Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Future Rapid Effect System and FV430 Vehicles

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): We are currently considering the Initial Gate for the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) assessment phase and we expect to make an announcement shortly.

The withdrawal from service of the FV430 series of vehicles is linked to wider work on the future composition of the armoured fighting vehicle fleet. This is currently under consideration.

RAF Stations: Brize Norton, Lyneham andSt Mawgan

Lord Merlyn-Rees asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: On 9 November 2001, in another place, my right honourable friend the Minister for the Armed Forces announced a strategic review of the future roles of RAF Brize Norton, RAF Lyneham and RAF St Mawgan, anticipating the arrival of the future strategic tanker aircraft and the A400M around the end of the decade. The introduction of these modern aircraft will provide enhanced operational capability whilst creating spare capacity at RAF Brize Norton and RAF Lyneham. The airfield at RAF St Mawgan was included in the review as it too was recognised as having spare capacity.

The first stage of the review was the selection of a base for the A400M. My right honourable friend announced on 16 August 2002 that he had accepted the study team's recommendation that RAF Brize Norton represented the best use of defence assets in this respect, at the optimum cost to the taxpayer. Prior to this, he announced in another place on 13 February 2002 (Official Report, cols. 363–364W) that the future strategic tanker aircraft would also be based at Brize Norton.

We are now able to inform the House that the second stage of the review, looking at the future use of the three stations in the light of these earlier decisions, has now concluded. We have considered the recommendations and have decided that the RAF's air transport and air refuelling fleets should be based at RAF Brize Norton by 2012. This includes the Hercules C130J aircraft currently based at RAF Lyneham

4 Jul 2003 : Column WA150

which will transfer to RAF Brize Norton. We intend that the C130K fleet will remain at RAF Lyneham until the aircraft goes out of service by 2012, after which, if no further defence use is identified for RAF Lyneham, the station will be closed and disposed of. The tactical communications wing, currently located at RAF Brize Norton, will be relocated to an alternative site by 2006. Concentrating the aircraft fleets at RAF Brize Norton will enable us to make the most efficient and effective use of the defence estate and allow the adoption of modern working practices.

In respect of St Mawgan, where only the airfield was under consideration, we have concluded that this should be retained, subject to further work to explore the commercial opportunities for its use and so offset the cost of its operation to defence.

The net effect of these changes, when complete, will be a reduction of around 1,780 service and 360 MoD civilian posts together with a move of around 620 personnel of the tactical communications wing. Approximately 580 lost posts relate directly to the closure of RAF Lyneham with the other manpower reductions a result of the introduction of the new manpower-efficient aircraft. At RAF Brize Norton, MoD manpower numbers will remain much as they are now. The number of contracted personnel has yet to be determined.

We understand that this decision will be disappointing for the dedicated military and civilian personnel at Lyneham who have contributed so much to recent operations. We recognise too the disappointment that will be felt by those in the local area who give the station much-valued support. RAF Lyneham has a long and proud history. However we must make best use of defence resources, including by regular review the Defence Estate to ensure we retain no more than is required to meet defence needs.

Pensions: Public Sector

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their proposed £1.4 million lifetime limit for preferential tax treatment on the capital value of the pension which someone could receive will apply to:


    (a) the Prime Minister;


    (b) the Speaker of the House of Commons;


    (c) the Chancellor of the Exchequer; and


    (d) all other individuals whose pensions are paid from public funds;

    and, if the answer to any of these is no, why not.[HL3621]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): I refer the noble Lord to my Answer on 13 March 2003 to Lord Tebbit, Official Report, WA 190.

4 Jul 2003 : Column WA151

Plasma Transfusions

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Andrews on 4 April (WA 154), why a recent case of transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) was settled by the National Blood Service out of court; and how many other cases of TRALI have been settled and at what total cost to the Department of Health; and[HL3486]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Andrews on 4 April (WA 154), how the provision for future compensation claims relating to transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) will be reconciled with the continuing risk to patients of serious illness or death from fresh frozen plasma transfusions.[HL3487]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The National Blood Authority (NBA) is a special health authority. In this case of transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) the NBA admitted liability; It was advised, therefore that liability should be admitted and a settlement negotiated. This is a matter for the NBA.

