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Written Answers

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

Written Answers to Questions

Monday 23 February 2009

Church Commissioners

Redundant Churches

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) of 22 July 2008, Official Report, column 983W, on redundant churches, what assessment the Church Commissioners have made of the reasons for churches being closed for regular public worship. (256413)

Decisions to propose closure for regular public worship are taken within each diocese and the Commissioners have made no specific assessment of the reasons behind such decisions. Where objections are received, the Commissioners consider whether there is a pastoral need for the church. On average, between 25 and 30 churches are closed each year; this is in the context of over 16,000 churches in use, including a number of new places of worship opening each year.

Religious Buildings: Water Charges

To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners whether the Church Commissioners plan to take steps to implement the resolution of the General Synod on church water rates; and if he will make a statement. (257843)

The General Synod motion urged the Government to press Ofwat to ensure that water companies did not treat places of worship as if they were businesses and, as my hon. Friend will note from my remarks on the Floor of the House on 5 February 2009, Official Report, columns 971-72, I fully support the position taken by General Synod.

I might add by way of a statement that the Archbishops Council will take the lead in the Church’s ongoing discussions with Government on this matter and it will do so not only with General Synod’s support but also the support of the Church Commissioners, the wider Church, other charitable bodies, a good many Members of Parliament and, it seems, an increasing proportion of the general public.

House of Commons Commission

Palace of Westminster: Pedestrian Access

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission with reference to the answer of 6 November 2006, Official Report, column 671W, on pedestrian access, what progress has been made in ensuring that pedestrian access to the Palace of Westminster is not impeded by inadequate rainwater drainage on St. Margaret's Street; when the House of Commons Commission last discussed this issue with Westminster City Council; what response was received; on how many occasions since December 2008 pedestrian access to the Palace of Westminster has been impeded by rainwater; and if he will make a statement. (256726)

A record is not kept of the number of times pedestrian access to the Palace of Westminster has been impeded by rainwater. The drainage gully on St. Margaret Street adjacent to St. Stephen's Entrance is blocked regularly with rubbish and detritus and Westminster city council arrange for it to be cleared when flooding is causing a nuisance. Further representations will be made to the council to increase the frequency of cleaning in this location and to explore whether the gully can be covered to reduce the likelihood of future blockage. There have been no discussions on this subject between the House of Commons Commission and Westminster city council.

Parliament: Repairs and Maintenance

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission how many repairs have been required to the fabric and installations of each building on the Parliamentary Estate in each year since 1990; and what the estimated total cost was for each building. (248141)

A list of the repairs to the fabric and installations of each building on the parliamentary estate has been placed in the Library. Information on the number of repairs is available back to 2000, and on the cost of repairs back to 2005-06.

Working Conditions: Temperature

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what the (a) highest and (b) lowest temperature measured in the Churchill Room and nearby areas during working hours were between November 2008 and January 2009; what steps are taken in exceptionally cold weather to provide additional heating in the House, with particular reference to the Churchill Room; and what recent representations have been made by (i) House staff and (ii) customers about the temperature in the Churchill Room. (257381)

The highest temperature recorded in the Churchill Room—on numerous occasions—between November 2008 and January 2009 was 21 degrees centigrade. The lowest temperature during the same period was 17 degrees centigrade on 12 January 2009. The prevailing weather conditions are monitored by House engineers and the heating system adjusted accordingly to maintain temperatures at acceptable levels. Since November 2008, two requests have been recorded on the estates helpdesk about cool temperatures in the Churchill Room, on 20 November 2008 and 4 February 2009. Work has taken place during the February constituency week to replace the heating and ventilation controls for the Churchill Room and further work will take place in the Easter recess.

To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what temperature range is deemed acceptable by the House authorities for staff to work in. (257382)

The statutory minimum temperature for office environments is 16°C. There is no statutory upper limit. In line with Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) guidance the House aims to maintain temperatures of 21°C in office areas.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Agriculture: Subsidies

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps the Government have taken to assist agricultural producers affected by the outbreaks of foot and mouth disease. (256935)

The Animal Health Act 1981 and Human Rights legislation require that compensation is paid for animals compulsorily killed to prevent the spread of disease. For foot and mouth disease (FMD), compensation is paid for all animals compulsorily slaughtered at the full market value before the animal became infected. Compensation is also paid for other items, such as farm equipment and feed etc. which are seized as they are considered to be contaminated. This includes such things as milk. The amount of compensation payable for animals for FMD is determined by an approved valuer at the time of slaughter.

Animal Welfare

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) incidents of animal cruelty have been reported and (b) people have been charged with offences of animal cruelty in (i) England, (ii) the North East, (iii) the Tees Valley and (iv) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency in each of the last 10 years. (254890)

The number of people proceeded against at magistrates courts for animal cruelty in (a) England, (b) the north-east, and (c) Cleveland police force area for the years 1998 to 2007 (latest available) can be viewed in the table.

Charging data are not held by Ministry of Justice, therefore data on cases proceeded against have been provided in lieu.

Crimes relating to cruelty to animals are summary offences and thus reported cases of animal cruelty are not included in the police recorded crime statistics collected by the Home Office.

Court data are not collected centrally at constituency level; thus Cleveland police force area data have been provided in lieu of (c) Tees Valley, and (d) Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland constituency.

These data are on the principal offence basis. The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offence for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences, the offence selected is the one for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe.

Court proceedings data for 2008 will be available in the autumn of 2009.

Number of persons proceeded against at magistrates courts for animal cruelty in Cleveland police force area, north-east region, and England for the years 1998 to 20071, 2, 3, 4, 5

Proceeded against

Force/Area

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Cleveland

22

26

20

43

26

33

24

33

41

51

North-east

96

93

76

105

89

102

100

106

97

140

England

1,168

1,081

1,110

1,026

1,022

1,005

1,013

1,104

1,048

1,079

1 The statistics relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences the principal offence is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe. 2 Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used. 3 Staffordshire police force were able to submit sample data only for persons proceeded against and convicted in the magistrates courts for the year 2000. Although sufficient to estimate higher orders of data, these data are not robust enough at a detailed level and have been excluded from the table. 4 The north-east region comprises the following police force areas: Northumbria Durham Cleveland. 5 Crimes relating to cruelty to animals are summary offences and are therefore not included within the police recorded crime series. Police recorded crime covers crimes which are recorded by the police and which are notified to the Home Office. All indictable or triable-either-way offences are included together with certain closely associated summary offences.

Birds

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs pursuant to the answer of 27 January 2009, Official Report, column 320W, on birds, about what elements of the report there were uncertainties; what the reasons are for the time taken to resolve such uncertainties; and whether the contract made provision for financial penalties for late or sub-standard delivery. (253683)

Queries about the nature, reliability and robustness of the information reported, have delayed publication of this report. These queries included the extent to which conclusions in the report were supported by reliable evidence, and whether individuals named in the report had agreed to the inclusion of their names.

The report was reviewed with the authors five times as a consequence of officials raising questions about its content. While the authors of the report acted as promptly as possible, delays did occur due to the difficulties of verification of data with third parties overseas, or as key personnel were not available temporarily.

While the contract did allow for penalties none were imposed because at the time, March/April 2008, the report was believed to be reasonably correct. Most of the concerns about the style and content of the report only came to light subsequently, and the contractor then undertook the necessary additional work.

Charities: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which charities have been prosecuted under the waste management duty of care provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990; and how much revenue has been collected from fines resulting from such prosecutions. (256403)

DEFRA does not hold the information requested. Recorded details on prosecutions do not identify the type of business or organisation.

Departmental Buildings

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether a Display Energy Certificate has been produced for each of his Department's buildings. (252630)

I can confirm that Display Energy Certificates (DECs) have been produced for the 39 DEFRA properties meeting the requirements of the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much has been spent by his Department on staff reward and recognition schemes in each of the last three years. (248712)

DEFRA and its Executive agencies operate a number of different non-financial reward and recognition schemes for staff (excludes bonus schemes) at grade 6 equivalent and below.

These provide DEFRA and its agencies with the flexibility to recognise and reward their employees, with small/symbolic awards.

Details of the costs associated with each scheme are outlined as follows:

DEFRA Team Awards (including Executive agencies)

The DEFRA Team Awards identify and celebrate success across DEFRA and its agencies.

Each year an annual awards dinner and ceremony is held, to which short-listed teams from across DEFRA are invited.

The winning teams in each category receive a certificate of congratulations and are awarded a trophy, made from recycled materials, that has no commercial value.

The cost of staging the event in each of the last three years are given in the following table.

£

2006

20,557.92

2007

20,533

2008

23,328.20

‘Achieving the Best’—Animal Health (AH), DEFRA Executive agency

‘Achieving the Best’ is the agency’s scheme for recognising and rewarding good performance and long service at local and agency-wide level.

