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Written Answers

Volume 481: debated on Monday 27 October 2008

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 27 October 2008

Church Commissioners

Churches: Theft

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners what assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the prevalence of theft of lead from church roofs; and what estimate has been made of the value of lead stolen in the last 12 months. (230723)

I understand that in 2007, the last full year for which figures are available, Ecclesiastical Insurance, which insures most Church of England churches, received 2,300 claims relating to the theft of metal from Anglican churches with a total value of £9 million. This compares with 80 claims totalling £300,000 in 2005. By the end of September this year, they had already received claims for more than £8 million so 2008 will clearly be the worst year yet for the theft of metals (predominantly lead) from churches.

This is a serious and widespread problem and the Church continues to work with insurers and the police to find a solution to it. I would draw parishes’ attention to guidance provided by the Archbishops Council:

www.churchcare.co.uk

and by Ecclesiastical Insurance:

www.ecclesiastical.com/theftofmetal

Wales

Departmental Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many and what proportion of civil servants in his Department are members of the (a) classic, (b) classic plus, (c) nuvos and (d) premium civil service pension schemes. (229523)

Information on pension details is provided by the Ministry of Justice payroll services. The split between classic plus and premium cannot be distinguished in all cases.

Pensions within my Department are split as follows:

Pension scheme

Percentage of staff

Number of employees in pension scheme

Classic

63

35

Classic plus and Premium

11

6

Premium

16

9

Nuvos

10

6

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many civil servants working in his Department have pensions with a cash equivalent transfer value of over £1 million. (229542)

It is not appropriate to disclose pension information for civil servants other than board members, whose details are shown in the Remuneration Report in annual Resource Accounts for the Ministry of Justice.

A copy of the Resource Accounts for financial year 2007-08 can be found in the Library, or accessed electronically using the following link:

http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/hc0708/hc08/0869/0869.asp

National Assembly for Wales: Legislative Competence

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the Government's policy is on the inclusion of clauses limiting the scope of the legislative competence of the National Assembly for Wales within draft Orders in Council; and if he will make a statement. (230105)

Draft Orders in Council presented by the Government to Parliament for approval should set out clearly and unambiguously the scope of legislative competence being conferred on the National Assembly for Wales.

The scope of such draft Orders is informed by pre-legislative scrutiny of proposals by the Welsh Affairs Committee, the House of Lords Constitution Committee and the National Assembly for Wales.

Plain English

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many documents produced by his Department were submitted to the Plain English Campaign for approval for Crystal Mark status in each year since 2005; and how many documents achieved such status in each year. (230502)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how much his Department has spent on Plain English Campaign training courses in each year since 2005. (231239)

Referendums

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales pursuant to the answer of 16 October 2008, Official Report, column 1385W, on referendums, what his policy is on the application of section 104 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 to requests received from the Welsh Assembly Government during the present term for a referendum under Part IV of the Government of Wales Act 2006. (230106)

Section 104 of the Government of Wales Act 2006 would apply to any request made by the Welsh Assembly Government for a referendum.

Transport

Blue Badge Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether an impact assessment has been conducted for those proposals in the Blue Badge Reform Strategy relating to local authorities’ ability to charge badge application fees; and if he will make a statement. (230109)

The Blue Badge Reform Strategy contains an impact assessment for all of our proposals.

The application fee has been capped at £2 since 1983 and no longer reflects modern costs and income. We estimate that the average application processing cost is now £14.47 per badge.

We plan to legislate to enable local authorities to set their own fees, which cover these costs more appropriately. The legislation will protect against any excessive charging.

Any future charges will be far outweighed by the financial benefits that badge holders receive in being able to park for free across the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what timetable he has set for bringing forward legislative proposals to enact the commitments made in the Blue Badge Reform Strategy to extend the scheme to certain groups hitherto excluded; and if he will make a statement. (230110)

The strategy contains a broad suite of commitments, which will be implemented over the next five years. We are in the process of developing a project implementation plan, which will set out our time line for delivery in full. Our progress in delivering on our commitments will be overseen by a high level steering group comprised of independent representatives from outside of Government.

Departmental Information Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many press and communications officers are employed by (a) his Department, (b) its NDPBs and (c) its agencies. (224546)

The most recently compiled press officer and communications staff numbers in the central Department and Executive agencies are set out in the following table. Figures shown are for communications specialists engaged in a range of communications activities including news media (press officers), marketing, publicity, strategic communications, internal communications, e-communications and speechwriting. All figures are average or estimated full-time equivalent (FTE) staff employed.

Staff FTE

2007-08 press officer activities

Estimated communicators February 2008

DfT Central

13.8

57.9

DSA

2

15

DVLA

5

34.3

GCDA

0

1

HA

12.2

24.8

MCA

2

5.5

VCA

0

2.5

VOSA

2

9

DfT agencies

23.2

92.1

The DfT(C) figure is only for relevant staff working in the Department's Communication Directorate. DfT(C) also employs other staff who may perform communication roles but numbers for these and NDPBs are not held centrally and can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much was spent on overnight accommodation by his Department's civil servants in the last 12 months. (228782)

Figures for overnight subsistence expenditure for the Department and six of its agencies are contained in the following table. The remaining agency, The Government Car and Despatch Agency, is unable to separate accommodation from other costs, and the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Overnight accommodation, October 2007 to September 2008

£

DfT(c)

843,622

MCA

14,127,000

VOSA

429,000

HA

2865,835

VCA

88,246

DSA

354,707

DVLA

1,160,000

1 The figure for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency largely represents costs associated with surveyors performing the agency's statutory function. These costs are reclaimed from customers. 2 The figure for the Highways Agency is based on accommodation booked through the agency's contracted booking agent, and covers the 11 months October 2007 to August 2008 inclusive, as the September figure is not yet available.

Motor Vehicles: Excise Duty

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department takes to recover vehicle excise duty payments outstanding from the registered keepers of vehicles who do not have an address in the UK; how much was spent on such recovery in the last year for which figures are available; how much was recovered; and if he will make a statement. (228811)

[holding answer 21 October 2008]: DVLA operates a strategy of education, warning and direct enforcement to help tackle non-compliant unlicensed foreign vehicles. Education activities have involved presentations to community leaders, articles in the media, the issue of information leaflets and warning notices placed on vehicle windscreens. Vehicles circulating in breach of the rules are subject to enforcement action including wheel clamping and impounding. Since 2006, nearly 1200 non-compliant foreign vehicles have been subject to direct enforcement action.

Every year, the overall costs incurred and revenues generated from DVLA’s enforcement activities are published in the Agency’s Annual Report and Accounts. Activities relating to foreign vehicles are not accounted for separately.

In terms of offences committed by drivers of foreign registered vehicles, under new provisions in the Road Safety Act 2006 the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency will, in future, be able to issue fixed penalties to offenders as well as prohibiting vehicles and drivers for various offences. In addition, any driver who does not have a satisfactory address in the UK will be required to pay an immediate deposit equivalent to the amount of the fixed penalty—or the level of fine the offence would be likely to attract if prosecuted in court. The police will also be able to require the immediate payment of such deposits.

Motor Vehicles: Registration

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what guidance he has issued on whether replacing the EU flag on a car number plate with a British flag may lead to an MOT failure; and if he will make a statement. (225265)

The current MOT Inspection Manual states that a test failure should not result where a registration plate includes a distinguishing sign of the UK, the Union flag, Scottish Saltire, Cross of St. George, Red Dragon and their respective national identifiers.

Parking Offences: Personal Records

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what procedures are in place to ensure that personal details made available to parking enforcement companies may not be accessed by terrorist organisations. (229789)

Parking companies may obtain data from the DVLA vehicle record where they have reasonable cause. Legislation providing for reasonable cause disclosure has been in existence for over 40 years, predating the establishment of the DVLA. On application for disclosure, all relevant information must be provided to enable checks to be made to establish the veracity of the applicant and the reasonable cause claimed. If approved, the vehicle keeper’s name and address are released together with the make, model and colour of the vehicle. A record is kept on the vehicle register of all such disclosures enabling the applicant to be identified if there are later inquiries.

The details disclosed are sent directly to the address associated with the company requesting those details—and never disclosed over the phone or to PO box addresses—and there is a programme of audit to ensure that the application, use and disposal of the data are appropriate and legal.

Parking: Disabled

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) when he plans to publish the results of his consultation on Blue Badge reform; and if he will make a statement; (228699)

(2) when he plans to publish the Blue Badge Reform Strategy; and if he will make a statement.

[holding answer 21 October 2008]: The results of the consultation were published on 20 October at the same time as our comprehensive £55 million Blue Badge Reform Strategy, which will address issues of fraudulent use and abuse of the scheme, extend eligibility and improve the consistency of application approval.

Copies of the results to the consultation and strategy can be found on the Department for Transport’s website at:

www.dft.gov.uk

Railway Stations: Milton Keynes

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the original estimate was for the cost of the engineering work and platform upgrade at Milton Keynes Central station. (229327)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: The engineering work and platform upgrade was estimated at £120 million and is expected to be delivered both on budget and on time.

Road Traffic Offences: Animals

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received on the exclusion of cats from the terms of section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. (229314)

Temporary Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which companies have been used by his Department for providing temporary staff in each of the last five years; and what the value of contracts with each such company was in each of those years. (229075)

A table showing the information requested has been placed in the Libraries of the House. It provides actual expenditure on temporary staff by company by year.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency could provide the expenditure information only at disproportionate cost.

Trams

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when stage two of the tram trains trials will commence. (229475)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: The trial will occur in two phases. The first phase will test the application on the conventional rail network (Penistone line) and will start in 2010. It will take two years to test the technical and operational feasibility of tram trains.

