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Fetes

Volume 176: debated on Friday 13 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military personnel were involved on official duties at the fete organised by the West of Scotland Conservative and Unionist Association on 9 June; and if he will list them by rank.

Four Royal Navy personnel were involved: three lieutenants and one petty officer aircrewman.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many times in the last five years a naval helicopter has been used at fetes organised by the West of Scotland Conservative and Unionist Association; if he will list the events and times when they were used; and at what level the decision to allow the helicopter to be used was taken;(2) how many times in the last five years a military helicopter has been used at fetes organised by political parties in the United Kingdom; and if he will list the events, the dates and the political parties involved.

Records are not maintained but the Department has no recollection of any instances of participation in such events other than that to which the hon. Gentleman has already referred.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines are followed in considering requests from political parties for the services of armed forces personnel and equipment at fetes organised by them to raise charitable funds.

Queen's regulations prohibit service participation in events whose purpose is to further the interests of political organisations. There is, however, no prohibition of service participation in events the purpose of which is to raise funds for local charities, where this can be done at no additional cost to the defence budget. In the instance to which the hon. Gentleman has drawn attention, Royal Navy participation was both beneficial to helicopter training and designed to assist in fund raising for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Erskine hospital. A total of £12,000 was raised for these charities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much fuel was used at the fete organised by the West of Scotland Conservative and Unionist Association to fly the naval helicopter at the White House, Renfrewshire on 9 June; and how much it costs to run a helicopter of that type, including crew, for one day.

Approximately 10 gallons of fuel were used while the helicopter was at the fete. The full operating cost of a Sea King helicopter, including fuel, crew and wear and tear, is some £4,800 per flying hour. In this instance, however, the helicopter was carrying out a routine training mission that would have been undertaken even if the fete had not been held. No additional costs were therefore incurred.