The scheme was introduced on 1 April 2007.

There are two recognition and reward schemes that operate under the ‘Achieving the Best’ scheme:

the Animal Health Instant Award; and

the Animal Health Long Service Award.

Animal Health Instant Award

This takes the form of a voucher up to a value of £50 per employee. The minimum voucher award is £10 and the maximum is £50.

The total cost of providing the Instant Awards for 2007-08 was £89,518.

Animal Health Long Service Awards

Two awards (a 25-Year and a 40-Year Long Service award) are presented locally to individuals who have completed the requisite service in the civil service (including any previous service in MAFF, DEFRA, the State Veterinary Service, Animal Health or any other Government Department).

Recipients receive a certificate and are granted two days special paid leave (for the 25-Year award) or five days special paid leave (for the 40-Year award), which are awarded at the agency’s bi-annual awards ceremony that celebrates success.

For 2007-08, 16 25-Year awards were made to Animal Health staff, at a cost of £5,758.02; three 40-Year awards were made at a cost of £3,299.57.

The costs shown are inclusive of a proportion of the costs for staging the Long Service Awards part of the event.

Voucher Scheme—Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), DEFRA Executive agency

The agency operates a voucher scheme, which is designed to recognise one-off achievements throughout the course of the year. These are awarded in £50 lots.

The cost of operating the scheme in each of the last three years are given in the following table.

£000

2006

15

2007

15

2008

15

Non-Pay Reward Scheme—Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), DEFRA Executive agency

The scheme is designed to act as a motivational award to an individual or team, which underpins VLA’s organisational values, aims and objectives. It encourages and rewards good performance, promotes team building or recognises outstanding contribution.

Responsibility for deciding on the award is delegated to Heads of Departments/Units, who are each allocated a share of the non-pay reward budget, relative to the size of the team.

The cost of operating the scheme in each of the last three years are shown in the following table.

£

2006-07

9,996

2007-08

12,236

2008-09 (to date)

6,004

Departmental Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs with reference to the answer of 10 November 2008, Official Report, column 770W, on departmental training, what personal training courses at public expense other Ministers in his Department have undertaken since 1 January 2008. (251326)

DEFRA Ministers attended three courses in the period concerned, each of them lasting no longer than one day. The courses were intended to enable Ministers to carry out their duties effectively in line with the ministerial code.

Domestic Waste: Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what powers waste collection authorities have to enter premises in relation to suspected breaches of waste regulations; and what powers they have to (a) measure and (b) photograph household waste; (252326)

(2) whether joint waste authorities will be eligible to undertaken directed surveillance under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000;

(3) what powers of entry the joint waste authorities will have.

Section 92A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) gives local authorities powers to serve a litter clearing notice on any open land, requiring the occupier, or failing that, the owner, to clear litter from that land. If the notice is not complied with, they can enter the land, clean up and then reclaim their costs.

Section 59 of the EPA allows waste regulation authorities and waste collection authorities to serve a notice on the occupier or owner of land to require the removal of controlled waste unlawfully and knowingly deposited. Where a person fails to meet these requirements, the local authority or the Environment Agency may clear the waste and seek to recover the costs.

Waste collection authorities have no powers to enter domestic premises to gather evidence of breaches of regulations on how waste is presented for collection.

It is intended that joint waste authorities should have the same powers as are currently available to local authorities when they are carrying out those functions which joint waste authorities may take over.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what guidance (a) his Department and (b) the Waste and Resources Action Programme has provided to local authorities on the use of large communal bins for household waste; (252636)

(2) what guidance (a) his Department and (b) the Waste and Resources Action Programme has provided to local authorities on the number of household waste bins to be provided to households.

There has not been a call for guidance on the use of large communal bins for household waste or on the number of household waste bins to be provided to households, either to DEFRA or WRAP.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have undertaken into means of waste (i) collection and (ii) disposal of mercury-containing compact fluorescent lights for domestic use. (252729)

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what steps his Department is taking to encourage local authorities to undertake separate food waste collections; (252927)

(2) how many local authorities offer a separate food waste collection service.

Separate collection of food waste has so far been introduced by 36 local authorities in England, including 17 authorities who are working with the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) on trials of the collection of segregated household food waste. These are separate food only schemes and do not include mixed food and garden waste collections.

Separate collection of food waste can help achieve environmental gains more cost-effectively, including through the use of anaerobic digestion to provide energy. Further means of extending separate food waste collections and increasing the proportion of food waste collected which is routed to anaerobic digestion are also under consideration.

EC Law

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what provisions of EU directives within his Department’s area of responsibility have not yet been transposed into law; in respect of the provisions of which such directives the UK has been subject to infringement action by the European Commission since January 2005; and what stage has been reached in such action in each case. (255490)

There are 34 Directives within the Department’s responsibilities, in relation to which the due date for transposition has not yet been reached, or which have not yet been transposed completely into UK law.

It is the Government’s policy to neither confirm nor deny the existence of infringement proceedings or to disclose details of any infringement action by the European Commission except where an overriding public interest in disclosure of such information can be demonstrated on a case-by-case basis.

Electronic Tagging: Sheep

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate his Department has made of the effect on the sheep industry's revenue of the introduction of the electronic identification of sheep. (257422)

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for East Devon (Mr. Swire) on 11 February 2009, Official Report, column 2031W.

Flood Control

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what progress has been made in the development of catchment flood management plans. (256352)

The 68 Catchment Flood Management Plans in England have been completed and signed off by Environment Agency Regional Directors. The Environment Agency is re-consulting on elements of six of the plans that impact on the East Riding of Yorkshire council.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many properties in England and Wales are classified as at risk of flooding. (256355)

The Environment Agency undertakes regular assessments of the number of properties at risk of flooding from rivers and from the sea through its National Flood Risk Assessments. In the most recent assessment (in 2006) DEFRA and the Environment Agency estimated that 2.3 million properties were at risk of flooding in England and Wales.

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Rural Payments Agency on the processing of applications by growers to be recognised as producer organisations for the purposes of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme. (252581)

No ministerial discussions have taken place with RPA on the processing of applications by growers to be recognised as producer organisations for the purposes of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme. My predecessor was fully briefed concerning developments following recent European Court of Auditors and European Agricultural Guarantee Fund audits of the scheme and remedial actions required to address audit concerns.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many organisations in England were recognised as producer organisations for the purposes of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Aid Scheme in 2004; how many have been de-recognised since 2004; and how many are currently recognised. (252584)

There are currently 54 recognised producer organisations.

In 2004 there were 73 recognised producer organisations in the scheme. 32 of them have been de-recognised since 2004. In addition some have left the scheme voluntarily and/or merged with other producer organisations.

Joint Waste Authorities

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the latest timetable is for the establishment of joint waste authorities. (253878)

Proposals for Joint Waste Authorities may be submitted until 31 July 2009. It is estimated that it will take 12 months to assess a proposal and to lay the relevant legislation. The first Joint Waste Authorities may therefore be established from 31 July 2010.

Livestock: Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many (a) calves and (b) horses were exported from the UK for further fattening and slaughter to each destination country in the latest period for which information is available; and what the average journey times were to each such country. (252865)

The Cattle Tracing System (for Great Britain) and APHIS (for Northern Ireland) show the following numbers of calves (animals under 42 days old) as being exported from the United Kingdom during 2008. Due to the way the data are held, it is not possible to specify whether the animals were intended for breeding, production or slaughter.

Export destination

1 January 2008 to 31 December 20081

Range of travelling times (hours)

Average times (hours)

Belgium

17,548

10.5-17.5

14.38

France

13,469

8.5-18.5

13.24

Republic of Ireland

1,181

19

19.05

Netherlands

21,914

11.5-28

17.40

Spain

1,436

22.5-32.5

29.37

Total

55,548

1 Animals under 42 days old.

The range of travelling times and averages are taken from new route journey log applications received in 2008 that have been calculated and approved excluding rest times (mid journey rests and rests at control posts). These are only plans and not the actual times recorded from journeys that have taken place.

No horse or pony export welfare licences were applied for or issued for slaughter or fattening during 2008.

Members: Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when he plans to reply to the letter of 12 December 2008 from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire on the Amazon rainforest. (256809)

[holding answer 12 February 2009]: I signed a reply to the hon. Member for West Worcestershire (Sir Michael Spicer) on 10 February.

Public Footpaths

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) if he will bring forward funding to enable British Waterways to undertake (a) necessary maintenance of its grade D and grade E assets and (b) projects to improve the standard of towpaths to create a national towpath network; (256123)

(2) if he will estimate how many (a) employment and (b) training opportunities a programme of maintenance and towpath network improvement undertaken by British Waterways would provide.

£5 million has been brought forward from 2010-11 and will contribute towards British Waterways’ maintenance of its grade D and E assets.

