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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS FROM PS2 THE LEADING U.K. GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS COMPANY
Contact: ps2@btinternet.com

Written Answers to Questions
Monday 27 January 2003
DEFENCE
Aircraft Carrier Modernisation
15. Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the procedures to be followed in the competitive bidding for the contract for aircraft carrier modernisation. [93182]
Mr. Ingram: The Future Aircraft Carrier project has utilised a Continuous Assessment process for the selection of prime contractor. This takes account of all relevant factors in order to ensure that we acquire the capability required at best value for money. Wider industrial issues are also being considered, consistent with the defence industrial policy published in the autumn. Our decision will be announced shortly.
Iraq
16. Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the assistance the US has requested for possible action in Iraq. [93183]
Mr. Hoon: As I told the House on 25 November 2002, the United States has approached a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, seeking support in the event that military action against Iraq proves necessary.
Armed Forces (Middle East)
17. Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the length of time forces deployed in the middle east can remain effective. [93184]
Mr. Ingram: While we want Saddam Hussein to disarm voluntarily, it is evident that we shall not achieve this unless we continue to present him with a clear and credible threat of force. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence told the House on Monday 20 January 2003, the United Kingdom forces being deployed to the Mediterranean and the middle east have the balance and flexibility for the tasks that might be asked of them. Exercise Saif Sareea II in Oman, towards the end of 2001, clearly demonstrated our ability to deploy United Kingdom ground forces to the middle east and sustain them there. I am confident therefore that we can sustain forces in the region for as long as necessary.
27 Jan 2003 : Column 632W
A-bomb Tests
18. Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to assess the health problems of ex-military staff subjected to radiation from A-bomb tests. [93185]
Dr. Moonie: Two epidemiological studies of some 22,000 participants of the British nuclear test programme have been carried out on the Ministry of Defence’s behalf by the National Radiological Protection Board. The results of these studies were published in 1988 and 1993. They showed that, as a group, participation in the tests has had no detectable effect on the expectation of life, or on the risk of developing cancer or other fatal diseases by those who took part.
The results of a third study are to be published in a few months’ time. There are no plans for any further studies.
The Ministry of Defence is aware of clinical study programmes being undertaken at various universities worldwide. We have reservations about the applicability to test participants today since any radiation exposures involved in the tests were generally very small and over 40 years ago.
Royal Navy (Gulf)
19. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the activities of the Royal Navy in the Gulf. [93186]
Mr. Ingram: There are currently six Royal Navy and two Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships on long-planned deployments to the Gulf. The Type 42 Destroyer, HMS Cardiff, is on Armilla Patrol contributing, with other nations, to the enforcement of UN embargoes against Iraq. It is usual for a United Kingdom tanker to be deployed in the region to support the Armilla patrol. At present, RFA Bayleaf is the Armilla tanker.
The Type 22 Frigate, HMS Cumberland, is in the Gulf in support of operations against international terrorism. Four Mine Counter Measures vessels, HMS Bangor, HMS Brockelsby, HM

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