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Territorial Army

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Gilbert: This information is not readily available in the format requested. However, the number of TA personnel who achieved their bounty in training years 1996-97 and 1997-98 was as follows:


To qualify for the bounty, an individual should normally complete both the annual camp and the minimum training day commitment. Figures for 1995-96 are no longer held on computer and the printed records are incomplete.

Reserve Forces: Call-out

Baroness Scotland of Asthal asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they plan to continue to call out reservists to support military operations.[HL1826]

Lord Gilbert: A new call-out order has been made under Section 54 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996. This will allow members of the reserve forces to continue to be called out to support operations in Yugoslavia and in the region of Iraq. This order will cease to have effect on 31 March 2000.

Long Service Awards

Lord MacKenzie of Framwellgate asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made on the review of long service awards in the Armed Forces.[HL1832]

Lord Gilbert: Her Majesty the Queen has graciously approved the institution of a new award, to be known as the Queen's Volunteer Reserves Medal, to recognise outstanding service in the volunteer reserve forces. It will apply to volunteer reserves in all three services and will be open to service men and women of any rank.

Her Majesty the Queen has also graciously approved the institution of a new award to be known as the Volunteer Reserves Service Medal to recognise 10 years continuous efficient service in the volunteer reserve forces. The Volunteer Reserves Service Medal will

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replace the Royal Naval Reserve Decoration, the Royal Naval Reserve Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, the Efficiency Decoration, the Efficiency Medal and the Air Efficiency Award. It will apply to volunteer reserves in all three services and will be open to service men and women of any rank.

As far as the Long Service and Good Conduct Medals of the Regular Armed Forces are concerned, we have concluded that it is not necessary to recommend to Her Majesty any change in the existing awards.

Balkans: Number of British Personnel

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many British personnel are currently deployed in the Balkans.[HL1653]

Lord Gilbert: Excluding defence attache staff, we have some 4,700 personnel in Greece and Macedonia in connection with operations relating to Kosovo, some 4,500 personnel serving with SFOR in Bosnia and Croatia, and some 480 Royal Navy personnel in the area aboard the frigates HMS "Iron Duke" and HMS "Somerset" and the submarine HMS "Splendid". In addition, there are some 450 RAF personnel in Italy supporting NATO air operations over the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and in support of SFOR.

Indian Ocean Coral Reefs

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have on the cause of (a) the rise in height of the Indian Ocean; and (b) the destruction of coral reefs in that area and elsewhere; and what representations they are making to overseas governments on the basis of this knowledge.[HL1698]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) concluded in 1995 that there is now a discernible human influence on the climate system. Global temperatures have risen by about 0.5° C over the last 100 years and sea level by between 10-25cms. Much of this can be attributed to global warming. Sea levels are likely to rise by 50cms, in the range 15-95cms, over the next 100 years and will continue to rise over several centuries as oceans slowly heat up and expand.

The Government are currently negotiating with the Institute of Hydrology and other institutions in UK, India and Bangladesh a research project which will examine the impact of climate and sea level change in the Indian sub-continent.

According to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, the condition of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean varies considerably, from virtually pristine (such as the atolls in mid-ocean) to those which are heavily impacted by direct and indirect human activities.

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In 1998 there was an unprecedented "bleaching" of corals across the Indo-Pacific Oceans, as a result of unusually high sea-surface temperature caused by the largest El Nino since records began in 1870. Bleaching affected over 90 per cent. of shallow water corals, generally resulting in their death. The most severe bleaching occurred in the central Indian Ocean islands of the Maldives and Sri Lanka, where many massive corals are still under stress and partially bleached.

The Government have supported since 1995 the development of a regional approach to coral reef conservation in the northern Indian Ocean and have funded the establishment of the South Asia coral reef monitoring network from which these reports have emanated. The Government have agreed to continue working with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and with the governments of the region to ensure that a sustainable coral reef monitoring network is in place by 2002.

The Government will continue to highlight the links between climate change, oceans and pollution. In addition to the ongoing efforts to tackle climate change, we will also be pressing for improved international co-ordination on oceans matters at the Commission on Sustainable Development meeting in New York next month.

Genetically Modified Oilseed Hybrid Seeds

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Where in the United Kingdom the genetically-modified oilseed hybrid seeds, for which Plant Genetic Systems NV were granted in 1996 a marketing consent for seed production only, have been planted; and, in respect of each year since 1996, what area was planted at what location.[HL1344]

Lord Whitty: Once a GM crop has Part C consent under Council Directive 90/220/EEC it applies across all member states and there is no automatic requirement to notify the authorities where the crop is grown. We understand from the company that only small areas have been grown in the UK for test and evaluation purposes for seed production. I will write to the noble Lord shortly with such details as we have on these locations or areas.

North Greenwich Peninsula

Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have drawn up in association with English Partnerships regarding any possible developments on the North Greenwich peninsula adjacent to the Millennium Dome.[HL1736]

Lord Whitty: Land owned by English Partnerships immediately to the south of the Dome, adjacent to North Greenwich station, has planning consent for mixed use development. A central business district is planned as well as residential, retail and leisure uses. The land will

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be developed in a way that is sympathetic to the long-term use of the Dome.

Severn Rail Tunnel

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 16 March (WA 95), whether they will place copies in the Library of all reports of (a) weekend surveys; (b) detailed quarterly surveys; and (c) annual reviews of the Severn rail tunnel in each of the last fifteen years, and which reports and inspections have been made by an independent structural engineer.[HL1767]

Lord Whitty: The maintenance of the Severn rail tunnel is the responsibility of Railtrack. We are advised they do not hold this information centrally and that it could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 16 March (WA 95), whether the Health and Safety Executive will request test borings into (a) the wall linings and (b) the strata and detritus behind the walls of the Severn Tunnel.[HL1768]

Lord Whitty: Railtrack PLC have responsibility for maintaining the Severn Railway tunnel in a safe condition. The Health and Safety Executive is not currently aware of any reasons to doubt the structural integrity of the tunnel, although its railway inspectors recently conducted an inspection which identified possible problems with brickwork lining being affected by water ingress. The inspectors are commencing further enquiries into structural integrity issues and will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that Railtrack PLC is maintaining its infrastructure safely.

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 4 March (WA 194), whether following the proposed closures of the Severn rail tunnel for maintenance purposes, they will list the total journey times of all trains diverted via Gloucester on each occasion when diversions occur; whether passengers are transported by other means; and, if so, by what means.[HL1770]

Lord Whitty: Closure of the tunnel and subsequent alterations to passenger services that would normally use the tunnel are operational matters for Railtrack and the relevant train operating companies.

We are advised that First Great Western will publish prior to each closure a leaflet giving the times of all trains and copies of these will be placed in the House Library. Passengers will be conveyed by bus between Newport and Bristol Parkway in both directions as diversion via Gloucester means that trains will not call at Newport.

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