An estimation on the number of employment and training opportunities the creation of a national tow path would bring, depends on the scale of the programme. DEFRA is considering a range of possible proposals to support the economy and environment.

Recycling

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate (a) his Department, (b) the Environment Agency and (c) the Waste and Resources Action Programme have made of the cost to local authorities of storing paper collected from households for recycling in 2008-09. (252396)

DEFRA, the Environment Agency and the Waste and Resources Action Programme have not made an estimate of the cost to local authorities of storing paper collected from households for recycling. However, the Environment Agency has reported that it has not seen significant increases in requests for additional storage capacity for recyclable materials.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate has been made of the percentage of municipal waste consisting of recyclable material landfilled by local authorities in England in the last 12 months which could have been recycled. (256375)

Recycling: Calderdale

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent estimate he has made of (a) household recycling rates and (b) levels of collection services for materials for recycling in Calderdale; and if he will make a statement. (256813)

[holding answer 12 February 2009]: In 2007-08 Calderdale council's household recycling and composting rate was 24.92 per cent. 96.53 per cent. of households in Calderdale had a kerbside collection of at least one recyclable material.

These data are available at local authority level for the last three years at:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/statistics/wastats/index.htm.

Rural Areas: Community Development

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will make representations to his EU counterparts on a replacement for the LEADER Programme. (257031)

The LEADER approach is now being implemented through mainstream rural development programming rather than as a separate programme in its own right. Under the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), 61 Local Action Groups have been selected so far to deliver the LEADER approach. This element of the RDPE has only been operational since January 2008 and we will want to review progress over the remainder of the programming period with a view to preparing for EU negotiations on the next programming period. The current programme runs until 2013, and therefore we do not envisage discussions at EU level on the future rural development programme for some time.

Sewers: Fats

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the percentage of sewer blockages caused by cooking oils, fats and greases in each water company area in each of the last five years. (256660)

My Department does not collect information on the causes of sewer blockages.

However, Water UK, the representative body for the water industry, estimates that there are on average around 200,000 sewer blockages in England and Wales each year, of which fats, oils and greases are responsible for up to 75 per cent.

Waste Disposal

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much (a) household and (b) non-household waste was collected by each local authority in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement. (253201)

The information requested is on the DEFRA website and can be found at the following address:

www.defra.gov.uk/environment/statistics/wastats/bulletin08.htm

Source:

WasteDataFlow

Waste Disposal: Fees and Charges

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether (a) Travellers and (b) people in domestic dwellings not rated by the Valuation Office Agency due to their transitory nature will be liable to pay charges for the collection of household waste under the forthcoming pilot schemes. (252635)

Paragraph 15 of schedule 2AA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 defines the term “domestic premises” for the purposes of a waste reduction scheme.

Waste Disposal: Private Finance Initiative

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many waste infrastructure plant projects under the private finance initiative scheme have (a) applied for and (b) been granted planning permission in each of the last three years. (251691)

According to available data, since January 2006 there have been 14 planning applications from 13 authorities that have been allocated private finance initiatives. Of these, 11 have been granted planning permission.

Water Supply: Leaks

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the volume of water lost through leaks from water pipes of each individual water company in each of the last five years. (256365)

Water companies report annual leakage figures to Ofwat in June as part of their annual regulatory returns. Ofwat publishes leakage performance annually in the service and delivery report. Leakage performance for each water company for the years 2003-04 to 2007-08 were as follows:

Performance (megalitres/day)

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Anglian

216

214

215

200

210

Bournemouth and West Hants

22

22

22

22

22

Bristol

53

53

53

54

53

Cambridge

14

14

13.9

13.4

13.9

Dee Valley

10

11

11.3

10.6

10.3

Dwr Cymru

231

226

225

210

205

Essex and Suffolk

70

67

67

68

68

Folkestone and Dover

8

8

8

7.8

7.9

Mid Kent

30

29

28

27

27

Northumbrian

160

155

155

145

135

Portsmouth

30

30

30

29

30

Severn Trent

512

502

540

525

490

South East

69

69

69

69

69

South Staffordshire

71

74

73

73

72

South West

84

83

84

83

84

Southern

92

92

93

82

83

Sutton and East Surrey

24

24

24

24

24

Tendring Hundred

5

5

5.1

5.1

5.0

Thames

946

915

860

790

715

Three Valleys

152

149

150

145

140

United Utilities

479

500

475

470

460

Wessex

75

73

73

72

72

Yorkshire

295

293

295

295

295

Industry total

3,649

3,608

3,575

3,420

3,290

Note:

Figures have been rounded and thus may appear not to add up to the total given)

Defence

Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre

8. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers seriously injured in Iraq and Afghanistan were treated at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court before the introduction of compensation payments. (257887)

The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme was introduced on 6 April 2005. Between 1 April 2003 and 31 March 2005, 3,507 reviews of inpatients were conducted at Headley Court. Headley Court treats personnel injured as a result of a variety of incidents, including from operational deployment to road traffic or sporting accidents. Headley Court does not record centrally the number of injured personnel they treat from each location.

War Memorials

9. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on consulting regimental associations on the protection of war memorials. (257888)

The Ministry of Defence officially commemorates the final resting place of all those who die in service. The UK Government contribute close to £40 million each year towards the work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to mark and maintain the graves, and the official memorials for those who have no known grave, of the Commonwealth Service personnel who died during the two World Wars.

However, the Department does not have the responsibility for war memorials. This responsibility rests with the owner of the memorial, which is normally a local authority, a private individual or organisation.

Iran: Missile Development

10. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications for UK defence policy of recent Iranian missile development. (257889)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier to the hon. Member for Upminster (Angela Watkinson).

Military Doctors: Reserve Forces

11. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of military doctors serving abroad are members of the Territorial Army and other reserve forces. (257890)

From a total of 11 medical officers currently serving at the field hospital in Iraq on OP TELIC, five are members of the reserve forces. At the field hospital in Afghanistan on OP HERRICK, three, from a current total of 15 medical officers, are reservists.

Aircraft Carriers: Air Defence Capability

12. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next expects to meet his NATO counterparts to discuss the air defence capability of aircraft carriers. (257891)

There are no specific plans for discussions with NATO counterparts, in the near future, on the air defence capability provided by aircraft carriers.

Afghanistan

13. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his latest assessment is of the armed forces' performance against their military objectives in Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. (257892)

UK and other ISAF troops are making tangible progress in Afghanistan. In Helmand, all the major towns are now under the Government of Afghanistan's control and the insurgents can no longer rest easy in their traditional heartlands. But Afghanistan's problems cannot be solved by military means alone and nor will they be solved quickly. Significant security challenges remain and we are working with the Afghan Government also to improve governance, economic development and the rule of law.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his most recent assessment of the strength and capabilities of the (a) Afghan national army and (b) Afghan national police is. (253714)

Good progress has been made with the Afghan national army (ANA). The ANA is 78,000 strong and in 2008 they led in 60 per cent. of the operations in which they participated.

There are now some 82,000 Afghan police (ANP). Through the US and EU-led programmes ANP capacity has improved.

We will continue to work closely with the government of Afghanistan and the international community to build the capacity of the Afghan national army and police.

Chiefs of Staff

14. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what procedures there are for co-operation between the chiefs of staff of each of the services. (257893)

16. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what procedures there are for co-operation between the chiefs of staff of each of the services. (257895)

The chiefs of staff meet informally and formally to discuss matters of mutual interest on a regular and ongoing basis.

Warship Construction Programme

17. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent progress has been made on the warship construction programme; and if he will make a statement. (257896)

Good progress continues to be made across the future warship build programme.

Centred on the Type 45 Destroyers, the Astute class submarines, the Future Aircraft Carriers and the Future Surface Combatant, it is providing industry with a strong order book which will continue well into the next decade and beyond.

Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

19. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on preparations for the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. (257898)

I have regular discussions with the Foreign Secretary on a range of issues, including non-proliferation. Our respective Departments continue to work closely together, and with international partners, to ensure that the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will be a success.

Trident

21. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent consideration he has given to the future of the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system; and if he will make a statement. (257900)

We laid out the Government's decisions on the nuclear deterrent in the December 2006 White Paper, ‘The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent’, which the House voted to support, by a large majority, in March 2007. We expect to reach the Initial Gate approval point for the programme to replace the Vanguard-class submarines in autumn 2009. This will signify the end of the concept phase. We are also participating in a programme to extend the life of the Trident II D5 missile until around 2042.

ATLAS Consortium

22. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the ATLAS consortium's performance against objectives in implementing the Defence Information Infrastructure; and if he will make a statement. (257901)

The performance of the ATLAS consortium is continually assessed by the DII Programme's governing bodies. The most recent assessment is that performance remains satisfactory against the objectives of the programme.