There is an option for a second phase to test how the tram train operates between the conventional rail network and a street tram system. This is the subject of more detailed business case work by Network Rail.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the decision on the operation of tram trains in England to be made. (229476)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: On 18 March, the then Secretary of State announced the trial of tram-train technology on the Huddersfield-Penistone-Sheffield route (Penistone line). On 29 September, Northern Rail issued an invitation to tender (ITT) for the procurement of trial vehicles for use on the Penistone line. Network Rail is currently undertaking detailed design work for the amendment to the infrastructure.

Transport: Environment Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to the written ministerial statement of 16 October 2008, Official Report, columns 52-4WS, on the EU Transport Council, what proposals on the greening of transport were included in the draft conclusions tabled by the French presidency; and what his policy is on each. (230123)

The draft conclusions covered policies in the Commission's “greening of transport” package. The Government have submitted four explanatory memoranda to the Scrutiny Committees describing our position on the package and these are available in the Libraries of both Houses.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agricultural Products

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) wheat, (b) barley, (c) fresh vegetables, (d) potatoes, (e) fresh fruit, (f) beef and veal, (g) pork, (h) bacon and ham, (i) mutton and lamb, (j) poultry meat, (k) eggs and (l) liquid milk was produced by volume in England in each year since 1997. (229492)

The figures are shown in the following table.

Volume of UK production

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Wheat

Th. tonnes

15,018

15,449

14,867

16,704

11,580

15,973

14,288

15,473

14,863

14,735

13,137

Barley

Th. tonnes

7,828

6,623

6,581

6,492

6,660

6,128

6,370

5,816

5,495

5,239

5,079

Vegetables

Th. tonnes

2,937

2,863

2,952

2,923

2,865

2,573

2,543

2,591

2,737

2,650

2,526

Potatoes

Th. tonnes

7,128

6,422

7,131

6,178

6,674

6,921

6,058

6,246

5,979

5,727

5,635

Fruit

Th. tonnes

292

278

347

307

331

294

269

294

363

392

398

Beef and Veal

Th. tonnes

698

695

679

704

645

694

703

724

765

852

888

Pork

Th. tonnes

884

921

823

716

595

614

569

577

574

575

617

Bacon and Ham

Th. tonnes

242

240

243

224

217

216

214

211

214

209

185

Mutton and Lamb

Th. tonnes

342

373

392

383

267

307

310

319

336

332

328

Poultry meat

Th. tonnes

1,527

1,548

1,549

1,514

1,566

1,557

1,578

1,571

1,585

1,517

1,460

Eggs

Million dozen

903

883

842

817

861

856

843

892

884

853

825

Milk

Million litres

14,420

14,218

14,587

14,079

14,291

14,448

14,587

14,139

14,062

13,933

13,660

Source:

Agriculture in the United Kingdom 2007, DEFRA

Agriculture: Land

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely effect of implementation of his Department's proposal to require arable farmers to set aside up to 5 per cent. of their land on food security in the UK; and if he will make a statement. (229331)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: The impact on food production—and therefore food security—of the proposal for arable farmers to set aside a small percentage (as yet undefined) of their land for environmental purposes is expected to be very small, given that such land is likely to be located on farmers' least productive land.

The Government support the abolition of set-aside but the Secretary of State recognised the potential environmental impacts by commissioning additional environmental monitoring and asking Sir Don Curry to bring together key stakeholders to oversee this work and investigate mitigation options.

Sir Don Curry's High Level Set-Aside Group reported in July 2008 and the Secretary of State agreed that measures were needed as soon as practicable to mitigate the environmental impact of set-aside loss. The Secretary of State issued a statement on the next steps on 25 July, which included commissioning the Rural Payments Agency and Natural England to work up, by the end of the year, how the preferred option could be delivered in practice.

Final decisions on the overall approach, and the detailed arrangements which will determine the impacts, for example, on farming or the environment, will need to be taken in the context of the eventual outcome of the Common Agricultural Policy Health Check. The House will be kept informed of progress.

Agriculture: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what assessment his Department has made of the availability of agricultural and horticultural labour in the UK; and if he will make a statement; (227300)

(2) what assessment his Department has made of the effect on the fruit and vegetable crop on the availability of agricultural and horticultural labour.

When the new member states acceded to the EU in 2004, the Government decided to allow A8 nationals to take up work freely in the UK subject to registering with the Workers Registration Scheme. Information collected via the scheme records show that by June 2008, some 85,000 accession nationals had registered to take up work in the agricultural sector. Of these, around 6,400 were specifically registered to work as fruit pickers, and 12,900 as crop harvesters.

In addition, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) provides an assured annual quota of 16,250 workers from the A2 countries, and is an important source of seasonal labour for farmers and growers, particularly at periods of peak activity. Given the importance the industry attaches to SAWS, Government agreed not to phase out the scheme until 2010 in order to give the industry time to adapt to a labour market expanded by nationals from the new member states.

SAWS is administered by the UK Borders Agency. DEFRA Ministers continue to remain in regular contact with their colleagues at the Home Office about the operation of the scheme. In March of this year, the hon. Member for Chatham and Aylesford (Jonathan Shaw) and the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Hodge Hill (Mr. Byrne) met representatives of the National Farmers Union (NFU) and SAWS operators to listen to their concerns about the current level of quota and changes made to the scheme as a result of the accession to the EU of Romania and Bulgaria. This meeting concluded with a commitment to maintain a dialogue between Government and the industry on this matter, and this is ongoing.

In March 2007, the Government set up the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to provide independent, transparent and evidence-based advice on where labour market shortages exist which can sensibly be filled by migration. MAC underpins the new points-based system for migration to the UK by advising Government on which occupations should be designated as shortage occupations. Tier 3 of the PBS provides a potential route for low-skilled workers from outside the EU to take up work in the UK but is suspended for the foreseeable future, while restrictions remain in place for A2 nationals.

However, immigration is not the only tool available for tackling the problem of labour shortages. The industry also needs to be prepared to consider the scope for technological innovation, and to examine the conditions and prospects available for those working in agriculture. This will enable the industry to compete more effectively in the job market and to re-integrate the domestic labour force.

I am aware of the concerns expressed by some farmers and growers about seasonal labour shortages and the impact these are having on the cultivation and harvesting of fruit and vegetable crops, and we are in regular contact with the Home Office on this and other matters.

Agriculture: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been distributed by Yorkshire Forward under agricultural schemes in each of the last three years. (227767)

The principal agricultural scheme managed by Yorkshire Forward is the social and economic elements of the Rural Development Programme for England (although this also benefits non-agricultural businesses operating in rural areas). Yorkshire Forward only assumed responsibility for this funding from October 2006. Before this, it was the responsibility of the Rural Development Service, part of DEFRA.

The total spend under the RDPE and the predecessor rural development programme by Yorkshire Forward since it assumed responsibility is:

£ million

16 October 2006 to 15 October 2007

1.76

16 October 2007 to 15 October 2008

1.08

The total RDPE budget allocated to Yorkshire Forward in 2008-09 is £9.89 million.

In addition, Yorkshire Forward has supported agricultural businesses through its single programme budget. The spend on specific agricultural projects over the last three financial years is:

£

2005-06

240,200

2006-07

1,071,700

2007-08

654,800

In addition, agricultural businesses may also have received support through some small ad hoc projects, as well as through mainstream support services, for which it is difficult to obtain separate figures for agriculture.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Disease Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what his policy is on badger culling as it relates to the control of bovine tuberculosis. (228910)

In a statement to the House on 7 July 2008, Official Report, columns 1153-55, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State (Hilary Benn) announced the Government’s policy that no licences will be issued for culling badgers to prevent the spread of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle. We remain open to the possibility of revisiting this policy under exceptional circumstances, or if new scientific evidence were to become available.

We are strengthening our programme of research to develop cattle and badger vaccines and plan for their deployment. Cattle-based TB control measures continue to be critical.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what contingency plans his Department has in the event that cases of bovine tuberculosis spread across the UK. (229328)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: We aim to slow down and prevent the geographic spread of bovine TB to low incidence areas through a comprehensive and risk-based control programme. This includes a surveillance programme of routine testing for all cattle herds and compulsory pre-movement testing of cattle from high-risk herds.

In the event of the disease spreading to new areas across the country we implement measures to try to root out the disease and prevent it from becoming established. In all cases where TB is identified, the herd is placed under movement restrictions until all the eligible cattle in it have cleared two further short interval tests. In addition, in the low incidence areas of the country we use the more sensitive gamma interferon blood test alongside the skin test to identify as many infected cattle as possible at the earliest opportunity and try to clear out infection in the herd quickly.

Bovine Tuberculosis: Vaccination

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much his Department has spent on research on a bovine tuberculosis vaccine in each of the last three years. (229330)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: DEFRA has spent the following amounts on bovine TB vaccine research over last three years:

£

2005-06

1,990,418

2006-07

4,957,539

2007-08

5,561,752

Total

12,509,709

Of the total, this works out at around £6.7 million on cattle vaccines and £5.8 million on badger vaccines.

Cats: Tuberculosis

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps his Department has taken to identify whether bovine tuberculosis is carried by cats. (229329)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: All mammals including cats are susceptible to the disease to a variable degree; cats can contract and carry the causative bacteria (M. Bovis) if they come into close contact with a source of infection.

DEFRA has been funding passive TB surveillance in domestic and zoo animal species for several years. This consists of a free post mortem and culture service for suspect cases of TB provided by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

In addition, since February 2006, the identification of M. bovis in tissues and clinical samples from farmed and companion animals, including cats, became notifiable to the Divisional Veterinary Manager of Animal Health.

Costs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much was claimed in expenses by Ministers in his Department in each of the last three years. (229250)

The information requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, all DEFRA Ministers are bound and abide by the provisions set out in the Ministerial Code.

Dangerous Dogs Act 1991: Prosecutions

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people were prosecuted for offences under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 in 2007. (228908)

Court proceedings data held by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform for 2007 will not be available until the end of November 2008.

