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Written Answers

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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Written Answers To Questions

The following answers were received between 23 May and 2 June 2003

Education And Skills

Positive Activities For Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on the replacement of Splash programmes with the Positive Activities for Young People scheme. [114204]

I have been asked to reply.Splash and Splash Extra were an important part of last summer"s programme of school holiday diversionary activities for young people living in high crime areas, which saw over 90,000 young people taking part in a wide range of activities. We intend to build on this success this year, by absorbing the Splash schemes, along with the Connexions Summer Plus programme, into a new single programme of positive activities for young people to provide year round out of school activities for eight to 19-year-olds.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department"s assessment of the total poppy crop in Afghanistan is for (a) 1991, (b) 2000, (c) 2001 and (d) 2002; and if he will make a statement. [114356]

Since 1994, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has conducted an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. This concluded that the extent of cultivation in the last three years was:

Hectares
200082,000
20018,000
200274,000
The largest cultivation level, of 91,000 hectares, was recorded by the UNODC in 1999. There are no generally accepted figures for cultivation in 1991.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his Department"s strategy is on opium sourced in Afghanistan that gets transported to the UK. [114357]

The UK is working with the Afghan Government to achieve their stated goal of eliminating opium production by 2013. We are co-ordinating international anti-narcotics assistance to Afghanistan. With the endorsement of the Afghan Government, and in consultation with other international stakeholders (especially the UN), the UK has developed a long-term strategy. This identifies four key areas where assistance should be targeted: improving Afghan law enforcement capability; rural reconstruction to generate alternative livelihoods for opium poppy farmers; capacity-building for Afghan drug control institutions; and establishing prevention/treatment programmes to tackle addiction.We are also working with governments along the main trafficking routes to disrupt the drug trade.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how much money the Government spent on their programme to eradicate poppy production in Afghanistan in 2002; and how much the Government intend to spend on this programme in 2003. [115361]

At the Tokyo Reconstruction Conference for Afghanistan in January 2002 the UK pledged £200 million over five years for development. The conference acknowledged that measures designed to contribute to the elimination of opium poppy cultivation should be included in all reconstruction programmes.In 2002–03 the UK spent £70 million on development in Afghanistan. This included £2 million on livelihoods programmes which promote the creation of alternative forms of licit livelihood for Afghan poppy farmers. The UK has also provided approximately £24 million of assistance for the development of Afghan drug control capacity.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the success of the Government in meeting its PSA target to contribute to the reduction of opium cultivation in Afghanistan by 70 per cent. in five years with complete elimination in 10 years. [115362]

The elimination of cultivation of opium poppy in Afghanistan in 10 years is an ambitious target which has been embraced by the Afghan Government and included in their own national drug strategy, endorsed by President Karzai on 19 May.A UK plan for assisting the Afghan authorities with implementation of their strategy is being finalised. It outlines a broad approach that balances the building up of Afghan drug law enforcement with the promotion of alternative livelihoods for poppy farmers. Achievement of sustainable reductions in cultivation levels will also depend on whether a secure environment can be maintained in Afghanistan which enables central Government to assert its authority over the provinces and which allows the development community to implement reconstruction programmes. We have always been clear that we expect poppy production to rise before it falls in later years. This is inevitable given the poverty, the need for alternative livelihoods and the need to build a strong central Government in Afghanistan which can implement an effective eradication strategy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in the development of a justice system in Afghanistan that meets international standards; and what his assessment is of the adequacy of resources available to develop such a system. [114876]

Progress in this sector is gathering speed after the appointment of a Judicial Commission in October 2002. The Judicial Commission has established a programme of work together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to which the UK has contributed £0.5 million, with a further £0.5 million pledged for later this year. Work on the programme is ongoing: a scoping study of existing infrastructure has already been completed across much of the country, and the Commission is actively reviewing the civil and penal codes.Italy is the lead nation for co-ordinating international assistance to the Afghan justice sector with the Transitional Administration. It has estimated that the development and running of the Justice Sector will require approximately £18 million per year (figure drawn from the Afghan National Development Budget 2003). Part of that sum can be met from the Afghan National Budget. Italy, the US and other donors are contributing significant sums to the Law and Order Trust Fund and to the Judicial Commission programme for reform of the Justice Sector enabling the reform programme to proceed.In addition the UK is funding work by the NGO Penal Reform International on penal reform in Afghanistan.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many (a) men and (b) women in Afghanistan have received police training. [114877]

Germany is the lead nation for co-ordinating international assistance on police reform with the Afghan Transitional Administration. The Germans, assisted by other nations, have trained 1,300 men and 40 women at Kabul Police Academy. The UK ran a two week training course in Kabul in January attended by five male senior Afghan police officers, two of whom subsequently attended a course at the International Police College in the UK. These are the only figures that we can break down by gender. However, a further 25 Afghan police officers have been trained in Germany, as well as 340 officers in India, 60 in Turkey and 30 in Iran.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate he has made of the likely production level of cultivation of opium poppies in Afghanistan in (a) 2003 and (b) 2004; and what percentage that represents of levels in (i) 2000 and (ii) 2001. [115498]

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. They are in the process of completing the 2003 survey. The final results will be available in the autumn. The 2004 survey will get underway towards the end of this year.It is difficult to predict the size of future Afghan opium crops. However the UNODC did publish its Rapid Assessment report in February. It made no predictions about the likely size of the 2003 harvest but concluded there had been significant displacement of cultivation to new areas within Afghanistan.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how independent international validation will be provided of a discovery of weapons of mass destruction. [114560]

Both the UK and US Governments understands the desirability of independent Validation of any discoveries made by coalition forces in Iraq.We are in discussion with allies and in the United Nations about how best to ensure such verification.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what opportunity British authorities have had to question Mr. Tariq Aziz; and whether he plans to proffer charges against Mr. Aziz. [114889]

Tariq Aziz voluntarily surrendered to the coalition forces in Baghdad and is currently in custody. The coalition partners have had the opportunity to interview Mr. Aziz on a number of topics and this will continue. It is too early to determine the nature of any criminal charges he might face.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if his Department will send forensic officers to assist in the excavation of the graves of those murdered by Saddam Hussein"s regime in Iraq. [114261]

The Government have sent a team of nine forensic experts to Iraq in order to assist with the examination of mass graves in Iraq.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the British Government and the Iraqi Government discussed (a) UN sanctions and (b) weapons inspections in Iraq in (i) 2000 and (ii) 2001. [114321]

The British Government had no direct contact with the Iraqi Government over either UN sanctions or weapons inspections in either 2000 or 2001.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 8 May, Official Report, column 855W, on the war in Iraq, what steps he has taken to obtain the original documents. [114394]

We have made it clear that we would welcome any opportunity to subject such documents to expert analysis. Those in the possession of documents or property which do not belong to them, should pass them to the appropriate authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who will decide and upon what basis the body which will validate and exercise destruction of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. [114559]

Discussions are continuing with allies and in the United Nations about how best to ensure independent validation of discoveries made by coalition forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking under international law as an occupying power to (a) ensure public order and safety in Iraq, (b) meet the basic needs of the Iraqi population, (c) protect displaced persons and refugees, (d) respect the rights of detainees and (e) ensure justice in Iraq. [114879]

The UK takes its legal responsibilities as an Occupying Power under the Geneva and Hague Conventions very seriously. The Coalition condemns looting and has stressed its commitment to preventing it. Looting and lawlessness appear to be declining in most areas. In the UK area of operations suspected looters are arrested and detained.UK Police experts on law enforcement and the criminal justice system are advising on the stabilisation of the security situation and rebuilding the police service.The UK has committed £240 million for humanitarian assistance. The Coalition is working hard to address priority humanitarian needs including water, power and food, working closely with the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), NGOs, and UN agencies.There were very few refugees arising from the conflict and these were well supported by the UN"s preparedness measures to which the UK contributed. UNHCR are now undertaking planning to arrange an orderly and supported repatriation of refugees, the vast majority of whom pre-date the recent conflict, back to Iraq. Virtually all Iraqis internally displaced during the conflict have returned to their place of origin.Iraqis detained by British forces have been treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the US on the time scale for the identification of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. [114881]

We are working closely with the US Administration on all issues affecting Iraq including the effort to identify Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The search will continue until we, and the international community, are confident that the former Iraqi regime"s WMD programmes have been eliminated.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the members of the new local Iraqi Administration in Umm Qasr, indicating in each case their (a) religion, (b) political and major pressure group links and (c) means of living. [114986]

We understand that the process of deciding the composition of Umm Qasr"s local Administration (town council) is on-going. We will endeavour to relay background details when we have them.