Specifically, just beyond the 31 January 2009 milestone set for the end of the first increment, 62,800 terminals will have been delivered. This increases confidence in achieving the next milestone of 100,000 terminals to be delivered by the end of December 2009. In addition over half of the MOD population currently have DII Future (DII(F)) accounts and a capability to process secret data is now in place allowing the programme to roll DII(F) into the five major headquarters of the MOD, Royal Navy, RAF, Army and Permanent Joint Headquarters.

ATLAS is also on track to deliver a deployed and top secret capability within planned timescales and financial estimates for the on-contract programme remain within 3 per cent. of the original estimates.

Iraq

23. To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his most recent assessment is of the security situation in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. (257902)

The overall security situation in Iraq continues to improve, with violence remaining down at levels last seen in 2003. This was demonstrated by the recent provincial elections, which passed with just one reported security incident in Basra, where Iraqi security forces are maintaining the significant security gains achieved over the course of 2008.

Afghanistan: Serious Injuries

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British soldiers have been seriously injured in Afghanistan (a) since 2001 and (b) since January 2006. (257894)

Since the start of coalition operations in Afghanistan in October 2001, 175 British service personnel have been very seriously or seriously injured. 165 of these individuals incurred their injuries since January 2006.

Afghanistan: Civilian Casualties

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps UK forces are taking to minimise the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan. (257897)

We deeply regret any incidents where civilians are 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. In addition troops undergo comprehensive individual and collective training before they go on operations. Significant resources and effort are put into understanding properly the operational environment, including details of the civilian population who wherever possible are warned of impending operations.

We should, however, remember that insurgents are the real threat to the safety and security of the Afghan people through their indiscriminate use of violence.

Afghanistan: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 14 October 2008, Official Report, column 1016W, on Afghanistan: peacekeeping operations, when he expects the review to be completed. (255588)

The review of UK detention records has been a major undertaking; we hope to publish the findings in the near future.

Ammunition

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether British armed forces have used white phosphorus munitions in (a) Iraq since 2003 and (b) Afghanistan since 2001; (254686)

(2) when white phosphorus munitions were last used in action by British armed forces; and in what circumstances they were used.

In Afghanistan, white phosphorus munitions are routinely used to protect troops on operations by producing a smoke screen to provide cover. Records show white phosphorus munitions were last used for the same purpose in Iraq in 2005.

In accordance with the UN third convention on conventional weapons, UK training in the use of white phosphorus emphasises that it should be used solely for its intended purpose and not as an anti-personnel weapon.

Ammunition: Exports

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the UK has made any exports of white phosphorus munitions in the last 10 years. (254687)

I have been asked to reply:

BERR’s Export Control Organisation only has information on licences issued, not actual exports. 67 licences have been issued since March 1999 for munitions that, like white phosphorous munitions, are designed to create illumination or act as an incendiary. Because the export licence application form does not require the exporter to provide the chemical composition of munitions to be exported, it is not possible to say how many—if any—of those 67 related to the export of white phosphorous

Armed Forces: Blood

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will request NHS Blood and Transplant to supply pathogen inactivated blood products for military personnel use. (255760)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will ask the NHS Blood and Transplant Service to supply pathogen-inactivated blood products for use by military personnel. (256969)

Pathogen inactivation (PI) is a process designed to eliminate pathogens—i.e. viruses, bacteria and fungi—from water, air or donated blood. The majority of the blood held in-theatre by the Defence Medical Services is supplied by the UK National Blood Services (NBS), which does not routinely carry out PI on its blood products. However, the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SaBTO—a Department of Health NDPB) will be reviewing options to reduce the risk of bacterial infection in platelets, including pathogen inactivation, in early 2009, which will inform decisions on its use in the UK. It would be premature of MOD to pre-empt the results of this review.

Armed Forces: Deployment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of personnel in each pinch point trade in the (a) Royal Navy and (b) Royal Air Force exceeded harmony guidelines for tour intervals in the latest period for which figures are available. (257685)

As I stated in my answer on 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1521W, it is not possible to identify the tour intervals for individual service personnel who are considered to be in pinch point trades. The Joint Personnel Administration system is designed to identify where individual harmony guidelines, as a whole, are being broken rather than the intervals between tours.

Armed Forces: Drugs

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the incidence of substance misuse amongst members of the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. (258185)

MOD monitors regularly the incidence of substance misuse in the armed forces. The services have robust policies and procedures in relation to the taking of unlawful drugs, as well as a comprehensive range of measures for raising awareness of and dealing with alcohol abuse. The evidence is that the level of taking unlawful drugs by service personnel is far below that of their civilian counterparts.

Armed Forces: Housing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2009, Official Report, column 1264W, on departmental housing, how many houses owned by his Department were rated as grade (a) one, (b) two, (c) three and (d) four in (i) 2005, (ii) 2006 and (iii) 2007. (251695)

Officials are working to identify what information can be provided. I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Substantive answer from Kevan Jones to Willie Rennie, dated 21 February 2009:

My right hon. Friend the Minister for the Armed Forces undertook to write to you in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 27 January 2009, Official Report, column 305W about grades of Service Family Accommodation.

The following breakdown of Service Family Accommodation properties worldwide by each Grade for Charge (GfC) at 1 April 2005, 2006, and 2007 respectively.

Number

2005

2006

2007

G1fC

15,960

15,007

12,430

G2fC

26,878

27,089

26,447

G3fC

20,123

20,596

22,209

G4fC

7,694

7,867

8,720

Armed Forces: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) trained requirement, (b) trained strength and (c) numbers fit for duty are of (i) Territorial Army staff, (ii) Royal Armoured Corps, (iii) Royal Artillery, (iv) Royal Engineers, (v) Royal Signals, (vi) Infantry, (vii) Army Air Corps, (viii) Royal Army Chaplains Department, (ix) Royal Logistics Corps, (x) Royal Army Medical Corps, (xi) Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, (xii) Adjutant General’s Corps, (xiii) Royal Army Veterinary Corps, (xiv) Small Arms School Corps, (xv) Royal Army Dentistry Corps, (xvi) Intelligence Corps, (xvii) Army Physical Training Corps and (xviii) Queen Alexandra’s Royal Auxiliary Nursing Corps are. (257775)

In the following table, the trained requirement figures requested are shown by the funded liability. Fit for duty figures are not held centrally, however, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 3 February 2009, Official Report, columns 1117-118W, to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) which provides infantry figures:

Organisation

Funded liability

Trained strength

Territorial Army

42,000

36,005

Royal Armoured Corps

5,823

5,570

Royal Artillery

7,512

7,170

Royal Engineers

9,367

19,717

Infantry2

24,535

23,135

Army Air Corps

2,034

2,034

Royal Army Chaplains Department

147

130

Royal Logistics Corps

15,553

14,990

Royal Army Medical Corps

3,354

2,980

Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

9,895

9,390

Adjutant

Provost

1,748

1,720

Staff and Personnel Support

3,819

3,500

General’s Corps

Educational and Training Services

315

340

Army Legal Services

109

109

Royal Army Veterinary Corps

216

3280

Small Arms School Corps

140

150

Royal Army Dentistry Corps

436

380

Intelligence Corps

1,607

1,440

Army Physical Training Corps

432

350

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Auxiliary Nursing Corps

1,146

830

1Provisional

2Excludes Gurkhas

3Reflects increased operational requirements

Armed Forces: Racial Discrimination

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what policies and practices are in place to counter sectarianism and racism in the armed forces. (248689)

[holding answer 19 January 2009]: The armed forces aim to create a working environment free from harassment, intimidation and unlawful discrimination in which everyone is not only valued and respected, but encouraged to realise their full potential, regardless of race, ethnic origin, religion, gender, social background or sexual orientation. All complaints of discrimination or harassment are taken seriously, investigated thoroughly, and, when proven, dealt with robustly.

Education is central to the drive to promote awareness of diversity and equality and to eliminate unacceptable behaviour. Diversity and equality training is undertaken at the Joint Equality and Diversity Training Centre and widely across all three services. Other measures include: confidential advice and support helplines; trained equality and diversity advisers in every unit; guidance, videos and briefings on diversity issues, harassment, bullying and complaints.

A Service Complaints Commissioner for the .Armed Forces took up her appointment on 1 January 2008. The Commissioner has the power to refer allegations of discrimination, harassment, bullying, and dishonest, improper or biased behaviour to the chain of command for action. The role of the Commissioner is to provide scrutiny and assurance that the complaints process is working effectively and that lessons are learned and implemented.

Armed Forces: Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many recruitment training courses were either cancelled or postponed in each of the last three years; and how many recruits were affected. (245117)

Overall some courses were cancelled or postponed but all entrants were trained without undue delay. The information available for each service is:

Navy

Over the course of the last three financial years, four Royal Marine other ranks initial training courses have been cancelled; this was primarily due to the lack of recruits to fill allocated places. In all, some 120 trainees were affected as their entry to CTCRM was delayed by two weeks. No other Naval Service initial training courses were cancelled or postponed in that time.