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans his Department has for the future use of the office building at 1A Page street; and if he will make a statement. (229116)

Following the re-organisation of departmental accommodation in 2007-08, the office premises at 1A Page street became surplus to operational requirements in March 2008. The Department has been actively seeking to dispose of its property interest both across Government and via exposure to the commercial property market. Current market conditions are challenging and we continue to explore every avenue to secure a disposal of this surplus accommodation.

Departmental Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many security passes have been reported (a) lost and (b) stolen by staff in (i) his Department and (ii) agencies sponsored by his Department in each year since 2001. (228937)

The following table shows lost and stolen passes from core DEFRA and its agencies from 2001 until 1 October 2008.

Lost

Stolen

DEFRA Core Department

2001

60

5

2002

108

16

2003

108

12

2004

152

18

2005

147

11

2006

138

13

2007

149

13

2008

106

7

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

2001

n/a

n/a

2002

10

0

2003

16

1

2004

20

1

2005

20

2

2006

7

0

2007

8

0

2008

6

0

Central Science Laboratory

2001

12

0

2002

14

0

2003

11

0

2004

15

0

2005

8

2

2006

5

1

2007

7

0

2008

7

0

Veterinary Medicines Directorate

2001

6

0

2002

9

0

2003

10

0

2004

6

0

2005

10

0

2006

12

0

2007

9

0

2008

6

0

Veterinary Laboratories Agency

2001

5

0

2002

8

1

2003

6

0

2004

7

0

2005

28

4

2006

11

0

2007

n/a

n/a

2008

29

0

Rural Payments Agency

2001

5

0

2002

23

1

2003

24

2

2004

19

2

2005

9

0

2006

40

4

2007

53

8

2008

74

5

Losses and thefts relating to passes issued to the Marine Fisheries Agency, the Government Decontamination Service and Pesticides Safety Directorate are included in the figures for DEFRA core Department. Data for lost/stolen passes for Veterinary Laboratories Agency are not available for 2007 due to a change in responsibility of pass production. Figures do not include Animal Health as information is not available. All electronic passes reported as lost or stolen are cancelled immediately on access control systems making them invalid. Losses of paper escorted and unescorted visitor passes (which are not able to activate access control points) are rare and are not recorded.

Dogs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the policy of the Forestry Commission is on dog-free car parks; and which car parks are being considered for designation as dog-free. (229744)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: In association with the Kennel Club, the Forestry Commission published its guide, Managing Dogs in the Wood, in March 2007. This advocates the promotion of car parks that are attractive and well suited to dog walkers in order to reduce the potential for conflict with other interests. The Forestry Commission has no plans to designate car parks as dog-free but access to some other areas by dogs is actively discouraged, for example in children’s play areas.

Dogs: Food

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research his Department has commissioned into commercial relationships between members of the veterinary profession and commercial dog food producers. (228298)

Environment Protection: New Forest

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 16 October 2008, Official Report, column 1487W, on environment protection: New Forest, if he will place in the Library copies of the publications referred to. (229765)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: The New Forest National Park Authority has been asked to provide copies of the publications referred to. These will be placed in the Library as soon as they have been received.

Environment Protection: Seas and Oceans

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the likely impact of the provisions in Article 9 of Council Regulation 2371/2002 on the provisions in the Marine Bill; what recent discussions he has had with (a) the European Commission and (b) his European counterparts on the establishment of measures to protect the marine environment beyond the six nautical mile limit; and if he will make a statement. (228074)

There have been no recent discussions between DEFRA and the European Commission, or my European counterparts, on the likely impact of article 9 of Council Regulation 2371/2002 on the Marine Bill, or the establishment of measures under article 9 for the protection of the marine environment beyond six nautical miles.

The legislative framework for the common fisheries policy (CFP) is due to be reviewed in 2012. However, the Commission is required to present a report on access arrangements to the Council and Parliament by the end of 2011. Subsequently, the Council will decide what provisions will apply thereafter. DEFRA will engage fully in this process to ensure that UK rights are not jeopardised, and that effective conservation measures are applied where needed.

In advance of the report, where we wish to protect a marine conservation zone in an area where foreign vessels have access, we will look to do so through the CFP to ensure the equal application of measures to all vessels.

Fisheries

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 23 January 2008, Official Report, column 2021W, on fisheries, when he expects to formulate and announce UK policy in relation to the future of the 0-12 nautical mile zone under Article 17 of Council Regulation 2371/2002; and if he will make a statement. (228073)

We will be seeking views from interested parties on possible improvements to the common fisheries policy, including the issue of access to member states waters—in order to influence Commission thinking at an early stage—and will consider our position in the light of responses.

Further information will be available shortly in the ‘Fishing Focus’ newsletter on the DEFRA website.

Fisheries: Navy

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what dates there have been no River Class offshore patrol vessels operating as part of the Fishery Protection Squadron since April; why there were no River Class offshore patrol vessels operating on each such date; what alternative provision was made available; and if he will make a statement. (228063)

The information is as follows:

21 July: HMS Severn suffered two breakdowns of its sea-boats in a 24-hour period on 20 July which resulted in the vessel having to anchor and await repairs/replacements by Vosper Thorneycroft. HMS Tyne was at stand-off on 20/21 July, between patrols. No alternative provision was required.

30 and 31 August: HMS Mersey was programmed to be on patrol on those days with a stand-off on 2 and 3 September. However, the stand-off dates for HMS Mersey were brought forward to 30 and 31 August so that it could participate fully in the Joint Deployment Plan for Cod in the North Sea, which commenced on 1 September. HMS Tyne was at stand-off on 30/31 August between patrols. No alternative provision was required.

On each of these occasions, the third River Class vessel was not programmed for duty, was not available and was not required.

Fisheries: Quotas

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he expects to introduce quota management reforms; and if he will make a statement. (228168)

Examining how best to reform the quota management system is a priority for me, and I am currently considering options to take this work forward. This work will be done in close partnership with the devolved Administrations and in consultation with the industry. It will also need to be considered in the context of the common fisheries policy reform agenda.

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many flood protection schemes have been (a) postponed and (b) delayed in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (224220)

[holding answer 17 September 2008]: DEFRA has overall policy responsibility for flood risk management and provides funding for schemes to Operating Authorities (Environment Agency, local authorities and Internal Drainage Boards). The funding for flood risk has been administered by the Environment Agency since April 2006. Information on potential projects is collected from operating authorities and the Environment Agency decide which projects to promote and their timing to meet the targets set by DEFRA. Since the projects are not formally approved until funding is confirmed none will have been postponed or have had their commencement delayed.

Some projects do, however, take longer to deliver than is originally envisaged. From 2004-08 the Environment Agency's National Capital Programme Management Service was responsible for a total of 146 completed projects. Of these, 83 were completed early or on time and 63 were completed after the expected date. 70 per cent. of these projects were delivered within two months of the expected completion date.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what priorities he has set for reducing flood risk in (a) urban and rural areas. (228706)

The Environment Agency allocates funding to Regional Flood Defence Committees for both new capital schemes and to maintain existing defences on the basis of national priorities to ensure that the funding is spent to optimum effect. This inevitably means that the allocation to each Regional Flood Defence Committee is likely to change year on year, particularly as capital schemes are completed.

Projects in sparsely populated areas will tend to score less highly than projects which protect larger numbers of people or higher asset values for a given cost.

DEFRA is working with the Environment Agency, other operating authorities and stakeholders to develop a prioritisation process for the capital programme. There will be no explicit geographic element to the allocation of funds which will be done to maximise the benefit achieved from the programme on a national basis. Allocation of funds for maintenance works is undertaken by the Environment Agency on the basis of their asset management strategy which takes account of risk; again there is no geographic element.

Flood Control: Cost Effectiveness

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what outcome measures are used to assess the effectiveness of expenditure on flood risk management measures; what criteria relating to outcomes for (a) the economy, (b) commerce and (c) industry are included in these measures; and what his policy is on the inclusion of flood security as an outcome measure. (228697)

A set of nine outcome measures for flood and coastal erosion risk was published, following public consultation, in June 2007. The measures are described on the DEFRA website and the first measure, overall benefits, will include monetary estimates of the benefits to the national economy, with the expectation that in time the costs and benefits for different sectors will be identified separately. The term “flood security” is ambiguous, but a review of the outcome measures is under way and this will include consideration of alternative and additional measures.

Flood Control: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which flood defences have been improved in 2008; and how much each improvement cost. (228477)

In 2007-08 the Environment Agency reported that 31,505 houses received reduced flood risk in England from capital investment in 38 projects which are in the following list. Information on improvement cost in each case is not available.

