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Written Answers

Volume 451: debated on Tuesday 7 November 2006

Written Answers toQuestions

Monday 6 November 2006

Defence

“Not to Exceed” Dates

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the ‘not to exceed’ in-service date at main gate was for (a) White Fleet PFI, (b) Single Living Accommodation, (c) Digitisation of the Battlespace (Land)-Com BAT, Infra and Platform, (d) Otterburn Training Area, (e) Project Aquatrine-Water and Wastewater Services PFI, (f) Hayes Record Office, (g) SSN Berthing HMNB Clyde, (h) Defence Estates Regional Prime Contracting-Scotland, (i) Project NEPTUNE and (j) Defence Information Infrastructure (Army); and what the ‘not to exceed’ cost at main gate was for the demonstration and manufacture phase of each project, broken into (i) indirect resource Departmental Expenditure Limit (DEL), (ii) direct resource DEL and (iii) capital DEL. (93048)

The term ‘not to exceed’ was not used during the approvals process for the majority of the projects as they predated the use of this concept. The values and dates used in the following table are those approved at Main Gate.

Similarly, not all of the projects broke the cost down into Indirect Resource DEL, Direct Resource DEL and Capital DEL. The table therefore reflects the values approved in the relevant Main Gate, many of which are for service based contracts, not a demonstration and manufacture phase.

Project nameApproved in service dateApproved cost (£ million)

Indirect RDEL

Direct RDEL

Capital DEL

White Fleet PFI

Implementation of Service: April 2001

Maximum initial contract cost - 540.9

Single Living Accommodation

November 2004

786

Digitisation of the Battlespace (Land-Corn BAT, Infra and Platform)

December 2004

379

Otterburn Training Area

November 2005

12.22

64.79

Project Aquatrine,Water and Wastewater services PFI

August 2004 (A)

1000

June 2005 (B)

392.2

April 2005 (C)

1001. 8

Hayes Record Office

July 2005

28.10

SSN Berthing HMNB Clyde

November 2007

12.44

147.09

Defence Estates Regional Prime Contracting, Scotland

March 2004

467

153

Project NEPTUNE

Approved as an element of Defence Estates Regional Prime Contracting-Scotland

Defence Information Infrastructure (Army)

March 2005

212

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his oral statement of 10 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1131-48, on Afghanistan (troop levels), how many (a) attack and (b) support helicopters will be deployed as part of the additional deployment to Helmand Province; when they will arrive; and from where they will be sourced. (85106)

I refer the hon. Member to the statements I made on 10 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1131-35, and 24 July 2006, Official Report, columns 74-76WS. The additional CH-47 Chinooks were drawn from the UK and from the Falklands Islands.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his oral statement of 10 July 2006, Official Report, columns 1131-48, on Afghanistan (troop levels), which units will be operating outside harmony guidelines as a result of the additional deployment to Helmand Province; and what the average tour gap number will be for each unit. (85107)

I can confirm that, as announced on the 10 July 2006, Official Report, column 1133, the additional force package deployed to the Helmand Province contained 320 engineers from 28 Regiment Royal Engineers (28 Regt RE), an Infantry Company from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2 RRF), two Platoons from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment (1 R IRISH) and one company from three Commando Brigade Royal Marines. The armed forces harmony guidelines recommend a tour interval of 24 months between each six month operational tour. The average tour interval for 28 Regt RE as a whole is 24 months, although, 35 individuals deployed facing a tour interval of between six and 24 months. The average tour interval for 2 RRF is 34 months, although one individual will have deployed for 15 months in a 30 month period. The average tour interval for 1 R IRISH is 25 months but most of the 60 personnel who deployed will now experience a tour interval of six months. The company of three Commando Brigade Royal Marines who deployed as the force protection unit for 28 Regt RE have a tour interval of 28 months.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilians have been (a) killed and (b) injured by the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in each of the last six months. (94702)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 26 October 2006, Official Report, column 2013, to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Jeremy Corbyn).

Similar principles apply to the number of civilians injured as to the number of civilians killed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the strategic objectives are of the UK forces in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. (97254)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my predecessor on 27 March 2006, Official Report, column 670W to the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Holloway).

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK armed forces personnel were in Afghanistan in each month between June 2003 and October 2006; and if he will make a statement. (97255)

Figures for the number of UK regular forces deployed in Afghanistan from December 2005 are shown in the following table. Figures for the number of UK service personnel deployed before December 2005 are not held centrally.

Deployment of UK armed forces1 in Afghanistan since December 2005

Date2

Total

December 2005

820

January 2006

840

February 2006

870

March 2006

1,900

April 2006

2,330

May 2006

3,880

June 2006

4,370

July 2006

4,590

August 2006

4,950

September 2006

5,220

October 2006

5,850

1 Figures include UK regular forces and mobilised reservists. They exclude civilians and Royal Fleet Auxiliary. 2 Figures are collated from a manual headcount of personnel in theatre, reported on a weekly basis. The figures shown are the closest available to the first of each month. Note: Due to the rounding methods used, totals may not always equal the sum of the parts. When rounding to the nearest 10, numbers ending in 5 have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

Figures for the number of UK service personnel deployed before December 2005 is not held centrally on a month to month basis and only an average for the year can be provided. These data have not been statistically verified.

Average number of UK personnel in Afghanistan

2005

970

2004

660

June-December 2003

380

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of (a) the relationship between the Taliban and Afghan poppy-growers and (b) its implications for NATO’s counter-insurgency campaign. (97533)

[holding answer 30 October 2006]: There are links of convenience between the Taliban and traffickers based on personal relationships, tribal loyalties and business interests. The Taliban and drug traffickers share a common interest in resisting the Afghan Government and coalition forces. The Taliban are also attempting to exploit the continued existence of the drugs trade to undermine the central Government’s authority. Given these links we continue to monitor their development and to support the Afghan Government in disrupting them.

NATO supports the Afghan counter narcotics effort by securing the future stability of Afghanistan and creating the environment in which counter narcotics activities can have greatest impact, but it does not take direct action against the drugs trade.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has made to his United States counterparts on the effect on the counter-insurgency campaign of attempts by (a) NATO forces and (b) the Afghan Government to suppress the cultivation of poppies. (97535)

[holding answer 30 October 2006]: We regularly hold discussions on all aspects of the international community’s efforts in Afghanistan with the US and other nations that contribute to the international security assistance force.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when it was decided that UK forces in Afghanistan would be under US command; and if he will make a statement. (97588)

[holding answer 30 October 2006]: The vast majority of UK forces in Afghanistan are part of the NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) which is currently headed by a British officer. Regardless of the nationality of the commanding officer, ISAF remains under NATO command.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with NATO chiefs about the deployment of additional troops in support of British forces in Afghanistan. (98070)

I discuss regularly with the NATO Secretary General and with NATO Ministerial colleagues the need to ensure that NATO commanders in Afghanistan have the forces they need to fulfil their mission, including British forces in Helmand Province. NATO Defence Ministers last met collectively on 28 September.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 30 October 2006, Official Report, column 99W, whether any senior commanders in Afghanistan have asked for Warrior vehicles to be deployed there; and if he will make a statement. (99074)

[holding answer 2 November 2006]: As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister indicated during Prime Minister’s Question Time on 1 November 2006, Official Report, column 294, Ministers have not received any formal requests for Warrior armoured fighting vehicles. Requests from operational commanders are considered first by the Permanent Joint Headquarters and by the Chiefs of Staff before they are presented to Ministers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will request a report on the recent accidental bombing of civilians by NATO planes in Southern Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement; (99217)

(2) which air force was responsible for the recent bombing in which up to 60 Afghan civilians are reported to have died; what assistance has been offered to the survivors; and what plans there are to compensate the victims.

NATO has commissioned a report into the accidental bombing of Afghan civilians on 24 October has still to be completed. Until the investigation is complete, it would be inappropriate to comment on the incident. In recognition of its responsibility to the Afghan people, however, the International Security Assistance Force has already provided medical assistance to a number of the injured.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps have been taken to ensure that women are fully included in Provincial Reconstruction Team development programmes in Afghanistan; and what assessment has been made of the potential effect of attempts by the Afghan Government to accommodate Islamist factions on women’s rights in Afghanistan. (99416)

I have been asked to reply.

Women’s rights are fully considered in the UK Provincial Reconstruction Team’s efforts to improve the lives of the people of Helmand. Gender awareness is an integral part of our effort to assist the national and provincial Afghan Government in laying the platform for lasting reconstruction and development across the province.

The Afghan Government is engaging with a wide range of groups to ensure proper engagement in the democratic process, but remains fully aware of its obligations under the Constitution, which provides for women’s equality and their right to participate in the political process, and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

We continue to maintain a regular dialogue with the Afghan Government’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, to ensure that women’s rights are not sidelined during the process of reconciliation and integration.

Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the annual lease cost was of the four C-17 aircraft in each year until 2006; and how much his Department has paid for the purchase of the fifth C-17. (90933)

[holding answer 13 September 2006]: I am withholding the information requested as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Hercules aircraft have been fitted with flame retardant materials since May. (92511)

The programme to fit explosive suppressant foam to Hercules aircraft continues as planned, and two aircraft have been fitted so far.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost is per annum per aircraft for the Nimrod MR4 for the first five years after its introduction into service. (92623)

Armed Forces Pension Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of extending pension provision to widows and widowers of all post-retirement marriages in the armed forces pension scheme; and how this estimate was calculated. (93044)

The 1975 Social Security Act required all occupational pension schemes to introduce pensions for widows who married their husbands after they retired from service. The change was introduced in April 1978 for future service only. The change for widowers was not introduced until April 1989. Widows of men who joined the armed forces after April 1978 and widowers of women who joined after 1989 are not affected by this issue and are eligible for pension benefits in respect of their entire service.

The Government Actuary confirmed a figure of £50 million to extend benefits to all post-retirement widows and widowers in the armed forces pension scheme 1975 (AFPS 75) as part of the review which led to the introduction of the Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Act 2004. This figure should not be viewed in isolation: if the concession were to be made for affected members of AFPS 75, there would be pressure to extend it across other public sector pension schemes at an estimated cost of between £300 million and £500 million.