Army

Over the last three financial years 12 infantry platoons did not form up due to insufficient trainees and five courses at the Army Training Regiment Bassingbourn were cancelled. Further courses were run with reduced numbers due to trainers not being available. In total 1,197 training places were affected. Planning has ensured that no recruits were affected.

RAF

In total, seven initial training courses have been cancelled over the last three years: six in FY2006-07; and one in FY2007-08. No recruits were affected, as the courses were cancelled before any recruits were allocated places.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent on recruitment advertising for each of the armed forces in each month in each year since 1998. (248668)

A monthly breakdown of advertising expenditure is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, a detailed breakdown of armed forces recruitment advertising costs by year for each service is provided in the following table.

£ million

FY

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Naval Service1

Press Advertising

0.333

0.213

0.157

0.172

0.093

TV

0.399

3.136

2.952

1.529

3.905

1.771

Cinema

1.600

0.641

0.481

0.870

1.025

Radio

1.330

1.475

0.689

Posters/Leaflets

0.464

0.055

0.057

0.500

0.138

Internet

0.257

0.445

0.257

1.741

1.100

1.144

Regional/Local

1.076

0.496

0.500

0.500

Media Partnerships

0.215

Total

4.383

5.965

5.188

4.419

6.968

4.793

Army2

Press Advertising

0.379

0.620

1.443

0.723

1.100

1.272

TV

4.138

10.407

10.896

6.877

9.229

10.778

Cinema

0.060

Radio

1.501

0.695

0.800

0.479

Internet

0.143

0.143

0.600

0.210

Outdoor

0.735

0.735

0.600

0.037

Other

0.029

1.017

0.956

1.000

1,222

Total

4.546

11.087

15.735

10.129

13.329

14.000

Royal Air Force3

Press Advertising

0.350

0.308

0.221

0.725

0.694

1.040

TV

1.780

1.718

1.362

1.468

2.527

3.061

Cinema

0.235

0.600

Radio

0.560

0.195

0.206

0.465

0.495

0.697

Internet

0.202

0.229

0.251

0.635

0.636

3.240

Other

0.238

0.518

4-0.084

1.051

0.271

0.384

Total

3.130

2.968

1.956

4344

4.858

9.022

1 Navy figures for FY 2008-09 represent a projected forecast of expenditure.

2 Army figures for FY 2008-09 represent money spent or already committed and are not speculative.

3 RAF FY 2008-09 figures are current up to the 14 January 2009.

4 Rebate from Central Office of Information.

Army: Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what multi-activity contracts the Army has; and what the (a) scope of activities, (b) monetary value and (c) date of expiry of each is. (257159)

Multi-activity contracts (MACs) provide soft facilities management services including but not limited to:

Catering, retail and leisure;

Waste management and cleaning services;

Pest control; and

Laundry and tailoring services (including footwear repair).

In some locations, several MACs are grouped together into a super MAC (SMAC), which is managed by a single point of responsibility.

The following table provides the information requested for the Army’s 19 MACs and SMACs.

Formation

Contract location

Contract expiry date

Contract value (£ million)

2nd Division

Scotland (SMAC)

12013

45

Catterick (SMAC)

12012

80

North of England (SMAC)

12013

50

4th Division

Mid Hants (SMAC)

12012

85

Kent (SMAC)

12012

30

Oxon (SMAC)

12013

45

Wessex (SMAC)

12014

95

Surrey (SMAC)

12014

60

Manston (MAC)

12012

2

Southwick Park (MAC)

12012

5

Innsworth (MAC)

2010

5

Cotswold and Gloucester (MAC)

2010

20

5th Division

East Midlands (SMAC)

12013

35

East Anglia (SMAC)

12014

35

Wattisham and Woodbridge (SMAC)

12014

15

Wales and West Midlands (SMAC)

12014

85

London District

CapMac (MAC)

12015

60

Army Recruiting and Training Division

Arborfield (MAC)

2009

15

Sandhurst (MAC)

2009

30

1 The contract has options to extend it by up to three years.

Army: Vehicles

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of management of each category of vehicle within the Army's wheeled vehicle fleet. (256427)

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

Cluster Munitions

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the store of cluster bombs at RAF Welford has been removed since the Government signed the Oslo convention; and whether any cluster bombs remain in the UK. (255603)

We will have eight years, from entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions for the UK, to destroy all cluster munition stockpiles under UK jurisdiction and control. Lord Malloch Brown said in another place on 3 June 2008 that it was his expectation

“that there will be no such weapons on British Territory at the end of the eight year period”.

Concerning any cluster munitions stored on UK territory but under United States control, we are engaged with the United States in order to meet the eight year deadline. All UK cluster munition types have been withdrawn from service. A progressive UK cluster munition disposal programme has begun, with some munitions already destroyed. We expect that all UK stockpiles will be destroyed by 2013 which we anticipate will be four or five years ahead of the deadline.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what mechanisms his Department uses to monitor levels of compliance across military bases with the Government’s commitments on cluster munitions under the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions. (256495)

All UK cluster munitions, prohibited once the Cluster Munition Convention enters into force, were withdrawn from operational service on 30 May 2008, when the Convention was adopted. All were immediately segregated for disposal to prevent use and transfer and some have already been destroyed.

Those that are awaiting disposal are stored in a number of secure licensed munitions storage locations and, as such, all cluster munitions are fully accounted for at all times. The MOD has contractual control and oversight over all disposal contracts and disposal certificates are issued when each cluster munition has been destroyed. The MOD carries out checks on contractors to ensure compliance. There is no scope in the disposal contracts for a disposal contractor to do anything other than destroy the munitions. Furthermore, cluster munitions are recorded on the Department’s inventory and explosives safety management IT systems, which means that they can be tracked and prevented from being inadvertently issued for either operational or training purposes.

In withdrawing these munitions from service on 30 May 2008, the UK complied with the spirit of the Convention immediately and well ahead of ratification at which point the provisions of the Convention will become a legal requirement.

Defence Training Review Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the Defence Training Review programme; and if he will make a statement. (257678)

The DTR Package 1 Project continues to move forward. A final clarification and confirm exercise, evaluating the Metrix Consortium's revised proposals, is now nearing completion. The focus of the project team's and the Metrix Consortium's effort is on improving certainty of the programme, affordability, maturing the project agreement and in preparing to implement some early works activities to ensure that the contract can be signed in 2010.

Metrix, furthermore, are undertaking a number of key activities with the support of the MOD which include environmental and other survey work at St. Athan, and development of the construction proposal with a view to submitting a planning application before the summer.

Defence: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the effect on UK military operations of changes to the budget for urgent operational requirements. (257881)

Departmental Billing

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the period in which suppliers to his Department are paid; and whether his Department issues guidance on the prompt payment of invoices. (256700)

The Department currently aims to meet the Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act requirement of paying valid bills within 30 calendar days of receipt by allowing up to 19 days for MOD branches to confirm that the services or goods supplied have been satisfactorily delivered and then 11 calendar days for the Financial Management Shared Service Centre (FMSSC) to check the invoices and make payment. The FMSSC has introduced daily payment runs to enhance its flexibility in providing a prompt and efficient service to industry and the smaller supplier.

The Department is reviewing the processes associated with the overall payment cycle and is working towards meeting the Government’s 10 day target set for small and medium enterprises. Once this work is complete it should ensure that the Department is able to measure the 10 day target and report on performance against it. The 10 day target will apply to all MOD suppliers, irrespective of size, as it would be impractical to differentiate between small and medium size enterprises and others.

Guidance on prompt payment is provided in the form of a Contract Payment Guide available via the MOD website:

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/WhatWeDo/FinanceandProcurement/FMSSC/Contract PaymentGuide.htm

The guide does not apply to goods and services covered by the electronic P2P purchasing arrangements as payment advice for this type of invoice is issued separately to suppliers. The FMSSC also operates a help desk facility to assist suppliers with their enquiries.

