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Aircraft Carrier Programmes
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions have taken place with US and British companies on the design and procurement of the aircraft carrier in relation to the carrier-borne aircraft. [83225]
Dr. Moonie: During the course of normal project development for the United Kingdom’s Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) and Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) programmes, numerous discussions have taken place between British and American companies. Lockheed Martin, the contractor for the United States Joint Strike
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Fighter programme, is also a member of both teams competing for the CVF project, which are led by BAE SYSTEMS and Thales. Personnel from the CVF project team also maintain contact with their opposite numbers in the US carrier programme.
Congestion Charging
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost is to his Department of the Central London Road User Charging Scheme for (a) 17 February 2003 to 31 March 2003, and (b) 1 April 2003 to 31 March 2004. [81882]
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 19 November 2002]: Any additional costs to the Ministry of Defence as a result of the congestion charging scheme will be just one element within wider costs which have to be met from budgets for official travelling and other costs.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will write to the hon. Member for Portsmouth, South, regarding his answer of 5 November 2002, Official Report, column 168W, concerning the disposal of the Gunwharf and HMS Vernon site in Portsmouth to Barclay Homes. [83819]
Dr. Moonie: I have replied today and a copy of my letter has been placed in the Library of the House.
Defence Fire Service
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals there are to privatise the Defence Fire Service; and who would have control of the service if there were a major crisis. [83227]
Mr. Ingram: The Airfield Support Services Project (ASSP) is seeking to achieve the most viable and cost effective solution for the provision of airfield support service to the Ministry of Defence world-wide with options that include both Public Private Partnership and in house solutions. There is also a complementary work stream, Fire Study 2000, that has looked specifically at the organisation and operation of the Defence Fire Service, which is to inform the Public Sector Comparator for ASSP.
Bids from the three consortia involved in ASSP were received at the end of April and are now being evaluated. Main Gate approval is currently planned for the second half of 2003. No decisions have been taken at this stage. Whatever solution is taken forward, we would ensure that we preserve our ability to manage crisis situations.
Magnetic Profiling
Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of magnetic profiling in searching for unexploded ordnance at military training areas; [83704]
(2) whether his Department uses (a) Global Positioning System and (b) magnetometry scanning methods in surveying unexploded ordnance at military training grounds; [83707]
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(3) what geophysical instrumentation the British army uses in clean-up operations at military training grounds. [83708]
Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence has had, for a number of years, a magnetic profiling capability which is widely recognised as an effective method of establishing the degree of contamination within an area of land. The British Army does not currently employ geophysical instrumentation in ordnance clearance operations at military training grounds as it is not considered to provide the degree of accuracy required for the location of smaller types of ordnance. The Ministry of Defence currently possesses both

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