§ Mr. Keetch
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason the Ministry of Defence Performance report 1998–99 published on 20 December 1999 includes River Class minesweepers transferred to Brazil in 1998; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Hoon
The Ministry of Defence Departmental Performance Report 1998–99 covers the period 1 April 1998 to 31 March 1999. The River Class Patrol Minesweepers—Blackwater, Itchen, Spey and Arun—were reported in two sections of the Report: Paragraph 41 and Annexe B. Paragraph 41 noted their hand-over to the Brazilian Navy, which occurred between the end of April 1998 and mid October 1998. Annexe B, the Royal Navy Force Structure table, detailed all Fleet Force Elements in-service during the period of the Report. Annexe B correctly included three of these four vessels which were still in service between April and July 1998, but failed to include a footnote on their pay off dates. The fourth vessel—Itchen—was paid off at the end of February 1998, outside the reporting period, and should not therefore have been included in this table.
A further error has been found in the Royal Navy Force Structure table at Annexe B of the Performance Report. The section detailing the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Force Elements shows only one Roll-on Roll-off vessel, Sea Crusader, in service during the period. In this case, the strength of the Fleet was understated as the second vessel in the class, Sea Centurion, entered Immediate Operational Service on 19 October 1998.