Departmental Data Protection

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of contractors and suppliers to (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have reported that they are compliant with the Government’s security standards following publication of the report, Data Handling Procedures in Government, and the accompanying document, Cross-departmental Actions: Mandatory Minimum Action, on 25 June 2008. (245321)

MOD is a large organisation with a commensurate number of contracts—almost 23,000 contracts were placed in Financial Year 2007-08. MOD is in the process of confirming full compliance with all its suppliers and expects to complete this task by end March. As an initial step those defence contractors who have declared to Defence Security and Safety Assurance (MOD’s Accreditation Authority), a requirement to have a connection to MOD’s restricted network (the RLI) or work electronically at confidential or above, have been asked to confirm their compliance with MOD’s List-X Notice on laptop and media encryption policy, issued in response to the data handling review. Some 73.3 per cent. have confirmed compliance. A further 8.3 per cent. have confirmed that they do not currently comply but have (or are in the process of) submitting risk balanced cases to describe how they are mitigating these risks together with plans to address shortcomings. 18.3 per cent. are still to respond formally and are being hastened.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many reported incidents of lost data there were in his Department in each year from 1987 to 1997. (250736)

This information is not held centrally for the years requested. This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Databases

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost of maintaining the databases owned and managed by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies was in (i) 2006, (ii) 2007 and (iii) 2008. (256140)

Databases can vary in their size and scope from small, locally maintained systems held on standalone computers to those used more widely across the Ministry of Defence. There is therefore no centrally held record of all databases owned and managed by the Department and its agencies and the cost of maintaining them in 2006, 2007 and 2008 could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Flowers

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has spent on (a) pot plants and (b) flowers in each of the last three years. (254874)

This information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. All expenditure must comply with the principles of propriety set out in Managing Public Money and in the Treasury’s handbook on regularity, propriety and value for money.

Accessibility to expenditure information on discrete items and services is largely determined by the MOD’s Chart of Accounts (Joint Service Publication 530), copies of which are placed in the Library of the House for each financial year. It is also published in the MOD’s Publication Scheme at:

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/CorporatePublications/FinancialReorts/Chart OfAccountsManualJsp530.htm.

Departmental ICT

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Chesterfield (Paul Holmes) of 24 November 2008, Official Report, columns 897-8W, on departmental ICT, how many internal investigations have been held into the (a) loss or theft and (b) recovery of (i) memory sticks, (ii) laptop computers, (iii) desktop computers and (iv) hard drives; and how many such investigations related to the loss of material classified as (A) confidential, (B) secret and (C) top secret in 2008. (255054)

The MOD takes any loss of media storage devices very seriously and has robust procedures in place. In response to the findings of the Data Handling Review and Burton Report new processes, instructions and technological aids are being implemented to mitigate human errors and raise awareness of every individual in the Department. Details of the number of investigations into lost/stolen/recovered media storage devices are not collated centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions an IT system administered by his Department has failed in the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement. (256701)

IT systems can vary in size and scope from those that stand alone on single computers and are locally managed to major systems, such as the Defence Information Infrastructure programme. There is therefore no centrally held record of all IT systems administered by the Ministry of Defence and details of the number of occasions on which each failed in the last 12 months could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Lobbying

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether Ministers in his Department received representations from (a) Lord Moonie, (b) Lord Taylor of Blackburn, (c) Lord Snape and (d) Lord Truscott in the last seven months. (255222)

According to our records, the only representations are 47 parliamentary questions tabled by Lord Moonie for the period 1 July 2008 to 31 January 2009.

Departmental Official Visits

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many hon. Members have visited (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan in circumstances where his Department assisted in the visit in the last three years; on what dates such visits took place; and what the purpose was of each visit. (248160)

Detailed information on all visits by Members of Parliament to operational theatres over the last three years is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Departmental Pay

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the maximum monthly allowance in addition to basic salary is for civilian employees of his Department working in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan. (254919)

MOD civil servants deploy into Iraq and Afghanistan on a voluntary basis to provide specialist support to UK armed forces. They are required to work long hours, usually over a six-month period and in austere living and working conditions alongside their military counterparts where they are exposed to operational risk.

These living and working conditions are recognised through a system of taxable operational allowances:

Operational deployment allowance (ODA) takes into account the working and living conditions experienced in theatre. It is reviewed on a regular basis.

Operational working allowance (OWA) recognises the very long hours and additional duties undertaken by deployees in excess of their normally contracted employment. The minimum operational working week is 82 hours as opposed to the standard UK 37 hour week. Many work in excess of those hours.

The total sum payable to an individual will vary. It is dependent on both their grade and their location. The current maximum monthly allowance in Iraq is £8,250 before tax for a Band B civil servant based in Basra. In Afghanistan it is £8,000 before tax for an identically graded civil servant based in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province. By comparison a Band D civil servant in Basra and Lashkar Gah would be paid sums of £5,250 and £5,000 respectively.

Departmental Public Appointments

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which of the public appointments for which his Department is responsible are due to be (a) renewed and (b) filled in the next 24 months; what the (i) remit, (ii) salary, (iii) political restriction, (iv) eligibility requirement and (v) timetable for each appointment is; and what records his Department keeps in respect of such appointments. (254227)

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

The process for making a public appointment, including guidance on political activity and eligibility criteria, follows the Cabinet Office publication ‘Making and Managing Public Appointments’. For appointments regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, the appointments process also complies with the ‘Code of Practice for Ministerial Appointments to Public Bodies’. Copies are in the Libraries of the House. Vacancies may be advertised on the Cabinet Office Public Appointments website at

www.publicappointments.gov.uk.

Successful candidates are requested to declare their political activities. Information on MOD's Public Appointments can be found at

www.mod.uk.

Departmental Recruitment

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many new recruits his Department took on in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07, (c) 2007-08 and (d) 2008-09; how many of these were taken on as (i) permanent, (ii) temporary and (iii) agency staff; and what estimate he has made of the equivalent figures for (A) 2009-10 and (B) 2010-11. (254474)

Information on the numbers of recruits appointed in the Department as permanent, temporary or agency staff in years 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 is provided in the following table. The Department does not currently have firm estimates for civilian external recruitment for the years 2009-10 and 2010-11.

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Permanent

4,260

3,810

3,950

3,270

Temporary

1,930

1,780

1,410

820

Agency

774

783

1,429

1,676

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many staff in his Department were disciplined for (a) bullying and (b) harassment of colleagues in each of the last three years. (254089)

The information requested is not held centrally for all the dates requested. However, records held centrally of civilian staff disciplined specifically for bullying and harassment of colleagues in the Department for the periods:

March 2007 to March 2008 include 16 cases of disciplinary action specifically for bullying and harassment of colleagues.

April 2008 to January 2009 include 10 cases of disciplinary action specifically for bullying and harassment of colleagues.

Departmental Working Hours

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the policy of his Department and its agencies is on granting staff time off in lieu for working (a) in lunch breaks, (b) in evenings and (c) at other times outside contracted working hours; and if he will make a statement. (252035)

Staff who work in excess of their conditioned hours have the opportunity to receive payment for those hours worked or take the time off in agreement with their local line management.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many days off in lieu were granted to staff in (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) its non-departmental public bodies for working (i) in lunch breaks and (ii) at other times outside contracted working hours, in the last year for which figures are available. (252036)

EU Rapid Reaction Force

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 5 February 2009, Official Report, column 1406W, on EU rapid reaction force, what forces are available for planning purposes for EU missions. (257498)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer the then Secretary of State my right hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun (Des Browne) gave on 4 March 2008, Official Report, column 2348W.

Falkland Islands: Air Routes

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he next plans to review the fares applicable to the Falkland Islands Airbridge; and if he will make a statement. (257810)

The fares for civilian access to the South Atlantic Airbridge are presently governed by the 1992 Joint Policy Statement between the FCO and MOD. A new Joint Policy Statement is nearing agreement and, once signed, a new fare structure will be implemented.

HMS Endurance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects a full assessment of the damage to HMS Endurance on 16 December 2008 to be completed; and if he will make a statement. (256718)

Work has been already undertaken to assess HMS Endurance's material state, but further investigations are required which will take place on her return to the UK at the end of March. It is estimated that a full assessment of its condition will be completed by the end of May.

Infantry: Manpower

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) full strength and (b) actual number of deployable troops is of each infantry battalion; and if he will make a statement. (257345)

The figures requested are shown in the following table:

Division

Unit

Actual strength

Number of deployable troops

Guards

1 Grenadier Guards

549

494

1 Coldstream Guards

511

490

1 Scots Guards

548

515

1 Irish Guards

602

528

1 Welsh Guards

584

492

Scots

1 Scots

554

486

2 Scots

476

391

3 Scots

575

512

4 Scots

588

507

5 Scots

561

494

Queen's

1 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment

683

600

2 Princess of Wales Royal Regiment

524

491

1 Royal Regt Fusiliers

677

629

2 Royal Regt Fusiliers

505

412

1 Royal Anglian

733

683

2 Royal Anglian

627

568

King’s

1 Lancs

670

609

2 Lancs

607

527

1 Yorks

519

457

2 Yorks

489

430

3 Yorks

626

540

PoW

1 Mercian

523

468

2 Mercian

564

476

3 Mercian

594

528

1 Royal Welsh

543

494

2 Royal Welsh

625

521

Rifles

1 Rifles

542

477

2 Rifles

619

518

3 Rifles

634

602

4 Rifles

647

558

5 Rifles

712

613

RI

1 Royal Irish

571

477

Para

2 Para

677

588

3 Para

662

605

RGR

1 Royal Gurkha Rifles

739

713

2 Royal Gurkha Rifles

925

895

In addition to the battalions shown in the table there are three incremental Guards companies which are primarily for public duties but which can also be used to augment the other Guards battalions as required.

