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Mr. Caplin: The current programme of works at RAF Menwith Hill is to upgrade and refurbish existing facilities to ensure that the base retains the highest level of technological capabilities available. The mission of the base remains unchanged.
Mr. Best: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will undertake a public consultation exercise into the effect upon the local population of work being undertaken at RAF Menwith Hill. 
Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence fully recognises the importance of working alongside local communities at all of its establishments, including RAF Menwith Hill, and encourages regular liaison and consultation with the local communities on a wide range of issues. There is therefore no reason to conduct a specific public consultation exercise.
To ensure that it will be capable of delivering and contributing to future joint effects-based operations, the Royal Navy will develop a versatile maritime force that will be expeditionary in focus, and sufficiently agile to meet the lull spectrum of future operational tasks. It must therefore be responsive, robust, flexible and adaptable. In addition to procuring the ships, submarines and equipment that will deliver a range of effects to ensure mission success, and which were described in last summer's supplement to the December 2003 White Paper, the Royal Navy will take other measures to enhance its frontline capability, including continued improvements to individual and collective training, and improvements in global logistic
15 Nov 2004 : Column 1058W
sustainability. Structural improvements are also planned which will focus on the delivery of front-line military effect, in particular to take advantage of network enabled capability.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the expected decommissioning dates are of the (a) destroyers, (b) frigates, (c) submarines and (d) minehunters identified in Delivering Security; when the (i) Chief of the Naval Staff and (ii) Commander in Chief Fleet agreed these decommissionings; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: In addition to HMS Bridport, a Sandown class Mine Counter Measure Vessel (MCMV) which was withdrawn from service earlier this year, the planned decommissioning dates are listed. These decisions were taken following thorough examination as part of the department's planning process, including consideration by the Defence Management Board.
|Type 42 Batch 1 Destroyers||HMS Cardiff||2005|
|Type 23 Frigates||HMS Norfolk||2005|
|Attack Submarines||HMS Superb||2008|
|Sandown Class MCMV||HMS Sandown||2005|
|Northern Ireland Patrol Vessels||HMS Cottesmore||2006|
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers have been employed in the last six months on an S-Type contract that was signed within a week of the termination of an open engagement contract relating to the same soldier. 
Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of the service delivery agreements between his Department's top level budget holders and head office for financial years 19992000 to 200304. 
Rev. Ian Paisley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment the Department has made of the safety record of parachutes used at Skydive Ranch in Canada; and whether Skydive Ranch complies with all the Department's requirements for (a) safety and (b) instructor training levels. 
Mr. Ingram: The Skydive Ranch in Canada is subject to an annual no-notice safety audit by the Ministry of Defence Joint Service Parachute Centre (JSPC) during which a thorough check of equipment and procedures is undertaken. During the inspection, an advanced instructor/examiner from the British Parachute Association assesses instructor performance and teaching ability at the Skydive Ranch.
Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the results of his Department's investigation into the cause of the sonic boom heard in North Norfolk on 8 November. 
Mr. Caplin: The investigation into this reported sonic event is still ongoing; however, indications are that the aircraft that caused the event was a French Air Force Mirage operating in a military air-range over the North sea. It is believed that the aircraft was approximately 18 miles off the coast when the event occurred.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information the Government have been asked to supply to the Canadian Parliament concerning its inquiry into the purchase of four Upholder Class submarines from the UK. 
Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has been asked for some background information to inform the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs of the Canadian Parliament, which is currently conducting a study on the acquisition of submarines for the Canadian forces.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the refurbishment of the Upholder Class submarines sold to Canada had qualifications attached to the sale indicating they should not be operated in accordance with their original design specification. 
Mr. Ingram: At the time of handover to and acceptance by Canada of each of the four reactivated Upholder Class submarines, none had any qualifications indicating that they should not be operated in accordance with their original design specification.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many days each of the four Upholder class submarines spent (a) in service and (b) at sea with the Royal Navy before their decommissioning. 
|Submarine||Service with the RN||Days at sea|
|HMS Upholder||December 1990 to July 1994||370|
|HMS Unseen||July 1991 to July 1994||269|
|HMS Ursula||January 1993 to July 1994||199|
|HMS Unicorn||November 1993 to October 1994||239|
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