Environment Agency Region

Capital investment

Anglian

Southwold - Easton Bavents

Anglian

Broadland Private Public Partnership Programme Contract

Anglian

Lincolnshire 2005 to 2010

Anglian

Tidal Nene Stabilisation

Midlands

West Bridgford

North East

Selby Tidal Defences

North East

Stoning - Tidal (Dales)

North East

Cockshaw Burn at Hexam

North West

River Eden/Pettril Flood Defences, Carlisle

North West

Lower Lancaster Flood Alleviation Scheme

North West

Thornton-Cleveleys

Southern

Lymington River Flood Alleviation Scheme

Southern

Pett Shingle Nourishment Phase 2-6

Southern

River Rother Tidal Walls Imp Scheme (West)

Southern

High Knocke To Dymchurch Redoubt SD Phases 1 and 2

Southern

Seaford Bulk Shingle Recycling

Southern

East Suttons to Denge Interim Beach Management 2007-08

Southern

Pevensey Bay: Eastbourne to Cooden Sea Defences Public Private Partnership

South West

Boscastle - Valency, Phase 3

South West

Padstow Harbour

South West

Sutton Harbour (Shoreline Management Plan 2)

Thames

Berkshire and Dagenham Front Marley Waterproofing 1

Thames

Berkshire and Dagenham R39.02 Marley Waterproofing 2

Thames

Dartford Creek Frontage - Repairs

Thames

Shift and Lock Mechanism

Thames

Thames Barrier; Programmed Replacements Corrosion Protection Systems

Thames

East Clandon Stream at Send

Thames

Leys Flood Defence Wall Repair and Bank Stabilisation

Thames

High Wycombe Trash Screen

Thames

Thames Barrier and Associated Gates TB Logic Control Systems

Thames

TB: RSG 100 year life

Thames

Thames Barrier and Associated Gates TB Pier Crane Modernisation

Thames

Thames Barrier and Associated Gates TB Replacement Tools and Equipment

Thames

Improved Communications Links to Thames Barrier and Associated Gates

Thames

Associated Gates Corrosion Protection System

Thames

Rainham Main Sluice Frontage

Thames

Queenhithe Wharf Frontage

Thames

Folly, Felstead, Coldharbour, Sufference, Waterways Frontages

Food Supplies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 29 September 2008, Official Report, column 2419W, on food, what estimate he has made of the level of UK self-sufficiency in (a) milk and other dairy products and (b) each type of fish in each year since 1997. (228518)

Figures on the level of UK self-sufficiency in (a) milk and other dairy products and (b) fish in each year since 1997. Figures are only readily available for fish in total.

UK production (in weight or volume) as a percentage of total new supply for use in the UK

Liquid milk

Butter

Cheese

Cream -fresh, frozen, sterilized

Condensed milk

Milk powders

Fish1

1997

99

78

67

154

130

350

74

1998

99

77

65

163

136

393

77

1999

100

74

63

157

127

207

70

2000

100

65

63

146

111

330

70

2001

100

63

66

128

105

219

65

2002

100

65

65

133

112

298

66

2003

100

63

61

144

101

332

74

2004

100

58

60

126

96

211

70

2005

100

59

60

125

83

112

65

2006

100

52

59

121

74

152

54

20072

100

61

55

114

76

167

64

1 Landings are given in terms of landed weight equivalent (i.e. head on, gutted for most species). Landings include transhipments of mackerel and exclude salmon and trout. Excludes fish products.

2 Provisional.

Source:

DEFRA HMRC, MFA.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to increase national self-sufficiency in food production. (228075)

The UK is currently 60 per cent. self-sufficient in all foods, and over 74 per cent. self-sufficient in foods that can be produced in this country.

In July, the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit published a study entitled “Food Matters: Towards a Strategy for the 21st Century”, which identified a number of areas of food policy requiring further examination by the Government. DEFRA is taking forward the report's recommendation on the need for a sustainable vision to guide future food policy in conjunction with the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency.

The Government are also consulting on their discussion document, “Ensuring the UK's Food Security in a Changing World”, to ensure that all of our food supply chains, from whatever source, are resilient and robust in the face of challenges to our food security in the future.

Food: Imports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government are taking to ensure that imported food meets the (a) quality, (b) hygiene, (c) safety and (d) animal welfare standards required from food producers in England. (228142)

Imports of products of animal origin from countries outside the EU must be checked at approved border inspection posts (BIPs), where they undergo veterinary checks before they are allowed to enter the EU.

Such products can only be imported from countries which are on the approved third country import list for that product. The products must be from establishments approved to export to the EU.

The European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office is responsible for carrying out inspections of countries and the establishments that are approved to export to the EU, to ensure that they comply with EU hygiene requirements.

The World Trade Organisation rules do not allow us to ban imports on the grounds of the welfare standards applying in third countries.

Fruit: Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the EU proposals for free fruit provision in schools; and if he will make a statement. (226767)

[holding answer 14 October 2008]: On 8 July 2008 the European Commission published a proposal providing for the introduction of a voluntary EU-wide school fruit scheme for the supply into schools of fruit (including bananas) and vegetables. The proposals are principally for the provision of €90 million of European funds for the purchase of the fruit and vegetables themselves, allocated to member states on the basis of their population of school children aged between six and 10 years. A member state which chose to take part in the scheme would be required to provide co-finance and to submit a national strategy. EC funding cannot be used to replace existing national funding.

The proposals for the scheme are currently being finalised in Brussels, with the intention that an agreement should be reached by the end of this year. As the proposals develop, they are being assessed and considered by officials and Ministers across Government and also with the devolved Administrations and external stakeholders.

Madders Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps he plans to take in response to the Madders Report on animal movements. (227936)

[holding answer 17 October 2008]: The following Madders recommendations have been implemented:

abolition of temporary calf passport

the issue of cattle passports to late applicants, where parentage of the calf can be proved by DNA testing

revised guidance issued to ensure that cattle arriving at an abattoir with a valid passport with one correct ear tag (and evidence that a second tag had been applied) are accepted as properly identified.

British Cattle Movement Service have written to ear tag manufacturers seeking assurance that standards have been maintained.

Bill Madders (and Iain Anderson in the review and lessons learned exercise following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2007) recommended changes to the way in which DEFRA records the locations to and from which livestock are moved. Work is currently under way to establish the most effective means of doing this. I expect a consultation exercise to follow the conclusion of this work.

Madders also recommended greater use of isolation facilities to allow farmers more flexibility to avoid standstills imposed by movements of livestock on to their holdings. I have accepted this recommendation and expect to consult on implementing it in due course.

Pollution: Digswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will arrange for the Environment Agency to test the pumping station at Digswell in Hertfordshire for bromate contamination. (228549)

The Digswell pumping station is a water supply borehole operated by Three Valleys Water plc. The Environment Agency will co-operate with Three Valleys Water plc to take samples of both raw (before treatment) and treated (as put into public supply) water from the borehole.

Powers of Entry

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many powers of entry have been (a) introduced and (b) abolished by legislation by his Department since 1997. (228041)

I refer the right hon. and learned Member to the reply given to him on 22 October 2008, Official Report, columns 451-52W.

Recycling: East Sussex

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much waste was recycled by each local authority in East Sussex in the latest period for which figures are available. (229993)

The following table shows the amount of household waste sent to be recycled or composted by each authority in East Sussex county council in financial years 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Household waste sent for recycling and composting

Tonnes

Authority

2006-07

2007-08

Wealden District Council

19,253

20,424

Rother District Council

5,829

9,395

Lewes District Council

7,274

8,040

Hastings Borough Council

5,789

7,352

Eastbourne Borough Council

8,196

9,200

East Sussex County Council

75,315

83,246

Source:

WasteDataFlow, Best Value Performance Indicators

Rights of Way

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what functions the National Rights of Way Casework Team had at its establishment; what additional functions it has been given since its establishment; and how many people have been assigned to the team in respect of these additional functions. (229704)

[holding answer 23 October 2008]: The functions undertaken by the National Rights of Way Casework Team from its establishment, and still to date, are direction requests (representations) and Schedule 14 Appeals, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and Orders which the Secretary of State may decide to make under Section 247 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 for stopping up or diversion of rights of way in relation to proposed planning development.

There are no additional people assigned to the functions of the Rights of Way team, although one person who is engaged part time in this work is also engaged in other national transport casework which is now undertaken by the Government office for the north east.

Waste Disposal: Schools

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many schools have registered exempt low risk waste operations; and if he will make a statement. (230904)

The Environment Agency currently has 913 schools registered for exempt waste activities. Of these, 460 are for the storage of recyclables and 302 are for composting.

Waste Management

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the timetable for creation of regional waste strategy boards is; what their budgets are; what their powers are; how their membership will be comprised; and how many have been established to date. (230331)

There is no statutory requirement for regional waste boards, no funding allocated for them, and no timetable for their formation.

A statutory board has been established in London. The Government have set out its membership and constitution in the London Waste and Recycling Board Order 2008. This legislation does not apply to any other English region.

There are no other boards established at present. However, the south east and the north east are considering how they might set up structures to provide strategic overview of waste material use and recovery, and what resources may be required to achieve them. These would be purely advisory and have no statutory powers.

Water: Low Incomes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government have taken to assist low income families with the costs of sewage and water pipe repairs. (227815)

[holding answer 21 October 2008]: There is no specific assistance available to low income families towards the costs of sewage or water pipe repairs. All water companies do however offer some degree of free or subsidised repair and replacement for domestic customers’ water supply pipes. This is undertaken as a leakage control measure as part of the water companies’ statutory duty to promote the efficient use of water by their customers. The exact nature of the repair policy and any restrictions to that policy are dependent on the water company and its operating conditions.

Weedkillers

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date (a) his Department and (b) the Advisory Committee on Pesticides was first informed by the manufacturers that the hormone-based weed killer aminopyralid or similar chemical formulations were capable of surviving ingestion by horses or cows, and being composted in manure, and then having adverse effects on crops treated with the manure. (229905)

The properties of the group of herbicides to which aminopyralid belongs—pyridine carboxylic acids—have long been recognised. As a result of this, when the Advisory Committee on Pesticides considered the evaluation of aminopyralid in 2005 it concluded that products containing it should carry warnings on their labels that manure that could contain aminopyralid should not be used on susceptible crops, or on land intended for growing such crops, until all plant material had fully decomposed.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on what date members of the Advisory Committee on Pesticides were first informed that aminopyralid or similar chemical formulations had been found to cause adverse effects outside the United Kingdom on crops when manure made from animal waste from animals that had grazed pasture treated with these chemicals was spread on land growing such crops. (229907)

The potential of aminopyralid and other pyridine carboxylic acid herbicides to produce the effects observed were taken into account when the Advisory Committee on Pesticides considered this pesticide in 2005. That this group of chemicals can produce these effects has been known since at least the 1980s.