The cost for AFPS 75 represented the total capitalised value of future widows' and widowers' benefits which would be payable if marriages after leaving service were treated on the same basis as if the marriage had taken place in service. The value has been assessed using data relating to membership of pensioners and deferred pensioners of AFPS 75 and marriage patterns adopted for costing the scheme as a whole.

Armoured Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what factors were taken into account in selecting the Cougar armoured vehicle; and what other products were considered. (92320)

To meet the requirement for a medium protected patrol vehicle, a number of factors were taken into consideration. These included mine protection, vehicle capacity and payload, and the ability to be modified to meet the demanding UK protection requirements in the fastest possible time.

A wide range of vehicles were briefly considered but discounted because we judged that they could not be modified to meet the UK requirement in the necessary timescale. Three options were considered in detail: the ADI Bushmaster, the BAES OMC RG-31 and the Cougar, which is manufactured by Force Protection Inc. The Cougar was selected and will be known as MASTIFF when in service with the United Kingdom armed forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 9 October 2006, Official Report, column 176W, on armoured vehicles, what his most recent assessment is of the annual running costs of the Warrior in wartime usage; and if he will make a statement. (94896)

Operating costs for armoured vehicle fleets are calculated on peacetime usage, and based on an average cost per kilometre. The full capitation cost for the Warrior Armoured Fighting Vehicle (all variants) for financial year 2006-07 is calculated as £154.04 per kilometre. Specific mileage data on operations is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether any RG-31 armoured vehicles are (a) owned and (b) leased by his Department; (97981)

(2) what the maintenance problems were which led to the RG-31 being withdrawn from service following deployments in Bosnia.

The RG-31 Mamba was procured in the mid-late 1990s to meet Urgent Operational Requirements for specialist vehicles for use by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams in the Balkans. It was replaced in service by the Mine Protected Vehicle in 2001-02. The RG31 Mamba suffered from safety and reliability problems caused by the additional weight of the appliqué armour affecting the vehicle’s steering and braking systems. These problems were exacerbated by a lack of commonality between the vehicles, which were bought in three separate batches, and poor availability of spare parts.

The MOD does not own or lease any RG-31 armoured vehicles and currently has no plans to do so.

Army Personnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the present strength of the Army is (a) in total and (b) in terms of (i) officers and (ii) other ranks. (93924)

I refer the hon. Member to Tri-Service Publication (TSP) 1—Strength, Intake and Outflow of UK Regular Forces. TSP 1 is published monthly. The most recent publication shows figures at 1 September 2006.

Copies of TSP 1 are available in the Library of the House and at www.dasa.mod.uk.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) established and (b) actual strength is of (i) the Regular Army and (ii) the Territorial Army, broken down by cap badge. (91487)

The following table provides a breakdown, by cap badge, of the Regular Army strength against liability as at 1 August 2006. A detailed breakdown of Territorial Army posts by cap badge within unit establishments is not currently available; however strengths are given as follows against the overall Territorial Army liability of 42,000.

Regular ArmyTerritorial Army

Arm/Service

Liability3

Strength1

Liability

Strength2

Total

97,710

96,460

42,000

36,260

Staff

720

820

100

Household Cavalry/Royal Armoured Corps

5,760

5,460

1,260

Royal Regiment of Artillery

7,510

7,240

2,280

Corps of Royal Engineers

9,180

8,780

2,460

Royal Corps of Signals

8,500

8,450

3,990

Infantry

24,450

23,720

7,350

Army Air Corps

2,060

2,010

100

Royal Army Chaplains Department

150

140

60

Royal Logistics Corps

15,720

15,590

6,060

Royal Army Medical Corps

3,180

2,910

2,660

Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

9,700

9,690

2,200

Adjutant General’s Corps

6,250

6,660

1,240

Royal Army Veterinary Corps

210

190

10

Small Arms School Corps

140

150

10

Royal Army Dental Corps

420

360

60

Intelligence Corps

1,650

1,480

500

Army Physical Training Corps

430

450

4

General List

4

4

340

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Auxiliary Nursing Corps

1,190

840

1,030

The Corps of Army Music

890

900

4

Long Service List

600

620

4

Officer Training Corps

4

4

4,540

1 Figures include trained Officers and Soldiers; full-time Reserve Service (full, limited and home Commitment) but exclude home service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, mobilised reserves, Territorial Army and other reserves. 2 TA Personnel include Group A & B, Mobilised TA and Officer Training Corps (OTC), and exclude non regular permanent staff and full-time Reserve Service. 3 Liability is based on the Regular Army Liability 2006. 4 Represents zero of rounded to zero. Notes: 1. The Adjutant General’s Corps consists of: Adjutant General’s Corps (Provost), Adjutant General’s Corps (Staff & Personnel Support), Adjutant General’s Corps (Education & Training Services) and Adjutant General’s Corps (Army Legal Services). 2. All data have been rounded to the nearest 10. Due to the rounding methods used totals may not always equal the sum of the parts. Numbers ending in “5” have been rounded to nearest multiple of 20 to prevent systematic bias.

Belize

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British army personnel have been trained at the BATSUB base in Belize in each of the past 20 years. (99890)

Records in respect of British Army personnel trained at the British Army Training Support Unit Belize do not go back 20 years however, I am able to give the detail from 1997 onwards:

Event

Number of Exercises

Number of trained personnel

1997

Exercise Native Trail

6

840

Sub Aqua Expedition

3

48

Exercise Sailfish

1

130

1998

Exercise Native Trail

6

840

Sub Aqua Expedition

5

80

Exercise Sailfish

1

130

Exercise Caribbean Fury

1

500

1999

Exercise Native Trail

8

1,120

Sub Aqua Expedition

8

128

Exercise Western Rhumba

1

500

Operation Windbreak

1

40

Exercise Devils Hat

1

50

Exercise Global Links

1

30

Exercise Sailfish

1

130

Exercise Tarzan Rock

1

75

2000

Exercise Western Rhumba

1

500

Exercise Native Trail

4

560

Sub Aqua Expedition

5

80

2001

Exercise Native Trail

7

980

2002

Exercise Native Trail

2

280

2003

Exercise Panther Cub

3

420

Exercise Mayan Warrior

1

700

Exercise Sailfish

1

130

Sub Aqua Expedition

4

64

2004

Exercise Windbreak

1

40

Exercise Mayan Warrior

2

1,400

Exercise Green River

1

150

Sub Aqua Expedition

5

80

Exercise Panther Cub

1

140

Exercise Civil Bridge

1

40

Exercise Green Parakeet

1

150

2005

Exercise Green River

1

150

Sub Aqua Expedition

8

128

Exercise Civil Bridge

1

40

Exercise Cygnet Coral

1

30

Exercise Tropical Storm

4

2,800

Exercise Windbreak

1

40

Exercise Roman Devil

1

140

Exercise Green Emerald

1

150

Boarding School Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the accessibility of the boarding school allowance to (i) other ranks and (ii) officers; whether such research took account of (A) ability to pay the fees and (B) the retirement age of officers and other ranks; and if he will make a statement. (93535)

The recently published report on the Defence Committee inquiry “Educating Service Children” (HC1054 published 6 September 2006) has recommended research be conducted on the take-up of continuity of education allowance. The formal Government response to this report will be made shortly. I refer the hon. Member to the Third Memorandum from the MOD made to the Committee for their inquiry (HC1054 Ev77-78). This includes background on why the demographic profile of service personnel by age, rank and length of service will have an impact on take-up and explains that it may be more meaningful to consider the age of a child and their stage of education rather than the age/rank profile of a service person.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many children have been covered by the boarding school allowance for the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force in each of the last five years, broken down by officers and other ranks; and if he will make a statement. (93536)

The information requested is shown in the following table:

Numbers of service children covered by continuity of education allowance as at spring term of each academic year

Service

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Navy

1,281

1,326

1,357

1,435

1,377

Army

4,383

4,356

4,405

4,374

4,289

RAF

1,466

2,255

2,219

2,220

2,220

Total

7,130

7,937

7,981

8,029

7,886

The above data cannot be separated out into officers and other ranks due to disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent on boarding school allowance for the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force in each of the last five years, broken down by officers and other ranks; and if he will make a statement. (93537)

The sum paid annually in respect of service education allowances by the MOD, broken down by single-service is shown in the following table:

Total spend on service education allowances for the last five years

£

2001-02

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Navy

17,588,014

12,781,113

13,002,607

16,278,396

16,878,279

Army

37,450,741

37,754,069

49,046,403

49,840,780

51,004,877

RAF

16,388,267

22,515,029

24,381,279

24,653,301

25,813,795

Total

71,438,022

73,050,211

86,429,289

90,772,477

93,696,951

The above data cannot be separated out into officers and other ranks.

British Troops (Supplies)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what levels of (a) ammunition, (b) supplies and (c) body armour are available to British troops deployed in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. (92712)

The Defence Logistics Organisation continues to work extremely hard to ensure that sufficient supplies and ammunition are delivered to our forces in Afghanistan. They ensure that in the vast majority of cases adequate re-supply to theatre takes place in a timely fashion.

In the case of ammunition, there have been occasional instances where units in remote locations have exhausted supplies of a particular ammunition type during a specific attack or operation. At no time, though, have troops on the ground run out of all ammunition types available to them. In such instances, ground forces are re-supplied by helicopters.

In the case of food supplies, most of our troops are fed to a very high standard by the Royal Logistic Corps. In some of the more remote locations this service will not always be available. In such instances, troops are supplied with nutritious, fit-for-purpose ration packs, which can also be augmented by local supplies.

It is departmental policy that all troops deploying to Op HERRICK are provided with enhanced combat body armour (ECBA) as standard. In addition, Kestrel and Osprey variants of body armour, which provide additional protection, are available against specific threats and for specific roles, such as top cover sentry duty. The current combination of ECBA, Osprey and Kestrel provides Commanders with a flexible system of personal protection so that personnel can conduct their tasks effectively, while retaining a level of protection commensurate with the threat assessment. Such flexibility is deemed important because Commanders need to balance the benefits of increased protection body armour against risks such as constraint of movement.

