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21 Oct 2002 : Column 55W—continued

Belfast City Cemetery

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the re-instating of the headstones of the war graves situated in Belfast City Cemetery which were removed after being vandalised in 1979; and if he will make a statement. [75068]

Dr. Moonie: Ministers take a close interest in the proper maintenance of war graves wherever they are, but this is a matter for Belfast City Council and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Fire Study 2000

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what savings in costs are envisaged in the Fire Study 2000. [75092]

Mr. Ingram: This information is not yet available. Fire Study 2000 continues to be developed to inform a robust Public Sector Comparator for the Airfield Support Services Project. When the Study is complete we will have a clearer view of the potential savings.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 16 October, Ref 36810, what reasons underlay the length of time needed to provide a substantive reply. [76176]

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Dr. Moonie: I apologise for the lengthy delay in replying which was due to an administrative error.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the written questions asked of him between (a) 1 to 30 June 2001, (b) 1 to 31 July 2001, (c) 1 to 30 September 2001, (d) 1 to 31 October 2001, (e) 1 to 30 November 2001, (f) 1 to 31 December 2001, (g) 1 to 31 January 2002, (h) 1 to 28 February 2002, (i) 1 to 31 March 2002 and (j) 1 to 30 April 2002 that had not received a substantive answer by 30 April; and if he will state (i) the name of the hon. Member asking the question and (ii) the reasons the question had not received a substantive answer. [54087]

Dr. Moonie [holding reply 2 May 2002]: The number of questions that have not received a substantive answer is set out in the table below.

MonthNo still to receive a substantive reply
1–20 June 2001Nil
1–31 July 20011
1–30 September 20010
1–31 October 20012
1–30 November 20013
1–31 December 20011
1–31 January 200213
1–28 February 200225
1–31 March 200229
1–30 April 200211

Officials are working to provide substantive answers to the questions as soon as possible. In some cases the information is not immediately available in the form requested, and additional time is required to answer.

Ministers aim to answer named day written questions on the day named and ordinary written questions within five working days.

The name of the hon. Member asking the question could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

HAARP Programme

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the HAARP programme; and what contribution Britain is making to it. [75022]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence is fully aware of the HAARP project. However the MOD has made no specific assessment of the project for defence purposes nor has it contributed towards it.

Military Trucks

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the contract for military trucks. [75028]

Dr. Moonie: Bids for the military trucks contract were received from four companies on 25 June 2002 and are currently being assessed.

Staff Relocation

Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the decision to agree in principle the relocation of DSTL staff from Winfrith has taken into account the

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economic impact (a) on rural areas and (b) of supporting locally based defence contractors in the South Dorset area. [75939]

Dr. Moonie: A Regional Impact Assessment was carried out by staff in the office of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Director General Management and Organisation. The assessment concluded that the loss of approximately one hundred jobs from the Winfrith area, though regrettable, should not significantly affect the area in the longer term. The plans do though, offer significant benefits to Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and MOD in terms of improved technical synergy and operational effectiveness and also to staff through better career development opportunities.

Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research his Department has conducted to assess the cost benefits to be gained from moving DSTL staff from Winfrith to Portsdown Main; and what evidence has been gathered to prove the scientific benefits of co-location of staff. [75940]

Dr. Moonie: Options for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) site rationalisation were considered on the issues of improved technical synergy and operational effectiveness and on affordability. The selected option demonstrates the greatest improvements in technical synergy and operational efficiency while remaining affordable.

To examine the financial benefits, an investment appraisal model was produced. To meet Treasury requirements financial modelling has to cover a 25-year period. Dstl plans fully meet all Ministry of Defence and Treasury financial targets. This appraisal has been subject to an independent review by the MOD Senior Economic Adviser.

Studies show that to preserve, sustain and develop the essential technical capabilities found in Dstl a critical mass of staff is required that cannot be achieved with the current dispersed organisation. Geographical fragmentation of the workforce inhibits our ability to build technical excellence and the dispersion of staff significantly degrades the effectiveness and efficiency of the organisation.

Dartmoor National Park

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will renegotiate the leasing arrangements with the Duchy of Cornwall to exclude the two highest points in the Dartmoor National Park for live firing purposes. [74933]

Dr. Moonie: The implications of the Ministry of Defence's use of Yes Tor and High Willhays are currently under consideration and officials will meet shortly with Duchy representatives to discuss the position.

Gulf War

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the pension award made to the former Territorial Army medical auxiliary Shaun Rusling following illness he suffered after the Gulf War. [75461]

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Dr. Moonie: Ex-Reserve Forces personnel who have served during the Gulf conflict, and who are injured or fall ill as a result of that Service, may be entitled to benefits under the War Pensions Scheme and the Reserve Forces (Attributable Benefits etc) Regulations. It would not be appropriate for the Ministry of Defence to disclose details of the benefits awarded to Mr. Shaun Rusling under these schemes, as they are of a personal and private nature. I am therefore withholding them in accordance with Exemption 12 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.


Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) murders and (b) kidnappings have taken place in Kabul in each month since ISAF was established. [75223]

Mr. Ingram: We do not hold the information requested.


Housing (Right to Buy)

Ms Oona King: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will place a copy of the research commissioned by his Department by the universities of Bristol and Birmingham into the impact of the February 1999 changes to the limits on right to buy discounts in the Library. [74821]

Mr. McNulty: A copy of the report will be placed in the library of the House when it is published. This is expected to be early in 2003.

Alconbury Airfield

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will decide on the Planning Inspectorate's report concerning the proposed development at Alconbury Airfield, Cambridgeshire. [74834]

Mr. McNulty: The Inspector's report has not yet been sent to the Deputy Prime Minister for decision. At this stage, therefore, it is not possible to say when the decision will be issued.

Fire Service

Mr. Wray: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) women and (b) members of ethnic minorities are in the Fire Service; and what targets have been set in this area.

Mr. Leslie: As at 31 March 2002 there were 6,277 women and 1,040 staff from minority ethnic background in the fire service in England and Wales as a whole. The following table shows the breakdown by service areas:

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Operational Staff (Uniformed) (Wholetime and Retained)Control Staff (Uniformed)Total Uniformed StaffNon UniformedTotal
Percentage of total employed in service area1.7%80%4%59%11.0%
Minority Ethnic Staff698137113291040
Percentage of total employed in service area1.5%0.85%1.4%4.6%1.8%

Fire service targets are to work towards 15 per cent. of operational staff to be women by 2009, and 7 per cent. of the uniformed and 8 per cent. of the non uniformed work force to be from minority ethnic background, also by 2009.

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many incidents firemen were called out to for each of the last five years, broken down by fire authority. [75178]

Mr. Leslie: I have placed the information on incidents attended by Local Authority Fire Brigades in the UK for the last five years for which data are available in the library of the House.

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