Written Questions: Government Responses

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he will answer question (a) 224594, (b) 224593, (c) 224886, (d) 224812, (e) 224627, (f) 224808, (g) 225455, (h) 225510, (i) 223902, (j) 224809, (k) 223900, (l) 224810, (m) 223893, (n) 223899, (o) 223901, (p) 224196 and (q) 224595. (226823)

I can confirm the following:

(a) 224594 question withdrawn without notice

(b) 224593 answered 20 October

(c) 224886 answered 13 October

(d) 224812 answered 13 October

(e) 224627 answered 13 October

(f) 224808 answered 14 October

(g) 225455 answered 14 October

(h) 225510 answered 14 October

(i) 223902 answered 9 October

(j) 224809 answered 13 October

(k) 223900 answered transferred to Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) answered 20 October

(l) 224810 answered 14 October

(m) 223893 should read 223898 transferred to Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and answered on 14 October

(n) 223899 transferred to Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)

(o) 223901 transferred to Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) answered 20 October

(p) 224196 answered 9 October

(q) 224595 answered 13 October

Defence

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which districts of Helmand Province are deemed to be (a) under UK, ISAF and NATO forces or the Afghan Government control, (b) under Taliban control and (c) in indeterminate control; and if he will make a statement. (227374)

[holding answer 21 October 2008]: International Security Assistance Force, the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of Afghanistan have established a security presence in the districts of Lashkar Gar, Nahr-e Saraj (Gereshk), Musa Qal'ah, Sangin, Garmsir, Kajaki, Nawah-ye Barakzai and Nad Ali. Operations against the Taliban in Helmand continue, with the purpose of bringing more of the province under the control of the Afghan Government.

However, the insurgents continue to pose a threat through improvised explosive devices, suicide bombers and opportunistic attacks.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of casualties of (a) insurgents and (b) civilians in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2007-08. (227973)

We do not routinely collate data on the number of insurgents killed by UK forces in Afghanistan. Collecting and verifying data is extremely difficult given the nature of the conflict. As we have said repeatedly, our long-term strategy towards defeating the insurgency in Afghanistan is through a wide range of military and non-military activity and not through an attritional, purely military campaign.

We regret incidents where civilians are accidentally killed as a result of actions by international forces. Procedures are in place, and being constantly updated in the light of experience, both to minimise the risk of these casualties occurring and to investigate any incidents that do happen. Wherever possible, local populations are warned of impending operations. We should remember the insurgents are the real threat to the safety and security of the Afghan people by their indiscriminate use of violence. ISAF forces are not present on a permanent basis in many parts of Helmand province, which makes it difficult to monitor atrocities against the civilian population by the Taliban. It is therefore impossible to estimate with any confidence the number of civilian casualties in Helmand province in 2007-08 that have been caused by the current conflict.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what reports he has received of recent comments by President Zardari about the position of the Taliban in the conflict in Afghanistan; what assessment he has made of those comments; and whether he has responded to them. (229819)

Since the welcome return of a democratically elected Government in Pakistan, the Government have maintained close contact with President Zardari, his Cabinet and senior officers in the Pakistan military. International co-operation is central to our efforts in the region and I welcome the Government of Pakistan’s commitment to countering terrorism as a top priority. While I cannot discuss specific comments that President Zardari has made recently, we continually emphasise the important role that a stable and democratic Pakistan has to play in delivering success in Afghanistan and that both our and Pakistan’s interests are placed in jeopardy by Taliban operating from within its borders.

Armed Forces: Conditions of Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent steps the Government have taken to uphold the military covenant. (228113)

The Government are fully committed to meeting their responsibilities for serving personnel, veterans and their families. This includes a long-standing programme of improvements covering, for example, service pay, accommodation, health and welfare provision, force protection and personal equipment. This was reinforced in July 2008 when we published the Service Personnel Command Paper. The paper sets out our commitment to a package of over 40 measures in the fields of education and skills, childcare provision, benefits, career building, support for our Foreign and Commonwealth Service personnel and a doubling of the lump sum payments for the most serious injuries under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. It also outlines further improvements we have made recently in health, housing and support for bereaved families. This is the first cross-Government strategy for service personnel and it sets the standard for the level and scope of support that they, their families and veterans can expect.

We recognise that there is a wider national responsibility for supporting our armed forces and the independent Report of Inquiry into National Recognition of our Armed Forces published in May sets out a number of recommendations to encourage both wider public support for the armed forces and recognition of their contribution to the nation; the Government have made clear their broad support for the recommendations of this report and will publish their detailed response shortly.

Service chiefs have confirmed that the military covenant is not broken.

Armed Forces: Diabetes

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether (a) the Army, (b) the Royal Navy and (c) the Royal Air Force have policies in place to prevent discrimination against personnel with diabetes on the basis of their condition. (229438)

The armed forces' policies are intended to protect sufferers of diabetes from military circumstances which may adversely impact upon their condition and to ensure the effectiveness of the armed forces. For example, a diabetic individual deployed on operations may experience difficulties in monitoring blood or urinary glucose levels; accessing medication; taking regular meals; maintaining a regular sleep pattern; accessing shared-care diabetic clinics; and accessing specialist services such as ophthalmology or chiropody. Such circumstances would adversely impact upon their diabetic control, thus increasing their risk of micro and macrovascular complications. Furthermore, an uncontrolled diabetic may constitute a risk not only to themselves, but also to others in a military or operational context. The single services manage individuals who develop diabetes during their service careers, according to their specific operational requirements and each case will be considered on an individual basis.

Armed Forces: Health Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the defence casualty welfare package includes; and how much the daily payment towards meeting expenses incurred for the use of (a) television, (b) internet and (c) telephone at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak is. (220597)

There is a range of existing support for patients that includes both direct financial and indirect financial elements; the drawing together of these elements is informally called the casualty welfare package.

The financial allowances that military patients receive are dependent on their individual circumstances. All patients hospitalised for one or more nights receive incidental expenses (£5 per 24-hour period) and those hospitalised for periods of 10 days or more receive longer separation allowance (ranging from £6.38 to £26.94 per day). Operational casualties hospitalised after starting to receive the operational allowance will continue to receive the allowance for the duration of their planned deployment (£13.08 per day).

Armed Forces: Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many days on average an RAF helicopter was (a) on operations, (b) engaged in non-operational flying, (c) available but not flown, (d) in scheduled maintenance, (e) undergoing other repair activity, (f) undergoing unscheduled maintenance, (g) awaiting spares and (h) not worked in each of the last three years, broken down by type of helicopter. (230173)

The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many units of (a) single living and (b) service family accommodation in the UK were occupied at the latest date for which figures are available. (220659)

In the UK, in excess of 80,000 single living accommodation bed-spaces and 40,000 service family accommodation properties are currently occupied.

Armed Forces: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many pinch point trades there were in each service in each year since 2003. (230168)

The inclusion of a trade on the pinch point register is subjective. There are a variety of factors, not of all which reflect a manning shortfall that will determine the inclusion of a trade. Single services review their list quarterly. Recent improvements in the analysis of problem trades has narrowed the focus on trades to specific rank ranges or has sub-divided a trade in order to better focus resources at the problem. This has led in part to the gradual rise in the number of pinch points. For example Merlin Aircrew has now been sub-divided into Merlin pilots, Observers and Aircrewman. By narrowing the focus into rank areas such as Infantry Pte-LCpl resources are better focused and the impact more apparent.

RN

Army

RAF

2003-04

10

26

19

2004-05

12

25

23

2005-06

12

24

21

2006-07

11

27

14

2007-08

20

30

25

Armed Forces: Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was paid (a) by (i) employees and (ii) employers into and (b) to those receiving pensions payments from the armed forces pension scheme in each of the last five years. (229434)

The armed forces pension scheme (AFPS) is a non-contributory scheme. When pensions become payable the cost is met from Government revenues at that time. There is no pension fund or deficit. Income from employers' contributions is used to offset the costs of paying benefits to pensioners each financial year. Minimal income is received from armed forces personnel who opt to make additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) or to purchase added years.

The amounts contributed and paid under the AFPS for financial years 2002-03 to 2006-07 are set out in the following table:

2002-03

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

Employer contributions (£ billion)

1.146

1.224

1.246

1.404

1.420

Employee contributions from AVCs/purchase of added years (£ million)

1.328

1.612

1.669

0.657

0.594

Pensions in payment (£ billion)

2.440

2.517

2.664

2.846

3.009

Note: The AFPS Resource Accounts for financial year 2007-08 have yet to be finalised and published.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what estimate he has made of the annual change in the cost to the public purse of the 2006 changes to the armed forces pension scheme; and if he will make a statement; (229489)

(2) what methods he has considered for reducing public sector pension liabilities in relation to the armed forces pension scheme;

(3) what the projected savings are of the armed forces pension scheme 2005 changes in relation to public sector pensions for members of the armed forces.

For the armed forces pension scheme 1975, the 2006 change constituted the introduction from 6 April 2006 of a preserved pension age of 65 for future service. The preserved pension age for service before that date is 60.

The armed forces pension scheme 2005, which was introduced for new entrants on 6 April 2005, was designed with a preserved pension age of 65. In addition further savings were realised by the overall scheme design. For example, removing the immediate pension for those leaving before the age of 55 and replacing it with early departure payment (EDP) scheme benefits for those who serve until at least age 40 and have at least 18 years service. EDP income, which is paid until the preserved pension comes into payment at age 65, is paid at a significant lower level that would have been the case if the pension had become due on leaving the armed forces.

The adoption of age 65 as the preserved pension age was a specific measure aimed at tackling the increased costs of longevity, and savings from this will essentially be longer term.

A proportion of the overall saving was recycled into improved death-in-service and dependants' benefits. Savings in employer contributions for the armed forces pension schemes is estimated at around £50 million in 2008-09, which will grow in subsequent years due to the increasing proportion of membership covered by the new scheme. In the longer term, annual savings are estimated at around £125 million a year.

Armed Forces: Weapons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the out of service dates of the (a) AS90 and (b) L118 are. (230166)

On present planning assumptions, which may change, both the AS90 and the L118 will be withdrawn from service in 2023.

