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Mrs. Helen Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions if he will make a statement on the progress made by the Ordnance Survey towards anticipating and meeting the needs of customers through partnerships and adherence to service first principles. 
meeting with representative user bodies;
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what slots have been offered to British Midland to fly from Heathrow following the withdrawal of services by other carriers. 
Mr. Jamieson: Slots at co-ordinated airports such as Heathrow are allocated to airlines under European Regulation 95/93. Bmi British Midland are entitled to apply to the airport co-ordinator for slots. No slots at Heathrow have been offered to them as a result of a withdrawal of service by other carriers.
Mr. Jamieson [holding answer 20 November 2001]: In the November 2000 pre Budget report the Chancellor announced the Green Fuels Challenge, which invited industry and environmental groups to develop proposals for practical alternative fuels. More than 60 proposals were submitted covering a range of potential options. In response to the data submitted on biofuels the Chancellor announced, subject to EU agreement, a 20p per litre duty incentive on biodiesel would be introduced in Budget 2002.
Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (1) what plans he has to fund research into using urea in diesel vehicles to reduce nitrogen emissions; 
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Mr. Jamieson: None. Research and development of exhaust after-treatment systems, including the possible use of urea, is already well under way on a commercial basis so that manufacturers will be in a position to meet mandatory EU NOx emission limits for heavy diesel vehicles which come into force from 2008.
Mr. Spellar: The effectiveness of the bus lane is closely monitored by the Highways Agency. They report that it continues to alleviate peak congestion on this busy section of the motorway but they recommend that the scheme could be improved by raising the speed limit between junction 4 and the elevated section to 60mph and the use by motorcycles of the lane designated for buses and taxis. I have agreed that the Highways Agency should consult on these changes and this consultation will be launched today.
(1) For military service personnel figures are quoted for the number leaving early on Premature Voluntary Retirement (Officers), and Premature Voluntary Release (Other Ranks). This results from the open engagement system which means service men can serve for 22 years. As these are not engagement periods as such, those who leave earlier do so on Premature Voluntary Retirement/Release.
(2) Defined as personnel leaving at the end of an agreed period of service.
(3) All other outflow of trained personnel. This includes redundancy, medical, death, disciplinary and services no longer required.
Mr. Hoon [holding answer 15 November 2001]: I have no plans to do so at present. However, should the managing director of Mineseeker wish to discuss his organisation's activities with the Ministry of Defence, appropriate arrangements could be made.
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Mr. Ingram [holding answer 16 November 2001]: The Head of the Defence Academy's budget will be established with effect from 1 April 2002. The precise size of the budget has yet to be determined, but the administrative element is expected to be about 23 per cent.
Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle) on 19 October 2001, Official Report, column 1371W. There is no requirement to improve recruiting levels to meet the numbers needed.
Mr. Hoon: UK forces deployed to Afghanistan will remain there for as long as necessary. In the event that a roulement of the current force deployed is required, detailed plans will be made in co-ordination with our coalition allies and taking account of the political and security situation on the ground.
Mr. Ingram: HMS Illustrious, HMS Fearless, HMS Cornwall, HMS Southampton and HMS Trafalgar and Royal Fleet Auxiliaries Sir Tristram, Sir Percival, Fort Victoria, Fort Rosalie, Brambleleaf and Diligence are tasked to assist the international coalition. All ships are currently operating in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many sorties have been flown by aircraft of the international coalition in Afghanistan and for what purpose since the beginning of November. 
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airborne early warning. I cannot provide details of other coalition members' sorties (either in total numbers flown or by purpose), which are a matter for them.
Mr. Hoon: The composition of any forces deployed on Operation Veritas will be determined by the operational requirements. Depending on these requirements, women may be included in forces to be deployed.
Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what effects environmental conditions had on Army and Fleet Air Arm helicopters during Exercise Saif Sareea 2; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: Equipment reliability and availability during Saif Sareea 2 was affected by the desert environment, particularly the hot temperatures and flying dust. A number of equipment enhancement measures were implemented, such as sand filters and polyurethane self-adhesive tape on rotor blades which, together with an upgraded maintenance programme, combined to ensure that the helicopter fleet performed well in the environment.
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