Cadets (Totnes)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will arrange for the Cadet Centre in Totnes to be made available to the Totnes Youth Centre. (92796)

[holding answer 12 October 2006]: To date, the Department has received no approach or inquiry by representatives of Totnes Youth Centre. However, I understand that there may well be an opportunity for the Totnes Cadet Centre to be made available for use, and I would advise the representatives of the Totnes Youth Centre to approach the Wessex Reserve Forces and Cadets Association:

Chief Executive,

Wessex RFCA,

Mount House,

Mount Street,

Taunton,

Somerset TA1 3QE

Casualty Reports

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he receives a daily casualty report. (86327)

I receive a daily report on significant developments relating to UK military operations, including serious casualties to UK personnel deployed on operations. In addition, I am informed as soon as possible about fatalities of UK personnel.

Cluster Munitions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron) of 30 October 2006, Official Report, column 11, on cluster munitions, what definition he uses of ‘properly used’ in relation to the use of cluster munitions in conflict. (99418)

We regard cluster munitions as being used properly when they are used against legitimate targets, and when their use against such targets is based on an assessment that takes into account the nature of that target, the weapons available, and the legal requirements. Prior to the use of any munitions, the UK follows a detailed targeting procedure, to ensure that the UK complies with the rules of proportionality, non-discrimination and distinction in International Humanitarian Law.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 30 October 2006, Official Report, column 11, to the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Tim Farron), on cluster munitions, when he last carried out a review into the consistency of the use of cluster munitions with international humanitarian law. (99419)

The lawful use of any weapon system, including cluster munitions, is scrutinised as part of operational planning, and during the targeting process. This includes consideration of International Humanitarian Law, including the principles of discrimination, proportionality, necessity and humanity.

Defence Organisations (UK Membership)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the case for the UK simultaneously retaining its membership of the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en Matiere D’Armement and the European Defence Agency; and if he will make a statement. (98346)

[holding answer 31 October 2006]: The UK remains firmly committed to our membership of both the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en Matiere D’Armement (OCCAR) and the European Defence Agency (EDA). These two organisations have differing purposes and memberships, and complement each other.

OCCAR is a project management organisation, managing a number of collaborative armament acquisition programmes, including the A400M programme. Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are members. OCCAR programmes are open to participation by non-member nations.

The EDA does not manage collaborative acquisition programmes. It works to promote and enhance such collaboration, by providing contractual services for collaborative research projects, through the identification of common military requirements, and by improving the transparency of the European Defence Equipment Market. All EU member states except Denmark are members of the EDA, and there is also an administrative agreement with Norway, enabling their involvement in EDA facilitated projects.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department recognises the International GCSE as an acceptable substitute for a GCSE for the purposes of recruitment. (96736)

The Ministry of Defence does recognise the International GCSE as an acceptable equivalent to a GCSE for purposes of recruitment.

Engagements

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on (a) a new generation of the nuclear deterrent and (b) the security situation in Iraq. (99077)

I have regular discussions with the Foreign Secretary on a wide range of issues.

European Defence Co-operation

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which projects in which the UK has an interest are being pursued by the (a) Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement and (b) European Defence Agency. (95694)

The UK has an interest in three projects being managed by the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement. These are the A400M project, the COBRA (COunter Battery RAdar) project and the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) element of the Famille des systèmes Surface-Air Futurs (FSAF) project.

In the European Defence Agency (EDA) a number of Research and Technology (R and T) projects have been transferred from the Western European Armaments Organisation, 13 of which involve the UK. Work in the EDA is still developing and we have so far confirmed interest in one ad hoc category B (in which not all EDA member states participate) R and T project on Scalable Multi-Function Radar which has yet to be contracted. The EDA’s role in this area is one of facilitating collaboration and providing contractual services.

Falklands War

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what preparations are being made to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Falklands war; (98049)

(2) what grants are available to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Falklands war at Chorley Cenotaph;

(3) what discussions he has had with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on preparations for the 25th anniversary of the Falklands war;

(4) what steps have been taken to ensure that all veterans of the Falklands war have the opportunity to participate in commemoration of the 25th anniversary.

I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my predecessor on 27 April 2006, Official Report, column 54WS in which he outlined plans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict both here in the UK and in the Falkland Islands. Preparations for these events are proceeding well and more details, including how veterans can apply for tickets, will be provided to the House on 13 November, in parallel with a media launch the same day.

We are having close discussions with a range of stakeholders, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and veterans’ organisations, about the nature of the commemorations planned.

Grants are not available from my Department for local commemorations but the organisers of the Chorley event may wish to consider applying to the Awards for All scheme (A4A) which is run by the Big Lottery Fund.

Future Aircraft Carriers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when each of the Future Aircraft Carriers will be ordered; and what their planned in-service dates are. (98173)

[holding answer 1 November 2006]: The projected programme dates for the Future Aircraft Carriers, including when they will be ordered and the in-service dates (ISDs), will only be set following the main investment decision, and once they have been approved by Ministers. This decision has not yet been taken, and will only be taken when we know with confidence the risks, the costs and the associated contractual framework involved in building the carriers.

Future Rotacraft Coherency Study

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place a copy of the conclusions and recommendations of the Future Rotacraft Coherency Study in the Library. (94830)

I am unable to provide a copy of the document requested as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests. However some elements of the Future Rotorcraft programmes were reported in the Defence Industrial Strategy and announcements were also made earlier this year. In summary we plan to prosecute the following:

A contract has been placed with Lockheed-Martin to ensure continuity of capability and introduce an open-systems architecture (to enable cost-effective management of obsolescence) on the Merlin Mkl—the Royal Navy's airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare capability.

A contract has been placed with AgustaWestland to provide new Future Lynx aircraft in order to meet the Army's Battlefield Reconnaissance Helicopter and the Royal Navy's Surface Combatant Maritime Rotorcraft requirements.

A package of work, known as the Chinook Mk2/2A coherence programme, is being progressed to establish a single configuration baseline and reduce the overall cost of supporting the Chinook fleet.

A competition has been launched under the Private Finance Initiative, joint with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, for the provision of a UK-based peacetime helicopter Search and Rescue capability.

A programme of work, known as the Lift Advanced Concept Phase, is being undertaken to determine how best to invest further in the battlefield helicopter Lift capability, including the balance between Medium and Large lift aircraft.

On Chinook Mk3, we continue to work with Boeing to identify a robust, affordable and value for money approach before taking decisions on how best to proceed.

The Apache Attack Helicopter is presently being successfully deployed on operations and work is ongoing to determine how this capability can be best sustained through-life, including investigations to extend the out-of-service date of the aircraft.

We also keep under constant review how best to sustain and refresh the helicopter capability provided to operations.

In addition, we are also pursuing work with a number of helicopter suppliers to implement revised and novel arrangements to support our current platforms through long-term, partnered contracts that require industry to provide serviceable aircraft at the front line. These arrangements have already been contracted for Sea King, Merlin and Chinook aircraft. Similar arrangements are being explored for other aircraft and we intend to focus efforts on ensuring convergence and that lessons are learnt, shared and implemented.

Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) RAF, (b) Army Air Corps and (c) Royal Navy helicopters were sold to (i) the private sector and (ii) foreign governments during the period September 2005 to September 2006. (97286)

[holding answer 1 November 2006]: The MOD’s Disposal Services Agency sold six helicopters between September 2005 and September 2006. Three Sea Kings, which were not in an airworthy condition, were sold via Agusta Westland, under a Commercial Marketing Agreement, to Australia for spares recovery; one Army Sioux was sold privately; and one Wessex and one Sea King were sold as scrap.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether negotiations have been concluded with Boeing for the work to be carried out on the eight Chinook Mark 3 helicopters at Boscombe Down to make them certifiable for military flights; and if he will make a statement. (98220)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of (a) the overall military helicopter fleet and (b) the helicopter fleet deployed in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan are considered (A) fit for service and (B) battleworthy, broken down by helicopter type. (98556)

The MOD does not use the terms fit for service and battleworthy in describing helicopters. We use the term “fit for purpose”, which means those that are available, reliable, airworthy and capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date.

Helicopter type

Fit for purpose (Percentage)

A109

77

Apache

60

Chinook

61

Gazelle AH1

76

Lynx MK 3 and 8

57

Lynx MK 7 and 9

59

Merlin MK 1

48

Merlin MK 3

53

Puma

73

Sea King MK 3/3A

53

Sea King MK4/6C

51

Sea King MK 5

53

Sea King MK 7

56

The percentages shown in the table indicate the proportion of the helicopter fleet available to front-line commands, which are considered “fit for purpose”. These numbers will vary; the figures shown are the average for the period from 1 June to 30 September 2006.

All UK helicopters deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are considered fit for purpose, but not all will be available for operational flying each day due to routine maintenance requirements. However, these factors are taken into consideration, and sufficient helicopters are provided to meet current operational requirements. We continue to review these operational requirements and adjust as necessary.

Hercules Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration was given to his Department's duty of care to Air Force crews when prioritising tasking over the fitting of foam to the Hercules fleet; and if he will make a statement. (92694)

In prioritising the fitment of explosive suppressant foam (ESF) to Hercules C-130 aircraft, the Department considered a range of factors including: the safety of RAF crews and passengers; the nature of the threat to Hercules C-130 aircraft deployed on operations; the impact on the operational availability of the aircraft; and the capacity of industry to fit ESF to the aircraft.

HMS Southampton

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason and for how long the crew of HMS Southampton have been without normal supplies of fresh water; what the consequences have been; and when the problem is expected to be rectified. (99075)

At no time has HMS Southampton been without fresh water.

On three separate occasions between 17 and 29 October the ship experienced difficulties with the distillation system that produces fresh water and restrictions were imposed to conserve stocks.

On 17 and 26 October 2006 the use of showers was stopped for a period of less than 12 hours each day. No other restrictions were imposed. On 28 October 2006 the use of fresh water for activities other than drinking, cooking and washing hands was restricted for a period of 14 hours.

The availability of fresh water for the ship’s galley, drinking supplies and personal hygiene remained unaffected throughout.

The problems were rectified by the ship’s company using on board resources.

Information Technology

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) originally estimated, (b) most recently estimated and (c) outturn cost was in each of the five largest information technology contracts agreed with outside suppliers over the last five years. (71799)

The information requested is as follows:

Contract

Originally estimated cost (£ million)

Most recently estimated cost (£ million)

Outturn cost (£ million)

Comments

Skynet 5 (Satellite Communication Services)

2,775

3,660

137

Expenditure does not include expenditure from other areas within the Department that call up SATCOM services. 'Most recent cost' reflects revised contract to include a third satellite and a fourth satellite in the event of the failure at the launch stage of one of the three satellites. Should there be no loss the cost will reduce to £3,273 million.