The reduction of incidents of TRALI continues to be a high priority. We have not undertaken an assessment on the cost of possible compensation claims for TRALI.

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they are not funding a commercially available fresh frozen plasma which is treated in such a way that there is no risk of SARS, or other unknown, potentially fatal emerging (lipid-enveloped) viruses, being transmitted; and[HL3488]

    Why they will not consider funding a pharmaceutically licensed, virally inactivated, pooled, fresh frozen plasma, which could eliminate the risk to patients of transfusion-related acute lung injury (TRALI) and the risk of infections such as HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C.[HL3491]

Lord Warner: The safety of blood and blood products used in the National Health Service is of paramount importance. Although most United Kingdom fresh frozen plasma (FFP) is not virally inactivated, high levels of safety are achieved by using single unit, as opposed to pooled plasma, by screening out potential high risk donors and by testing every unit of donated blood for the presence of infections such as HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C before it is released to hospitals. In addition, the National Blood Service is conducting an options appraisal of means to minimise the risk of transfusion-related acute lung injury from FFP.

The decision taken to import FFP from the United States for young babies and children born after 1 January 1996 will provide additional protection to the most vulnerable group who will not have been exposed to bovine spongiform encephalopathy through the

4 Jul 2003 : Column WA152

food chain. The National Blood Authority is currently involved in negotiating for supplies of FFP for this group of patients and plans to have it available later this year. A commercially produced FFP product, sourced from the United States, is also available for the National Health Service to purchase.

The Government's Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Blood and Tissue for Transplantation will continue to review the risk of new emerging viruses such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) on the blood supply. There is no evidence that SARS can be transmitted by blood transfusion. John B

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Andrews on 1 May (WA 126–27), why they do not think that high levels of safety are achieved through pooled plasma products, despite them being virally inactivated; and what evidence they have against pooled products to support this view; and[HL3490]

    Why they have recommended a virally inactivated fresh frozen plasma for specific sub-groups of transfusion patients when a licensed, virally inactivated product is commercially available; and[HL3524]

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Andrews on 1 April (WA 123–24), what scientific evidence they have to support the belief that non-virally inactivated single unit plasma (which is currently used in the United Kingdom) is preferable to virally inactivated pooled plasma.[HL3525]

Lord Warner: United Kingdom single unit fresh frozen plasma (FFP) is already a very safe product. To minimise the risk from viruses, it is made only from previously tested blood donors. Since the year 2000, an additional test for hepatitis C has been added. As a result the risk from a single unit of FFP is estimated to be one in 5 million for HIV and lower than one in 1 million for hepatitis C. As a precautionary measure all FFP from UK blood donors has been leucodepleted to remove the white cells which evidence suggests may carry the greatest risk of transmitting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The decision taken to import virally inactivated single unit FFP from the United States for young babies and children born after 1 January 1996 was made to provide additional protection to this most vulnerable group who have not been exposed to bovine spongiform encephalopathy through the food chain. Over 300,000 units of FFP are issued annually and it is only given in life-threatening situations to prevent or stop haemorrhage associated with abnormal blood clotting.

Virally inactivated pooled FFP is subjected to a single virus reduction step. Two viruses (hepatitis A and parvovirus) are not susceptible to this form of inactivation. It is also possible that a new virus could appear that is not susceptible to the inactivation treatment and could spread to those transfused via the pooling of many donations.

4 Jul 2003 : Column WA153

The Government's expert Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Blood and Tissue for Transplantation has considered the relative risks and safety of the different types of fresh frozen plasma available and has recommended the use of UK single unit FFP but clinicians are free to choose which product to use. John B


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page