Agency Workers

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many agency workers have been employed by the Department in each of the last two years; and at what cost to public funds. [115198]

We do not have a central record of the numbers of staff employed under contract from agencies; to obtain these figures would incur disproportionate costs. We do, however, have the costs, which are:

Financial yearAgency costs (£)
2001–021,933,841
2002–031,850,779

Airport Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what monitoring of security at airports abroad is undertaken by UK embassies and consulates. [114614]

The monitoring of airport security abroad is a key task for Post Aviation Security Officers (PASOs) in the majority of our network of embassies, High Commissions and Consulate-Generals. PASOs assess security afforded to UK airlines and, where there are no UK carriers, report on the airport security regime generally.Since 11 September 2001, the PASOs work has intensified and been supplemented by ad hoc visits and assessments by experts from Transport Security Directorate at the Department for Transport (DfT). PASOs are not aviation security experts and they all have other duties to undertake outside the aviation security field. Where a PASO identifies shortcomings in security he/she will be given guidance from DfT on how the issue should be addressed, with further support from the centre as necessary.Regional Aviation Security Liaison Officers (RASLOs) have recently been appointed to Nairobi (to cover East Africa) and Dubai (to cover the Gulf) to provide host states with practical aviation security advice and expertise. Further deployments to other regions are likely. The RASLOs are aviation security experts and will, to a large extent, assume many of the duties currently performed by the PASOs in those regions. Monitoring security standards and liaising with the appropriate authorities are core tasks.In addition to our RASLOs and PASOs, we continue to highlight the importance of international aviation security standards in multilateral fora—G8, EU, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC)—and with partners on a bilateral basis. We are intensifying our programme of DfT inspections, increasing the number of regional aviation security courses we deliver overseas and inviting more delegations of experts and practitioners to the UK for consultations and security visits to our airports.

Australia/New Zealand

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister of (a) Australia and (b) New Zealand; and what plans he has to visit these countries. [115344]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has met the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, twice this year in February and in early May. He also met the New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark in early May.Discussions with both Prime Ministers covered a range of foreign policy issues, including the Middle East Peace Process, Iraq, Zimbabwe, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and a number of trade and EU related topics.The Foreign Secretary has no present plans to visit either Australia or New Zealand. I will visit both countries in August.

Cameroon

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with his counterpart in Cameroon on (a) the death of Dr. Martin Luma and (b) the arrests of the Rev. Francis Nchamn, Bissong Stanley, Issaacs Ibe and Esoka Aaron; and if he will make a statement. [115116]

[holding answer 22 May 2003]: We follow developments in Cameroon closely. My noble Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Baroness Amos, discussed human rights with President Biya during her visits in February and March 2003. We are aware of Dr. Luma"s death and of reports of the arrests of his supporters. We are looking into the circumstances urgently. I will write to my hon. Friend when we have more information.

Corruption

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guidelines the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issues to staff based overseas on reporting allegations of corruption by British companies; and if he will make a statement. [115147]

Crown Servants and locally engaged employees in British Diplomatic posts overseas who, in the course of their duties, become aware of, or receive information relating to, acts of bribery or corruption committed by UK nationals or legal persons are obliged to report the matter, so that the appropriate UK authorities can decide whether to pursue an investigation or prosecution.Staff at home and overseas have been advised of the changes to UK law introduced from 14 February 2002 by the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, and of their reporting responsibility. This is further emphasised through training of staff engaged in trade and investment work.

Democratic Republic Of The Congo

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if the Government will support the deployment of a United Nations military force in Ituri province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. [114710]

We are very concerned about the situation in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are monitoring developments closely. We can confirm that the UN has asked the UK and others to participate in an emergency multinational peacekeeping force to stabilise the security situation. We are considering this request urgently.

Egypt

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Egyptian Government on the recent attack by a unit from the Egyptian army on the Patmos Centre, a Christian children"s home. [114757]

British embassy officials in Cairo have investigated this incident.On 5 April, a unit from the army camp began to bulldoze the centre"s perimeter fence and about 50 metres of land. Although we do not know what provoked this particular incident, it appears to be part of a legal dispute. No people were injured and no buildings were damaged during the incident. The army unit ceased their action following local protests and the intervention of security services who have tried to resolve the dispute. The Patmos Centre is currently in a legal dispute about its location. It has been built about 500 metres from the perimeter of an army camp. Under Egyptian law, the construction of buildings within such proximity of a military institution is not allowed. We hope that the authorities can reach a swift settlement to the dispute.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Egyptian Government on the treatment by police of converts from Islam to Christianity. [114756]

No. We have not seen evidence of systematic targeting or maltreatment by police of converts from Islam to Christianity. However, we are concerned at the lack of an administrative means of changing ID cards to Christianity where a person has converted. Where there is evidence of violations of human rights we do make our views known to the Egyptian authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Egyptian Government concerning the (a) imprisonment of Malak and Naglaa Gawargios Fahmy and (b) reports of attempts to force Naglaa Gawargios to renounce her faith. [114755]

Mr. and Mrs. Fahmy were arrested on 23 December 2002 and charged with religious contempt and falsification of official documents. We have received no evidence that either was pressured to renounce their faith. The British embassy in Cairo will continue to monitor the case.

Hong Kong

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what negotiations have taken place with Chinese representatives regarding the preservation of Hong Kong"s special status; and if he will make a statement on the role the UK has in Hong Kong. [115165]

Negotiations took place between the UK and China about Hong Kong"s special status prior to the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty on 1 July 1997.Since then, there have been regular exchanges at ministerial and official levels. During those, the situation in post-handover Hong Kong has frequently been discussed. Both sides agree on the importance of maintaining the principles of the1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong which provides Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy under the "One Country, Two Systems" principle.My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary reports regularly to Parliament on the implementation of the Joint Declaration. Our assessment continues to be that, generally, "One Country, Two Systems" is working well in practice.We have a strong, forward-looking bilateral relationship with Hong Kong, a key partner for the UK in the Asia-Pacific region. Given Britain"s role as a joint signatory of the Joint Declaration, we maintain a close interest in developments in Hong Kong.

Indonesia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Indonesian Government regarding human trafficking for the purposes of sexual and labour exploitation. [114579]

We have not felt it necessary to make representations to the Indonesian Government on this issue, as they are already taking steps to combat human trafficking.On 30 December 2002 President Megawati signed a Presidential Decree on a National Plan of Action for the Elimination of Trafficking in Women and Children. In addition, on 28–30 April, the Indonesian Government co-hosted The Second Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crimes. Significant progress has been made in regional co-operation to combat people smuggling and other forms of illegal migration since the first regional Ministerial Conference in Bali in February 2002, especially in increasing public awareness of people smuggling and trafficking, discouraging those considering illegal movement, asylum management, and information sharing on the dignified and humane return of unlawful migrants.

Indonesia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation in Aceh; and what discussions he has had with the UN and national governments on bringing a peaceful solution to conflict there. [115277]

We deeply regret the breakdown of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) following the failure by the Indonesian Government and Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to reach an agreement at a joint meeting in Tokyo on 17 to 18 May 2003. We are disappointed that the Indonesian Government have declared martial law in Aceh, which has resulted in military action against the GAM.In a joint statement with the Australian Foreign Minister on 20 May 2003, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary called on the Indonesian armed forces to ensure full respect for human rights, and to show maximum restraint while they carry out their operations in Aceh.The British Government together with EU partners, the US, Japan and the World bank have all urged both the Indonesian Government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to resume peaceful negotiations. We believe that dialogue is the best way to achieve a long-term peaceful political solution to the problems in Aceh. We and the international community as a whole support Indonesia"s territorial integrity.

Russia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports the Government has received on the demolition of shelters for internally displaced persons in Ingushetia; and what representations he has made to President Putin on this matter. [114563]

We have received reports from the French NGO, Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), that the Ingush government ordered them to dismantle some 180 single-room shelters for Internally Displaced Persons, and that construction of a further 3000 shelters has been put on hold. We have not yet raised this issue with the Russian government, pending the outcome of an Ingush government commission appointed to review the decision.