Defence Information Infrastructure (Future) (DII(F))

2,297

2,313

252

This relates to the Increment 1 contract only. Increments 2 and 3 have not yet been let.

Joint Personnel Administration (JPA)

237

237

106

These estimates comprise all extramural costs for JPA and include the cost of personnel administration services using JPA up to the end of financial year 2008-09. Outturn costs cover extramural expenditure to the end of financial year 2005-06.

Joint Asset Management and Engineering Solutions (JAMES)

Up to 200

90 to 100

10 to 20

This includes JAMES 1 and 2, Whole Fleet Management and Engineering and Asset Management.

Defence Medical Information Capability Programme (DMICP)

98

82

0

No outturn yet—contract placed in April 2006.

Note: Purely voice communications systems are not considered to fall within the scope of the question.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the numbers of insurgents entering Iraq from (a) Saudi Arabia and (b) Iran since March 2003; and if he will make a statement. (88541)

Given the covert nature in which they operate it is extremely difficult accurately to assess how many foreign fighters have entered Iraq. We currently estimate that a few hundred foreign fighters may have entered Iraq from Saudi Arabia and Iran since March 2003, with the vast majority of them entering from Iran.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the estimates of Iraqi deaths made in The Lancet; and if he will make a statement. (94882)

Maintaining records of civilian deaths in Iraq is ultimately a matter for the Government of Iraq and we believe they are best placed to monitor the situation. The Lancet report is one of a number of recent studies that attempts to estimate the numbers of civilian casualties in Iraq, none of which can be regarded as definitive. The figures in The Lancet report are significantly higher than other casualty estimates.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he and his coalition partners have made to the Iraqi authorities on progress in disarming militia in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. (95813)

Alongside our coalition partners we continue to press the Iraqi authorities, both at a national and provincial level, to recognise and take action on the issue of militias. The process of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration forms a key part of tackling armed militia groups. We are ready to support this process in any way we can.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what mechanisms are in place for the audit and accountability of spending on the joint Iraqi and American Baghdad Security Plan; what estimate he has made of how much the (a) security and (b) non-security element will cost; whether security personnel will carry out the non-security element; and how many Iraqi civilian jobs will be created in consequence. (96688)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) funds and (b) other resources have been provided to British forces by the US in Iraq. (98304)

The US does not provide direct funding for the UK military deployment in Iraq. However, the UK does have access to US Commander’s Emergency Response Programme funding. Between 1 October 2004 and 30 September 2006 $145.3 million was drawn from this and allocated directly to reconstruction projects in MND(SE).

Coalition partners also share logistical support and may make available military assets in support of specific military operations. Where payment is required for these activities, it is provided on a repayment basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost has been to the UK of military action in Iraq since January 2003; and if he will make a statement. (98874)

The cost of operations are calculated on a net additional basis and audited figures are published each year in the MOD’s annual report and accounts. The total of the annual audited figures for the cost of operations in Iraq for the years 2002-03 to 2005-06 was £4,026 million.

Language Skills

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many personnel in each unit stationed in Iraq (a) speak and (b) have received instruction in Arabic. (97809)

It is not possible to provide details of how many personnel in each unit stationed in Iraq speak Arabic or have received formal Arabic language education as the information is not held centrally and to collate the information would be at disproportionate cost. However, PJHQ have identified a formal requirement for 30 official interpreters. These are both civilian contractors and military personnel. I should stress this does not include locally employed personnel, many of whom provide interpretation and translation services and those individuals who might speak Arabic but are not official interpreters.

In terms of troops receiving Arabic instruction, there are three courses specialising in Iraqi language training open to troops prior to deployment to Iraq; Survival Standard (one soldier per sub-unit/four gunners per squadron), Basic Patrol Arabic (Junior Commanders and soldiers) and Operational Linguist. Details of those deployed to Iraq that have undertaken this training is not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

All personnel deploying to Iraq will receive some form of language training in the form of their unit level pre-deployment training, known as Cascade training. Once deployed, further continuation training for all ranks is conducted. In addition, every soldier is issued with a language card which is taught during pre-deployment training.

MAMBA/Cobra

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) MAMBA and (b) Cobra are deployed in (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan; what the response time is of each under incoming fire; and how the information generated by each is used. (99616)

Equipment for battlefield surveillance and target acquisition is available in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I am withholding details on the precise number of MAMBA (Mobile Artillery Monitoring Battlefield Radar) and COBRA (Counter Battery Radar) and information on how they are used tactically as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice the security of our armed forces.

Media Access

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures are in place to ensure fair and equal access by all broadcast and print media reporting from combat areas in Iraq and Afghanistan. (99080)

The MOD has dedicated staff, processes and systems designed to provide balanced access for UK and international correspondents. These processes are laid out in the MOD ‘Green Book’ (“MOD Working Arrangements with the Media for use Throughout the Full Spectrum of Military Operations”) a copy of which is available on the MOD website (www.mod.uk). The ‘Green Book’ provides details of how correspondents should apply for operational media assignments. Applications for operational assignments are assessed on a case by case basis and decisions to approve applications are based on a range of factors, such as the ability of the military to facilitate the media visit. The MOD aims at all times to ensure a fair and balanced approach by ensuring that a wide a variety of responsible media organisations are represented.

Mental Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures his Department uses to assess the success of mental health treatment for (a) service personnel and (b) veterans; and what his assessment is of the outcomes of each of the treatment centres that his Department uses. (91288)

The MOD uses the Medical Employment Standard (MES) as the main measure of outcome of its medical treatment including for mental health. The MES gives an indication of the employability of Service patients from the beginning (diagnosis) through to the end of their care pathway. The MES is derived from a medical assessment of the patient’s illness, the treatment course required and various occupational factors. The MES indicates whether the Service person can carry out full service, serve in some restricted form/role for a temporary period or, in some cases, a permanent basis or whether they should be discharged from the Service on medical grounds.

With regard to outcomes, in the majority of cases, personnel treated at the MOD's Departments of Community Mental Health are able to return to Service. Medical discharge rates for mental health conditions are low—out of 2000 personnel medically discharged annually from the UK armed forces, only about 150 will have a mental health problem. Of these, 20-25 will meet the criteria to be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

With regard to veterans, upon leaving the armed forces or on demobilisation for reservists it is the long established practice that responsibility for medical care passes to the NHS. This has been the case since 1948 under successive Governments. Responsibility for assessment of mental healthcare for veterans provided by the NHS rests with the UK Health Departments.

For veterans who are also war pensioners, under the War Pensions Scheme the MOD has a discretionary power to meet the cost of any necessary expenses in respect of the medical, surgical or rehabilitative treatment of ex-members of the armed forces that arise wholly or mainly arise as a result of the disablement due to service, before 6 April 2005. It cannot be used to fund treatment provided under other UK legislation. Where appropriate “remedial treatment” at homes run by the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society (Combat Stress) is funded by this route for pensioned psychological conditions.

Over the last few years research evidence of effective best practice treatment and interventions for mental health disorders has been published and officials of MOD, the UK Health Departments and Combat Stress are currently working to develop and implement a new community mental health service for veterans. This will involve public, private and charitable providers working together to deliver evidence based interventions and will be subject to appropriate clinical governance.

In addition, the department recently announced that reservists demobilised since January 2003 will be entitled to a mental health assessment by Defence Medical Services personnel, and out-patient treatment if appropriate. A further announcement will be made later this year to confirm the details of the service that will be provided including the location(s) at which the assessments will be provided, and the date on which the service will commence.

Military Exercises

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military exercises were cancelled in (a) 2004 and (b) 2005; how many have been cancelled in 2006; and what the reasons were for cancelling each exercise. (98557)

During financial year 2004-05, a total of 379 training events were scheduled on the Defence Exercise Programme (DXP) of which 79 (20 per cent.) were cancelled. While specific reasons for cancellation are not available in many cases, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost, the Programme was affected by competing operational priorities. Since that time, improved data capture has enabled a more detailed review of the DXP.

During FY 2005-06, a total of 533 training events were scheduled on the DXP of which 58 (10.8 per cent.) were cancelled. In detail, 30 exercises were cancelled due to operational commitments, 13 were removed as savings measures and 10 were cancelled by other nations. The remaining five events were cancelled in response to changing priorities or rescheduling.

During the period 1 April 2006 to 31 October 2006, a total of 438 training events were scheduled on the DXP of which 30 (6.8 per cent.) were cancelled. In detail, 13 exercises were cancelled due to operational commitments, two were removed as savings measures and 11 were cancelled by other nations. The remaining four events were cancelled in response to changing priorities or rescheduling.

Further details of the military exercise cancelled since 1 April 2005 are set out as follows.

Exercise name

Location

Type

Reason for cancellation

Exercises Cancelled in FY 2005-06

Catt 05

Salisbury Plain Trg area, UK

Land

Operational priorities

Bass Rock

Canada

Land

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Pathfinder

Czech Republic

Land

Cancelled by mutual consent: operational commitments

Lone Kestrel 05

Poland

Air

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Gruflex 05

Spain

Air

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Fwit 05

Norway

Air

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Air Warrior 05-10 PX

USA

Air

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Smart Search 05

USA

Air

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Lucky Sentinel 05

Canada

Air

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Lone Osprey 05

Ukraine

Air

Cancelled due insufficient time to resolve Ukrainian requirements.

