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Iraq

Volume 404: debated on Thursday 8 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what latest estimate he has of the death toll from current hostilities in Iraq amongst (a) UK forces, (b) US forces, (c) Iraqi forces, (d) Iraqi civilians arid (e) other civilian non-combatants. [109665]

Basra and its environs are likely to contain a significant number of unexploded munitions from the Iran-Iraq war as well as mines laid by Iraqi forces, unexploded ordnance fired or dropped during recent hostilities and stores of ammunition and other ordnance left by Iraqi military and paramilitary forces.Providing a safe, secure and risk free environment for the Iraqi people is a key aspect of restoration activity for the Coalition. When unexploded munitions are discovered Coalition forces' normal practice is to destroy them in situ.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cluster bombs have been dropped on Iraq since the start of current hostilities by (a) UK and (b) US forces; and what information is held on the location of their target. [110270]

[holding answer 28 April 2003]: As of 29 April 2003, United Kingdom forces have dropped about 66 RBL 755 cluster bombs in the Iraq conflict. These have been used against large troop concentrations, armour and artillery in the open. A detailed record of the areas where cluster bombs are known to have been used in Iraq is maintained by the coalition in Theatre. We do not comment on numbers of munitions dropped by other nations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what instructions have been issued to Coalition troops about seizing documents as evidence of crimes against humanity. [111614]

[holding answer 6 May 2003]: United Kingdom Commanders are advised that any evidence believed to be linked to war crimes or crimes against humanity in Iraq is to be preserved and secured so that it may be properly examined by investigating authorities. Where evidence is time-sensitive, and a delay might result in it being lost, it may be seized and retained.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the rules of engagement are for the use of lethal force in Iraq. [111843]

Access to information on Rules of Engagement is restricted for reasons of operational security. I am therefore withholding this information under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Army units will remain in Iraq and Kuwait; when he expects them to be withdrawn; what replacements are to be made available; and if he will make a statement. [112021]

I refer the hon.Member to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence's two Written Ministerial Statements on Iraq Force Level Adjustments of 11 April 2003 Official Report, columns 38–39WS and 30 April Official Report, columns 15–16WS. We will continue to inform the House as and when decisions on force adjustments are made.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which UK forces will be committed to stabilisation and security operations in Iraq over the next year; and if he will make a statement. [112086]

I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence's two written ministerial statements on Iraq Force Level Adjustments of 11 April 2003, Official Report, columns 38–39WS and 30 April 2003, Official Report, columns 15–16WS). We will continue to ensure that appropriate forces remain in Iraq to fulfil our military campaign objectives of setting the conditions for the stabilisation and reconstruction of Iraq. We will continue to inform the House as and when decisions on force adjustments are made.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to what extent it is possible to assign costs incurred by his Department in connection with the conduct of operations in Iraq (a) to periods (i) before the actual start of military action, (ii) while military action was taking place and (iii) subsequent to the conclusion of high intensity military action and (b) for the purposes of (A) preparing forces and resources and deploying them to the theatre of operations, (B) the conduct of military operations in theatre and (C) the recovery and repatriation of equipment, unused supplies and personnel. [112091]

I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House. The data that we might be able to provide may not meet exactly the categorisation requested.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what opportunities for modern apprenticeships he makes available in the armed forces. [110761]

As part of the ongoing training programme, the Ministry of Defence sponsors its personnel for qualifications and awards and seeks external accreditation within the National Qualifications Framework. These qualifications include Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (MA) in a number of areas. These areas include: Agriculture; Business Administration; Construction; Engineering; Health, Care and Public Services; Hospitality; Leisure, Sport and Travel; Media and Design; Retailing and Customer Services; and Transportation. We estimate that 11,392 personnel within the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force and the civil service are currently registered for an MA.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures his Department has taken to safeguard the impartiality and independence of aid agencies delivering aid in Iraq. [108045]

Aid agencies providing humanitarian assistance in Iraq are fully independent of coalition military forces. The Humanitarian Operations Centre in Kuwait City and the Humanitarian Aid Co-ordination Centre in the US Embassy in Amman encourage them to contact coalition forces in the area in which they will operate, in order to ensure they have up-to-date advice, but they are under no obligation to do so. The headquarters of the United Kingdom 1st Armoured Division in Basra includes two humanitarian advisors from the Department for International Development who provide advice on relief activities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of food aid to Iraq the US and UK military aim to import via Umm Qasr. [108054]

The import of food aid into Iraq is largely the responsibility of a number of Agencies which are independent of the United Kingdom or other Governments. It is difficult to judge, therefore, what proportion of the aid will come through Umm Qasr. However, the rail link from Umm Qasr to the rest of the country is likely to make the port more viable for the import of bulk supplies than road routes. For this reason we believe that a substantial amount of aid will enter Iraq via Umm Qasr once the port is fully open to shipping.