HC Deb 04 November 2002 vol 392 cc53-4W
23. Lawrie Quinn

What measures his Department is taking to enhance opportunities within the engineering industry to enter into partnership development roles during the procurement of high-tech equipment and software for the armed forces. [76717]

Mr. Hoon

The Ministry of Defence recognises that partnerships with industry in high-tech areas are crucial to military capability and to the UK Defence Industry. The Ministry of Defence has recently launched the "Towers of Excellence" and Defence Technology Centres. These are mechanisms for partnering with industry and academia in priority high technology areas. We are also taking steps, via the National Defence & Aerospace's Systems Panel, to ensure that Ministry of Defence and Department of Trade and Industry Science and Technology spending is fully co-ordinated.

22. Mr. Burns

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans have been made to train armed forces personnel to carry out duties as firefighters. [76716]

24. Hugh Robertson

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the deployment of the Army during the firefighters' dispute. [76718]

35. Mr. Hendry

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the armed forces have been assigned to providing emergency fire and rescue cover in the event of a national firemen's strike. [76729]

Mr. Ingram

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for East Devon (Mr. Swire).

38. Mr. Prisk

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the impact of the firefighters' strike on the training and operational effectiveness of the armed forces. [76732]

Mr. Ingram

The Armed Forces have been particularly busy over the last few years performing their primary duties in defence of United Kingdom interests and acting as a force for good. The deployment to provide emergency fire cover will inevitably impact on their ability to continue some of these tasks at the same level of effort. The longer service personnel are required to provide fire cover the greater the penalties that will accrue to other activities, and in particular on the Armed Forces personnel employed on these duties in place of professional firefighters.

Mr. Mullin

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many defence personnel have been trained on equipment introduced in the last 10 years; and what scope there is for training more to help with the current firefighters' strike. [77502]

Mr. Ingram

31 Breathing Apparatus Rescue Teams (BARTS) and 59 Rescue Equipment Support Teams (RESTS)—a total of about 2,500 personnel—will be deployed should a fire strike take place. They will be fully trained, and provided with modern equipment, to undertake fire rescues and release road traffic accident victims.

The 10,000 military personnel trained to operate Green Goddess fire tenders provided by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister will provide basic levels of emergency cover in helping to bring fires under control, and they will act in support of BART and REST teams when fire rescue is required.

Mr. Evans

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what preparations he has made to ensure the safety and continuity of service to the public in the event of a firefighters' strike; and what the cost is to the Department of these actions. [77661]

Mr. Ingram

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him on 28 October 2002,Official Report, column 527W, by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. The cost of providing emergency cover will depend on the extent and nature of any industrial action.