JTP 05-5

UK General

Air

Operational commitments

Cross Check 05

Canada

Air

Operational commitments

Baltops 05

Baltic

Air

Operational commitments

Trident Door 05

Mediterranean

Air

Operational commitments

Wycombe Warrior 05-07 (Day 1)

High Wycombe, UK

Air

Operational commitments

Wycombe Warrior 05-07 (Day 2)

High Wycombe, UK

Air

Operational commitments

Cygnet Gold

France

Land

Cancelled due to MOU issues

Nomad 05

Waddington, UK

Air

Cancelled due to withdrawal of 3 nations

Snow Leopard 06

Norway

Air

Operational priorities

Air Cadre 06-1

Cyprus

Joint

Revised priorities

Flycatcher 05-2

UK General

Joint

Revised priorities

Red Corvette 06

UK General

Joint

Revised priorities

Fidae 06

Chile

Air

Operational commitments; not cost effective

1 Div CT5 Ex

Poland

Land

Operational commitments

3 Div CT5 Ex

Salisbury Plain Trg Area, UK

Land

Operational commitments

Czech Pineapple

Czech Republic

Land

Operational commitments

Eagles Resolve

Salisbury Plain Trg Area, UK

Operational commitments

Fingals Cave

Canada

Operational commitments

Iron Anvil 05

Canada

Operational commitments

Joint Falcon 06

South Cerney, UK

Air

Operational commitments

Kimmons Post

Cyprus

Land

Operational commitments

Kleiber

France

Land

Operational commitments

Medoc

UK General

Land

Operational commitments

Quicksand 05

Africa

Joint

Operational commitments

Snow Chute 06

Norway

Air

Operational commitments

Swordfish 05

Mediterranean

Air

Operational commitments

Templar Forge 05-1

Cyprus

Air

Operational commitments

Templar Forge 05-2

Cyprus

Air

Operational commitments

Templar Forge 05-3

Cyprus

Air

Operational commitments

Aswex 05

Kinloss, UK

Air

Operational commitments

Eagles Resolve-Air

UK General

Air

Operational commitments

Lemon Peel 05-2

UK General

Joint

Operational commitments

Target Flame 05-3

Cyprus

Air

Operational priorities (Opeval)

Initial Link 05

Bahrain

Air

Re-scheduled

Eagles Flight 06

UK General

Air

Rescheduled as Eagles Eye 06

Danex

Denmark/North Sea

Maritime

Savings measure

Druids Dance

Salisbury Plain Trg Area, UK

Land

Savings measure

Flotex Silver

Norway Maritim

Maritime

Savings measure

Lone Cheetah 05

France

Air

Savings measure

Lone Civet 05

Europe General

Air

Savings measure

Lone Eagle 05

Spain

Air

Savings measure

Lone Egret 05

Slovakia

Air

Savings measure

Lone Feat 05

Europe General

Air

Savings measure

Lone Flap 05

Norway

Air

Savings measure

Lone Kite 05

Europe General

Air

Savings measure

Lone Knot 05

Europe General

Air

Savings measure

Medicine Man

Batus Canada

Land

Savings measure

Snow Goose 05-2

Norway

Air

Savings measure

Exercises cancelled during period 1 April-31 October2006

Czech Pineapple 06

Czech Rep

Land

Operational Commitments

Gaulish 2/06

Not Specified

Land

Operational Commitments

Paper Chase 06/07

Germany

Land

Operational Commitments

Path Finder 06/07

Czech Rep

Land

Operational Commitments

Alberts Rapport 06-1

North America

Air

Operational Commitments

Gaulish 1—06/07

France/UK

Land

Operational Commitments

JTP 2—06/07

UK

Land

Operational Commitments

Dragons Nest 06

Europe

Air

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Javelin 06/07

Nepal

Land

Revised Priorities

Airlift Rodeo 06

North America

Air

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Heavy Ferry 06/07

Germany

Land

Revised Priorities

Fingals Cave 06/07

Canada

Land

Cancelled by Host Nation

Express Three 06/07 (Russian Express 06)

Russia

Land

Cancelled due to coord issues with Host Nation

Gaulish 5—06/07

France/UK

Land

Operational Commitments

Lone Knot 06

Europe

Air

Postponed by Lead Nation

Tunuk Warrior 06/07

Turkey

Land

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Wet Gap 06/07

Germany

Land

Revised Priorities

Grand Prix 1—06/07

Kenya

Land

Savings measure

Cossack Steppe 06/07

Ukraine

Land

Cancelled due insufficient time to resolve Ukrainian requirements

Night Hawk 2/06

Denmark

Joint

Operational commitments

Wycombe Warrior 09-06 (Day 1 and 2)

United Kingdom

Air

Cancelled by NATO

Blue Cypriot

Cyprus

Land

Operational Commitments

Aphrodite 06/07

Cyprus

Land

Revised Priorities

Assegai Eyes 06

United Kingdom

Joint

Operational Commitments

Rainbow Serpent 06/07

Australia

Land

Ex reduced in scope due to Australian operational commitments

Eagles Eye 06/07

UK

Land

Operational commitments

Cockfight 2/06

UK

Joint

Operational commitments

Rock Challenge

USA

Joint

Savings measure

Triplex Flame 06.1

Europe

Air

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Lone Flap 06

Europe

Air

Cancelled by Lead Nation

Military Research

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many tests have been carried out on primates in military research in each of the last five years; and what the scientific basis is of the tests. (94698)

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down undertakes research involving non-human primates as part of the overall research programme to provide the UK and its armed forces with safe and effective countermeasures in the event of chemical or biological agents being used against them.

Dstl Porton Down submits annual returns to the Home Office detailing the number of procedures undertaken which involve the use of animals as defined in the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986. In the years 2001 to 2005 the annual returns to the Home Office for non-human primates are detailed in the following table.

Number of procedures on non-human primates

2001

68

2002

42

2003

23

2004

30

2005

54

The use of animals is only a very small aspect of the overall military research programme. The role of Dstl protecting the UK and its armed forces requires it to answer questions and develop solutions to problems that cannot currently be addressed without the use of animals in research. The use of animals is only undertaken if there is no suitable non-animal system which can be used.

Dstl continually seeks alternatives to working with animals and specifically addresses ways in which animal use can be reduced and refined.

Dstl pays particular attention to the relative strengths and weaknesses of different animal models. Species selection is a critical feature in optimising the confidence with which animal-derived data can be extrapolated to man. Non-human primates are reserved for pivotal bridging studies designed to answer questions primarily concerned with nervous system function, behaviour and aspects of immunology.

Over the last five years non-human primates (marmosets or rhesus monkeys) have been involved in research:

(i) to refine nerve agent pre-treatments and therapies,

(ii) to assess vaccines and therapies against anthrax,

(iii) to develop an effective animal model for hookworm infection with a view to utilisation in vaccine studies,

(iv) to evaluate the hazard to man of new, emerging threat agents,

(v) to investigate the possible interactions of multiple vaccinations.

Wherever possible, the results of this research has, or will be, published in the open technical literature.

Military Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the suitability of the Snatch Land Rover for operations in Iraq; what steps he is taking to safeguard British troops in Iraq; and what off-the-shelf purchases to replace or supplement Snatch Land Rovers have been made since the start of the military action in Iraq. (95519)

Commanders need a range of vehicles to be used as they see fit to meet the mission and counter the threat. The Snatch Land Rover will remain an appropriate vehicle for some tasks, but the need to provide enhanced protection against the threats currently faced in Iraq and Afghanistan was a key factor in the decision to procure rapidly a suite of new Protected Patrol Vehicles.

We announced on 24 July 2006, Official Report, column 74WS, the procurement of almost 400 vehicles with improved protection for deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, including Mastiff (the UK variant of the Cougar), Vector and Bulldog (up-armoured FV430). These will provide commanders with a range of vehicles of varying protection, mobility and profile, to be used according to operational circumstances.

Ministerial Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions he has visited (a) Scotland, (b) Wales and (c) Northern Ireland in the last 12 months. (94961)

Defence Ministers have made the following number of official visits to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over the last 12 months.

Scotland

Wales

Northern Ireland

Secretary of State

4

1

0

Minister of the Armed Forces

12

1

3

Minister for Defence Procurement

2

0

0

Under Secretary of State

1

3

0

Missiles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department allocated towards missile defence research and development in (a) 2004, (b) 2005 and (c) 2006; and what the allocation is for 2007. (98552)

The expenditure on such research, spent through the UK Missile Defence Centre, was £6.411 million in financial year 2004-05, and £2.733 million in financial year 2005-06. The current financial year budget is £5.345 million, and the planned budget for 2007-08 is £5 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK personnel from his Department were seconded to the US Missile Defense Agency in (a) 2005 and (b) 2006; what the expected number is in 2007; and how many US personnel were seconded to the UK Missile Defence Centre in each year. (98553)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 25 July 2006, Official Report, column 1545W, to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth). There are no current plans to change these numbers in 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the focus is of work undertaken by the Missile Defence Centre. (98554)

The Missile Defence Centre continues to focus on providing scientific and technical advice to the Ministry of Defence on strategic missile defence matters, and supports UK industrial opportunities in this area. It also supports US work on high technology programmes related to their own missile defence programme, including assessments of the consequences of missile intercepts, and the demonstration and testing of hardware.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on the Harpoon missile. (94943)

Nuclear Weapons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether classified material relevant to the United Kingdom nuclear deterrent was compromised in the recent reported leak of documents from Los Alamos nuclear weapons laboratory. (99078)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect on the continuation of (a) Devonport and (b) Faslane naval base of a decision not to proceed with a new generation of the nuclear deterrent. (99079)

Officials are working to prepare for decisions on the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent. This work is considering the implications for support infrastructure. It remains our intention that these decisions will be taken later this year, following which we will publish a White Paper.

Operation Enduring Freedom

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his estimate is of the number of British troops that will continue to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom operations from 1st August 2006. (84897)

The UK's detachment of Harrier GR7 aircraft continue to support both the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and coalition operations.

UK trainers supporting Afghan National Army development in Kabul will also remain under coalition command, and the UK will continue to provide a number of embedded staff officers in the coalition headquarters. Overall, this amounts to around 180 personnel.

Parachute Regiment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment on 1 April 2006 were unfit for duty on 1 October 2006. (95282)

On 1 October 2006, nine members of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment were unfit for any form of duty.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will answer question 71799 tabled on 16 May 2006; and if he will make a statement on his Department’s policy on answering parliamentary Questions. (96764)

I replied to the hon. Member earlier today. The Ministry of Defence strives to provide an answer to all parliamentary questions within the required time frame.

Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received on extending the widow's and widower's pension under the armed forces pension scheme to post-retirement marriages; and if he will make a statement. (84882)

Ex-service and widows' groups continue to campaign to make retrospective certain pension improvements that have been made since they left the armed forces. One such improvement is in respect of the change in 1978 to the requirement for a widow/widower to have been married to the ex-serviceman or woman during their service in order to receive certain benefits.

