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Dr. Moonie [holding answer 8 March 2001]: The use of competition to select contractors and sub-contractors in order to secure best value for money is the cornerstone of Ministry of Defence's acquisition policy. Suppliers, whether they are small and medium enterprises or large corporate groups, are encouraged to compete for requirements in excess of certain value thresholds (£93,000 for the Official Journal of the European Community, and £250,000 for the MOD Contracts Bulletin for consultancy requirements), which are widely advertised. For low value requirements, formal competition may not be considered cost-effective (in respect of bidding and resource costs), and in such cases a supplier may be selected on the basis of expertise or past performance for example. The principle of fairness throughout the acquisition process is not only MOD policy, but is enshrined in UK and European law.
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on the imposition of a turnover threshold in relation to competition for consultancy assignments. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 8 March 2001]: The Ministry of Defence needs to be assured that potential bidders can fulfil its requirements, and therefore seeks only to invite tenderers with whom it is prepared to place a contract. This not only helps to reduce the cost of bidding to industry, but it provides reassurance that value-for-money defence capability is being delivered. Financial status is just one of the factors taken into account when considering potential bidders eligibility. Turnover size may be employed as part of the calculation to determine whether a supplier has adequate resources to undertake a particular contract, whether for consultancy or other goods or services. This process accords with the central unit on procurement's guidance on good professional practice.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what tests are carried out on members of HM armed forces for (a) sexually transmitted diseases and (b) HIV/ AIDs; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: There is no compulsory testing for sexually transmitted diseases or HIV. Standard laboratory tests, specific to the particular type of disease, for sexually transmitted diseases are carried out on service personnel where clinically indicated. Tests for HIV are carried out where this is a requirement prior to service in certain countries, or at the request of individuals who are concerned that they may have contracted HIV. Service personnel can, of course, make use of civilian genito- urinary clinics.
15 February 1972 to 15 June 1972
29 July 1972 to 28 September 1972
27 March 1973 to 17 July 1973
29 May 1975 to 29 September 1975
2 December 1976 to 16 March 1977
19 September 1977 to 14 January 1978
27 July 1979 to 6 March 1981
12 November 1984 to 26 March 1985
3 March 1990 to 12 June 1990
4 June 1993 to 3 June 1995
1 October 1994 to 1 April 1995
3 August 1996 to 4 March 1997
15 December 1998 to 15 June 1999
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1 Only one company of the 2nd Battalion has been deployed to Northern Ireland during this present tour. This company has been used mainly to protect those military personnel and contractors who are involved in the dismantling of the three remaining Fermanagh Patrol Bases.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he has taken to ensure that persons of Muslim belief are able to serve in HM forces without discrimination and are facilitated in their religious observance. 
Mr. Spellar: The armed forces are fully committed to the avoidance of all forms of discrimination and make every effort to respect and accommodate the religious requirements of personnel. Muslim personnel are normally allowed to celebrate religious festivals and holidays and to fast and pray. The armed forces also aim to cater for religious dietary requirements: Halal, Kosher and vegetarian meals are provided by service messes and are available in operational ration packs for operations and exercises. However, there may be some circumstances when, in the interests of health and safety or operational effectiveness, some flexibility may be required on the part of the individual.
Service chaplains are currently working to establish a network of local religious advisers from the Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh faiths to ensure that the spiritual and moral needs of all service personnel are provided for to the greatest extent possible.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance has been provided for the enforcement of measures to prevent the further spread of foot and mouth disease in Northern Ireland; what instructions have been given to Army units that have patrolled rural areas concerning risk of spreading infection; and what correspondence has he received from Northern Ireland political parties, representatives of farmers organisations and others concerning these matters. 
Mr. Spellar: The military have not been asked to help in the enforcement of measures to prevent the further spread of foot and mouth disease in Northern Ireland, either by other Government Departments (OGDs) or by Irish Ministers or farmers organisations.
The prevailing threat from dissident Republican terrorists prevents the security forces from ceasing their operational activity. While full details cannot be given for reasons of operational security, modified patrol activity is being conducted to counter the threat. All operational activity remains in support of the police, and is aimed at thwarting and deterring terrorist activity.
Dr. Jack Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many courtesy calls and visits have been made by vessels of the Royal Navy to UK towns, cities and ports in each year since January 1997; what the duration was of each visit; and if he will list the port and vessel involved in each case. 
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Mr. Spellar: The total number of courtesy calls and visits by vessels of the Royal Navy to UK towns, cities and ports since January 1997, including operational stand-offs, affiliation, fishery protection and informal visits, is as follows:
|Number of visits|
|2001 (to date)||51|
Mr. Duncan Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many RAF air traffic controllers have (a) been recruited and (b) left the service in each of the past five years; how many air traffic controllers there are in the RAF; how many RAF air traffic controllers have joined National Air Traffic Services in the past year; and what plans he has for retention schemes for RAF air traffic controllers. 
Details of all export licensing decisions taken between 2 May 1997 and 31 December 1999 were set out in the Government's 1997, 1998 and 1999 Annual Reports on Strategic Export Controls, published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; copies are in the Library of the House. These reports list by country of destination the export licences issued and refused in each entry in the relevant legislation under which the export of goods is controlled, which is known as their rating.
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Between 1 January 2000 and 1 March 2001 40 Standard Individual Export Licences (SIELs) and five Open Individual Export Licences (OIELs) were issued covering goods on the Military List. Details of these are set out in the tables:
|Rating||Number of SIELs|
|Rating||Number of OIELs|
Each licence may cover a range of ratings, and where this is so, data on them are included under each of the relevant ratings.
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