Armed Forces: Young People

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel aged under 18 years died (a) while on active service and (b) in training in each of the last five years; and what the cause of death was in each case. (229408)

There have been no deaths of UK service personnel under 18 years of age while on active service in the last five years, where active service is defined as military duty in an operational area.

In the last five years two UK service personnel aged under 18 years have died on training, both deaths occurred in 2007. One resulted from drowning; the other was the result of a helicopter crash.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many under 18-year-olds are serving in the armed forces. (229409)

The number of under 18-year-olds serving in the armed forces can be found in Tri Service Publication (TSP) 8—Age Distribution of UK Regular Forces. Table 1 shows the number of UK regular forces by age and sex as at 1 April 2008.

www/dasa.mod.uk/applications/newWeb/www/index.php? page=48&pubType=1&thiscontent=80&Publish Time=09:30:00 &date=2008-05-29&disText=1%20April%202008&from= listing &topDate=2008-05-29

TSP 8 is published on an annual basis.

Copies of TSP 8 are available in the Library of the House and are also available at

www.dasa.mod.uk.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many under 18-year-olds have applied for discretionary discharge under the unhappy minors provisions in the last three years; and how many of these applications were granted. (229410)

Following the introduction of the Joint Personnel Administration (JPA) System for all three services, the total number of under-18s who have left the armed forces can be provided but this figure cannot be broken down by the reasons for leaving.

There are no known circumstances in which a formal application for discretionary discharge under the ‘Under 18 Discharge as of Right’ scheme has been rejected. The commanding officer has discretion to delay a decision on discharge (for example, if at sea) if he has doubts about the permanence of the individual’s unhappiness; however, it is exceedingly rare for such an ‘unhappy’ individual to be refused immediate permission to leave.

The number of under-18 personnel who have left the armed forces in the last three completed financial years are:

FY 2005-06

FY 2006-07

FY 2007-08

Naval Service

245

1220

1255

Army

1,440

11,675

11,765

RAF

35

110

165

1 Figures are provisional and subject to review.

Notes:

1. Due to ongoing validation of data from JPA, all Naval Service flow statistics from period ending 31 October 2006, Army flow statistics from period ending 31 March 2007, and flow statistics from period ending 30 April 2007 are provisional and subject to review.

2. As a consequence of JPA, Army outflow data by age are unavailable for period ending 31 March 2007. Consequently Army data shown for FY 2006-07 are for the 12 months from 1 March 2006 to 28 February 2007.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the compatibility of the commitment of young people who joined the armed forces before the age of 18 years to serve for four years beyond their 18th birthday with (a) international and human rights conventions and (b) the International Labour Organisation Child Labour Conventions. (229411)

The Ministry of Defence does not consider the minimum commitment period for soldiers under the age of 18 years on enlistment into the Army to be in breach of either international and human rights conventions or the International Labour Organisation Child Labour Conventions.

AWE Burghfield: Floods

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contingency planning had been conducted at AWE Burghfield before the 2007 floods to prepare for such an eventuality; and if he will make a statement. (229694)

Contingency planning at AWE Burghfield is based on the output of a rolling programme of assessments undertaken as part of the site safety cases. Before the 2007 flooding these concluded that the surface water management system would be adequate to prevent flooding of the operational facilities in normal circumstances.

Prior to the 2007 event, localised flooding was experienced at AWE Burghfield, which resulted in further contingency measures being implemented. This involved clearing and dredging the Burghfield Brook, which runs through the site, and reprofiling its banks to allow a greater amount of water to be contained and a constant flow to be maintained.

Although the measures taken mitigated the effects of the July 2007 heavy rainfall, flooding still occurred as run-off from surrounding fields migrated to the site. Water sampling was completed throughout the site and no abnormal results were detected. At no time was there any threat to the operational safety of AWE sites, to the public or the environment.

China: Armed Forces

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence further to the answer of 20 October 2008, Official Report, column 130W, on China: armed forces, whether the interruption of military co-operation with China by EU member states, as agreed in the Madrid Declaration 1989, remains in place. (229958)

As I said in my answer to the hon. Member on 20 October 2008, Official Report, column 130W, most of the measures of the Madrid Declaration of 1989 have long since fallen into disuse. This includes the measure specifying the interruption of military co-operation by member states. The arms embargo, however, remains in place.

Colombia: Security Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department records the names of Colombian security forces personnel who have received training from UK military advisers in Colombia. (229310)

The Ministry of Defence keeps a record of Colombian security force personnel who have received UK training in Colombia for future monitoring purposes, including any accusations of human rights abuses. To date, there have been no cases of any UK-trained personnel being involved in such abuses. As we have previously made clear, the names of trained personnel are withheld as their release would, or would be likely to, prejudice international relations.

Defence: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of gross domestic product was spent on defence (a) including the cost of military operations and (b) excluding the cost of operations in each year since 1997; and what forecast he has made of the proportions to be so spent in each year to 2011. (230157)

Using audited outturn figures drawn from Ministry of Defence annual reports and accounts, historic figures are set out in table 1 as follows.

Table 1

Percentage GDP including cost of operations

Percentage GDP excluding cost of operations

1997-98

2.6

2.6

1998-99

2.8

2.8

1999-2000

2.7

2.7

2000-01

2.6

2.6

2001-02

2.5

2.5

2002-03

2.5

2.4

2003-04

2.5

2.4

2004-05

2.8

2.7

2005-06

2.7

2.5

2006-07

2.6

2.4

2007-08 (estimated)

2.6

2.4

Note:

Figures to 2003-04 are calculated on a cash/near cash basis; from 2004-05 onwards they are calculated using total DEL.

Figures for expenditure on defence (defined according to the UN’s Classification of Function of Government Function (COFOG) category) are published in HM Treasury’s Public Expenditure Statistical Analyses, as set out at table 2. These figures include the additional costs of military operations but do not separately identify these costs.

Table 2

Percentage of GDP (outturn)

1997-98

2.6

1998-99

2.8

1999-2000

2.7

2000-01

2.6

2001-02

2.5

2002-03

2.5

2003-04

2.5

2004-05

2.5

2005-06

2.5

2006-07

2.4

2007-08 (estimated)

2.4

Our latest forecast for the additional cost of operations will be set out in the Winter Supplementary Estimates. We do not publish forecasts for the additional cost of operations in future years or by proportion of GDP.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what IT projects (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies is undertaking; and what the most recent estimate of (i) the cost and (ii) the completion date of each is. (229161)

An IT project can vary from installing single computers and software licences to major programmes, such as the Defence Information Infrastructure. To confirm all of the IT projects the Ministry of Defence, and each of its agencies, is undertaking and their estimates of cost and completion date can be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Pensions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what proportion of civil servants in his Department and its agencies are members of the (a) Classic, (b) Classic Plus, (c) Nuvos and (d) Premium civil service pension schemes. (229537)

It is important to bear in mind that the Ministry of Defence employs staff in a wide variety of occupations and professions. Some, such as our teachers and lecturers, belong to the teachers pension scheme while our medical and nursing staff belong to the NHS pension scheme. These, of course, are in a minority. The vast majority of MOD civil servants are eligible to belong to the civil service pension scheme—although some choose not to join a pension scheme or opt for a partnership pension account. Consequently, the number of staff belonging to the four specified pension schemes falls short of the Department's total civil service strength which, as at 1 September, stood at 79,510 (full and part-time). Using the latest data, the figures, which include trading funds and agencies, are as follows:

Number

Percentage

Classic

49,626

62.41

Classic Plus

2,382

3.00

Nuvos

3,470

4.36

Premium

19,325

24.31

Total

74,803

94.08

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many civil servants working in his Department and its agencies have pensions with a cash equivalent transfer value of over £1 million. (229555)

It is not appropriate to disclose pension information for civil servants other than board members whose details are shown in the Remuneration Report in annual Resource Accounts. A copy of the Ministry of Defence's Resource Accounts for financial year 2007-08 and those for the Department's agencies and trading funds are available in the Library of the House.

Departmental Security

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many security passes have been reported (a) lost and (b) stolen by staff in (i) his Department and (ii) agencies sponsored by his Department in each year since 2001. (228939)

Details of lost/stolen security passes for 2003 were provided in an answer given on 28 January 2004, Official Report, column 371W, to the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Oaten). However, figures for lost/stolen MOD security passes are not held centrally as they are issued at establishment level and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Details of lost/stolen service identity cards which are also used by service personnel as a security pass for site access purposes are held centrally but are only available from 2004. For numbers of lost/stolen service identity cards for the period February 2004 to June 2006 I refer the hon. Member to the answer on 4 September 2006, Official Report, column 1713W, to the hon. Member for North Southwark and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes).

Details of lost/stolen service identity cards for the period from July 2006 until 31 December 2007 were provided in an answer on 11 March 2008, Official Report, column 293W, to the hon. Member for Woodspring (Dr. Fox).

The number of lost/stolen service identity cards for the period from 1 January to 30 September 2008 is 5,313. It is not possible to differentiate between lost or stolen cards or whether the card relates to the Department or one of its agencies.

Departmental Temporary Employment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which companies were used by his Department for providing temporary staff in each of the last five years; and what the value of contracts with each such company was in each of those years. (229084)

Until November 2006, MOD business units were individually responsible for engaging their own temporary staff. Since November 2006, a limited service to engage temporary staff has been provided through the People, Pay and Pensions Agency (PPPA). This does not yet cover all grades employed by the MOD, and therefore business units are still making their own arrangements where necessary. This means that information on total expenditure during each of the last five years could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Between November 2006 and September 2008, expenditure on temporary staff engaged by the PPPA to work in the MOD has been £10 million. The value of individual contracts has not been given due to commercial confidentiality. These staff have been obtained from the following list of agencies.

