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24 May 2004 : Column 1346W—continued

Al Yamamah Contracts

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he met Prince Turki bin Nasser during 2000; where the meeting took place; what the purpose of the meeting was; and what was discussed. [171751]

Mr. Hoon: I met His Highness Prince Turki Bin Nasser in my office on 12 October 2000. Prince Turki introduced his successor as Head of the Al Yamamah Project within the Royal Saudi Air Force. Amongst other matters, there was also some general discussion of events in the Middle East and I was able to take the opportunity to thank Prince Turki for his work in support of the Al Yamamah programme, which has brought benefits for both nations over many years.

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he intends to conduct further internal investigations into the role of his officials in alleged corruption involving the Al Yamamah arms contracts. [171752]

Mr. Hoon: Any evidence of improper behaviour by officials will be fully investigated. This includes any evidence uncovered during the current enquiries into allegations against a retired official formerly associated with the Al Yamamah programme.


Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions have taken place on the possibility of selling Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft
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ordered for the Royal Air Force to other countries without being delivered to the RAF; and if he will make a statement. [172420]

Mr. Ingram: Some consideration has been given to the   scope to provide for early export of Eurofighter Typhoon to potential overseas customers. If pursued, a sale might be accomplished by adjusting the delivery profile to the RAF. The RAF remains, however, the primary customer for these aircraft and any decision made will take full account of its requirements.

Gunnery Capability

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the saluting battery capability in the Tower of London could be provided by a regiment with no gunnery training or capability. [174443]

Mr. Ingram: Only personnel with the appropriate gunnery training could provide the saluting battery capability in the Tower of London

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans he has for the Gun Troops, Honourable Artillery Company; [174444]

(2) whether the Honourable Artillery Company will maintain a gunner role. [174445]

Mr. Ingram: Plans for future Army structures continue to evolve, but there are currently no plans to change the role of the Gun Troop, Honourable Artillery Company.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for how long the Honourable Artillery Company has performed a gunner role. [174446]

Mr. Ingram: The Honourable Artillery Company's gunner lineage dates from the early 1780s, when the City Corporation of London presented the Company with two Brass Field Pieces.


Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Battlefield helicopters are deployed on operations; in which theatres they are deployed; and with which units they are in service. [174543]

Mr. Ingram: A total of 68 Battlefield helicopters are deployed in operational areas, in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and Iraq. I am withholding details of the specific units with which these assets are deployed under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information as this would give a clear indication of their operational capability.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many Royal Navy (a) Merlin helicopters and (b) squadrons of Merlin helicopters are (i) fully operational and (ii) preparing to become fully operational; [174883]

(2) when all of the Royal Navy Merlin helicopters and squadrons are expected to be fully operational. [174881]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 21 May 2004]: The Royal Navy currently has four commissioned squadrons of Merlin helicopters. A further squadron is planned to be commissioned in October 2004. At
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present, all RN Merlin helicopters have been grounded as a precautionary measure pending the investigation into the crash of a Merlin helicopter on 30 March 2004. It is too early to say when flying will be resumed.

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) budget and (b) cost of running, maintenance, training and other non capital costs was for the Royal Naval Merlin helicopter squadron in each year since the aircraft was first acquired. [174885]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 21 May 2004]: This information is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

HMS Turbulent

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether there are sufficient stocks of (a) foul-weather suits and (b) jumpers on board HMS Turbulent to avoid crew members coming on watch while the boat is on the surface having to wear the kit of those coming off watch. [175061]

Mr. Ingram: HMS Turbulent has a full allowance of 40 sets of Mk IV Foul Weather Clothing, which is an increase of 16 over the previous scale for the Mk III Foul Weather Clothing.

Submariner's jerseys are issued to individuals on a personal basis and ample stocks were available before HMS Turbulent deployed.


Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the Iraq Survey Group are still in the field in Iraq; how many are United Kingdom citizens; and if he will make a statement on each of the tasks carried out by the group since 1 January. [175083]

Mr. Hoon: On 13 May 2004, there were 1,270 people employed in the Iraq Survey Group of which 54 were UK citizens. The Iraq Survey Group's primary task is assessing the extent of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction and associated programmes. The Iraq Survey Group has produced two interim reports, in October 2003 and March 2004, and a further report is expected later this year. Posted testimony for both reports can be found on the CIA website

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 18 May, Official Report, column 873W, on Iraq, from which Vote each of the 49 British personnel serving with the Iraq Survey Group is paid; who in the United Kingdom has line management responsibility for each; to whom they report in the United Kingdom in respect of their work with the Iraq Survey Group; and if he will make a statement. [175101]

Mr. Hoon: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend for Leyton and Wanstead (Mr. Cohen) on 12 February 2004 Official Report, column 1637W on Iraq Survey Group costs.

Line Management responsibility for the British personnel with the Iraq Survey Group rests with the Deputy Commander Iraq Survey Group, who is a United Kingdom Officer with the rank of Brigadier.
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Light Guns

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many light guns are on issue to the British Army; and to which units they have been issued; [174448]

(2) how many Territorial Army batteries have a full complement of the light gun; [174449]

(3) how many automatic positioning systems for the light gun have been issued; and to which batteries; [174450]

(4) how many (a) Regular and (b) Territorial Army   batteries have a full complement of automatic positioning systems allocated to their light guns; and how many are using dial sights. [174451]

Mr. Ingram: 136 guns have been issued to those units designated Light Gun Units, as shown in the table.
24 May 2004 : Column 1350W

Three TA units, 103 Regiment, 100 Regiment and the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) are issued with guns fitted with the Automatic Pointing System. HAC have their full complement of four guns. 103 Regiment have 12 guns, but are established for 18, and therefore operate with 3x4 gun batteries. 100 Regiment have 14 guns, but are established for 18, and therefore operate with 2x5 gun batteries and 1x4 gun battery. The number of guns issued is determined by the number of Automatic Pointing Systems (APS) available. However, although 100 Regiment and 103 Regiment are short of the establishment, the compliment is considered sufficient to meet their requirements. Other TA Units, listed at Serials 14 to 17 in the table, hold Saluting Guns only. Saluting Guns do not require sights to be fitted.

The APS has been fitted to 112 guns as shown in the table. Those guns without APS fitted are used either for classroom purposes or for saluting only. Dial sights are no longer in service.
SerialUnitGuns fitted with APSGuns without sightsSaluting Guns
17 Para RHA Aldershot18
229 Cdo Regiment RA Plymouth/Arbroath18
3100 Regiment RA(V) Luton14
4103 Regiment RA(V) Liverpool12
5BF Falkland Islands8
6RSA Larkhill18
7ESTRA Larkhill1
8SEME Bordon12
9BATSU Wainwright Canada6
10BATU Kenya6
11HAC London44
1240 Regiment RA Topcliffe6
14104 Regiment RA(V) Cardiff4
15105 Regiment RA(V) Newtownards3
16105 Regiment RA(V) Edinburgh6
17Royal Gibraltar Regt4
18Defence Academy1

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