Israel

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he is making to the Israeli Government regarding (a) the death of James Miller and (b) the shooting of Tom Hurndall in Gaza; and if he will encourage the Israeli authorities to carry out a full criminal investigation. [113732]

Since the shooting of Tom Hurndall and death of James Miller we have continually pressed the Israeli Government for full and transparent inquiries into the shootings. I repeated these demands when I met the Israeli Ambassador to London, Zvi Shtuaber on 8 May. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary also raised our concerns on 15 May when he met Israeli Foreign Minister, Silvan Shalom.Our Ambassador in Tel Aviv has already pressed the Israelis for a Military Investigation into both shootings.Our staff in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem remain in contact with both families, and are working on their behalf. We will continue to do all that we can to resolve both these cases.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the matters discussed during his talks with the Israeli Foreign Minister on 16 May; and if he will make a statement on the outcome of those talks. [114846]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed bilateral relations, Middle East Peace Process and other regional issues of common concern with Mr Shalom. This was the first opportunity we have had to raise British interests and concerns with the new Israeli Foreign Minister in person.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what representations he has made to the Israeli Government about the restrictions placed by the Israeli Government on the freedom of foreign nationals to enter the Gaza Strip, and what response he has received to those representations; [114848](2) what assessment he has made of reports that the Israeli Government has imposed a requirement on foreign nationals wishing to enter the Gaza Strip should sign a waiver absolving the Israeli military of responsibility if the foreign national command is killed or injured by Israeli military action; and what representations he has made to the Government of Israel on the issue. [114849]

We are concerned by Israel"s decision to oblige foreign nationals to sign a waiver before allowing them to enter the Gaza Strip; and by the further decision to forbid most foreign nationals from entering the Gaza Strip at all. Our embassy in Tel Aviv has taken these issues up with the Israeli authorities as a matter of urgency. We look to the Government of Israel to ease these restrictions without delay.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make copies of the Quartet"s middle east road map available on his Department"s website; and if he will place a formal copy of the road map in the Library. [114927]

Formal copies of the roadmap are publicly available on the department"s website www.fco.gov.uk/mepp and have been placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he is having with (a) the Israeli Government, (b) the Palestinian authorities, (c) the United Nations and (d) his American counterparts regarding progress on the implementation of Phase 1 of the roadmap for peace. [115140]

Ministers and Officials are in regular contact with the Israeli Government, the Palestinian Authority, the UN and the US. Most recently my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary met Israeli Foreign Minister Shalom during his visit to London on 15 May 2003; and the Prime Minister spoke to President Bush on 16 May and Abu Mazen on 18 May 2003.

Judicial Executions

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has collated on the number of executions per 100,000 population in the five countries with the highest rates of judicial executions in each of the last three years. [114878]

Verifiable information on the numbers of executions which take place around the world is not available as not all countries publish such figures. We use statistics collected by Amnesty International which we regard as one definitive source of information on death penalty cases. Amnesty International do not publish a league table of figures covering every country in the world though their research and ours suggests that capital punishment continues to be implemented in about 30 countries. We also believe that the true number of executions world-wide is significantly higher than the number of recorded cases.According to available statistics in 2000, 88 per cent. of all known executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the USA. In 2001 and 2002, 90 per cent. and 84 per cent. respectively of all known executions took place in the same four countries. We believe that Singapore has the highest per capita number of recorded executions in the world, with 13 executions per million. China has the highest overall recorded number of executions, with at least 1,060 executions in 2002.

Pakistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the situation with respect to visa applications in Karachi. [114580]

The Visa Sections in Karachi and Lahore have been closed since May 2002 for security reasons. Our High Commission in Islamabad is offering a limited visa service for the whole of Pakistan. Applications must be made through a courier service which has offices throughout Pakistan, including in Karachi. Applications which cannot be decided on papers alone and require an interview with the applicant cannot currently be resolved and are returned to the applicant.The situation is kept under constant review and we aim to resume a normal service throughout Pakistan as soon as possible.The UK visas website (www.ukvisas.gov.uk) contains regularly updated information on Visa Sections worldwide which are offering a restricted service or are temporarily closed.

Military Aid

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what military aid has been provided by the UK to the 20 poorest nations, measured by GDP, in each year since 1997; and what the value of the aid was in each case. [112653]

HMG carries out a wide range of defence activity with bilateral and multilateral partners, much of which could be described as "military aid" or "military assistance". Such activity is carried out both by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, and funded from a number of sources, including the joint FCO/MOD/DfID Conflict Prevention Fund.

Detailed records are not maintained centrally. As such the detail of the information sought, including on the value of such assistance, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

North Korea

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the UK"s diplomatic relationship with North Korea. [114679]

The UK established diplomatic relations with the Democratic People"s Republic of North Korea (DPRK) in December 2000 and opened an Embassy in Pyongyang in July 2001. The first UK Ambassador to North Korea, David Slinn, arrived in Pyongyang on 23 November 2002. North Korea has recently opened a mission in London.We believe it is important to remain engaged with North Korea, and we use every opportunity that our channels of communication afford to put our concerns across and urge the DPRK to comply with its international obligations. However, we have made it clear to the Government of North Korea that there can be no normal relations between our two countries until the nuclear issue is resolved, and that our bilateral relationship therefore remains under review.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to establish effective bilateral relations with the Democratic People"s Republic of North Korea. [114687]

The UK established diplomatic relations with the Democratic People"s Republic of Korea in December 2000, and the British Embassy in Pyongyang opened on 30 July 2001. This established a channel of communication which has allowed us to address the North Korean authorities directly on issues of international concern, such as non-proliferation and human rights.We have also conducted a number of educational projects, aimed at increasing the North Korean people"s knowledge of and interaction with the outside world. These include English language training and human rights courses. We have made it clear to the North Korean government that there can be no normal relationship between our two countries until the issue of North Korea"s nuclear programmes has been resolved.

Nuclear Weapons

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the Government"s policy is on the development of a new generation of tactical nuclear weapons; and under what sections of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty this work is proceeding. [114269]

The Government has no plans to develop new nuclear weapons. In line with the policy set out in the Strategic Defence Review, it is the Government"s policy to maintain a minimum capability to design and produce a successor to Trident should his prove necessary.

Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department has made of which countries are the main source of (a) opium and (b) cocaine; and if he will make a statement. [114354]

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts annual surveys into the level of drug production in the main source countries. These confirm that the main source of opium continues to be Afghanistan, producing around 76 per cent. of the world"s supply and around 90 per cent. of the heroin which reaches the UK. The main source of cocaine is Colombia, which produces around 72 per cent. of the world"s supply.

Sickness Absence

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in the Department have been on long-term sick leave in each of the last two years. [115862]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given him by my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State (Mr. O"Brien) on 29 April 2003, Official Report, column 330W.

Slovakia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the treatment of minorities in Slovakia; and what discussions he has had on the matter with his Slovak counterpart. [114922]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary met his Slovak counterpart in February 2003 and discussed the situation of minorities in Slovakia. I have discussed the issue with political leaders in Slovakia both in London and Bratislava. Our Embassy in Bratislava also follows the situation of minorities and discusses that situation with the Slovak authorities. The UK"s EU Action Plan in Slovakia, which was formally launched by the Foreign Secretary in 2002, includes projects in the Roma communities.The European Commission regularly publishes reports on Slovakia"s progress towards EU accession, and runs programmes with the Roma communities as part of Slovakia"s EU pre-accession programme.Slovakia has been found to meet the Copenhagen criteria, which require a state to uphold the basic human rights of all its citizens.

Turkey

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has made to the Turkish authorities to ensure that they are complying with the criteria laid down in Copenhagen for EU accession; and if he will make a statement. [115038]

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary periodically discusses a range of issues, including Turkey"s progress in meeting the Copenhagen political criteria, with senior members of the Turkish Government. Such discussions also take place regularly at ministerial and senior official levels. The last time the Foreign Secretary met members of the Turkish Government was during the informal meeting of Foreign Ministers in Rhodes on 2 to 3 May 2003, which he and Turkish Foreign Minister Gul attended. The UK continues to support strongly Turkey"s EU candidacy through projects funded by our UK-Turkey Action Plan and the FCO"s Global Opportunities Fund. Turkey continues to make real progress in meeting the political criteria required to start accession negotiations.

Western Sahara

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to meet representatives of the Polisario Front to commemorate the 30th anniversary of their demand for self-determination in Western Sahara. [115278]

None. I met Lehbib Breica, the Frente Polisario representative to the UK and Ireland in December 2002.

