HC Deb 07 March 2000 vol 345 cc647-8W
Mr. Key

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what measures have been put in place since July 1999 to protect British forces deployed overseas from attack by biological and chemical weapons; [112972]

(2) what new equipment for detecting, identifying and monitoring biological and chemical hazards has been procured since the publication of his Department's paper, Defending against the Threat from Biological and Chemical Weapons. [112969]

Dr. Moonie

[holding answer 6 March 2000]The Joint NBC Regiment, created as a result of the Strategic Defence Review, achieved an Interim Operational Capability last December. It provides, at very high readiness, a capability for biological detection, nuclear and chemical survey and decontamination. The Regiment has elements deployed to Kuwait manning the Prototype Biological Detection System protecting the airbase at Ali Al Salem.

With regard to new equipment, since last summer three Interim Naval Biological Detection Systems have been accepted into service. We have also placed a manufacturing contract for chemical agent monitors which are designed to work inside a collective protection environment. User trials are due to take place this month and this equipment will be brought into service later this year. In addition, a contract has also been let for the manufacture of Man-portable Chemical Agent Detectors. Lastly, I refer the hon. Member to the answer which my "right" hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave him on 29 October 1999, Official Report, column 1005W.

Mr. Key

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the military units involved in biological and chemical defence tasks; and what are the operating costs he is meeting in each case in the(a) current and (b) next financial year. [112971]

Dr. Moonie

[holding answer 6 March 2000]The units dedicated to chemical and biological defence tasks are the Defence NBC Centre (comprising the Defence NBC Headquarters and the NBC School), the Joint NBC Regiment and the Royal Yeomanry.

The provision made for the operating costs of these units in this financial years is:

£ million
Defence NBC Centre 3.2
Joint NBC Regiment 5.0
Royal Yeomanry 1.9

The budgets for financial year 2000–01 have not yet been finalised.