A & J Recruitment

Acorn4Jobs

Active Staff

Adecco

Alpha Personnel

AM Personnel

Armstrong Appointments

Atos Origin UK

Aviation Requirements

Blue Arrow

Brook Street

Bucks&Berks

COS Recruitment

Carlisle Staffing

Castle Recruitment

Champion Employment Agency

Freshapproach

Hays

Hays (outside)

Jennifer Griffiths Recruitment

Jobs@Pertemps

Josephine Sammons

Key Personnel

Manpower UK Ltd.

Office Angels

Opus Appointments

Personnel Selection

Pertemps Recruitment Partnership

Phoenix Strategic

Recruitment Express

Reed (outside)

Reed Employment

Reed Property & Construction

Robert Half

Royle Recruitment

S Com Group

Saffron Recruitment

Secondsite Recruitment

Select Appointments

Spring Personnel

Stafforce Recruitment

Storm Recruitment

Systems Consultant Services

Tate Recruitment

Topstaff Recruitment

Total Recruitment

Turner Charles

Venus Office Staffing

Weststaff

Wisewalk Resources

Workforce Staff & Business

Hercules Aircraft: Safety

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons foam suppressant was not fitted to the wing-tanks of Hercules XL 179 which was shot down by enemy fire over Baghdad in 2005. (230524)

Explosion suppressant foam (ESF) was not fitted to the wing tanks of Hercules XV 179 in 2002 because it was not judged to be a sufficiently high priority at that time in relation to the assessed threat and emphasis was instead placed on implementing a range of other protective measures. The loss of XV179 showed that judgment was incorrect in relation to the threats which subsequently existed in 2005.

The MOD has spent over £150 million on urgent operational requirements for the Hercules fleet since 2001, including enhanced defensive aids suites and flight deck armour. Furthermore, all Hercules aircraft operating in Iraq or Afghanistan are now fitted with ESF.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the concluding comments of Wiltshire Coroner David Masters into the loss of Hercules XL179; and if he will make a statement. (230526)

I am grateful for the very thorough and professional manner in which David Masters, HM Coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon conducted the inquest into the loss of the 10 personnel tragically killed when Hercules XV179 crashed in Iraq in 2005. He brought a number of lessons to our attention and it is clear that there have been failures in our procedures for which I apologise. We will address all the issues raised during the inquest, where we have not already done so.

Horn of Africa: Piracy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the command relationships will be between Combined Task Force-150, Combined Joint Task Force—Horn of Africa and the new EU-led anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa; (228404)

(2) how many British ships will participate in the EU-led anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa, broken down by type of ship; and for how long the mission will last;

(3) what the cost will be for the British contribution to the EU-led anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa; and whether the Athena mechanism will be used to determine costs;

(4) what the legal basis is for the EU-led anti-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa.

We have supported EU planning for a counter-piracy naval operation off the coast of Somalia. A formal legal decision from the EU member states to act, but not yet to launch the operation, is expected in the next 10 days.

This will be based on a UK offer to provide the Operation Commander and Operation HQ. No decisions have been taken on the command structure relating to the Forward Headquarters, although we have made it clear that any European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) operation needs to ensure maximum co-ordination with Combined Task Force 150, Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa and NATO.

The legal basis for the EU-led mission will be a Joint Action adopted under Articles 14, 25 and 28 of the Treaty of European Union, to support resolutions 1814/2008, 1816/2008 and 1838/2008 of the UN Security Council Resolutions.

Force generation for the operation will not begin until EU Ministers have agreed to act. We intend to offer a Royal Navy frigate for part of the ESDP operation, but the timing and detail will be subject to ESDP force generation requirements and UK operational priorities. EU planning envisages an operation lasting one year from the declaration of Initial Operating Capability by the Operation Commander.

The cost of this mission to the United Kingdom comprises two elements. The first is the common costs, which are determined by the Athena mechanism. The common costs will include the cost to set up the Operation Headquarters and the Force Headquarters. The second element is national costs associated with any ship deployment. Until further planning has been completed it will not be possible to determine the cost of the British contribution to any potential ESDP operation to tackle piracy.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether representatives of the British Army and representatives of the Mahdi Army entered into any agreement or accommodation in respect of military engagement in Iraq during 2007. (228803)

UK forces are operating in Iraq as part of a multi-national coalition at the request of the Iraqi Government. The coalition and the Iraqi Government have routinely followed a policy of dialogue with insurgent groups, where it is judged they can be persuaded to renounce violence and participate in the legitimate political process. The offer of engagement is open to groups across the political spectrum and it has been an essential element of the counter-insurgency strategy to bring peace and security to Iraq.

In 2007, with the full knowledge and support both of our coalition partners and the Iraqi Government, UK forces conducted a dialogue with a range of militia leaders in Basra—including Jaish al-Mahdi—in accordance with the Iraq-wide reconciliation strategy. Neither these discussions, nor their outcome, prevented UK forces from providing military support to the Iraqi Security Forces.

Military Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of (a) C-17 Globemaster, (b) C-130K Hercules, (c) C-130J Hercules, (d) Tristar, (e) VC-10 and (f) Nimrod aircraft are (i) in service, (ii) in the forward fleet and (iii) fit for purpose. (226994)

The information requested for C-17, C-130 Hercules, Tristar, VC10 and Nimrod aircraft that are in service, in the forward fleet (FF) and considered fit for purpose (FFP) is provided in the following table. ‘In service’ has been taken to mean the effective fleet which covers all aircraft barring those which are redundant, declared as surplus or awaiting disposal. Aircraft in the FF are those that are available to the front line command for operational and training purposes including those that are classed as short-term unserviceable aircraft undergoing scheduled depth maintenance, or planned routine fleet maintenance are not included. Aircraft defined as FFP are those considered capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date. The FF and FFP figures shown are the latest available, provided as an average for September 2008, and have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Total Fleet

In service

Percentage of Total Fleet that is in service

Number in FF

Percentage of in service aircraft in FF

Number of aircraft FFP

Percentage of FF aircraft which are FFP

C-17 Globemaster

6

6

100

6

100

5

83

C-130K Hercules

19

18

74

12

63

10

83

C-130J Hercules

24

24

100

19

79

14

74

Tristar

9

9

100

7

78

4

57

VC-10

16

15

94

13

87

8

62

Nimrod MR2

15

14

93

8

57

5

63

Nimrod R1

3

3

100

1

33

1

100

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of (a) Nimrod, (b) Harrier, (c) Tornado GR4, (d) Tornado F3 and (e) Typhoon aircraft are (i) in service, (ii) in the forward fleet and (iii) fit for purpose. (226995)

The information requested for Nimrod, Harrier, Tornado GR4, Tornado F3 and Typhoon aircraft that are in service, in the forward fleet (FF) and considered fit for purpose (FFP) is provided in the following table. ‘In service' has been taken to mean the effective fleet which covers all aircraft barring those which are redundant, declared as surplus or awaiting disposal. FF aircraft are those that are available to the front line command for operational and training purposes including those that are classed as 'short-term unserviceable'; aircraft undergoing scheduled depth maintenance, or planned routine fleet maintenance are not included. Aircraft defined as FFP are those considered capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date. The figures shown are a snapshot for the 30 September, except where stated, and have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Aircraft

Fleet number

In service

Percentage of total fleet in service

Number in FF

Percent of total in FF

Number of aircraft FFP

Percentage of FF aircraft which are FFP

Nimrod MR21

15

14

93

8

57

5

63

Nimrod R11

3

3

100

1

33

1

100

Harrier

75

75

100

47

63

36

77

Tornado GR4

138

138

100

95

69

57

60

Tornado F3

71

71

100

47

66

32

68

Typhoon

49

49

100

34

69

29

85

1 Figures are average for September 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many days on average a (a) Hercules C-130, (b) Tristar, (c) VC-10 and (d) C-17 Globemaster was (i) on operations, (ii) engaged in non-operational flying, (iii) available but not flown, (iv) in scheduled maintenance, (v) undergoing other repair activity, (vi) undergoing unscheduled maintenance, (vii) awaiting spares and (viii) not worked in each of the last three years. (230172)

This information requested is not held centrally, and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of (a) Chinook, (b) Merlin and (c) Sea King helicopters are (i) in service, (ii) fit for purpose and (iii) out of service. (226903)

The percentages of the (a) Chinook, (b) Merlin and (c) Sea King helicopters considered (i) in service, (ii) fit for purpose and (iii) out of service are detailed in the following table. ‘In service’ has been taken to mean the effective fleet which covers all aircraft barring those which are redundant, declared as surplus or awaiting disposal. Fit for purpose aircraft are those in the forward fleet considered capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date. Aircraft in the forward fleet are those that are available to the front line command for operational and training purposes, including those that are classed as ‘short-term unserviceable’: aircraft undergoing scheduled depth maintenance, or planned routine fleet maintenance are excluded. ‘Out of service’ has been taken to mean the non-effective fleet, which covers those aircraft that are redundant, declared as surplus or awaiting disposal.

The following figures are for averages for the month of August 2008.

August 2008

In service aircraft as a percentage of total fleet

Fit for purpose aircraft as a percentage of forward fleet

Out of service aircraft as a percentage of total fleet

Chinook 2/2a1

100

72

0

Merlin Mk11

100

44

0

Merlin Mk3/3a1

100

59

0

Sea King Mk5

100

55

0

Sea King Mk7

100

44

0

Sea King Mk4/6C1

100

59

0

Sea King Mk3/3a

100

47

0

1 Deployed on operations.

The number of helicopters fit for purpose will vary from day to day due, primarily, to routine maintenance requirements. Operational capability is measured in terms of flying hours rather than the number of airframes available. All rotary wing operational requirements are currently being met.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what percentage of helicopters in the (a) Army Air Corps, (b) Fleet Air Arm and (c) Royal Air Forces are (i) in service, (ii) in the forward fleet and (iii) fit for purpose, broken down by helicopter type. (226996)

The numbers and types of helicopters used by the Army Air Corps, Fleet Air Arm and Royal Air Force which are in service, in the forward fleet and considered fit for purpose are detailed in the following table. "In service" has been taken to mean the effective fleet which covers all aircraft barring those which are redundant, declared as surplus or awaiting disposal. Aircraft in the "forward fleet" are those that are available to the front line command for operational and training purposes, including those that are classed as "short-term unserviceable": aircraft undergoing scheduled depth maintenance, or planned routine fleet maintenance are excluded. Fit for purpose aircraft are those in the forward fleet considered capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given date.