Environment, Food And Rural Affairs

Environmental Standards

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many businesses in Shrewsbury and Atcham are registered with the environment standard ISO 14000. [115028]

The Government do not themselves maintain statistics of organisations which have attained the industry standard on environmental management systems, ISO 14001. However, my Department has supported the work of a professional body, the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), to establish a database of such organisations, which is now accessible on-line at www.emas.org.uk. The database lists six holders of the ISO 14001 standard in Shrewsbury and Atcham.

Cement Kilns

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cement kilns are operating in the United Kingdom; and what their capacities are. [115770]

There are 27 cement kilns at 17 sites in the United Kingdom with a total production capacity of 40,520 tonnes of cement per day. The following table contains the production capacities for each cement kiln.

Company/Plant

location
Kiln technologyProduction capacity

(tonnes/day)
Lafarge
Aberthawdry1,700
Barnstonewet300
Cauldondry (pre-calciner)2,800
Cookstownsemi-dry1,150
Dunbardry (pre-calciner)3,300
Hopedry1,900
dry1,900
Northfleetsemi-wet1,800
semi-wet1,800
Company/Plant

location
Kiln technologyProduction capacity

(tonnes/day)
Thurrockwet (not continuous)110
Westburywet950
wet950
Rugby
South Ferribysemi-dry1,100
semi-dry1,100
Barringtonsemi-dry770
Rugbysemi-wet (calciner)4,000
Castle
Kettondry (long kiln)1,060
dry (pre-calciner)3,100
Ribblesdalewet1,000
wet1,000
dry (pre-calciner)2,500
Padeswooddry (long kiln)840
wet420
wet420
Buxton Lime
Tunstead1wet750
dry (pre-calciner)2,300
Sean Quinn
Fermanagh2dry1,500
1 New cement kiln—commissioning scheduled to start mid 2003

and will replace existing wet kiln.
2 Plant shutdown but not decommissioned.

Coffee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recommendations for action she will make at the International Coffee Organisation/World Bank Coffee Conference on 19 May. [113506]

The European Commission will speak on behalf of EU member states at the International Coffee Organisation/World Bank Conference. The Conference aims to bring together producers from developing countries, Government officials, experts from international organisations, advocacy groups and industry representatives to discuss alternatives such as diversification, quality, added value and market development in order to help coffee producers increase their income and improve living standards. It is hoped that the Conference will help to develop ideas for specific programmes and activities which could make a real contribution to solving the coffee crisis.

Efficiency Savings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the target is for efficiency savings in 2003–04 expressed (a) in money terms and (b) as a percentage of the Department"s expenditure limit. [114105]

As part of the 2002 settlement from the Treasury, Defra is expected to find £16 million in efficiency savings for 2003–04. This figure represents 0.6 per cent. of the Department"s expenditure limit (of which the administration component represents approximately 3 per cent. of the administration budget).

Farm Advisory System

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her estimate is of the cost to the United Kingdom of introducing and operating the Farm Advisory System proposed by the European Commission; what the Government"s policy is on the appropriate division of the costs of the scheme between Government and industry; and if she will make a statement. [114091]

The Government estimate that a farm advisory system as proposed by the Commission would cost government at least £42 million p.a., and farmers a further unquantified amount. The Government do not consider this likely to be good value for money and are pressing for a less bureaucratic approach.

Fishing Quotas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps she is taking in the operation of The Hague Preference to ensure that any fishing quota cuts are favourable to those countries which border the North Sea. [114886]

The effect of The Hague Preference, when it is operated in relation to North Sea fish stocks, is to reduce other member states" amounts of fishing quota for the year in question and to increase that of the UK. Only the UK and Ireland benefit from The Hague Preference.

Fuel Crops

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the CAP mid-term review on the growing of crops for alternative fuel production. [115311]

[holding answer 22 May 2003]: CAP reform proposals introduced the concept of a decoupled single income payment with energy crops eligible for an additional "carbon credit" aid of 45 per hectare, capped at 1.5 million hectares across the EU. Compulsory set-aside would have been retained, but the existing derogation to allow non-food, including energy, crops to be grown on it would be removed. We consider that the combination of decoupling together with a further cereals price cut removes the need for land to be taken out of production.The European Commission have now indicated that they may be prepared to make some changes to their original proposal including allowing continued access for non-food crops to set-aside land. Our view is that if set-aside is to continue, it must be applied in a flexible way which maximises its potential benefits.Detailed negotiations are continuing in Brussels, due to be concluded in June.

Gm Crops

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the procedures to be put in place for the forthcoming consultation on genetically modified organisms. [115288]

[holding answer 22 May 2003]: The Government-sponsored public debate on wider GM issues, which is being managed by an independent Steering Board at arm"s length from Government, will be launched on 3 June. The public will have the opportunity to debate the issues surrounding GMOs, either by attending a meeting or by accessing the website.Regional public meetings will be held in Birmingham (3 June), Swansea (5 June), Taunton (7 June), Belfast (9 June), Glasgow (11 June) and Harrogate (13 June). Further regional or local events are being held across the country, run by local authorities and organisations, with debate toolkit materials being provided to facilitate debate. Further information on all the local and regional events can be found on the public debate website at www.gmnation.org.uk, due to go live on 27 May.The Steering Board will submit their report on the outcome of the debate to Government in September. We have made a commitment to make a written response to their report, and to indicate what we have learned from the debate when making future policy announcements on GM.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the criteria to which the UK will have to adhere under the EU directive for commercial applications for licences for the planting of genetically modified organisms. [115289]

[holding answer 22 May 2003]: The relevant EU Directive (Directive 2001/18/EC) sets out the criteria and time scale all member states must adhere to in assessing applications for licences for cultivation of GMOs. The criteria relate to the potential risk to human health and the environment. Each applicant is required to provide the information set out in Annexes III and IV of the Directive; an environmental risk assessment, the principles of which are outlined in Annex II, and a post market monitoring plan as required in Annex VII. Assessments are made by the member states based on all the information provided.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on the payment of compensation to organic farms, recognised by the Soil Association, which are contaminated by neighbouring GM farms. [115476]

The current position is that an organic farmer who has suffered economic loss as a result of activities on a neighbouring farm can make a claim for redress through the courts. The independent Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission is preparing a report to Government on the co-existence of GM, conventional and organic crops, and related issues of liability. We will develop our policy in the light of that report.

Illegal Food Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many prosecutions for illegal food imports into the UK there have been in the last five years. [114884]

Figures for prosecutions prior to the transfer on 11 April 2003 of all anti-smuggling controls to Customs, are not held centrally. We are aware of one successful prosecution brought by Crawley Borough Council in July 2002. In September 2001, Customs brought a prosecution for the illegal importation of bushmeat derived from endangered species. The offender was found not guilty of these offences, but was, however, found guilty of an offence under the Products of Animal Origin (Third Country Imports) (England) Regulations. The Corporation of London Port Health Authority issued six cautions in October 2002.

HM Customs and Excise, who took responsibility for anti-smuggling controls on meat from 11 April 2003, will prosecute in the most serious cases.

Kpmg

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many contracts her Department has awarded to KPMG since 1997. [113683]

Defra came into being on 8 June 2001. The information requested is not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Landfill Directive

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the effects upon the cost of (a) collection and (b) management of municipal waste stream in the UK of complying with the requirement of Article 5 of the Landfill Directive to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste to 75 per cent. of 1995 levels by 2010. [114971]

The costs involved with meeting the Article 5 Landfill Directive targets and other waste strategy goals were addressed in the Regulatory Impact Assessment, published with Waste Strategy 2000.A base case was established and various policy mixes were costed against that base case. The additional costs of the policy mixes that reflect the levels of recycling, composting and recovery needed to meet the waste strategy targets amounted to a range of between £3.4 billion and £7.7 billion (net present value) over the 20-year period 2000–20.Waste Strategy 2000 stated that the proposed targets for the recovery and recycling of municipal waste may not impose net additional costs if it is expected that a broad mix of waste management options will be required to meet the Landfill Directive targets; and that reliance on incineration and composting is unlikely to be viable.

