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Volume 588: debated on Monday 24 November 2014

The Ministry of Defence is providing significant support to the Department for International Development-led effort to combat Ebola. We have deployed RFA Argus with three Merlin helicopters on board. We have also deployed more than 800 personnel for a range of tasks, including providing planning support to the Government of Sierra Leone; supervising the construction of six Ebola treatment units; training more than 3,000 local health care workers, which will increase to 4,000 by the end of the month, exceeding our original target; and manning a 12-bed treatment facility. I saw elements of all those initiatives when I visited Sierra Leone a fortnight ago. I am sure that the whole House will join me in commending our armed forces personnel who are working to combat this terrible disease.

I join my right hon. Friend in praising our incredibly brave troops who are on the ground. Will he tell the House what contribution our reserves are making to this effort and how they are standing side by side with the full-time regulars?

Two reservists are already working in the joint civilian military headquarters in Sierra Leone, and another two are soon to deploy to the region. In a month or so, we expect 18 reservist medics to deploy to Sierra Leone to work alongside their regular counterparts in the 12-bed Ebola treatment centre at Kerry Town. We should also pay tribute to those NHS personnel who have recently mobilised and travelled out to Sierra Leone to join that effort as well.

A church in my constituency would like to send food parcels to Sierra Leone, the capital of which, Freetown, is twinned with Hull. However, it found the transport costs prohibitive, and asked me whether it could work with the Ministry of Defence to find ways of getting the food parcels over to Sierra Leone to help families who are affected by Ebola.

I appreciate the offer of the hon. Lady’s church. The most constructive thing I can say is that if she wants to write or e-mail me with the details, we will see what can be done to take up that kind offer.