The following figures represent averages taken for August 2008.

Total fleet

In service

Percentage of total fleet that is in service

Number in forward fleet

Percentage of in service aircraft that is in the forward fleet

Number fit for purpose

Percentage of forward fleet fit aircraft that is for purpose

Royal Navy

Lynx Mk3/8

71

63

89

43

68

28

65

Sea King Mk5

15

15

100

11

73

6

55

Sea King Mk7

13

13

100

10

77

4

40

Sea King Mk4/6C1

42

42

100

29

69

17

59

Merlin Mkl1

42

42

100

22

52

10

45

Army Air Corps

A109

4

4

100

4

100

3

75

Apache1

67

67

100

50

75

20

40

Gazelle

98

56

57

46

82

37

80

Lynx Mk7/91

109

96

88

61

64

36

59

Royal Air Force

Merlin Mk3/3a1

28

28

100

17

61

10

59

Puma1

43

32

74

24

75

16

67

Chinook 2/2a1

40

40

100

29

73

21

72

Sea King Mk3/3a

25

25

100

17

68

8

47

1 Deployed on operations.

The number of helicopters fit for purpose will vary from day to day due, primarily, to routine maintenance requirements. Operational capability is measured in terms of flying hours rather than the number of airframes available. All rotary wing operational requirements are currently being met.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of helicopters used by British armed forces was contracted from private operators in the latest period for which figures are available. (227976)

In financial year 2007-08 the proportion of helicopters contracted from private operators was 9.6 per cent.

Military Aircraft: Procurement

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many units of the (a) Tranche 3 Typhoon, (b) Joint Strike Fighter and (c) A300M have been (i) ordered and (ii) delivered. (229979)

The number of aircraft which have been ordered and delivered is as follows:

Typhoon Tranche 3:

Negotiations with partner nations and industry are continuing and decisions will be taken once these negotiations are complete.

Joint Strike Fighter:

None.

A400M:

The UK has ordered 25 A400M aircraft. No deliveries have been made to date.

Military Aircraft: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many training sorties for the (a) Hercules C-130, (b) Tristar, (c) VC-10 and (d) C-17 Globemaster were cancelled in each year since 2003. (230174)

The information requested is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many training flying hours crews of the (a) Hercules C-130, (b) Tristar, (c) VC-10 and (d) C-17 Globemaster aircraft flew on average in each year since 2001. (230175)

Nuclear Weapons

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether US personnel will be asked to participate in his Department's work on the Warhead Pre-Concept Working Group; (228902)

(2) whether the Warhead Pre-Concept Working Group has considered options for (a) agent defeat and (b) other warhead modifications, as part of its work;

(3) whether work emerging from the (a) theoretical enhanced radiation and (b) residual enhanced radiation weapon warhead concept have been examined as part of the work of the Warhead Pre-Concept Working Group; and whether personnel at AWE Aldermaston have been briefed on these or other advanced nuclear weapons concepts by their US counterparts in the last three years.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer my predecessor gave him on 28 November 2007, Official Report, column 453W from which he will be aware that research is currently being undertaken in support of the detailed review described in paragraph 7-4 of the December 2006 White Paper: The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent (Cmd 6994). This review, which was previously overseen by the Warhead Pre-Concept Working Group (WPCWG) is now being co-ordinated by the Atomic Weapons Establishment within their systems engineering management structure under the direction of the Ministry of Defence. It is examining both the optimum life of the UK's existing nuclear warhead stockpile and the range of replacement options that might be available to inform decisions on whether and how we may need to refurbish or replace the existing warhead likely to be necessary in the next Parliament. Some of the work included in this review is being undertaken in co-operation with the US and with the assistance of US personnel under the 1958 UK-US Agreement for Co-operation on the Uses of Atomic Energy for Mutual Defence Purposes.

I am withholding further details of this ongoing review and related discussions held with the US under the 1958 Mutual Defence Agreement in the interests of national security.

Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many service personnel have been diagnosed with (a) heatstroke and (b) other heat-related illness in Iraq since 2003; [209647]

(2) how many service personnel have been diagnosed with (a) heatstroke and (b) other heat-related illness in Afghanistan since 2001.

The Ministry of Defence records instances of heat illness, as part of its monitoring of climatic injury. Heat illness has traditionally been divided into heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but in practice it is difficult to define the division between the two. Heat illness is therefore used to cover a continuum of illness ranging from mild symptoms such as muscular weakness, headache and excess fatigue to more serious outcomes such as collapse, coma and death.

The following table shows the instances of heat illness that have required attendance at a Field Hospital for Operation Telic since 2003 and Operation Herrick since reporting began in August 2006:

Operation Telic

Operation Herrick

2003

804

n/a

2004

130

n/a

2005

62

n/a

2006

99

119

2007

107

62

20082

2

5

1 Data collection did not begin in Afghanistan until August 2006. 2 1 January to 31 March 2008.

This table updates the figures for 2006 and 2007 given in a previous answer to a question on heat related illness—21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1637W. Both sets of figures were provided by Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA); however the numbers in the earlier answer were based on field hospital admissions records. The data in this answer have been extracted from the Operational Emergency Department Attendance register (OpEDAR). As OpEDAR covers all attendances, regardless of whether they are admitted, DASA has advised that it provides a more comprehensive figure for heat illness.

These figures provide an indication of instances of heat illness. It is likely that there have been other cases of heat injury which could not be identifed from the available records as they may have been recorded under a variety of symptoms (e.g. dehydration, headache etc.) common to other illnesses. In Iraq, the temperature and humidity can change very quickly, increasing the likelihood of sudden instances of heat illness.

Various steps are taken to prevent heat related illnesses. Commanders are provided with heat illness prevention instructions in order to monitor heat stress. Temperature and humidity levels are forecast daily as part of standard operating procedures thereby allowing commanders to schedule workloads accordingly. Where operationally feasible, although clearly this will not be possible in every single location, air conditioning is used in accommodation, business offices and facilities such as welfare, catering and medical facilities in the main camps in operational theatres. Canteen areas have large fridges which are stocked with a plentiful supply of cold water.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what priority is accorded to post and parcels in shipping goods from the UK to (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan for service personnel. (230162)

Mail for HM armed forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan is afforded the highest possible priority behind essential supplies such as water, food, medical supplies and ammunition.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the primary means for transporting post and parcels from (a) the UK and (b) Germany to (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan is. (230164)

The primary means for transporting post and parcels from the UK and Germany to Iraq and Afghanistan is by military chartered or RAF aircraft.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department spent on transporting post and parcels from (a) the UK and (b) Germany to (i) Iraq and (ii) Afghanistan since 2001. (230165)

Post and parcels sent to Iraq and Afghanistan are transported by RAF and military chartered aircraft. They travel as part of variable mixed loads and the individual cost of each consignment is not recorded.

Royal Military Academy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is routine procedure for approval of overseas military personnel attending military courses at Sandhurst to be required from Ministers in his Department; when the procedures for considering applications for such training were last reviewed; and whether any changes were made. (230787)

It is not routine procedure for ministerial approval to be sought for the attendance of overseas military personnel at Sandhurst when engagement with a cadet’s host nation is consistent with pan-Whitehall strategy.

All applications for training at Sandhurst are reviewed, and will continue to be reviewed, on a continuous basis by the appropriate policy staff in MOD, and there has been no change to the role of Ministers in this process.

Russia: NATO

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department has had discussions with its NATO counterparts on possible military co-operation with the Russian Federation in Afghanistan. (229458)

At a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at Defence Ministerial level on 13 June, Russia's support to the Alliance's mission in Afghanistan was widely welcomed, although Russia made it clear this support stopped short of direct military intervention. The support includes transit arrangements through Russian territory in support of the International Security Assistance Force, and a NATO-Russia Council project on counter-narcotics training for Afghan and Central Asian personnel. In the wake of the crisis in Georgia this summer, discussions between NATO and Russia have slowed, but the UK is working to keep open avenues for operational co-operation where that is in NATO's interests.

USA: Military Bases

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what use is made of RAF Molesworth in the US Africom programme. (229412)

US personnel at the Joint Analysis Centre at RAF Molesworth provide intelligence analysis capabilities for the US Africa Command.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether an operational certificate has been issued by the US Administration for the space-based infra-red system at RAF Menwith Hill. (229413)

RAF Menwith Hill houses a satellite ground terminal which receives data from the space-based infra-red system (SBIRS) satellites to be routed to the US for the purposes of both missile early warning and ballistic missile defence. The use of RAF Menwith Hill as a relay link for the SBIRS has been agreed between the UK and US Governments. As both the satellite system and the ground terminal at RAF Menwith Hill are owned and operated by the US Government, we hold no information on the operational certification for the SBIRS.

War Graves

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps would need to be taken to extend the Commonwealth War Graves Commission dates of commemoration from 31 December 1947. (229277)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is an independent, internationally funded body established by Royal Charter which defines the Commission's dates for commemoration. Her Majesty's Government have no direct control over its activities.

Responsibility for the commemoration of UK armed forces personnel who, from 1 January 1948, die in service and who receive a service-funded funeral rests with the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Their graves are maintained in perpetuity by the Department.

War Graves: Educational Visits