Methane

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment she has made of the estimate of the proportion of methane emissions arising from fossil fuel extraction, set out in paragraph 2.8 of the 22nd report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution; and what action she will take. [114717]

As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, the UK is required annually to compile an inventory of emissions by sources and removals by sinks of the greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol.The latest published inventory is for 2001. This shows that fugitive emissions of methane from fossil fuel extraction represent 29.5 per cent. of total methane emissions in the UK. This is broadly consistent with the figure of 28 per cent. quoted in the RCEP report.Fugitive emissions of methane in the UK have fallen by half between 1990 and 2001 mainly due to a large reduction in methane emissions from coal mining as coal production has declined. Leakage rates from the natural gas transmission and distribution network have improved as old mains are replaced leading to a reduction in emissions from the network of 14 per cent. over the period. Other fugitive emissions of methane arise from smaller sources, such as venting and flaring from offshore platforms.Methane emissions from abandoned coal mines, for which there is no internationally agreed estimation methodology, are currently not included in the UK inventory. The Department has recently commissioned a research project aiming to produce a verifiable estimates with the aim of inclusion in the inventory in future.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the findings of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution"s 22nd report, "Energy-the Changing Climates", in paragraph 2.8 on page 18, on the contribution of methane gases from landfill sites to the greenhouse effect. [114963]

The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution"s 22nd report estimates that landfill methane emissions represent 7 to 8 per cent. of total global methane emissions from natural and anthropogenic sources. This is consistent with figures reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in their 1994 report on Climate Change. If natural sources are excluded, landfills contribute an estimated 11 per cent. to total global anthropogenic methane emissions, or some 2.4 per cent. of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions as a whole.Landfill emissions are generally higher for developed countries because of the greater amount of waste arising and because conditions within the landfills are more anaerobic. The latest published UK greenhouse gas emissions estimates are for 2001. These show that methane emissions from landfill sites represent 22 per cent. of total anthropogenic methane emissions, or 1.6 per cent. of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Historical data show that the UK ratio of landfill to total methane is comparable to that in other EU countries.

Methane emissions from landfill sites in the UK have declined by 57 per cent. between 1990 and 2001 because of the implementation of methane recovery systems. This trend is likely to continue as the UK Government work towards compliance with the EU Landfill Directive. The Directive requires that all landfill gas is collected and treated, and sets progressive targets for the diversion of biodegradable municipal waste from landfill, with the ultimate target of diverting 65 per cent. of biodegradable municipal waste landfilled in 1995 from this disposal route by 2020.

Ministerial Transport

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her estimate is of the cost of (a) ministerial cars and drivers and (b) taxis for her Department in 2002. [101849]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office on 20 May 2003, Official Report, column 663W.

Modulation Grants

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what proportion of grants paid through modulation are paid in fees to consultants; and if she will make a statement. [114273]

Modulation receipts may not be used to cover the cost of consultants fees. The funds raised by modulation may only be spent on a limited range of rural development measures (in England, these are new agri-environment agreements only). Payments are made directly to the agreement holder.

Air Pollution (South Essex)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will instruct the Environment Agency immediately to implement legal action against those responsible for the pungent odours in South Essex and pursue that action as forcefully as possible with no loss of time. [114661]

Responsibility for enforcing the Waste Management Licensing Regulations rests with the Environment Agency. The Agency has served a legal Notice on the site operators, under section 42 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, requiring them to take a number of steps to comply with the conditions in their Waste Management Licence and prevent odours leaving the landfill site. These include significant remedial measures to prevent the generation of odour from the central leachate lagoon, which is believed to be the main source of sulphide gases. The Agency will be monitoring the implementation of this programme extremely tightly through regular site inspections and on-going dialogue with the operating company.The Agency is currently gathering admissible evidence from the site and consideration is being given as to whether prosecution is appropriate at this stage.

Public Expenditure

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the reasons for the difference between the public expenditure plans for her Department for 2002–03 and the estimated outturn for that year as listed in table 2.4 on page 29 of Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses 2003. [113010]

The Public Expenditure Statistical Analysis 2003 shows, for Defra, estimated outturn for 2003 on a basis that is not strictly comparable with the final provision shown in the table.The main difference is that the final provision shown only includes expenditure within the Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL), whereas the estimated outturn includes some £250 million reclassified from Annually Managed Expenditure (AME) to DEL at Main Estimates 2003. The outturn figures, in order to show trends, present this reclassification retrospectively. There is no increase in public expenditure as a result of this reclassification.A smaller part of the difference arises because the estimated outturn reflects some technical errors in information input to the Treasury database from which it is derived. These are due to be corrected later this year.As a result Defra"s final outturn is expected to be within its final provision.

Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make it her policy to fund the roll-out of kerbside recycling to all homes. [114252]

Current Government policy does not require kerbside recycling schemes to all homes. The Government sets targets for the level of recycling to be achieved, it is for local authorities to decide how they should be achieved. There are, therefore, no funds targetted specifically at kerbside collection although local authorities can and do use existing government funding for waste management—including the national Waste Minimisation and Recycling Fund—to extend kerbside recycling collections in their areas.

Set-Aside

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans the Department has to lobby her European counterparts to reverse the prohibition on the growing of non-food crops on set-aside land. [115212]

The original CAP reform proposals removed the existing derogation which allows non-food crops to be grown on set-aside. Since these proposals were published, there have been a number of detailed discussions. The European Commission have indicated that they may make some changes to their original proposal on set-aside, including allowing continued access for non-food crops. Our view is that if set-aside is to continue, it must be applied in a flexible way which maximises its potential benefits.Negotiations are continuing in Brussels, due to be concluded in June.

Sustainable Waste

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when she expects the Government to respond to the Strategy Unit"s report, "Waste Not Want Not", published on 27 November 2002. [111548]

The Government"s response to the Strategy Unit report was published on 6 May.

Waste And Resources Action Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will list the responsibilities allocated to the Waste and Resources Action Programme; and what the present budget allocation is. [114268]

The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) was established to promote more sustainable waste management by working to create more stable and efficient markets for recycled materials and products.WRAP"s current business plan, covering the period from 2001–04, focuses on four specific materials: plastics, paper, glass and wood, and three general areas where action is needed to remove barriers to the greater use of recycled materials and products: financial mechanisms, standards and procurement.For 2003–04 WRAP has been allocated £10.2 million from Defra, £5 million from DTI and £0.6 million from the Welsh Assembly Government, for the continuation of its market development work. It may also receive small additional contributions from the Scottish Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly.Since 2002 WRAP has also taken on a programme of work on minimising the need for primary aggregates, funded through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund. The budget has yet to be finalised but is likely to be between £9 million—£13 million.From 2003–04 WRAP will be taking forward three new programmes of work recommended by the Strategy Unit in its report "Waste Not, Want Not", in addition to their "core" programme, on recycling (kerbside best practice and development of the organics market), waste minimisation and waste awareness. The budget has yet to be finalised but is likely to be of the order of £17.5 million for 2003–04.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what estimate she has made of the effects upon the cost of (a) collection and (b) management of municipal waste stream in the UK of complying with the requirements of Article 5 of the Landfill Directive to (i) reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste to 50 per cent. of 1995 levels by 2013 and (ii) reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste to 35 per cent. of 1995 levels by 2020; [114791](2) what estimate she has made of the effect upon the cost of collection and management of municipal waste in the UK of meeting the

(a) recycling and (b) recovery targets of the Waste Strategy 2000. [114715]

The costs involved in meeting the Article 5 Landfill Directive targets and other waste strategy targets were set out in the Regulatory Impact Assessment, published with Waste Strategy 2000.A base case was established and various policy mixes were costed against that base case. The additional costs of the policy mixes that should deliver the levels of recycling, composting and recovery needed to meet the waste strategy targets fell in the range £3.4 billion to £7.7 billion (net present value) over the 20-year period 2000–20.Waste Strategy 2000 stated that the proposed targets for the recovery and recycling of municipal waste may not impose net additional costs if it is assumed that a broad mix of waste management options will be required to meet the Landfill Directive targets; and that reliance on incineration and composting is unlikely to be viable.

World Summit On Sustainable Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which United Kingdom commitments arising from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (a) have been incorporated into the Department"s existing delivery plan for Service Delivery Agreements and (b) will be incorporated in its delivery plan for Service Delivery Agreements in advance of the 2004 Spending Review. [113880]

Defra has lead responsibility for six of the main commitments arising from the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD): oceans issues, fisheries, agriculture, international biodiversity, chemicals and sustainable consumption and production patterns (SCP). My officials are currently ensuring that the commitments on agriculture are integrated into the existing delivery plan for our PSA5 target. The remaining commitments are not yet reflected in the delivery planning system. The outcomes of the 2004 spending review cannot be pre-empted but, in consultation with HM Treasury, I intend to take the opportunity to incorporate these commitments into the system through amending and adding targets and delivery plans where relevant. To this end, my officials are currently working on draft proposals which will be considered in the spending review.