Successive Governments have considered retrospective changes to public sector pension schemes to be unaffordable. For this reason, the Government opposed the amendments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the annual revenue yield from the introduction of an employee pension contribution of 6 per cent. of pay for all members of the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. (93540)

The armed forces pension schemes are final salary based, non-contributory, contracted-out occupational pension schemes open to most members of the armed forces. The MOD does, however, make a substantial contribution into the schemes each year for current members, currently the overall contribution equates to 24.8 per cent. of the armed forces pay bill.

The non-contributory nature of the schemes was last reviewed as part of the major overhaul of the schemes which were introduced through the Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Act 2004. The Government decided against an employee's contribution at that time because of the complexity of introducing a contributory scheme alongside a non contributory scheme, the administrative complexity and the cost of the change, the impact on personnel of issuing different rates of pay for the same job and the effect on morale, recruitment and retention (HC1155 dated 25 July 2002). The changes made as a result of the review addressed the matter of long term affordability, such as increases in longevity, by rebalancing the provision to take account of modern pension practices and legislative change, and by changing the preserved pension ages.

The Armed Forces Pay Review Body, in their recommendations on the total remuneration package for the armed forces, makes an adjustment to comparator earnings figures to take account of the higher relative value of the armed forces pension scheme benefits against that of pension schemes of comparator private sector organisations. The non-contributory nature of the scheme is one of the factors taken in to account. The level of the adjustment made is currently 7 per cent.

The MOD has not previously made an estimate of the annual revenue yield from introducing an employee contribution of 6 per cent. Taking the armed forces pay bill for 2005-06 as a basis for the calculation, a 6 per cent. employee contribution would equate to £342 million.

Projects Haven and Scribe

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what procedures he has put in place under Project Haven and Project Scribe to invite applications from ex-service personnel who believe they may be entitled to compensation under the initiatives; (93308)

(2) what steps he has taken to increase awareness among ex-service personnel of their possible entitlement to compensation under the Project Haven and Project Scribe initiatives;

(3) what criteria were set by his Department for the assessment of eligibility for compensation under the Project Haven and Project Scribe initiative;

(4) how many ex-service personnel have been paid compensation under Project Haven and Project Scribe; and what the cost of such compensation was;

(5) what procedures he plans to put in place to ensure that ex-service personnel whose claim for compensation under Project Haven or Project Scribe is refused can have their case independently assessed;

(6) how many assessments of entitlement under the Project Haven and Project Scribe initiatives resulted in no compensation being paid;

(7) what procedures he has put in place to ensure that the assessment of entitlement to compensation under Project Haven and Project Scribe is subject to independent scrutiny.

The Ministry of Defence fully publicised Project Haven in the national media and in ex-service organisations publications, along with information on our websites. All material advised how an individual could make a claim to correct their tax status. In Project Scribe there was no national media campaign; however, information about the error regarding Armed Forces Pension Scheme invaliding pensions, was sent to all individuals who were in receipt of a War Pensions Scheme disablement pension, widows or widowers pension, in the form of a “War Pensions Newsletter”. This group of pensioners were at risk and therefore they were advised how to make a claim. In addition, information was posted on our websites, and towards the end of the review ex-service organisations kindly published details about the error and how to make a claim in their publications.

In both projects individuals were not invited to make a claim for compensation but to contact the Department to correct the tax status or level of their pension and claim any back payments of pension or tax. Once an individual had been identified as receiving incorrect payments etc. interest was paid in accordance with Government Accounting and HM Revenue and Customs rules and additional recompense as agreed by the Department.

This publicity was considered the most appropriate at the time the errors were established and during the review period. There are no plans to increase the level of awareness for Projects Haven and Scribe as we are confident that we have identified all those affected and have made the necessary corrections plus interest and compensation payments where appropriate.

The criteria for the payment of compensation in Project Haven and Scribe was set out in written ministerial statements on 15 December 2003, Official Report, column 130WS, and 15 June 2004, Official Report, column 26WS, respectively.

In his written ministerial statement of 11 July 2006, Official Report, columns 60-61WS, my predecessor reported that some 5,500 pension awards under both projects had been corrected at a cost of £32.4 million plus some £18.2 million paid in compensation. Approximately 1,600 individuals whose pension or tax status was corrected did not receive compensation. There are a number of reasons why an individual may not have received compensation, for example, an individual's pension was recorded as “taxable”, however, as the value of the pension was below the tax threshold, they had not paid tax.

The Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency (AFPAA) was responsible for assessing the entitlement to compensation in each case according to the methodology set by the Department. There are no independent procedures in place to ensure that the individual's assessment is correct; however, AFPAA’s own internal project team undertook an audit on a proportion of the cases. The compensation methodology was available to all individuals and if an individual considers that this has not been followed AFPAA will investigate and provide a detailed breakdown of the compensation. Likewise where an individual has not received compensation and they consider that they should have, the appeal will be considered initially under the Department's statutory Internal Dispute Resolution procedures. Following this appeal route an individual may seek the services of the Occupational Pensions Advisory Service and the pensions ombudsman, both of whom are independent.

Proliferation Security Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in how many operations the Royal Navy took part in 2005 as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative; and in how many such operations it has taken part in 2006. (98558)

The Royal Navy has not taken part in any operations as part of the Proliferation Security Initiative in 2005 or 2006.

QinetiQ

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department has taken to ensure that former directors of QinetiQ now working for the Investment Approvals Board have no conflict of interest relating to projects for which QinetiQ is bidding. (93372)

None of the current members of the Ministry of Defence's Investment Approvals Board (IAB) are, or ever have been, directors of QinetiQ.

Service Personnel

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the full complement is of (a) doctors, (b) nurses and (c) dentists in the (i) Army, (ii) Royal Air Force and (iii) Royal Navy; how many are employed in each category; and if he will make a statement. (89623)

The two key outputs of the Defence Medical Services (DMS) are medical support to deployed operations, and the provision of health care to the armed forces to ensure that the maximum possible numbers of armed forces personnel are fit for purpose. The DMS will continue to deliver both outputs, working where appropriate with coalition partners, the NHS, private health care providers and the charity sector. The DMS have met all operational requirements placed on them. Medical support to deployed operations is absolutely vital and there is no question of British forces deploying on military operations without the appropriate medical support.

The current official, formally endorsed DMS manning requirement figures were drawn up as a consequence of the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) in 1998. Since then, however, overall defence planning assumptions have changed and DMS manning requirement figures have evolved. In order to support the defence planning assumptions contained within Defence Strategic Guidance 03, the Defence Medical Capability (DMC) Phase 2 Study was carried out. The DMC study produced interim revised DMS manning requirement figures which more accurately reflect defence planning assumptions and have thus overtaken the SDR figures. Indeed, the Ministry of Defence has previously released elements of the interim revised manning requirements, in anticipation of a new definitive set of figures (as in a previous answer to the hon. Member for the Forest of Dean on 9 February 2006, Official Report, column 1402W).

However, the DMC figures are themselves only interim. The overall DMS manning requirement is currently under review against the strategic requirement, and the figures will change. I anticipate that new endorsed DMS manning requirement figures will be available later this year.

The following table show the manning levels as at July 2006 in the specialties of general medical practitioners, nurses and dental officers (requirement figures shown are the SDR figures and the DMC figures, but as explained, these are being revised):

SDR Requirement

DMC Requirement

Trained Strength

General Medical Practitioners

RN

71

54

53

ARMY

250

120

130

RAF

130

94

73

Nurses

RN

320

220

290

ARMY

1,080

1,000

590

RAF

490

450

420

Dental Officers

RN

58

62

57

ARMY

140

120

130

RAF

63

55

67

Notes: 1. Figures above 100 have been rounded to the nearest 10. 2. Figures are the trained strength for each cadre in each service and include some specialists working out of specialty in headquarter posts. Source: DMSD

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints about incorrect pay have been received from service personnel in each of the services in each year since 2001. (92809)

Prior to Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) rollout to the RAF on 20 March 2006, pay complaints were dealt with by the individual's unit human resources staff and details of the number of complaints received were not held centrally. This will continue to be the case for the Royal Navy and the Army until rollout on 23 October 2006 and March 2007 respectively.

As at 10 October 2006, 526 complaints had been received from RAF personnel via the centralised JPA complaints process about real or apparent problems with pay or the handling of a query.

Stress

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much public funding was given to Combat Stress in 2005-06. (97095)

The MOD provided £2.3 million funding to Combat Stress in 2005-06. Funds are provided through the War Pensions Scheme’s discretionary power to meet the cost of any necessary expenses in respect of medical, surgical or rehabilitative treatment of ex-members of the armed forces that arise wholly or mainly as a result of disablement due to service before 6 April 2005 where it is not provided for under other UK legislation. This includes the individual costs of war pensioners undergoing “remedial treatment” at homes run by Combat Stress for conditions related to their individual pensioned disablement and of related expenses such as travel costs. In addition, Combat Stress receives separate funding from the Scottish Health Board for war pensioners treatment at Hollybush House.

Trident

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the originally planned lifespan of the Vanguard-class Trident submarines is (a) 25 and (b) 30 years. (98170)

[holding answer 1 November 2006]: The Vanguard-class submarines were procured with a designed operational life of 25 years.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when a decision will have to be made on whether or not to participate in the Trident D5 missile life extension programme; and what the estimated cost is of participating in the programme. (98560)

[holding answer 31 October 2006]: It remains our intention that decisions on the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent will be taken later this year, following which we will publish a White Paper. In this context, previously we have indicated in our response (published on 26 July 2006) to the First HCDC report on the Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent, that one of the early decisions required relates to possible UK participation in the life extension programme for the Trident D5 missile. The estimated costs of the options available for maintaining our nuclear deterrent will be set out in the White Paper.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what method will be used for the decommissioning of Trident; and over what time scale he expects the decommissioning to take place. (98726)

[holding answer 1 November 2006]: Decommissioning of the current Trident system is still some way off. It is therefore too early to discuss the precise methods that will be used to decommission Trident and over what time scales this will take place. Officials are however investigating these as part of the work to prepare for decisions, which will be taken later this year, on the future of the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent.

