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Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times officials from his Department have held meetings with the United States Department of Defence under the information exchange agreement on non-lethal weapons systems signed on 2 February 1998 under the US-UK Master Information Exchange Memorandum of Understanding on non-lethal weapons; when and where each meeting was held; and with which section of the United States Department of Defence each meeting was held. 
Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many information exchanges have been signed under the US-UK Master Information Exchange Memorandum of Understanding on non-lethal weapons since 18 November 1994; on what date and at what location and with which section of the US Department of Defense each information exchange was signed. 
Mr. Hoon: One Annexe to the Master Information Exchange Memorandum of Understanding on non-lethal weapons has been signed: UK-RN-N-97-5951 on Non-lethal Weapons Systems. This was signed on 2 February 1998, with a duration of five years, at Quantico, Virginia with the US Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.
10 Apr 2001 : Column: 522W
Mr. Hoon: The Strategic Defence Review concluded that we needed to improve our strategic airlift capability to allow us to move forces and equipment quickly to an overseas theatre. In my statement on 16 May 2000, Official Report, columns 149-61, I announced the intention to order 25 A400M to fulfil our long-term outsize airlift requirements from the latter part of the decade.
I also announced that we would be leasing four C-17 aircraft to improve our strategic airlift capability until A400M enters service. This contract has now been signed and we expect to take delivery of the aircraft in May this year.
|Aircraft type||Number in-service|
|VC10 C Mk 1 K||11|
|TriStar KC Mk 1||4|
(9) Of the 25 ordered, 17 have been delivered to date, of which two are completing the acceptance process
(10) The C-130K fleet size is planned to reduce progressively to 26 aircraft as C-130J deliveries are completed
Mr. Spellar: At the end of March, the British-led Task Force CAMBRAI deployed to the US-led sector in MNB(E), with an area of responsibility which includes a stretch of the Kosovo/Macedonian border. This Task Force currently totals some 400, of whom some 200 are British troops.
10 Apr 2001 : Column: 523W
Mr. Hoon: The Alternative Landing Ships Logistic (ALSLs) are designed for the carriage and offload at sea of troops, their equipment and stores, including ammunition, directly into a potentially hostile environment. They represent an important element of the modernisation of the UK amphibious capability foreseen in the Strategic Defence Review.
The current Landing Ships Logistics (LSLs) are mostly over 30 years old and of decreasing utility. The four new ALSLs will each have double the Linear Metre capacity of an LSL, thus providing greater vehicle and equipment carriage to support the embarked troops. This represents a marked increase in our amphibious lift capability. The ALSLs will be able to offload troops more quickly, by sea and air simultaneously, at a safer distance, and in significantly worse sea conditions. They can also provide tactical logistics support to land forces, and are flexible ships which can undertake a wide variety of other military tasks.
Dr. Moonie: The Suez operation of 1956 is recognised by the "Near East" clasp to the General Service Medal. There are no plans to institute a medal for the earlier period of emergency from 1951 onwards. The then Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my hon. Friend the Member for Warley (Mr. Spellar), reviewed the matter in 1998 and found no evidence that he believed would enable him to persuade the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals to overturn their policy of non-retrospection, or to revoke any of the decisions made at the time or following various Departmental reviews since 1990. No such evidence has subsequently come to light.
There is no evidence of interest in banking (ie deposit-taking) businesses seeking to be organised as LLPs. Were there any evidence of interest in using the LLP structure, we would need to examine the issues closely.
10 Apr 2001 : Column: 524W
Mr. St. Aubyn: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the latest estimate is, measured in (a) resource accounting terms and (b) resource accounting terms at 2001 prices, of the planned increase in the annual total gross expenditure on administration by all Departments from 1996-97 to 2003-04; 
Mr. Andrew Smith: Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses (PESA) 2000-01 (Cm 4601, 2000) published the final set of departmental administration cost plans on a cash basis. In accordance with "Better Accounting for the Taxpayer's Money" (Cm 2626, 1994), Departments were required to produce resource information from April 1998. This year's edition of PESA 2001-02 (Cm 5101, 2001) contains resource-based administration cost plans from that date, although estimates for the earlier years are included in footnote six.
Dawn Primarolo: I refer my hon. Friend to my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster and Wyre (Mr. Dawson) on 22 January 2001, Official Report, column 425W. All recipients of the Disabled Persons Tax Credit will benefit from this month's increases, and from the further increase to the basic credit in June.
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