brought to our attention.

UK Petrol Stations

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many petrol stations in the United Kingdom have installed vapour recovery equipment in the last year to comply with EC directives. [65248]

Mr. Meacher: I have been asked to reply.

Under Directive 94/63/EC, implemented under the Environment Protection Act 1990, from 31 December 2001 all existing petrol stations in the UK with an annual throughput greater than 500 cu m are required to have

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installed Stage I petrol vapour recovery controls. It is estimated that this measure is likely to have effected around 1,700 petrol stations in the UK over a six year period, based on 1998 site figures. In England and Wales local authorities are responsible for the implementation of Stage I equipment at petrol stations in their region. In Scotland this is the role of SEPA and in Northern Ireland the local enforcing authority.


Ministerial Visits

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how often Ministers in his Department visited United States Government military bases and establishments on United Kingdom territory between 1 January 1997 and 1 January 1999; which Ministers were involved; what the date of the visit was; and which United States military facility was visited on each occasion. [53383]

Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 30 April 2002, Official Report, column 745W.

Sub-continent (Weapons Capability)

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what discussions he has held with the Secretary of State for International Development regarding increases in overall weapons capability of (a) India and (b) Pakistan between December 2001 and June 2002; [65430]

Mr. Hoon: In light of the recent tensions between India and Pakistan, I have discussed the weapon capabilities of India and Pakistan with Cabinet colleagues on several occasions during the period in question.

Munitions Depots

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements are in place for (a) staff consultation, (b) assistance to staff from the employment service and (c) consultation with the local planning authority in respect of the closure of West Dean munitions depot. [65713]

Mr. Ingram: Defence Munitions (DM) entered into formal consultation procedures with the national trade unions on 24 June. Consultation is due to complete on 2 August. Each member of staff at the depot has been given a copy of a consultative document. As part of the Staff consultation process the local trade unions have been invited to an open day on 10 July, to be briefed on the background, conduct and findings of the work which led to the recommendation to close the DM site at Dean Hill.

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Although their involvement in no way precluded the formal consultation process, TU representatives also provided valuable advice throughout the process.

The Ministry of Defence outplacement scheme will be involved should the depot close as proposed, and would help staff find alternative opportunities. This would include help in CV preparation, coaching in interviewing techniques, and retraining skills if appropriate.

The local planning authority (Test Valley) are aware of plans to close DM Dean Hill. They, Defence Estates and Defence Munitions have already met to discuss the potential impact of depot closure and options for developing the site.

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the consultation period will end on his proposal to close Dean Hill munitions depot; and if he will list the consultees. [67833]

Mr. Ingram: The formal consultation period began with the issue of a Consultative Document on 24 June 2002 and was originally due to complete on 2 August. However, following recent representations from the trade unions the consultation period has been extended by two weeks and will now conclude on 16 August 2002. Formal consultation with the trade unions is being carried out at departmental level, i.e. with the MOD Council of Civil Service Unions (MOD CCSU) and the MOD Industrial Whitley Council (MOD DIWC). For completeness the Defence Police Federation and the Chief Police Officers' Association are also involved in this consultation exercise.

The formal consultation process is being supplemented by informal contact with the trade unions and staff within Defence Munitions. Officials of the DM Whitley committees have received personal copies of the consultation document, as has every member of staff in the Dean Hill depot. A copy has also been posted on an internal MOD website. The formal study report has also been sent to key members of the national trade unions and is available to DM staff and other TU representatives upon request. A DM trade union open day has been arranged for 10 July at which DM trade union representatives will hear about the background to the proposal to close the depot.

Low Flying

Mr. Liddell-Grainger: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact Apache training will have on Somerset; and if low-flying will be conducted in the county. [67589]

Dr. Moonie: Unfortunately, there are no uninhabited areas of the United Kingdom large enough to meet all our essential military aircraft training needs. It is, therefore, our policy that, in principle, the whole of the United Kingdom is open to low flying by military aircraft in order to spread the disturbance as thinly as possible.

The Ministry of Defence is fully committed to ensuring that our relationships with local communities are as harmonious as possible. To that extent, we will do all that we can to keep disturbance to an absolute minimum, while maintaining the training of the armed forces which is vital to their operational readiness. It is inevitable, however, that Somerset will see some proportion of military aircraft activity, including that of the Apache.

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Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints about low-flying military aircraft have been made by (a) residents of the county of Somerset and (b) residents of Taunton Deane in each of the last five years. [68546]

Dr. Moonie: The information requested is set out in the table below for each of the last five training years running from 1 April to 31 March. The numbers quoted will include a small number of inquiries as well as complaints.

Training YearComplaints from residents of SomersetComplaints from residents of Taunton Deane
1 April 1997–31 March 199824136
1 April 1998–31 March 199922423
1 April 1999–31 March 200023637
1 April 2000–31 March 200119524
1 April 2001–31 March 200223026

Syd Rapson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the pattern of military low flying activity in the United Kingdom during training year 2001–02. [69357]

Dr. Moonie: The ability to fly fast and low continues to be an essential skill in our armoury of tactics. Training for aircrew to achieve and maintain these skills is vital.

The amount of low flying training carried out in the UK Low Flying System (UKLFS) during the training year April 2001 to March 2002 was the minimum necessary for aircrew to reach and maintain these skills. Hours booked for low flying training in the UKLFS (excluding the Rotary Wing Dedicated User Areas, where different booking arrangements apply) during this period amounted to an overall increase of 8.7 per cent. compared to the previous training year. It is likely that there are a variety of reasons for this increase, such as preparation for operations, the return of Royal Air Force squadrons from Germany and low flying by the Eurofighter and Apache aircraft in preparation for their introduction into service. Since detailed records of hours booked began in 1995, the annual total has reduced by some 31 per cent.

The distribution of low flying training across the UK has not changed significantly over previous years. It is spread as widely as practicable, but for a variety of reasons including population distribution, and geographic and climatic considerations, it is inevitable that some parts of the country will see more low flying than others.

I have today placed in the Library of the House a report giving a detailed account of low flying training in the UK Low Flying System for the period April 2001 to March 2002.

Further copies of the report can be obtained from the following address: Directorate of Air Staff, Ministry of Defence, Room 6/62, Metropole Building, Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5BP or it can be viewed on the MOD's website:

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