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(3) if she will make a statement on the discharge of her responsibilities in relation to seals under (a) the EU Habitats Directive, (b) Article 8 of the Berne Convention and (c) the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; 
(4) what steps she is taking to encourage (a) fishermen and (b) fish farmers to adopt the use of non-lethal means of seal deterrence; 
(5) what plans she has to review section 9 of the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 
Mr. Meacher [holding answer 31 January 2003]: Sugar beet has potential for the production of bioethanol and the Government announced in the pre-Budget report that it intends to introduce a 20p per litre reduction in duty on bioethanol compared to ultra low sulphur petrol. Industry and other stakeholders are being consulted about when this incentive should be introduced. Production of bioethanol from lignocellulosic materials is likely to offer additional environmental advantage and the Government will consider best how to give it further support. There is potential to exploit other molecules from sugar beet, some of which have high value, and this is already known to the industry. The Government-Industry
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Forum on Non-Food Uses of Crops was set up in 2001 to review market opportunities for non-food crops and make recommendations to Government on policy affecting their use. The Forum has looked at several non-food crop applications, including bioethanol.
Local Veterinary Inspectors (LVIs)
Temporary Veterinary Inspectors (TVIs)
The Divisional Veterinary Manager (DVM) is responsible for work carried out in his/her Division. In instances where LVIs or TVIs infringe or fail to comply with their terms and conditions of appointment, perform duties unsatisfactorily or are guilty of conduct which makes suspension or termination of the appointment desirable they may be suspended and ultimately terminated.
SVS Veterinary Officers are serving civil servants. They are bound by the terms and conditions set out in the Defra Staff Handbook. In addition they are bound by the terms of the Official Secrets Act. Breach of the forgoing may result in termination of appointment and in certain circumstances criminal or civil proceedings.
Mr. Ingram: There are some 300 British troops deployed in Afghanistan, mostly with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The ISAF is tasked with maintaining security in support of the Transitional Islamic Authority of Afghanistan, led by President Karzai. Its deployment is limited to Kabul and its immediate environs by UN Security Council Resolution 1444.
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Mr. Ingram [holding answer 4 February 2003]: The term serviceability has a strict meaning in military aviation and serviceability targets apply only at unit level. Therefore, the Ministry of Defence does not set targets for the Defence Aviation Repair Agency expressed in terms of serviceability. However, as my answer on 23 July 2002, Official Report, columns 91112W, to the hon. Member for Lincoln (Ms Merron) pointed out, the agency works to a range of key targets that are designed to help improve quality, efficiency, and overall performance levels.
Mr. Ingram: Airwave is a Home Office PFI contract with mmO2 managed by the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO). The Ministry of Defence is buying into the service as a Department of Trade and Industry approved public safety user.
The Airwave service is being rolled out across the United Kingdom between 2001 and 2005 to a programme agreed between PITO, mm02, and the Home Office police constabularies. Airwave has already entered service in some of these constabulary areas.
Access to the Airwave service is available now to Ministry of Defence users, through a Defence Communications Services Agency enabling contract. The service is being taken up in accordance with individual project plans, and in line with the service rollout time scales.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what memoranda of understanding have been reached with the United States regarding the command and control of British troops in the Gulf region; what provisions exist for the maintenance of UK national control over operations in the event of hostilities; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon [holding answer 31 January 2003]: Should it become necessary to commit British forces to military action against Iraq the Government will ensure that command and control arrangements providing appropriate levels of national direction of British forces are put in place.
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Mr. Ingram: Modifications to armoured vehicles continue throughout their in-service life, either because of faults that are identified, or new technologies provide improved capability that can be inserted through incremental acquisition. Challenger 2 is no different in this respect. In the case of specific modifications to improve the performance of Challenger 2 in desert conditions, the Ministry of Defence continues to expect measures to be completed in time for possible future operations.
Mr. Ingram: It remains Government policy that the fabrication and assembly of new warship hulls for the Royal Navy should be undertaken in United Kingdom shipyards, and this, of course, applies to the construction of the future aircraft carriers. However, the policy does not apply to all of the vessels' sub-systems.
As the Defence Industrial Policy Paper published last October, made clear, competition remains the bedrock of our procurement policy, although the benefit to the UK economy from MOD contracts is taken into account when assessing bids. In order to provide the Armed Forces with the equipment they require at the best value for money for the taxpayer, prime contractors are expected to use competition extensively to select sub-contractors. British industry is well-placed to compete for the equipment and sub-systems that will be required for the future aircraft carrier.
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