§ Mr. Ottaway
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the operational reasons for cancelling a deployment by an aircraft carrier group to the USA and Caribbean from February to April 1999. 
§ Mr. Spellar
HMS Invincible had been scheduled to participate in the US-led Joint Task Force Exercise in the western Atlantic between mid-February to early March 1999 but the deployment was cancelled. HMS Invincible was instead sent to the Gulf region on an operational 97W deployment. The reason for deploying HMS Invincible to the Gulf at that time was announced to the House by the Secretary of State for Defence on 14 January 1999.
Although we were unable to send a carrier to the Joint Task Force Exercise, the Royal Navy still made a significant contribution to the exercise. Commander United Kingdom Task Group and his staff participated in the exercise and the ships HMS Montrose, HMS Marlborough, HMS Sutherland together with RFA Oakleaf also participated. HMS Norfolk also contributed to this exercise while assigned to NATO's Standing Naval Forces Atlantic.