Unit

Actual strength

Number of deployable troops

Nijmegen Coy Grenadier Guards

109

99

7 Coy Coldstream Guards

90

88

F Coy Scots Guards

108

98

The figures in both tables include personnel filling all roles within each battalion, not just infantrymen. Some of these roles are by their nature non-deployable, for instance forming part of the rear party of a deployed unit.

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost to the public purse of the UK’s involvement in military action in Iraq has been in each of the last five years. (256238)

The audited outturn for the net additional costs of military operations in Iraq for each of the last five years is published in the relevant annual report and accounts, as set out in the following table.

Iraq

£ million

Resource costs1

Capital equipment

Total

2003-04

1,051

260

1,311

2004-05

747

163

910

2005-06

798

160

958

2006-07

787

169

956

2007-08

1,055

402

1,457

Total to date

4,438

1,154

5,592

1 ‘Resource’ includes both near cash and non-cash costs.

Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 28 January 2009, Official Report, column 509W, on the Joint Strike Fighter, what estimate he has made of the effect of the recent changes in the value of sterling against the US dollar on the cost of the development phase of the Joint Strike Fighter programme. (257519)

Since the UK joined the development phase of the joint strike fighter programme in 2001 we have benefited significantly from the strength of the pound against the dollar and as a result forecasted costs are still expected to remain within the approved level. As the UK contributions to this phase of the programme are largely complete, I do not anticipate a significant impact.

Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the planning assumption date for each element of the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability craft is. (257682)

The Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) programme is in its assessment phase. It is MOD policy not to publish internal planning assumption dates while programmes are in this phase and prior to the main investment decision being taken.

Military Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many air-to-air refuelling sorties were flown by the (a) Tornado and (b) Harrier fleets in the United Kingdom in each month of each of the last five financial years; (248571)

(2) what the rate of rejection of eco-engines from first line in the United Kingdom was in each week of each of the last five financial years;

(3) how much aviation fuel was transferred to the Tornado air defence and ground attack fleets during air-to-air refuelling operations in the United Kingdom in each week of each of the last five financial years;

(4) how much aviation fuel was used by the Tornado air defence and ground attack fleets in the United Kingdom in each week of each of the last five financial years;

(5) how much aviation fuel was consumed by the Harrier fleet in the United Kingdom in each week of each of the last five financial years;

(6) what the rate of rejection of RB 199 aero engines from first line was in the United Kingdom in each week of each of the last five financial years.

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: I will write to the hon. Member.

Substantive answer from Bob Ainsworth to David Lidington:

I undertook to write to you in answer to your six Parliamentary Questions on 19 January 2009, Official Report, column 1051W, requesting information about fuel consumption and engine rejection rates for the Harrier and Tornado fleets.

You asked for a range of detailed and specific information about fuel consumption, much of which is not held centrally in the format requested and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, you have since indicated that your main interest in asking about fuel consumption was to establish whether there is an unjustified increase in RAF flying patterns towards the end of a financial year, designed to ensure that all available fuel is consumed and to justify future fuel budgets. Relevant data are readily available showing the volume of fuel transferred on the ground and during air-to-air refuelling (AAR) with UK tankers, for the Harrier, Tornado GR4 and Tornado F3 fleets for each financial year. This indicates fuel consumption trends by month across financial years since 2005-06. Data prior to 2005-06 are not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

These data are set out in the following tables. To better show the trends they have also been presented in graphs for each financial year in an annex to this letter. It should be noted that the figures provided do not include fuel transferred from foreign tankers, for example during NATO exercises. They also do not include data for AAR consumption by 14 Squadron (Tornado GR4) based at RAF Lossiemouth, which are not available. Additionally, due to the relatively small level of consumption, figures for the Fast Jet Weapons Operational Evaluation Units are only recorded annually and so have not been included, as to do so would not assist in analysing any possible month on month trends. Because the figures which are missing are relatively small we do not consider them to be statistically significant.

Fuel transferred (million litres)

Tornado F3

Tornado GR4

Harrier GR7/9

2005-06

April

6.17

8.02

3.04

May

7.77

11.19

3.64

June

8.94

10.13

4.11

July

7.17

16.02

6.50

August

8.09

13.04

3.66

September

7.58

12.69

4.42

October

6.14

12.23

4.47

November

6.58

13.48

4.38

December

3.75

8.27

2.15

January

6.16

10.67

3.24

February

6.62

12.57

4.11

March

5.67

9.73

3.40

Total

80.64

138.04

47.12

2006-07

April

4.66

8.76

2.03

May

7.20

10.68

2.33

June

7.36

12.08

2.74

July

5.77

22.47

5.40

August

6.14

12.13

2.02

September

5.38

13.59

2.26

October

7.86

12.69

3.95

November

5.48

13.12

2.71

December

4.76

10.95

3.00

January

5.07

9.54

3.02

February

4.44

11.06

3.16

March

6.76

11.76

1.72

Total

70.88

148.83

36.51

2007-08

April

5.76

11.61

2.62

May

5.29

9.08

2.83

June

6.61

16.15

3.15

July

4.42

11.01

2.97

August

4.51

13.26

2.49

September

4.97

12.33

3.36

October

5.14

12.73

2.85

November

5.73

8.52

2.46

December

3.48

9.03

2.29

January

5.01

11.58

3.22

February

3.02

5.92

1.72

March

4.62

12.28

3.21

Total

58.56

133.50

33.17

As you can see, the data do not indicate a general upturn in fuel consumption in the final months of a financial year. Although this does occur in some cases, there are also some decreases at the end of financial years and peaks occurring at other times of the year. There are a number of reasons why flying rates may increase from December to March, including the improving weather and the fact that there is normally less flying in December and January, owing to traditional periods of leave. Flying may also increase in March because aircrew need to renew certain qualifications before the end of the training year, which coincides with the end of the financial year.

You also asked about the rejection from first line in the UK for the Pegasus and RB 199 engines in each week of the last five financial years. This data is available on a monthly basis for both engine types from 2005-06 only and is provided in the following table. It is to be expected that there will be a higher number of rejected RB 199 engines, due to the much larger size of the Tornado fleet (for example there are currently 210 Tornado F3 and GR4 and only 75 Harrier GR9 in the fleet) and the fact that that the Tornado is a dual-engine aircraft, whereas the Harrier only has one Pegasus engine. However, on average the rate of rejection for the three financial years works out at almost the same: 3.39 engines per 1000 flying hours for the Tornado RB 199 engine as opposed to 3.52 for the Harrier Pegasus engine.

An ‘engine rejection' occurs when it is deemed unserviceable and the necessary repair action cannot be carried out with the engine installed or is beyond the capability of the engineers on the squadron. Unserviceability may be caused by, among other things, physical damage to the engine, engine components becoming life expired, unsatisfactory vibration characteristics or poor performance.

Rejection rate of the RB 199 engine (fitted to the Tornado F3 and GR4) per 1000 flying hours

Rejection rate of the Pegasus engine (fitted to the Harrier GR7/9) per 1000 flying hours

2005-06

April

3.66

1.59

May

1.89

7.17

June

5.06

0.76

July

2.19

4.45

August

3.00

5.81

September

3.20

4.05

October

3.16

5.29

November

2.60

4.87

December

3.27

4.27

January

2.16

4.22

February

3.65

1.97

March

3.95

2.90

2006-07

April

3.19

2.22

May

3.63

8.37

June

3.31

1.54

July

5.07

4.77

August

2.79

2.83

September

2.24

3.17

October

3.24

2.14

November

3.74

1.37

December

2.92

4.80

January

3.82

5.22

February

2.55

1.87

March

4.23

1.64

2007-08

April

2.93

2.51

May

4.00

3.06

June

4.91

4.30

July

3.23

2.30

August

4.12

4.81

September

3.88

4.03

October

4.51

2.63

November

3.61

3.55

December

3.01

1.97

January

2.90

0.94

February

3.47

6.03

March

3.06

3.44

I hope this letter fully addresses your concerns.

Military Aircraft: Helicopters

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many helicopters were in service with the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) RAF in (i) 1997 and (ii) 2009, broken down by type. (257772)

The number of helicopters in service in 1997 and 2009 are shown in the tables. “In service” has been taken to mean the effective fleet, that is all aircraft in Forward and Depth, which are those aircraft expected to be flown by the MOD.

