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28 Oct 2002 : Column 675W—continued

Eurofighter

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects delivery of the first tranche of 55 Eurofighters to be complete. [76359]

Dr. Moonie: Delivery of the first tranche of 55 Typhoons (formerly known as Eurofighter) for the Royal Air Force is expected to be completed by the end of 2005.

Focus Groups

Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what use he and his Department has made of focus group research since June 2001; if he will identify for each research project the topics covered, the person or organisation carrying out the research, and the total cost; and if he will publish the research on his Department's website. [74999]

Dr. Moonie : Focus group research is undertaken by various organisations and agencies of the Ministry of Defence. Information is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, the Directorate General of Corporate Communications (DGCC) carries out corporate research on behalf of the Department as a whole. Since June 2001 DGCC has let two focus group research contracts: one with Colquhoun Associates to better understand the public reaction to the events of 11 September 2001 as part of our work on theNew Chapter to the Strategic Defence Review; and the other conducted by internal staff supported by Independent Field Work Company to look into the public image of the MOD.

I am withholding the value of each of these contracts as the information is protected in accordance with Exemption 13 [third party's commercial confidences] of the Code of Practice on access to Government information. However the total cost of the two contacts was around #34,000 including VAT. Focus Group research is an important management tool, and we do not routinely publish the reports on the MOD website. However we consider all requests for disclosure on a case by case basis.

HMS Nottingham

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of the heavy-lift recovery of HMS Nottingham from Australia to the UK will be; where HMS Nottingham will be repaired in the UK; and if he will make a statement. [76341]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 22 October 2002, Official Report, column 143W, to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock).

Vernon Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to repair HMS Nottingham on her return to the UK; and if he will make a statement. [77082]

Mr. Ingram: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 22 October 2002, Official Report, column 143W, to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South (Mr. Hancock).

28 Oct 2002 : Column 676W

Initiatives

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the schemes and initiatives sponsored by his Department and its agencies which are not the subject of national roll out, showing (a) the authorities or areas covered by the scheme and (b) the budget of the scheme in the last year for which information is available. [75668]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has two central schemes, which have not been subject to a national roll out. In the last academic year the Department rolled out its Skill Force programme to 11 pilot locations: Ashfield (Nottinghamshire), Birmingham, Bristol, Great Yarmouth (Norfolk), Knowsley (Merseyside), North Lanarkshire, Leicester, Rochdale, Newcastle, West Norfolk, Islington (London). The budget for the Skill Force programme was approximately #1 million funded by the Treasury's Invest to Save Budget, Ministry of Defence and co-funding from local partner organisations. The initiative is expanding to 23 schemes with a start date of November 2002. This expansion is being co-funded by the DfES and Welsh Assembly.

The Army Cadet 'Outreach' programme is being undertaken by 25 counties within the UK: Berkshire, Bristol, Bucks, Cheshire, Cleveland, Dorset, Durham, Dyfed, Essex, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Gwent, Hampshire, Kent, Middlesex, Northumbria, Oxfordshire, Powys, Surrey, Yorkshire, Perthshire, Lancashire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, and Wiltshire. The cost for this programme is some #150,000.

The Ministry of Defence has a number of other schemes/initiatives, which have not been rolled out nation wide, such as Ministry of Defence base specific conservation projects. However, details of these types of scheme are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Iraq

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his best estimate of the annual production capacity of chemical weapon agents at the al-Muthanna establishment in Iraq in 1991. [75825]

Mr. Hoon: According to information supplied to the United Nations by Iraq the annual production capacity of the al-Muthanna site in Iraq in 1991 was 4,000 tonnes of chemical weapon agents per annum. This is indicative of the large scale of Iraq's chemical weapons programme at that time.

We assess that the capacity of this production site could have been higher if Iraq had reduced the wastage rates at the site.

Job Advertisements

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many posts were advertised in the press in each year since June 1999; and what percentage of them were advertised in the Scottish press. [76856]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 24 October 2002]: This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

28 Oct 2002 : Column 677W

Medical Reservists

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) regular service personnel and (b) reservists there are in the medical establishment in the British armed forces. [74651]

Dr Moonie: As at 1 July 2002, there were 6,489 personnel in the regular Defence Medical Sendees. This figures excludes student nurses and other new entry trainees.

As at September 2002, there were 4,829 medical and associated support personnel in the volunteer reserve forces.

MOD Salaries

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what have been the salary costs of Ministry of Defence civilian personnel in each of the past four years; and what are the projected costs over the next four years. [76355]

Dr. Moonie: The amount spent by the Ministry of Defence on the salary costs of civilian personnel over the past four years is (in outturn prices):

# million
1998–992,224
1999–20002,259
2000–012,267
2002–032,246

The latest forecast for civilian salary costs for 2002–03 is #2,328 million.

Decisions on the allocation of the defence budget over the following four years will be made in the normal way through the MOD's annual planning process. I am therefore withholding this information under Exemption 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Operation Antler

Mr. David Atkinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the outcome of Operation Antler into the activities of scientists at Porton Down. [74919]

Mr. Denham: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Salisbury (Mr. Key) on 29 April 2002, Official Report, column 609W.

I gave an update on progress to my hon. Friend the Member for Salisbury on 29 April 2002, Official Report, column 609W.

I am advised by Wiltshire constabulary that the inquiry, Operation Antler, is still ongoing and it would not be appropriate for a statement to be made at this time.

Operation Saif Sareea

Jon Trickett: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what lessons he has learned from Operation

28 Oct 2002 : Column 678W

Saif Sareea for the likely requirement for (a) additional medical personnel and (b) medical reservists to meet the UK's military commitments in 2002–03. [74645]

Dr. Moonie: Medical personnel were deployed on Exercise SAIF SAREEA II solely to provide medical support to the deployed troops. It was not intended that they should participate as part of the exercise and therefore medical facilities were not scaled to cope with casualties that could arise from an actual operation. The Ministry of Defence is satisfied that it will be able to meet its military commitments through the use of Regular medical personnel and medical reserves.

Pay Audit

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received on the pay settlement awarded to the non-industrial sector at his Department; and if he will make a statement. [77041]

Dr. Moonie: I have received eight letters on this issue. The Ministry of Defences' decision to implement the 2002 pay offer followed ballots by the three unions concerned in which a majority of votes cast were in favour of the deal. The award introduces new pay arrangements from August 2002, including bonuses to reward the best performers for their contribution to Ministry of Defence business during the year. Similar arrangements are being introduced for industrial staff following a separate ballot which also produced a majority in favour of acceptance.

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to conduct a pay audit on the non-industrial staff of his Department; and if he will make a statement. [77042]

Dr. Moonie : The Ministry of Defence is conducting an equal pay review of its civilian pay systems and will prepare an appropriate action plan by April 2003. All Government Departments are going through this process, in line with Cabinet Office guidance. The work is being taken forward in full consultation with, and the involvement of, the trades unions.


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