UN Security Resolution 1325

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make an assessment of the feasibility of including a mandatory module on UN Security Council resolution 1325 in armed forces operational training and guidance; (98583)

(2) what steps have been taken by his Department to increase awareness of UN Security Council resolution 1325 throughout the armed forces;

(3) what measures are in place to promote among members of the armed forces recognition of the disproportionate impact of conflict on women and girls.

The provisions of UNSCR 1325 are reflected in the training of UK service personnel in the Law of Armed Conflict and in the pre-deployment preparations. In addition, pre-deployment planning covers social and cultural issues, including specific gender issues that should be taken into account. The MOD has also commissioned an audit of the existing training provision, against both the resolution itself and the training outcomes identified in the UN’s own training package on the resolution. The results of the audit should allow us to show more clearly how training is compliant, while also helping us identify any further training needs.

Veterans

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what health services are being provided to veterans of the Falkland Islands war. (98030)

Health care for veterans of the Falkland Islands conflict who are still serving is provided by the Defence Medical Services. Once they leave the armed forces, responsibility passes to the NHS, as it does for all former UK-based service personnel. If a veteran is also a war pensioner then he or she will be entitled to priority NHS treatment for the accepted condition(s); priority is decided by the clinician in charge and is subject to clinical need. The Government also funds care provided by the Ex-Services Mental Welfare Society (Combat Stress) for those with an appropriate condition accepted as being caused or made worse by service.

Treasury

Climate Change

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his timetable is for discussing the Stern review on the economics of climate change with (a) UK (i) business and (ii) environmental stakeholders and (b) the European Union and other international decision makers. (100144)

The Chancellor will incorporate discussions of the review of the economics of climate change into his regular discussions with UK business, environmental stakeholders, the EU and international decision makers.

Departmental Estate

[holding answer 30 October 2006]: The net internal area of 1 Horse Guards Road is 31,200 sq m. The building is occupied by staff of the Cabinet Office and the Office of Government Commerce as well as by the Treasury, and also provides support facilities shared with HMRC staff in 100 Parliament Street.

Departmental Expenditure

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to the answer of 18 October 2006, Official Report, column 1256W, on gym facilities (HM Treasury), whether his Department subsidises the gymnasium. (97880)

The Treasury provides accommodation for the gym in 1 Horse Guards Road. Running costs and equipment costs are met from membership subscriptions.

Departmental IT

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which IT contracts awarded by his Department in 2001-02 were subsequently abandoned; and what the value was of each such contract. (99386)

I refer the hon. Member to the answerI gave to the hon. Member for Angus (Mr. Weir) on9 October 2006, Official Report, column 285W.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much his Department spent on IT consultants in each year since 2001; and how many of those consultants worked on web-facing projects. (97555)

The information requested is not readily available as the Department’s financial systems do not separately record all amounts spent on consultancy for IT projects, or the element of consultancy that is given to web-facing projects.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if his Department will (a) carry out an age audit of its staff to establish an age profile of its work force, (b) negotiate an age management policy with trade unions and employees to eliminate age discrimination and retain older workers, (c) identify and support training needs and offer older staff flexible working to downshift towards retirement and (d) extend to over-fifties the right to request to work flexibly and the right to training with paid time off; and if he will make a statement. (96504)

The Treasury carries out regular age audits of its staff and has established an age profile of its work force. All human resources policies are under review, in consultation with the trade unions, to ensure that they comply with the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many members of staff left his Department due to bullying, discrimination or harassment in the last 12 months. (97970)

There is no record of any member of staff of the Treasury having left the Department in the last 12 months as a result of bullying, discrimination or harassment.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent estimate he has made of staff turnover in his Department; and what proportion of employees in his Department left in the last 12 months. (97971)

The latest available data on leavers and joiners is for 2004-05 and is published at the Cabinet Office statistics website http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/management/statistics/reports/2005/tables_and_charts/index.asp

More up-to-date information on total headcount and joiners is available in the HM Treasury Departmental Report 2006 at http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/about/departmental_reports/dept_report2006.cfm

Departmental Websites

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was spent by his Department on maintaining its websites in 2005-06; and how many visits each website received during this period. (97977)

HM Treasury spent £135,592 maintaining its websites in the financial year 2005-06.

Visits for each website during this period were as follows:

Site address

Visits

www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

1,303,359

www.thegfp.treasury.gov.uk1

14,266

www.euro.gov.uk

3550,000

www.financialreporting.gov.uk

4—

www.financialinclusion-taskforce.org.uk2

6,901

www.ges.gov.uk

114,664

www.csren.gov.uk

19,209

www.isb.gov.uk

4

www.redbox.gov.uk

66,457

www.stakeholdersaving.gov.uk

22,873

1 Statistics from the date site was launched—October 2005. 2 Statistics from the date site was launched—19 May 2005. 3 Approximate figure. 4 No statistics recorded.

Fraud

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the measures to protect savers with (a) building societies, (b) banks and (c) credit unions from fraud. (99039)

[holding answer 2 November 2006]: The Treasury is responsible for the overall institutional structure of financial regulation and the legislation which governs it.

The Financial Services Authority's powers and responsibilities are set out in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. These include the authorisation and prudential supervision of banks, building societies and credit unions.

The FSA's rules require firms to take reasonable care to establish and maintain effective systems and controls for compliance with applicable requirements and standards under the regulatory system and for countering the risk that the firm might be used to further financial crime. The definition of financial crime includes fraud.

The Chief Secretary, along with the Attorney-General, commissioned a review of the UK response to fraud which reported in the summer and has just been subject to consultation. The Attorney-General's office is assessing the responses to this consultation and we will work closely with them to identify any appropriate action.

Fuel (Duty/Prices)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the level of fuel duty is on (a) petrol and (b) diesel in the UK; and what assessment he has made of such duties in the other EU member states. (99804)

The duty rate for both ultra-low sulphur petrol and ultra-low sulphur diesel is 47.10 pence per litre.

When taking decisions on fuel duty rates, the Chancellor of the Exchequer takes account of all relevant social economic, environmental and social considerations, including the rates of duty in other member states.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent discussions he has had with oil producers on fuel prices. (98590)

[holding answer 2 November 2006]: Treasury Ministers and officials have regular meetings with oil producers and their representatives. Such meetings will cover a range of issues relating to the oil industry including fuel prices.

Pensions

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people have been affected by collapsed company pension schemes in (a) the UK, (b) North Tyneside, (c) South Tyneside and (d) Jarrow constituency in the last five years. (97735)

I have been asked to reply.

It is not possible to provide a breakdown of the information requested by region.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether an increase in public sector employee pension contribution rates counts as a reduction in Government spending in the national accounts; and if he will make a statement; (93541)

(2) how his Department treats (a) increases and (b) decreases in employee contributions to public sector pension schemes for accounting purposes; and what effects would such changes have on Government (i) spending and (ii) receipts; and if he will make a statement.

Total Managed Expenditure (TME), the Government’s preferred measure of expenditure drawn from the National Accounts, nets employee pension contributions off gross expenditure on pensions paid. This means that an increase in employee contribution rates without any commensurate increase in salaries or pension benefits would reduce TME. Government receipts, which finance TME, are unaffected by pension contributions, as these net off within TME.

Contributions that employees make to funded public service pension schemes, such as the Local Government Pension Scheme and funded pension schemes in the wider public sector, are treated as income to the individual funds and are not netted off in TME as described above.

Population Statistics

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many births were registered in each local authority in the north east region in each of the last 10 years. (99857)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 6 November 2006:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your question about how many births were registered in each local authority in the North East Region in each of the last 10 years. I am replying in her absence. (99857).

The latest year for which figures are available is 2005. The numbers of births to women resident in each of the local authorities requested in the years 1996 to 2005 are shown in the attached table.

Table 1: Live births by area of usual residence, local and unitary authorities1 in the north east government office region. 1996 to 2005

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Darlington UA

1,189

1,177

1,163

1,188

1,053

1,078

1,139

1,179

1,254

1,218

Hartlepool UA

1,130

1,107

1,096

1,081

1,063

1,031

1,010

1,065

1,073

1,116

Middlesbrough UA

1,937

1,919

1,802

1,827

1,781

1,666

1,695

1,786

1,849

1,916

Redcar and Cleveland UA

1,705

1,602

1,559

1,490

1,365

1,432

1,357

1,446

1,509

1,577

Stockton-on-Tees UA

2,226

2,107

2,097

2,066

1,963

1,942

2,016

2,115

2,117

2,241

Chester-le-Street

640

687

659

600

595

523

551

540

536

537

Derwentside

1,014

969

955

899

911

872

840

877

899

922

Durham

835

831

829

857

780

715

801

790

806

788

Easington

1,202

1,179

1,165

1,058

928

933

987

921

1,103

1,069

Sedgefield

1,040

985

1,040

964

913

918

889

974

1,045

958

Teesdale

227

247

230

223

216

183

185

188

229

193

Wear Valley

743

702

683

661

644

624

647

639

726

722

Alnwick

323

321

336

309

265

290

270

275

281

296

Berwick-upon-Tweed

231

194

196

217

165

180

175

200

176

194

Blyth Valley

955

928

921

921

866

883

807

868

865

975

Castle Morpeth

459

463

429

407

372

378

382

379

396

368

Tynedale

540

533

565

537

506

522

512

531

562

516

Wansbeck

768

719

752

686

624

628

616

681

672

675

Gateshead

2,300

2,327

2,162

2,109

2,070

1,995

2,012

2,020

2,128

2,118

Newcastle upon Tyne

3,249

3,188

3,034

2,879

2,887

2,875

2,941

2,895

2,918

2,979

North Tyneside

2,179

2,145

2,171

2,006

2,052

1,949

2,042

2,101

2,160

2,274

South Tyneside

1,761

1,763

1,653

1,643

1,521

1,479

1,467

1,523

1,540

1,529

Sunderland

3,448

3,311

3,223

3,111

2,959

2,853

2,930

3,012

2,971

3,068

Total north east

30,101

29,404

28,720

27,739

26,499

25,949

26,271

27,005

27,815

28,249

1 Figures relate to local and unitary authority area boundaries at 1 April in the year in which the birth was registered. Source: ONS Key Population and Vital Statistics, Local and Health Authority Areas, Series VS nos. 23-31 and Population Trends no. 124.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the mortality rates were for socio-economic categories (a) I, (b) II (c) III, (d) IV, and (e) V in each year since 1997. (100061)

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 6 November 2006:

The National Statistician has been asked to reply to your recent question asking what the mortality rates were for social classes (a) I, (b) II, (c) III, (d) IV and (e) V in each year since 1997. I am replying in her absence. (100061)

Mortality rates by social class are calculated as three year averages. It is sometimes necessary to combine social classes, and to restrict the analysis to certain age groups, to produce reliable estimates. The table below provides, for men and women aged 35-64, the mortality rates in social classes (a) I and II combined, (b) III non-manual, (c) III manual, and (d) IV and V combined, in 1997-99 (the latest period available).

