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27 Jan 2003 : Column 632Wcontinued
Mr. Ingram: The importance to the Ministry of Defence of our Lancashire-based suppliers is well understood. Work on defence contracts valued at many hundreds of millions of pounds is currently being carried out by well over 150 suppliers located in the county. The aerospace industry is of particular significance in the area, with BAES maintaining substantial facilities at Warton and Samlesbury. Prime contractors, together with a wide range of smaller companies supplying components and services, play an important role in equipping our Armed Forces.
Mr. Ingram: We welcome the recent United States announcement on the deployment of Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan, intended to help stabilise further the Afghan regions. We are examining the role we might play in these teams, and the possibility of leading one, but no decisions have been taken.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the last three operational deployments of 845 Squadron and the length of time between them; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: The following table lists the last three operational deployments of 845 Naval Air Squadron, the period of deployment from their parent Air Station and the length of time between each deployment:
|Serial||Operational deployment/location||Period of operational deployment(23)||Length of time between operational deployment|
|1||Operation TELIC Location-Middle East||16 January 2003 to date||7 months 12 days (Serial 21)|
|2||Operation ORACLE Location-Middle East||11 November 2001 to 4 June 2002||10 months 10 days (Serial 32)|
|3||Operation PALATINE Location-Bosnia||11 November 1992 to 1 January 2001||17 months 8 days (Serial 43)|
|4||Operation GRANBY Location-Middle East||5 January 1991 to 3 June 1991|||
(23) The objectives contained in Royal Navy guidelines include individual personnel deployments being no longer than nine calendar months and the total deployed time in any three-year period not exceeding 18 months. There has been general adherence to these objectives
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Mr. Keetch : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact of success for each of the bidders in the future aircraft carrier programme on the possibility of future co-operation with France on the construction of a new French carrier; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: We have made no such assessment. The possibility of co-operation with France on carrier construction has not been a factor in the selection of a preferred prime contractor for the Future Aircraft Carrier programme.
Dr. Moonie: The anthrax vaccine found on the South Dorset coast is from a batch produced by the centre for Applied Microbiology and Research and purchased by the Ministry of Defence in February 2001. Because ampoules from the batch were issued to a large number of units it has not yet been possible to identify how they came to be in the sea. As far as we are aware, this is the only vaccine found, although a number of other pharmaceutical products, including drugs, have been recovered. Investigations into the source of the items found are continuing.
Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his Department's relationship with BAE Systems; and what assessment he has made of (a) the strengths and (b) the weaknesses of BAE Systems in delivering his Department's procurement requirements. 
Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence has an excellent relationship with BAE Systems. The company is a key supplier to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence. It has delivered substantial military capability over the years and I expect that it will continue to do so in the future.
Mr. Hoon: BAE Systems is the largest supplier to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence and is involved in many of our largest and most complex programmes. It is a very successful British and international company, with an excellent track record of winning overseas business. Our defence industrial policy, published in October 2002, made clear the importance the Government places on the whole of the UK defence industry.
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Mr. Keetch : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the last three operational deployments of (a) 1st Armoured Division and (b) 102 Logistics Brigade, broken down by battalion, stating in each case the length of time between operational tours. 
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what occasions during the last five years were battalions and corps attached to other battalions and corps to bring that battalion up to strength for the purposes of operational deployment, giving in each case (a) the source and size of the attached unit and length of time attached, (b) location of deployment and (c) the length of time that the attached unit was rested before subsequent deployments. 
Mr. Keetch : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Challenger II tanks are (a) undergoing desertification, (b) fully serviceable and (c) 1, 2, 3, 4th line inserviceable, broken down by regiment. 
Mr. Ingram: As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced in the House on 20 January 2003, 120 Challenger 2 tanks are to be deployed in support of current contingency planning. It is expected that all of these will be modified to improve their performance in desert conditions. In addition to the Challenger 2 tanks that we are modifying for contingency operations, consideration is being given to modifying further Challenger 2s. This decision does not in any way effect those tanks deploying, and will therefore be taken as part of the routine equipment planning process. I will write to the hon. Member with details of availability.
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handling rough terrain and how many units would the Ministry of Defence currently be able to deploy on operations; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: There are sufficient stocks of spares to support and sustain the fleet of 26 Rough Terrain Container Handlers. Arrangements are also in place with our industrial suppliers to ensure rapid re-provision as needed. There are 17 of these container handlers available for deployment now. Of the remainder three are already deployed in the Balkans, four are required to maintain essential capability in the United Kingdom and two are undergoing in-depth repair.
Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his medical contingency plans in respect of Iraq with particular reference to military hospitals, after care and convalescence contingency planning for armed forces personnel (a) not involved in Iraq, and (b) based in Iraq. 
Dr. Moonie: Our medical contingency plans for Service personnel deployed to the Gulf area in the event of military action against Iraq include the provision of integrated medical support within units, dressing stations and field hospitals and, if necessary, medical evacuation back to the United Kingdom where aftercare and convalescence would be provided as appropriate. Service personnel serving elsewhere overseas and those in the UK would continue to receive medical care under existing arrangements.
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