Treasury

Cambridge Mit Institute Project

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor General at the National Audit Office on the Treasury"s role in instigating the Cambridge MIT Institute project, established between the Cambridge University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. [115454]

There have been no published findings by the National Audit Office on the Cambridge MIT Institute project.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what formal appraisal was carried out by the Treasury of the Cambridge MIT Institute (CMI) project before it started operation. [115445]

MIT and Cambridge produced a detailed project proposal for the Cambridge MIT Institute (CMI) in June 2000. On the basis of this and a framework agreement, which set out the terms under which CMI would be governed and funded, public funding was allocated to the project, which then began operation. Given the unique nature of the project, and the lack of accurate metrics in its area of operation knowledge transfer, formal appraisal was not practicable.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which minister was responsible for the Cambridge MIT Institute (CMI) project between 1998 and 2000. [115446]

As part of his programme of reforms designed to raise productivity growth across the UK economy, the Chancellor of the Exchequer was involved at the inception of the Cambridge MIT Institute (CMI), between 1998 and 2000, to discuss how the project could be set up to forge joint educational and research initiatives in order to improve entrepreneurship, productivity and competitiveness in the UK. The Government"s commitment to funding the CMI project for five years was given in November 1999 by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The funding was allocated to the project by the then Chief Secretary to the Treasury during the 2000 Spending Review, which made available resources for the Office of Science and Technology at the Department of Trade and Industry to fund CMI. DTI Ministers are responsible for the management of this budget and the funding of the project.

Customs And Excise

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions his Department has had with the Home Office on Customs and Excise"s business plans to cut frontline anti-smuggling staff across the UK; and if he will make a statement. [114978]

There will be no cut in overall frontline law enforcement staff across the UK. As a result of the new money announced in the Chancellor"s budget statement, Customs anti-smuggling and border security resources will increase overall over the next three years.

E-Government

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list by project the consultancies (a) his

ProjectConsultancy
New Tax Credits (NTC)PA Consulting
Modernising PAYE Processes for Customers (MPPC)A. T. Kearney
Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) Ltd.
French Thornton Partnership Ltd.
e-Services Programme (eSP)
On Filing Services for:
Self AssessmentFrench Thornton Partnership Limited
Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGEY) plc
Pay As You Earn (PAYE)French Thornton Partnership Limited
GID

Department, (b) its non-departmental public bodies, (c) HM Customs and Excise and (d) Inland Revenue have used on e-government projects since 1 January 2001. [115230]

The consultancies used by the Chancellor"s Departments on e-government projects since 1 January 2001 are as follows:

(a) HM Treasury

Treasury website project-consultancy from Bates/CCGXM.

(b) No consultancies have been used by its non-Departmental public bodies.

(c) HM Customs and Excise

HMCE"s eBusiness Programme consists of seven sub-programmes. Consultancies have been utilised within each as follows:

Project

Consultancy

Single View of the Customer
Borland UK Ltd
(SvoC)Cornwell Affiliates
DBI Consulting
Detica Ltd.
Methods Application Ltd.
Nesco Group
Parity Solutions Ltd.
Xansa Recruitment Ltd.
e-Human Resources (eHR)DBI Consulting
Electronic Data Systems Ltd.
Methods Application Ltd.
Nesco Group
Oracle Corporation UK Ltd.
Web Channels (Internet)Methods Application Ltd.
Xansa Recruitment Ltd.
e-Services Support (eSS)Methods Application Ltd.
Nesco Group
Case Management (CM)Detica Ltd.
Methods Application Ltd.
Open Text
Parity Solutions Ltd.
Accounts and Payments (A&P)DBI Consulting
Methods Application Ltd.
Nesco Group
Oracle Corporation UK Ltd.
Technology TransformationBorland UK Ltd.
Programme (TTP)Cornwell Affiliates
DBI Consulting
Methods Application Ltd.
Nesco Group
Parity Solutions Ltd.
Xansa Recruitment Ltd.
Across all programmesAccenture

(d) Inland Revenue

The Revenue has engaged consultancies on the following e-business projects.

Project

Consultancy

Mindmap Limited
Atlan Limited
Corporation TaxCap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGEY) plc
Alan Whitfield Associates
SAIC Ltd.
On Web ServicesSapient Corporation
Mindmap Limited
On e-contactCap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGEY) plc
On "business.gov"French Thornton Partnership Limited
Sapient Corporation

Entertainment

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 6 May 2003, ref.106256, on entertainment, on what dates he entertained Labour hon. Members at public expense in the last 12 months; and at what cost in each case. [112317]

Paragraph 65 of the Ministerial Code states that:

"Government property should not generally be used for constituency work or party activities. A particular exception is recognised in the case of Nos 10 and 11 Downing Street, Carlton House Terrace and other official residences where senior Ministers are required to live for the purposes of the job. Where Ministers host Party events in these residences or other Government property, it should be at their own or party expense with no cost falling to the public purse."
All entertainment by the Treasury has upheld the Ministerial Code.

Eu Savings Directive

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the progress of recent negotiations over the EU Savings Directive. [114301]

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by the Chancellor on 20 May 2003 columns 666–67 and to my answer on 26 March 2003 columns 252–53W.

Fiscal Rules

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the fiscal rules in connection with the next economic cycle. [115300]

Consistent with the Code for Fiscal Stability, the public finances projections set out in Budget 2003 (HC 500) show that the Government are firmly on track to meet their strict fiscal rules: the average current budget since 1999–2000 is in surplus throughout the projection period, consistent with meeting the golden rule; and public sector net debt remains comfortably below 40 per cent. of GDP, consistent with meeting the sustainable investment rule.

Forecasting

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will commission a technical review of the Treasury"s forecasting procedures. [115301]

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Pre Budget Report public finances projections for 2004–05 in respect of his Budget 2003 are based on the bottom of the forecast range for growth in each year of the projection period. [115468]

The public finance projections have been consistently based on the bottom end of the forecast range for GDP growth in each year of the projection period: there has been no departure from this practice for either the 2002 Pre-Budget Report or Budget 2003.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish the technical studies upon which his growth forecasts are based. [115302]

The Government published a paper "Trend Growth: Recent Developments and Prospects", alongside the April 2002 Budget. This set out the Treasury"s latest assessment of the neutral rate of trend growth which is used to anchor the Government"s economic forecasts.

Growth

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the figures for the assumed trend output growth used to estimate the output gap in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03. [115303]

Table B3 of the Financial Strategy and Budget Report 2003 (HC 500) provided estimates of the composition and rate of trend output growth, as used by the Treasury to calculate the output gap.

Illegal Food Imports

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 14 May 2003, Official Report, columns 261–62W, on food imports, how much will be spent in 2003–04 on (a) mobile anti-smuggling teams, (b) the detector dog programme, (c) intelligence activity and (d) publicity campaigns at ports and airports in the UK and overseas. [114949]

[holding answer 22 May 2003]: Customs expect that these four areas will consume most of the £4 million allocated in 2003–04. However, the information requested is not available; Exemption 4 (law enforcement and legal proceedings) of the Code of Practice on access to Government Information applies to all such information about Customs law enforcement activities.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his Answer to Parliamentary Question, ref 112559 of 13 May, (a) whether the personnel for the new mobile anti-smuggling teams will be drawn from existing Customs personnel, (b) which regions the new anti-smuggling teams will operate in, (c) which regions the detector dogs will operate in, (d) what provisions are in place for replacing ill detector dogs and (e) when the publicity campaign at ports and airports in the UK and overseas will be unveiled. [114950]

Staff for the new teams will be drawn from existing Customs personnel. The anti-smuggling teams and detector dogs are mobile and the locations of their deployment will be varied according to risk. Where illness or injury seriously impairs a detector dog"s long-term effectiveness, the dog would normally be retired from duty. Customs would then arrange for the supply and training of a new dog as soon as possible. DEFRA publicity is continuing while Customs publicity material is developed. This will be rolled out later this year.

Inland Revenue

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of the Inland. Revenue"s consultants previously worked for the Revenue before taking retirement and being engaged as a consultant. [114376]

The Inland Revenue does not hold centrally any information on the previous employment history of those engaged as consultants by its business areas. However, we have identified two retired employees who are currently working directly on a consultancy basis. These are on short-term contracts and for reasons of essential business continuity.