Table 1. Age-standardised mortality rates1 by social class, men and women aged 35 to 64, England and Wales, 1997-992,3

Deaths per 100,000

Male

Female

Social class

Mortality rate

95 per cent. confidence interval4

Mortality rate

95 per cent. confidence interval

I and II Professional and intermediate

347

(302-399)

237

(201-281)

IIIN Skilled manual

417

(352-494)

253

(211-304)

IIIM Skilled non-manual

512

(472-556)

327

(290-369)

IV and V Partly skilled and unskilled

606

(546-672)

335

(289-388)

1 Age-standardised rates are used to allow comparison between populations which may contain different proportions of people of different ages. 2 These figures are based on the ONS Longitudinal Study, a representative 1 per cent. sample of the population of England and Wales. 3 Three year averages, based on deaths of members of the ONS Longitudinal Study in the years 1997-99 and the study population at risk of death during that period. 4 Confidence intervals are a measure of the statistical precision of an estimate and show the range of uncertainty around the estimated figure. Calculations based on small numbers of events are often subject to random fluctuations. As a general rule, if the confidence interval around one figure overlaps with the interval around another, we cannot say with certainty that there is more than a chance difference between the two figures.

Public Spectrum Sale

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to publish plans for the sale and release of public spectrum. (97960)

The Government will publish a strategic Forward Look, assessing the public sector’s current spectrum use and forecasting future needs, in March 2007.

Research Contracts

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the total value is of public sector research contracts granted to small technology intensive companies since 16 March 2005; and how many small technology intensive companies have won such contracts. (99354)

I have been asked to reply.

The Government do not collate figures regarding the total value of public sector research contracts granted to small technology intensive companies. The cost and effort involved would be disproportionate given the number and variety of authorities and organizations involved.

However, there are figures for a subset of public sector spend, namely Government expenditure on extramural R and D under the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), which is designed to stimulate and increase the demand for research and development from high tech small firms. The participating Departments purchase at least 2.5 per cent. of their extramural R and D from SMEs. The value of contracts made with SMEs was £269.1 million, representing 10.6 per cent. of the baseline budget. SBRI figures for 2005-06 will be published shortly.

Sale of Assets

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which local authorities have retained income from the sale of assets as set out in Budget 2006, Table C16. (99352)

In 2004-05, local authorities in the United Kingdom secured fixed asset sales of £5.2 billion as set out in Table C16, Budget 2006. Apart from certain housing land and dwellings receipts in England that are required to be pooled, local authorities are free to use the proceeds of asset sales to fund new capital expenditure, reduce indebtedness or to increase investments. The level of receipts retained by each individual authority on 2004-05 is set out in the tables that are available from DCLG, the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly and the Department for Finance and Personnel Northern Ireland and have been deposited in the Library of the House.

Terrorist Finance

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 16 February 2006, Official Report, column 2421W, on terrorist activities (financing), on which date the structure, focus and membership of the review to safeguard the charitable sector from terrorist finance was established; which other Government Departments were consulted; what the membership of the review team is; what the terms of reference of the review are; which organisations, excluding Government Departments (a) have been consulted and (b) have provided evidence to the review; when the review will be completed; when the report will be made available to Parliament; what consultation will be carried out on the report's recommendations; and whether the recommendations will be made public before the Financial Action Task Force evaluates UK money laundering and terrorist finance measures. (94273)

I have been asked to reply.

On 13 February, the Chancellor announced that the Government would

“review how best to strengthen the safeguards to protect the charitable sector from terrorist abuse and protect donor confidence in so doing”.

The terms of reference were agreed in July 2006. The review will report to the Home Secretary and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in November.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her most recent assessment is of the capacity of the Afghan armed forces to fulfil a role in the security and stabilisation of Afghanistan. (96354)

I have been asked to reply.

Developing effective Afghan National Security Forces is crucial to lasting stability in Afghanistan. So far, good progress has been made, with the Afghan Minister for Defence recently stating that there are now 34,000 officers, NCOs and soldiers in the Afghan National Army (ANA). The ANA is ethnically balanced and well trained, factors that contribute to the high regard it is held in by the population. Those troops deployed in Helmand have fought bravely and effectively alongside our own, enduring considerable sacrifice in pursuit of their own country’s security. ANA leadership and capabilities are developing well but it will take time and continued support before they are ready to take on this task independently.

Algeria

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effect of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation in Algeria, with particular reference to its application to human rights violations by the security forces. (99233)

The Algerian people voted for the ‘Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation’ in a referendum in 2005. The Charter, which came into force in February 2006, granted an amnesty to those convicted of terrorist offences or who were prepared to surrender themselves to the security services. The amnesty also extended to government security forces. More than 2,000 terrorist prisoners have since been released under the Charter. In addition the Charter provides for the families of victims of terrorism to register the disappearance or death of their relative and obtain compensation.

The EU issued a statement when the Charter was adopted welcoming the participation of the Algerian people in the referendum and expressing the hope that Algeria will achieve lasting peace and reconciliation, based on the rule of law, respect for human rights and ongoing consultations with its citizens.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps she is taking to address human rights violations in Algeria, with particular reference to the torture of detainees accused of terrorism. (99234)

Promotion of human rights is central to the UK’s foreign policy. We aim to encourage improved standards through a constructive bilateral relationship with Algeria. We regularly raise human rights in our bilateral discussions with the Algerian Government. I did so during the inaugural UK-Algeria Ministerial Dialogue Forum held in Algiers on 7 June, which I co-chaired with the Algerian Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr. Abdelkader Messahel.

In 2005 the Algerian Government introduced legislation making torture a criminal offence. I am pleased that Amnesty International’s memorandum of April 2006 to the Algerian President, highlights that there have been fewer allegations of torture in police custody, and progress has been made on strengthening safeguards to protect detainees.

In February 2006 the UK sponsored a visit by senior Algerian judges and Ministry of Justice officials to the British judicial and penal systems. We have also funded and facilitated the International Centre for Prison Studies at King’s College London in developing links with the Algerian prison system. In September 2006 the UK established a new post of a police attaché in our embassy in Algiers to develop links with the Algerian counter terrorism and police forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what (a) assessment the UK Government have made of and (b) representations the Government have made to the Algerian authorities on the case of Majid Touati. (99239)

The Government are aware of reports about the detention and trial of Majid Touati. We have not made an assessment of the case.

Promotion of human rights is central to the UK’s foreign policy and we aim to do so through a constructive bilateral relationship with Algeria. We regularly raise human rights in our bilateral discussions with the Algerian Government. I did so during the inaugural UK-Algeria Ministerial Dialogue Forum in Algiers on 7 June, which I co-chaired with the Algerian Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr. Abdelkader Messahel.

Bolivia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government are taking to widen and develop relations with the government of Bolivia. (99499)

Our relationship with Bolivia is developing all the time. We maintain a dialogue with the Bolivian government and we engage, both bilaterally and through the EU, on a range of bilateral and multilateral issues, including for example counter-narcotics and energy. The UK also supports projects at national and local government level.

Burma

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the freezing of assets of officials of the Burmese regime throughout the European Union. (98075)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 1 November 2006, Official Report, columns 465-66W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she has had any recent discussions with the Burmese government about Aung San Su Kyi; and if she will make a statement. (99572)

We have repeatedly called for the immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners in Burma.

I raised Aung San Suu Kyi’s continuing detention with the Burmese Ambassador on 15 June and in a letter to the Burmese Foreign Minister on 5 July.

I again raised the Governments concerns about the Burmese government’s human rights record with the Burmese Ambassador at a meeting with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Ambassadors on 18 September.

Most recently, our Permanent Representative to the UN called for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release during discussions at the UN Security Council on 29 September in the presence of the Burmese Permanent Representative to the UN.

Careers Fairs

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many career fairs were held by her Department in each of the UK regions in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. (99488)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has held one career event in London every year since 1999 with the exception of 2005 when the event was cancelled due to security concerns.

In addition, the FCO attends regional career fairs organised by both educational establishments and external companies. The events attended may be linked to a specific university or region or may target specific groups, for example students from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Number

2006

Total Career Fairs:

6

London

3

Birmingham

1

Bristol

1

Cardiff (confirmed 9 and 10 November)

1

2005

Total Career Fairs:

0

2004

Total Career Fairs:

20

London

5

Lancaster

2

Peterborough

1

Aberystwyth

1

East Anglia

1

Rugby

1

Liverpool

1

Leicester

1

Oxford

1

Middlesex

1

Manchester

1

Cambridge

1

Durham

1

Glasgow

1

Warwick

1

2003

Total Career Fairs:

37

London

12

Glasgow

2

Manchester

2

Edinburgh

2

Liverpool

2

Swansea

2

Lancashire

1

Warwick

1

Sheffield

1

Belfast

1

Lincoln

1

Durham

1

Oxford

1

Bath

1

Brighton

1

York

1

Northumbria

1

Leicester

1

Lancaster

1

Middlesex

1

Aberystwyth

1

2002

Total Career Fairs:

52

London

18

Leicester

2

Birmingham

2

Newcastle

2

Cardiff

1

Swansea

1

Belfast

1

Aberdeen

1

Aberystwyth

1

Bath

1

Bristol

1

Cambridge

1

Lancashire

1

Coventry

1

Durham

1

East Anglia

1

Norwich

1

Edinburgh

1

Exeter

1

Sheffield

1

Southampton

1

Sussex

1

Manchester

1

Warwick

1

Wolverhampton

1

York

1

Lampeter

1

Lancaster

1

Liverpool

1

Middlesex

1

Oxford

1

Glasgow

1

China