Army

Number

Aircraft type/mark

April 1997

February 2009

Augusta 109

4

4

Apache

0

67

Gazelle

208

56

Lynx Mk7/9

130

96

Royal Navy

Number

Aircraft type/mark

April 1997

February 2009

Lynx Mk3/8

78

62

Merlin Mk1

0

42

Sea King Mk2

13

0

Sea King Mk4

37

37

Sea King Mk5

17

15

Sea King Mk6

54

0

Sea King Mk6CR

0

5

Sea King Mk7

0

13

Royal Air Force

Number

Aircraft type/mark

April 1997

February 2009

Chinook Mk2/2a

40

40

Merlin Mk3/3a

0

28

Puma

40

34

Sea King Mk3/3a

23

25

Wessex

16

0

These figures do not include the eight Chinook Mk3 aircraft being reverted to support helicopter standard. Aircraft leased by the MOD are also excluded.

Military Aircraft: Training

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average number of training hours spent by fast jet pilots in each aircraft type in the Royal Air Force was in each (a) year since 2003 and (b) month of 2008. (255629)

Officials are collating the information requested. I will write to the hon. Member when this work is complete and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average number of training hours spent by personnel serving in each type of tanker and transport aircraft in the Royal Air Force has been in each (a) year since 2003 and (b) month of 2008. (255630)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 4 November 2008, Official Report, column 306W.

Information on a monthly breakdown for 2008 is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many training sorties for each Royal Air Force fast jet type have been cancelled in the last two years. (255631)

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

Military Bases: Wales

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the active military sites located in Wales. (244797)

Given the way the information is held, it will take officials a little longer to separately identify all of the active military sites in Wales from those that are not in use.

I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Substantive answer from Kevan Jones to David Jones:

I undertook to provide a list of current Ministry of Defence sites in Wales in answer to your Parliamentary Question on 18 December 2008, (Official Report, column 967W).

It should be noted that the list below does not include the Volunteer Estate, Army Career and Information Offices, Armed Forces Careers Offices or Service Family Accommodation.

Atomic Weapons Establishment Lampeter Seismic Station

Brecon Barracks

Caernarfon Army Museum

Caerwent Training Area

Capel Curig Training Camp

Capel Curig Weather Station

Cardiff Weather Centre

Castlemartin Ranges

Cawdor Barracks

Cwrt-Y-Gollen Training Camp

Former Defence Supply and Distribution Centre Llangennech

Dering Lines Infantry Battle School

Fairbourine Resource Initiative Training Centre

Hightown Barracks

HMS Collingwood Pant-Y-Rhiw Base Camp

HMS Excellent Training Centre Pant-Y-Rhiw

Joint School For Adventurous Training Instructors Llanrwst

Joint Service Mountain Training Centre Indefatigable

Joint Service Mountain Training Centre Tywyn

Kinmel Park Training Camp

Llanuwchllyn Seismic Research Station

Maindy Barracks

Merrion Training Camp

MOD Aberporth

MOD St. Athan

MOD Sealand

Moel-Y-Parc Training Area

Pembroke Marine Salvage Depot

Penally Training Camp

Pendine Range

Pwllholm Training Camp

RAF Mona

RAF Pembrey Sands

RAF Valley

Royal Artillery Range Manorbier

Rogiet Moor Rifle Range

Sennybridge Camp and Army Field Training Centre

Templeton Training Area

Ty-Croes Radar Station

Umchmyndd Weather Station

Ynys Gaint Anglesey

Museums and Galleries: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence to which (a) museums and (b) other cultural institutions his Department regularly gives a grant; and what the amount of each grant was in the latest year for which figures are available. (256512)

In 2007-08 grants in aid were paid to the following museums:

Body

Total (£)

Royal Air Force Museum

7,019,000

National Army Museum

5,489,000

Royal Naval Museum

873,000

Royal Marines Museum

765,000

Fleet Air Arm Museum

614,000

Royal Navy Submarine Museum

576,000

In 2007-08 grants in aid were paid to the following bodies which may be assessed as being cultural institutions:

Body

Total (£)

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

34,000,000

Royal Hospital Chelsea

9,000,000

Royal British Legion

202,000

National Memorial Arboretum

189,000

The information relating to Service Museums has been published on pages 330 and 331 of volume II of the MOD's Annual Report and Accounts for 2007-08, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.

This document is also available in the MOD's Freedom of Information Publication scheme at:

http://www.mod.uk/DefenceInternet/AboutDefence/CorporatePublications/AnnualReports/MODAnnualReports0708/

Netherlands: Joint Exercises

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 February 2009, Official Report, column 1116W, on Netherlands: military exercises, (1) how many Royal Marines he expects to participate in the 2009 UK/Netherlands amphibious landing force training exercise. (255587)

(2) where the 2009 exercise will take place.

Up to 700 Royal Marines are expected to participate in support of the 2009 UK/Netherlands amphibious landing force exercise, which is expected to take place in Turkey and Brunei.

Somalia: Piracy

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what legislative or other authority Royal Navy ships may come under European Union command during Operation Atalanta. (256426)

Operation Atalanta was launched by a Joint Action, a unanimous decision of the Council of Ministers of the European Union, which comprises national Ministers from each of the EU member states. In the UK this decision was subject to parliamentary scrutiny.

Royal Navy ships that the UK Government decide to make available to participate in Operation Atalanta come under command of the EU's Operation Commander for the operation, Rear Admiral Philip Jones RN, based in his operation headquarters at Northwood.

In his role as Operation Commander, Admiral Jones reports to the Political and Security Committee, a Council body in which ambassadors from each of the EU member states exercise political control and strategic direction over the operation, on instructions from national authorities.

The Political and Security Committee reports regularly on the progress of the operation to the Council of Ministers.

Stabilisation Aid Fund

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will provide a breakdown of his Department's contribution of £15,350,000 to the Stabilisation Aid Fund as referred to in the written ministerial statement of 12 February 2009, Official Report, columns 78-9WS, on departmental expenditure limits. (257969)

The Stabilisation Aid Fund (SAF) amounts to £73 million in 2008-09. For the purpose of the fund’s financial management, the SAF sits on the MOD’s baseline, but is managed jointly by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the MOD. During the course of the financial year, the MOD has transferred funds to the FCO and DFID according to their forecast expenditure on SAF projects. The transfer of £15.35 million at spring supplementary estimates to the FCO is to cover residual forecast expenditure across a number of projects. Of this, £1.75 million is for project costs in Iraq, and £13.6 million for project costs in Afghanistan.

UK Forces: Afghanistan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what formal statement of co-operation in relation to UK forces operations and activities in Afghanistan has been approved by (a) NATO and (b) the EU. (253207)

[holding answer 2 February 2009]: UK forces in Afghanistan operate under the auspices of a Military Technical Agreement between the International Security Assistance Force and the Government of Afghanistan. This arrangement is in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1833.

Warships

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future of the BVT Surface Fleet; and if he will make a statement. (257677)

BVT Surface Fleet Ltd. (BVT) became fully operational on 1 July 2008 and is one of the Department's key maritime industrial partners. The company is at the heart of the future warship build programme, for example as the prime contractor for the Type 45 destroyers, playing a key role in the Alliance that will deliver the future carrier, and in providing maintenance support to in-service Royal Navy warships through the Surface Ship Support (SSS) Programme and the Warship Support Modernisation Initiative (WSMi).

MOD and BVT are working to establish a new long-term incentive based Terms of Business Agreement (TOBA) which will seek to transform their surface warship business delivering significant benefit to MOD, its industrial partners and taxpayers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the warship construction programme; and if he will make a statement. (257878)

Good progress continues to be made across the future warship build programme.

Centred on the Type 45 destroyers, the Astute class submarines, the Future Aircraft Carriers and the Future Surface Combatant, it is providing industry with a strong orderbook which will continue well into the next decade and beyond.

Leader of the House

Departmental Foreign Workers

To ask the Leader of the House how many (a) EU foreign nationals and (b) non-EU foreign nationals are employed by her Office. (256204)

The office of the Leader of the House of Commons employs one EU foreign national and no non-EU foreign nationals.

Departmental Plants

To ask the Leader of the House how much her Office has spent on (a) pot plants and (b) cut flowers in each of the last three years. (256118)

The Office of the Leader of the House of Commons spent £1,872.72 on the provision of plants and flowers during the 2007-08 financial year.

Following a machinery of government change, information prior to 2007-08 is available only at disproportionate cost.

A decision was taken in January 2009 to terminate the contract for plants and flowers at the earliest possible opportunity.

Members: Allowances

To ask the Leader of the House pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie) of 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 1W, on Members: allowances, how many requests for advances of communications allowance have been granted to date; and what the reasons for the request for the advance was in each case. (257487)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie) on 12 January 2009, Official Report, column 1W, in which I answered that no advance from the Communications Allowance had been requested either in the year 2009-10 or the previous year. There have been no requests for advances from the Communications Allowance in the period since this answer.