Ministerial Transport

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the cost of (a) ministerial cars and drivers and (b) taxis for his Department was in 2002. [101546]

For the cost of ministerial cars to all Government departments, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Mr. Alexander) on 20 May Official Report, column 663W).Expenditure on taxis by the Treasury in the calendar year 2002 was £111,000.

Non-Domiciled Residents

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the amount of tax foregone as a consequence of the tax policy towards non-domiciled residents in each of the last five years. [115112]

Pension Funds

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research has been commissioned into the potential impact on the broader economy of the condition of UK pension funds. [115304]

The Pensions Green Paper published in December 2002 found that the level of privately funded pensions is high by international standards. The performance of private pensions will reflect the underlying performance of the economy, and the fundamental drivers of a successful economy are in place. In addition, at the time of the 2002 pre-Budget report, the Treasury published an assessment of the impact of an ageing population on the public finances. The report found that the public finances are sustainable in the long term, and that the UK is in a strong position relative to many other developed countries.

Tax Credits

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on his actions since the statement of 28 April 2003, Official Report, column 53, to overcome delays in the processing of tax credit claims and on the progress of his Department on the matter. [114903]

Over 4 million claims for the new tax credits have now been received. This is in addition to the 1.3 million families who will get the benefit of the increased generosity of the Child Tax Credit through IS/JSA this year.Around 3.5 million awards are already in payment. This includes the 2 million families opting to get their money every 4 weeks, who were sent their first payment of tax credits by Friday 2 May as planned.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the administrative cost has been of introducing each tax credit; and what his estimate is of the annual administration cost for each of the current tax credits (a) in cash terms and (b) as a percentage of the payments made. [114973]

A broad estimate of the annual cost of administering the child and working tax credits appears in the Regulatory Impact Assessment, published on 15 July 2002; it represents approximately 2 per cent. of the total forecast annual expenditure on these tax credits.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people in (a) Montgomeryshire and (b) Wales are eligible to receive (i) child tax credit and (ii) working tax credit; and how many are receiving them. [115065]

It is estimated that 320,000 families are expected to receive the child tax credit and 80,000 families are expected to receive the working tax credit in Wales (including some who are also expected to receive the child tax credit).Statistics on awards of these tax credits will be published in August.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many employers are paying the working tax credit to one or more of their employees. [114415]

The total number of employers paying tax credits is expected to be around 300,000 during any one year, broadly the same as for the Working Families" and Disabled Person"s Tax Credits.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people are receiving the working tax credit. [114416]

Statistics on Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit awards will be published in August.

Defence

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the operation of provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan. [115363]

I refer the hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 8 May 2003, Official Report, columns 38–40WS.

Indonesia

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total value is of United Kingdom arms and weapons (a) contracts signed and (b) deliveries made to Indonesia since 1997. [115785]

In the period from 1997 to 2001, deliveries of defence-related equipment to Indonesia were worth some £280 million. The value of export orders placed during this period was some £120 million.Figures for 2002 are not yet available. The basis for measures of defence exports using deliveries and identified orders is explained on page 29 of UK Defence Statistics 2002, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

Armed Forces Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether British service personnel serving in the Gulf receive extra (a) pay and (b) allowances for going to war; and if he will make a statement. [109548]

Members of the United Kingdom armed forces have an expectation of world wide service in a wide variety of operations, including war service, and their pay and allowances are structured accordingly and reviewed annually by the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB), an independent organisation.Service basic pay includes an additional element—the X Factor (currently 13 per cent. of basic pay and pensionable, for all ranks up to Lieutenant Colonel and equivalent at the mid pay point, beyond which it tapers) to reflect the differences between conditions of service experienced by members of the UK armed forces over a full career and conditions in UK civilian life. The X Factor was increased from 12 per cent. in the 2000 award. Various allowances are also payable, such as the Longer Separated Service Allowance (LSSA) and Longer Service at Sea Bonus (LSSB) to compensate personnel for time away from their permanent base and separation from their families.


As part of their 2003 Report (published on 7 February) the AFPRB recommended substantial above inflation increases to LSSA and LSSB and their attendant bonuses, as well as a reduction in the qualifying time for LSSA. Given the international situation existing at that time, the AFPRB requested that the changes to LSSA and LSSB be implemented from 1 March 2003, a month in advance of the normal implementation date for armed forces pay awards of

1 April. These recommendations, along with the remainder of the 2003 Report were accepted in full by the Government.

Armoured Vehicles (Gulf Deployment)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) armoured fighting vehicles and (b) main battle tanks will be taken by 19 Mechanised Brigade to the Gulf. [113960]

The final complement of vehicles being deployed with 19 Mechanised Brigade is still being confirmed. It will include 14 Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks and the following, approximate, numbers of other armoured vehicles: 56 Warrior; 120 Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) including Scimitar, Samaritan, Sultan and Spartan variants; 80 Saxon and a significant number of FV432.

Chinook Helicopter

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Chinook fleet was last upgraded. [115610]

A mid-life upgrade programme to convert the Chinook Mk1 helicopter fleet to Mk 2 standard was completed in 1995. This was the last major fleet upgrade programme.Subsequent to this conversion the Chinook Mk2 has been subject to a number of changes to enhance the capability of the aircraft, most recently in response to operations in Afghanistan and the Gulf. In common with other military aircraft, modifications designed to maintain airworthiness and reliability are also incorporated into the fleet from time to time.

Defence White Paper

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to publish the Defence White Paper 2003 between 8 and 18 September. [115298]

As previously indicated, it remains my intention to publish a Defence White Paper in the autumn.

Equipment Supply

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the adequacy of equipment supply to the armed forces. [114809]

We have the mechanisms in place to supply the equipment that our armed forces need. Equipment is held to meet the requirements of a range of possible scenarios. Additional equipment and supplies for specific operational needs can be obtained direct from our commercial partners, where necessary through the Ministry of Defence"s tried and tested urgent operational requirement process. The recent operation in Iraq, for which an equivalent quantity of material to that supplied for the first Gulf conflict was deployed in half the time, demonstrated the overall adequacy of supply. However, action is in hand to identify lessons from this operation and we will publish the results in due course, subject to the usual constraints on force protection and security.

Arms Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from defence contractors regarding restrictions on moving armaments between EU countries; and if he will make a statement. [109084]

[holding answer 1 May 2003]: The Ministry of Defence has received a number of representations from defence contractors concerning secondary legislation to be enacted under the Export Control Act 2002.The Government remain committed to ensuring that the new controls under the Act are brought into force with the minimum administrative burden, and to work with the defence industry to achieve this.The Department of Trade and Industry has recently led a consultation exercise on the draft secondary legislation, and full consideration will be given to all replies.

Eurofighter

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to the UK for Eurofighter will be in 2003–04; what percentage of the defence budget this represents; and if he will make a statement. [115108]

[holding answer 22 May 2003]: The cost to the United Kingdom for the Eurofighter Typhoon in 2003–04 is currently forecast to be £1,465 million; this represents just under 4.0 per cent. of the total defence budget for this financial year. This figure includes procurement of the aircraft, the associated Aircrew Synthetic Training Aids system and in-service support equipment and facilities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the recently departed Chief of the Defence Staff regarding Her Majesty"s Government"s order for 232 Typhoon aircraft. [113904]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence had regular discussions with the "recently departed" Chief of the Defence Staff about a wide range of important enhancements to the capability of our Armed Forces including Typhoon.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many technology access agreements have been signed by Her Majesty"s Government and the United States in respect of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; and what areas of technology they covered. [114890]

To date, 10 Technical Assistance Agreements have been signed by representatives of Her Majesty Government that have applicability to the current JSF System Development and Demonstration phase. Technology addressed can be both classified and unclassified and covers the areas of the fuel system; flight controls; air vehicle; Electronic Warfare; mission systems; vehicle management systems; software and the propulsion system.

Foreign Military Units

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many foreign military units have visited the UK and overseas territories since 2001; what the purpose of their visits was; what joint training was undertaken; and if he will make a statement on the value of (a) small and (b) large scale interaction between British and foreign militaries. [115160]

During the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2003, 8,037 overseas military personnel from 115 countries visited the United Kingdom to undertake training at UK military establishments. This serves a range of specific purposes in pursuit of British interests, linked to various Memoranda of Understanding. More generally, however, it has helped to foster good relations between the UK military and many Foreign and Commonwealth armed forces and has assisted in achieving a higher degree of interoperability and influence than may otherwise have been possible. The principal objective of this activity is to use British Defence assets in peacetime to discourage hostility abroad, build and maintain trust between states, and assist in the development of democratically accountable armed forces; thereby helping to make a significant contribution to conflict prevention and resolution. A full breakdown of the numbers trained by country is set out in the following tables.

