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23 Oct 2002 : Column 344W—continued

Correspondence

David Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the hon. Member for Walsall, North will receive a reply to his letter of 29 July regarding a constituent, reference 15775/2; and if he will make a statement on the reasons for the delay in replying. [74914]

Beverley Hughes [holding answer 21 October 2002]: I apologise for the delay in responding to my hon. Friend's letter of 29 July about Mr. Singh. I wrote on 23 October 2002.

Police Numbers (Somerset)

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police officers there are in (a) West Somerset and (b) South Somerset (i) in absolute terms, (ii) per head of population and (iii) per notifiable offence; and if he will make a statement. [75842]

Mr. John Denham [holding answer 22 October 2002]: Police strength information at force level is collected twice a year in March and September. Information for individual divisions/basic command units is not collected centrally.

As at 31 March 2002 Avon and Somerset Constabulary employed 3,096 police officers (full time equivalents). This is a record level. The force had 204.8 officers per 100,000 population. There were 178,991 recorded crimes in Avon and Somerset in 2001–2002, 57.8 crimes per officer.

DEFENCE

PFI

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what project and equipment procurement are being considered for a private finance initiative scheme; if he will list the projected (a) start date, (b) value and (c) life of the contract; and if he will make a statement. [76495]

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Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has a forward programme of more than 40 PFI projects. Of these some 19 have progressed to various stages in the procurement process as shown below. Further information on the status of individual projects is available on the Ministry of Defence's PFI Website at http://www.mod.uk/business/pfi/index.htm. The start date, value and length of some projects has not yet been determined or is commercially sensitive and is not therefore on the website at present. Further information will be added as decisions are taken.

Projects Advertised:























HMS Sheffield

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what changes will have been made to the balance sheet value of HMS Sheffield in respect of (a) depreciation and (b) carrying costs between 1 April and the date on which she is withdrawn from service; [76516]

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Mr. Ingram: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what impact the withdrawal from service of HMS Sheffield will have upon the variety of spare and replacement parts carried by the Defence Logistics Organisation. [76521]

Mr. Ingram: The withdrawal of HMS SHEFFIELD will have minimal short-term impact on the variety of spare and replacement parts carried by the Defence Logistics Organisation. However spares provisioning in the longer term will reflect the reduced demand in moving from five to four Type 22s.

Scorpion

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Scorpion family of armoured vehicles will be retired from service. [76366]

Mr. Ingram: The Scorpion vehicle, which was a member of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) (CVR(T)) family of vehicles, is no longer in service with the United Kingdom Armed Forces. On current plans, the remainder of the CVR(T) fleet, which comprises a number of variants, will be withdrawn from service over the period 2005 to 2015.

Atlantic Patrol Ship (South)

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what occasions in the past two years the Atlantic Patrol Ship (South) has been on station in the Caribbean. [76354]

Mr. Ingram: The APT(South) ship operates primarily in the South Atlantic region whilst also retaining a commitment, together with APT(N), to provide a presence off the West African littoral.

During her deployment between 15 March 2002–23 August 2002, HMS NEWCASTLE undertook a period as APT(S) duty ship before assuming duty as APT(N) although these were two separate and distinct aspects of her deployment under different Operational Control arrangements.

Atlantic Patrol Task (North)

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Royal Navy warships have been on station in the Caribbean region as part of the Atlantic Patrol Task (North) in each of the past two years; and for how long each vessel was in the area. [76342]

Mr. Ingram: The Royal Navy warships that have been on station in the Caribbean region as part of the Atlantic Patrol Task (North) in each of the past two years, and how long each vessel was in the Caribbean Area of Responsibility (AOR) is as follows:

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ShipInside Caribbean AOR
HMS Cardiff21 June 2000–20 November 2000
HMS Sheffield18 February 2001–25 July 2001
HMS Coventry23 July 2001–16 November 2001
HMS Sutherland22 February 2002–02 April 2002
HMS Newcastle13 July 2002–11 August 2002
HMS Grafton08 August 2002–03 December 2002

When not on station, the ship allocated to APT(N) was held at a maximum 14 days notice. Throughout the period in question, the duty RFA APT(N) tanker has remained on station providing a permanent presence in the Caribbean Area of Responsibility. Whilst not APT(N), HMS RICHMOND was deployed to the United States Eastern Seaboard between 09 April 2002–01 July 2002 and was available throughout this period for contingency tasking in the Caribbean AOR had the need arisen.


NATO Rapid Reaction Force

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the planned NATO rapid reaction force; what missions it is envisaged this force will undertake; and whether any of its missions are the same as those to be undertaken by EU military forces deployed under the auspices of the European Security and Defence Policy. [76370]

Geoffrey Hoon: At the NATO Informal Ministerial Meeting in Warsaw in September 2002, the United States Defense Secretary proposed a NATO Response Force (NRF) to provide a rapidly deployable capability within the existing developments in the NATO Command and Force Structures. The United Kingdom strongly supports the NRF concept as a means of optimising the utility of the NATO Force Structure across the range of missions. It will also help to focus efforts to improve capabilities, and will therefore be coherent with and complementary to the European Security and Defence Policy. The NRF concept is currently being discussed within the Alliance, with the guiding principles expected to be put before Heads of State and Government at the November 2002 NATO Summit in Prague for their agreement.


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