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Mr. Spellar [holding answer 3 April 2000]: Sixteen Air Assault Brigade formed on 1 September 1999. It already has three infantry battalions and three aviation regiments under command. It is supported by a dedicated artillery regiment although this will not move from Aldershot to Colchester until at least 2003. The Engineer Regiment to support the Brigade will be formed when barrack facilities have been constructed at Woodbridge in 2003.
In the interim 9 Parachute Squadron RE and 51 Air Assault Squadron will continue to support the Brigade from their current locations--Aldershot and Ripon respectively. The logistic units which support the Brigade are currently reorganising to their new structure and this should be complete by 2002. The Brigade is also preparing to exploit the potential of the Westland Apache helicopter, the first squadron of which is due to be operational in late 2002.
Mr. Spellar: [holding answer 3 April 2000]: Two new engineer regiments and three new engineer squadrons are to be formed. 26 (Close Support) Engineer Regiment, has started forming and will be operational by October this year. One of its squadrons cannot, however, be formed before 2003, the date on which its accommodation is planned to become available. The Regiment is initially being formed in Horne Barracks, Larkhill, and early next year it will move into modular accommodation in Ludgershall, thereby allowing Horne Barracks to be refurbished for 19 Field Regiment RA. Its long-term location will be Swinton Barracks, Perham Down, but this is not expected to be complete until 2003 at the earliest.
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Brigade. The Regiment cannot be formed until barrack facilities have been constructed at Woodbridge in 2003. In the interim 9 Parachute Squadron RE and 51 Air Assault Squadron will continue to support the Brigade from their current locations--Aldershot and Ripon respectively.
The engineer field support squadron is to be formed in April this year, using Gurkha manpower, and this will be operational by September. The first of the two air support engineer squadrons is currently planned to form up in July 2001, and the second in 2003.
I am replying to your question to the Secretary of State for Defence about the cost of HMS Ramsey. This matter falls within my area of responsibility as Chief of Defence Procurement and Chief Executive of the Defence Procurement Agency.
The expected Unit Production Cost (UPC) of HMS Ramsey is £29.947M.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many houses specifically for junior officers in the Royal Navy are planned to be built, at what cost and in what locations, in (a) 1999-2000 and (b) 2000-01; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: During 1999-2000 25 three bedroomed houses were released in a phased handover at Broadwater Park, Ilchester, Yeovil to meet a Royal Navy requirement for junior officers, i.e. Lieutenants and Sub Lieutenants. The accommodation was made available through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme. The annual charge for this type of property, which includes maintenance to an agreed standard, is commercially sensitive information. I am therefore withholding the information under exemption 7a of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
During 2000-01 it is planned that a PFI contract for Bristol, Bath, Portsmouth and Shrivenham will be placed. This will provide 70 officers' houses at Seafield Park, Stubbington (including 15 which will be built using Ministry of Defence capital) to meet a joint RN and RAF requirement. The majority are likely to be allocated to RN families. Firm costs are not yet available and are likely to be commercially sensitive. It is expected that construction will be completed during 2001-02.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the cost of the PFI scheme to build homes for Royal Navy and RAF officers in Stubbington, Hampshire; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: The proposed Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract for Bristol, Bath, Portsmouth and Shrivenham includes the provision of 55 properties at Seafield Park, Fareham (a further 15 properties are to be provided through this contract as a capital build). The PFI element will be for a 25 year period.
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The project is at a final tender stage and estimated prices cannot be released as they are commercially sensitive. I am therefore withholding the information under exemption 7a of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
Dr. Starkey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what inquiries the US Government have made of his Department about possible use of (a) Fylingdales, (b) Menwith Hill and (c) other sites in the UK as part of plans for a US national missile defence system. 
Mr. Spellar [holding answer 3 April 2000]: The fourth armoured reconnaissance regiment which will be provided by the Queens Dragoon Guards, currently based in Catterick, will have completed its conversion to its new role by October this year. On current plans, they will move to Bovington in August 2003.
Mr. Spellar [holding answer 3 April 2000]: We are in fact forming four new regular signals squadrons. The first of the two signal squadrons dedicated to support the Logistic Brigades has already formed in Aldershot, earlier than the planned date of 2001, and the second is currently planned to form up in Germany in 2003. The first of two additional air support squadrons is due to form by 2003, with the second being formed when sufficient manpower is available. We expect this to be by 2005.
Dr. Moonie: None. The Stabilised Weapon and Reconnaissance Mount is a privately funded venture to develop a stabilised weapon and sensor system. If offered by potential prime contractors as an armament sub-system in proposals to meet the requirements of projects such as the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle, it would be considered in accordance with normal procurement procedures.
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Mr. Rendel: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the experts responsible for assessing the details of tenders submitted by the consortiums applying for the contract to manage AWE Aldermaston. 
Mr. Spellar [holding answer 10 April 2000]: The tenders were assessed by Ministry of Defence staff from the Nuclear Weapons area of the Defence Procurement Agency, the Director Nuclear Policy and the Assistant Chief Scientific Adviser (Nuclear) as well as external advisers on legal and commercial matters. Officials from the independent regulators, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) and the Environment Agency (EA), were also kept fully informed and consulted as necessary throughout the process. I am withholding the names under Exemption 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information on the grounds that, given their involvement in high security work, they are potentially vulnerable to the attentions of terrorists, foreign agencies and anti-nuclear groups.
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