April 2001 to 31 March 2002
CountryTotal
Albania13
Algeria2
Argentina11
Australia106
Austria11
Bahamas2
Bahrain29
Bangladesh3
Barbados1
Belgium86
Belize30
Bermuda14
Bosnia1
Botswana13
Brazil15
Brunei183
Bulgaria11
Canada358
Chile7
China41
Croatia9
Czech Republic30
Denmark34
Egypt20
El Salvador1
Estonia5
Fiji2
Finland12
France51
Gambia1
Georgia7
Germany122
Ghana8
1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002
CountryTotal
Greece48
Guatemala4
Guyana6
Hong Kong3
Hungary30
Iceland1
India18
Ireland108
Israel14
Italy164
Jamaica33
Japan8
Jordan91
Kazakhstan3
Kenya10
Korea10
Kuwait313
Kyrghistan1
Latvia17
Lebanon2
Lithuania13
Luxembourg1
Macedonia8
Malawi5
Malaysia18
Malta2
Moldova8
Morocco5
Mozambique5
NATO21
Nepal34
Netherlands259
New Zealand39
Nigeria32
Norway202
Oman185
Pakistan53
Papua New Guinea3
Paraguay3
Peru1
Philippines10
Poland25
Portugal39
Qatar66
Romania17
Russia11
Rwanda1
Saudi Arabia56
Senegal15
Sierra Leone23
Singapore125
Slovakia21
Slovenia8
South Africa18
South Korea1
Spain26
Sri Lanka7
St. Vincent2
Swaziland1
Sweden25
Switzerland11
Syria1
Tanzania9
Thailand29
Tonga5
Trinidad & Tobago6
Turkey73
Uganda2
Ukraine38
UAE109
1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002
CountryTotal
Uruguay5
USA131
Yemen7
Yugoslavia (FRY)3
Total3,946
1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003
CountryTotal
Albania7
Angola2
Antigua & Barbuda2
Argentina6
Armenia2
Australia106
Austria53
Azerbaijan2
Bahamas6
Bahrain35
Bangladesh147
Barbados4
Belgium85
Belize27
Bermuda19
Bosnia1
Botswana9
Brazil7
Brunei175
Bulgaria13
Canada203
Chile60
China34
Colombia1
Croatia5
Czech Republic62
Denmark30
Egypt17
Estonia10
Ethiopia1
Fiji2
Finland11
France76
Georgia6
Germany100
Ghana15
Greece51
Grenada1
Guatemala5
Guyana9
Honduras4
Hong Kong Police1
Hungary26
India14
Indonesia1
Ireland56
Israel4
Italy71
Jamaica34
Japan5
Jordan107
Kazakhstan1
Kenya26
Korea6
Kosovo36
Kuwait354
Kyrgystan2
Latvia16
Lithuania13
Luxembourg2
Macedonia12
Malawi21
1 April 2002 to 31 March 2003
CountryTotal
Malaysia62
Malta2
Mauritania2
Mauritius5
Mexico4
Moldova2
Morocco2
Mozambique2
Namibia2
Nepal44
Netherlands241
New Zealand32
Nigeria30
Norway210
Oman188
Pakistan57
Papua New Guinea1
Paraguay3
Peru2
Philippines10
Poland14
Portugal84
Qatar75
Romania20
Russia21
Rwanda1
Saudi Arabia83
Senegal7
Sierra Leone11
Singapore97
Slovakia29
Slovenia4
South Africa24
Spain15
Sri Lanka1
St. Vincent1
Sweden37
Switzerland16
Syria2
Tanzania7
Thailand33
Tonga1
Trinidad & Tobago27
Turkey38
Uganda4
Ukraine23
United Arab Emirates114
Uruguay1
USA179
Uzbekistan2
Vietnam2
Yemen13
Total4,091

Gibraltar

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with his Spanish counterpart concerning Gibraltar; and if he will make a statement. [115375]

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has not had any recent discussions with his Spanish counterpart concerning Gibraltar.

Gulf War

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the appraisal of kit performance in the Gulf War will be published. [115594]

The Ministry of Defence is presently conducting an assessment, to capture and analyse the lessons from the operations in Iraq. It is expected that a final report of the operation will be published by the end of 2003.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether any individuals detained by British forces in the Gulf are not being held under the terms of the Geneva Convention. [109157]

No. All Iraqi citizens captured by United Kingdom forces are being held under the authority of, and in accordance with, the terms of the Geneva Conventions.

Helicopter Rotor Blades

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) the life expectancy of rotor blades in European conditions and (b) the average life expectancy in Iraq and Kuwait of each type of helicopter deployed in Operation Telic is; and if he will make a statement on the comparative lift capability of the fleets in such conditions. [111826]

Main rotor blades typically have a long life expectancy, which in many cases is reflected in a fatigue life which exceeds that of the rotorcraft. Main rotor blades do, however, have a Mean Time Between Replacement (MTBR) which is shown by rotorcraft type in the following table. These figures represent a mean across all usage, and are not separated by environmental conditions (data on this are not held). Usually, main rotor blades that are replaced are repaired and returned to service.

RotorcraftMTBR of main rotor blades

(flying hours)
Chinook Mk 2/2a1,600
Puma994
Sea King Mk 4/7986
Lynx Mk 3/7/8/91,366
Gazelle279
Merlin Mk 1Unknown due to insufficient use
Lift capability is determined by a number of factors. These include engine performance, which will be affected by high temperatures, and correspondingly lower air density, encountered in desert regions such as parts of Iraq. Post operational reporting will provide analysis and an assessment of equipment deployed on operations in Iraq. It would, therefore, be premature to provide a detailed assessment of the performance of equipment and any effect on operational use at this stage.

Hms Ark Royal

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to put HMS Ark Royal into reserve ahead of schedule. [115327]

There are no plans at present to place HMS Ark Royal into reserve, nor are there plans to place her into a lower level of readiness earlier than scheduled.

International Trafficking In Arms Regulations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the likely impact on Britain"s defence industry of the refusal by the US Congress to grant a waiver to the United Kingdom in respect of International Trafficking in Arms Regulations. [114892]

United Kingdom and United States Government officials have recently agreed proposed texts for a waiver from the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). This will provide for export licensing requirements to be waived in respect of certain unclassified defence items and technical data exported to Her Majesty"s Government and qualified companies in the UK, which would facilitate US/UK defence industrial collaboration.Work continues on regulatory and administrative implementation measures needed to complete the undertakings that have been agreed between the Governments.The US Government will respond to matters raised by the Congress about the terms of the agreement that has been reached.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role was undertaken by the Royal Marines in preventing the destruction of Iraqi oil facilities during the Gulf conflict. [112256]

Seizure of key elements of the Iraqi oil infrastructure was an early objective for the coalition in order to deny Iraqi forces the opportunity for sabotage, prevent environmental damage and to preserve the oil industry for the Iraqi people. The Royal Marines took the town of Al Faw with its significant oil infrastructure intact as part of a joint operation with United States and Australian Forces. They remained in place securing the peninsula and the associated oil infrastructure until the beginning of May 2003.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the role of 3 Commando Royal Marines in the seizure of Umm Qasr port during the Gulf conflict. [112261]

The seizure of Umm Qasr port intact was an early strategic objective for the Coalition campaign in Southern Iraq. Three Commando Brigade took the Al Faw peninsula, a key enabler for the seizure of the port as part of a joint operation with United States and Australian forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions took place with US military officials regarding the risk of looting from Iraqi museums and repositories of cultural artefacts (a) prior to and (b) during recent hostilities; and what discussions have taken place since the Coalition occupation of Baghdad. [110604]

An important element of the Coalition"s plans was to restore stability in areas they occupied as quickly as possible. In so doing they successfully helped to reduce incidents of looting generally. We are not, however, aware of any discussions with US military officials specifically relating to the risk of looting from Iraqi museums and repositories of cultural artefacts.Since the liberation of Iraq, US and UK Governments have worked together to take steps to help recover any treasures that have been removed, including a US funded reward scheme for the safe return of antiquities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether British Challenger 2 tanks are to be left in Iraq after the return of British troops; and if he will make a statement. [110995]

No. It is planned that all Challenger tanks will leave with their units.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of each battle damage assessment compiled during Operation Telic. [111366]