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4 Nov 2002 : Column 63W—continued

Low Flying

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints have been received from residents of Dumfries and Galloway by his Department in respect of low flying sorties by the RAF in each of the last five years. [78737]

Dr. Moonie: The number of complaints recorded by the Ministry of Defence Low Flying Complaints and Enquiries Unit over the last five years, from residents of Dumfries and Galloway, is shown in the table.

Number of complaints recorded
Calendar year
Training year(6)

(6) From 1999, recorded by training year from 1 April to 31 March.

Machrihanish Airport

Mr. Alan Reid: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to shorten the runway at Machrihanish airport. [78833]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has no plans physically to shorten the runway at Machrihanish. However, we have required Highlands and Islands Airways Ltd. to use a shorter runway in compliance with the terms of their current lease.

Military Airspace

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what changes to designated military airspace will be implemented following the closure of West Freugh airfield. [78735]

Mr. Jamieson: I have been asked to reply.

No decisions have yet been taken about changes to the use of airspace when the airfield closes.

Military Low Flying Training

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many low flying training sorties have been flown over Dumfries and Galloway by the RAF in each of the last five years. [78738]

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Dr. Moonie: Information on military low flying training in the United Kingdom low flying system is recorded for each low flying area (LFA) in the form of number of hours booked for the aircraft of all three services. Data for Dumfries and Galloway are incorporated in the total for LFA 16, which also includes the Borders region of southern Scotland and other countries up to and including those within the central belt. Figures quoted in the table indicate the number of hours low flying training has been booked by day and night in the LFA over the last five years.

Calendar year
Training year (7)

(7) From 1999, recorded by training year from 1 April to 31 March


The figure for 2001–02 is some 13.5 per cent. lower than that recorded for 1995.

Military Medical Records

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether military medical records are made available once service personnel (a) have completed their military service and (b) are deceased; and if he will make a statement. [78271]

Dr. Moonie: On leaving the armed forces, personnel are provided with a summary of their medical history (Form F Med 133—Medical History on Release from HM Forces) to give to their civilian doctor. Release of full military medical records is permitted if an individual makes a Subject Access Request to the appropriate Service Records Office. If an individual wishes to make his or her records available to other parties, such as civilian health care providers or solicitors, written consent must be given to release the records.

In respect of deceased persons, the Access to Health Records Act 1990 applies. Records are usually released only for the purposes of litigation or claims, and disclosure of these records is subject to the consent of their executors. Where there are no executors, the consent of the administrator of the estate is required.

Disclosure of medical records of deceased personnel to other Government Departments, such as to the War Pensions Agency for the purpose of establishing entitlement to War Widows' Pensions, is permitted only on a strict Xneed to know" basis.


Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Royal Navy's minelaying capability is; and what types of mine are in service. [78661]

Mr. Ingram: The Royal Navy has no specialist minelaying vessels although most vessels in the fleet, including submarines, could be adapted to lay mines if deemed necessary. The Royal Navy does not have any

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mine stocks and has not had since 1992. Notwithstanding this, the United Kingdom retains the capability to lay mines and continues research into mine exploitation. Practice mines, used for exercises, continue to be laid in order to retain the necessary skills.

Nuclear Tests

Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of compensation offered to service personnel of other states who participated in UK nuclear tests. [79185]

Dr. Moonie: Australian and New Zealand personnel who participated in the British nuclear test programme and who believe that they were injured or suffered a loss as a result of their participation are entitled to claim compensation from their own governments. However, the Governments of Australia and New Zealand have vigorously defended compensation claims on the grounds that particular regard was taken for the safety and welfare of test participants, and in the absence of evidence of negligence, there is no proper basis for settling the claims. I understand that no compensation has been paid to individual New Zealand veterans, but that 10 Australian veterans have secured compensation from the Australian Government.

Personnel Inquiry

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to publish the findings of the inquiry into armed forces personnel issues. [77789]

Mr. Ingram: The current phase of the Service Personnel Process review, which I announced to the House on 17 July 2002, Official Report, columns 277–78W is due to be completed early in the New Year. I therefore expect to be able to make an announcement about its findings in the Spring. The final phase of the review is expected to last six months, which would point to a further announcement in the Autumn.

Porton Down

Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set up a public inquiry into the health risks of the release of zinc cadmium sulphide and radio-xenon from the atomic research establishment, Harwell, by scientists from the chemical and biological defence establishment, Porton Down, in 1961; and if he will make a statement. [78155]

Dr. Moonie: I do not consider it necessary to set up a public inquiry. In 1999, the Ministry of Defence commissioned Professor Peter Lachmann and a team of distinguished scientists to undertake an independent review of the fluorescent particle trials which occurred between 1955 and 1963, and included the four two-hour trials which also involved the release of 1 3 3 Xenon at Harwell in 1961. The MOD accepts the conclusion of this review, which was that XExposure to cadmium from dissemination of zinc cadmium sulphide during the 'cold war' should not have resulted in adverse health effects in the United Kingdom population". The findings of the review are summarised in an open literature paper entitled, XThe Risk to the UK Population of Zinc Cadmium Sulphide Dispersion by the MOD During the XCold War" (Occup. Environ.

4 Nov 2002 : Column 66W

Med. 2002, 59, 13–17). Additionally, the complete review can be found at

Pride of Portsmouth (Collision)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who made the decision to allow ferry ships to enter Portsmouth harbour on the 26 and 27 October in poor weather conditions; who was consulted; and if he will make a statement. [78510]

Mr. Ingram: The Queen's Harbour Master (QHM) is responsible to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence for the control of all movements within the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth in accordance with the Dockyard Port Regulation Act 1865 and the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 1978. Although the weather conditions were poor they were not unusual and the duty Harbour Control Officer, acting under QHM's delegated authority and without the need for further consultation, made the decision to allow ferry movements in the harbour.

Mr. Hancock : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence who authorised the tug boats to be used to assist after the collision of the P&O ferry Pride of Portsmouth and HMS St Albans on 27 October; who was in control of the tug boats; and if he will make a statement. [78538]

Mr. Ingram: The Queen's Harbour Master (QHM) Portsmouth always provides a tug for cross channel ferry movements in winds exceeding 30 knots. A second tug is also available if required. In this case two tugs were provided for the move and were in attendance from the harbour entrance until the ferry berthed at the Commercial Ferry Port. The tugs were under the instruction of the Master of the ferry.

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