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Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: It is not yet possible to say when, or if, a suitable method of controlling the Asian Longhorn Beetle will be found. The research work is, however, well supported and progress is being made. Researchers in China are assessing various natural predators which attack the beetle during its larval and pupal stages. One such predator Dastarcus longulus, has been found to kill between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of the larvae and pupae in some areas in China. However, more research is required to discover if the populations of these natural predators can be manipulated to control the beetle effectively. In the USA, work has concentrated on using insect pathogens for controlling the beetle. Results so far indicate that one particular fungus, Beauveria bassiana, may have some potential.

El Alamein Anniversary

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): At present the Eighth Army Veterans Association is still deciding how they wish to commemorate the anniversary, but it is

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thought that the main event of commemoration will be a service of remembrance and thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey. The Army will, of course, do all that it can to support the commemoration.

Defence Estates

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action is being taken to reorganise the Defence Estates.[HL3578]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There are no plans to reorganise the Defence Estates agency, which was established in April 1999 to provide central management and oversight of the defence estate. The noble Lord may however, wish to be aware that on 7 June 2000 a document entitled In Trust and On Trust: The Estate Strategy was published which is a major output from the 1998 Strategic Defence Review. This document will establish improved procedures for delivering a more efficient and effective estate.

A copy of this document has been placed in the Library of the House and is also available on the Internet.

Chinook ZD576

Lord Chalfont asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any legal advice was given to the senior Royal Air Force officers responsible for reviewing the conclusions of the Board of Inquiry into the accident involving Chinook Helicopter ZD576 on the Mull of Kintyre in 1994.[HL3473]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes.

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 12 July (WA 35) regarding the inquiry into the crash of a Chinook helicopter in the Mull of Kintyre in June 1994, what were the advantages to the crew (a) in terms of safety and (b) in terms of time saving in overflying the Mull rather than following the original flight plan.[HL3482]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, on 27 July 2000 (Official Report, columns WA 70-71).

Lord Jacobs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 12 July (WA35) regarding the crash of the Chinook helicopter in June 1994, whilst it can be demonstrated that the original flight plan and the way point change is evidence that the crew did not intend to overfly the Mull, what evidence there is that the crew changed their mind and decided to overfly the Mull; and

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    whether it is possible to estimate when that decision was made.[HL3585]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There is no evidence of the decision, if any, that the pilots made to overfly the Mull. However, if overflying the Mull through cloud was indeed their intention they should have established flight at safety altitude under instrument flight rules.

EU Military Operations

Lord Roper asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the statement in Box 12.1 of the Spending Review 2000, which limits the area of deployment of future forces available to the European Union to "in and around Europe", represents an explicit agreement with European Union partners or an assumption of the Government.[HL3504]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There are no specific geographical limits on possible EU-led military operations. We are making a planning assumption, for the purposes of an initial analysis of requirements, that within the agreed range of EU-led operations, the most demanding will occur in and around Europe. Forces should also be able to respond to crises worldwide albeit at lesser scale.

Kosovo: Troops

Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the current troop levels in Kosovo.[HL3691]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK currently contributes some 3,300 personnel to KFOR. We have maintained that flexibility and capability are the keys to successful operations in the Balkans. In this spirit, we have agreed to a NATO request to supply additional troops to cover the municipal election period in Kosovo, to ensure that the region's first steps towards democratisation are sure ones.

Subject to confirmation of the election date, the 2nd Battalion the Light Infantry will deploy to Kosovo in mid-September for a period of two months. They will be at the disposal of Commander KFOR, Lt. General Juan Ortuno. We have no doubt that they will maintain the excellent tradition of UK forces in the region who, with their outstanding professionalism, dedication and skill, continue to make an outstanding contribution to the regeneration of Kosovo.

Porton Down: Tests

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost of the testing carried out at Porton Down on various samples provided by the

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    Baroness Cox in connection with the possible use of chemical weapons in southern Sudan in 1999.[HL3718]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The cost of testing carried out at CBD Porton Down on seventeen samples provided in connection with the possible use of chemical weapons in southern Sudan in 1999 was approximately £7,000.

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they can provide details of the various scientific tests carried out at Porton Down on the samples provided by the Baroness Cox in connection with the possible use of chemical weapons in southern Sudan in 1999.[HL3719]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The methods used involved gas and liquid chromatography, combined with mass spectrometry for chemical agents and riot control agents, and atomic absorption spectrometry for arsenic. We have arranged for a copy of the report by CBD Porton Down to be placed in the Library of the House.

MR TRIGAT Anti-Tank Guided Weapon Programme

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majety's Government:

    What progress had been made on the MR TRIGAT anti-tank guided weapon programme.[HL3739]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK signed the Memorandum of Understanding for the industrialisation and production phase of MR TRIGAT in June 1999 in the expectation that we would shortly proceed to contract and maintain the programme to deliver a modern anti-tank guided weapon capability by 2005 (when stocks of the existing MILAN system start to run down).

Regrettably, MOU signature by all five participating nations has still not been achieved. Some 12 months after our MOU commitment we are no nearer to contract placement than we were then. This additional delay, to a programme that is already 10 years behind its original schedule, and the additional risk and uncertainty it creates is unacceptable. The UK's priority has to be to deliver the capability and equipment needed by our Armed Forces in an acceptable timescale.

We have therefore decided that the UK should withdraw from the MR TRIGAT industrialisation and production programme and will pursue an alternative national procurement of an anti-tank guided weapon system. We plan to issue an invitation to tender in the next few weeks for the supply of commercially available systems to meet the requirements of our infantry light forces by 2005. In parallel, we are reviewing our requirements for an anti-tank capability for mechanised and armoured infantry

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units prior to determining whether these too could be met by similar commercially available systems. Our initial assessment is that the alternative systems now available will be in many ways more capable than MR TRIGAT and offer significant financial savings.

We recognise that this decision will be a disappointment to our partners and to those areas of UK industry that had expected to benefit from MR TRIGAT. The UK remains committed to the principles of European collaboration provided it is in the UK's best interests. Regrettably it was not possible to proceed on this basis with MR TRIGAT, but there are a range of other programmes on which we remain engaged to good effect with our European partners.


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