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Written Answers

Volume 687: debated on Wednesday 6 December 2006

Written Answers

Wednesday 6 December 2006

Armed Forces: Medical Care for Veterans

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 1 November (WA 36) on medical care for veterans, whether the aftercare following hospitalisation is adequate and of a suitable quality; and what lessons were learnt from the case of Corporal Corrigan.[HL127]

The veterans programme aims for an excellent delivery of public services for veterans by working in partnership with other government departments, the devolved Administrations, local authorities, ex-service and other charities and individual volunteers. Individual veterans and the ex-service organisations are encouraged to report back on their experience to officials in the Veterans Agency or MoD to monitor their aftercare. This means that any issues identified can be investigated, discussed and addressed by the responsible body.

Some problems have been identified in a small number of individual cases. The associated support processes and procedures are being reviewed and made more robust. This work involves discussion with other government departments and is being carried out by multidisciplinary teams, both military and civilian, including representatives from the ex-service charities.

Corporal Corrigan, a field ambulance commander in the Territorial Army, was evacuated from Iraq to RAF Halton following an accident in which he damaged his knee. Regrettably, administrative shortcomings meant that Corporal Corrigan was not provided with the adequate transport arrangements to return to his home in County Durham. The circumstances surrounding his treatment have been the subject of full investigations, and procedures have since been revised to ensure that appropriate transport arrangements are available for all service personnel who require it.

Armed Forces: Pensions

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will now publish the correspondence to date between the Ministry of Defence and the president of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal for England and Wales on the draft Pensions Appeals Tribunals (Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme) Amendment Regulations 2006.[HL126]

The Pensions Appeals Tribunals (Armed Forces and Reserve Forces Compensation Scheme) Amendment Regulations 2006 were made on 30 October 2006 by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Veterans, having been satisfied that the regulations are appropriate. The president has been approached for his agreement to place copies of his correspondence on this topic in the Library of the House along with correspondence from the Ministry of Defence. When the president confirms his agreement, I will write to the noble Lord to confirm that this has been done.

Armed Forces: Trained Strength

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will provide, in tabular form, details of the current trained strength of (a) regular, and (b) reserve personnel in (i) the Army; (ii) the Royal Navy; and (iii) the Royal Air Force; and how many in each category are planned to be abroad on 15 December. [HL46]

The information is in the tables.

UK Regular Forces trained strength at 1 October 2006

Naval Service

Army

RAF

UK Regular Forces1

34,590

95,760

44,240p

Source: DASA

1 Figures are for UK Regular Forces trained personnel, and therefore exclude Gurkhas, full-time reserve service personnel, the home service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and mobilised reservists.

Regular and volunteer reserve strength at 1 October 2006 is as below

Naval Service1,2

Army3,4,5

RAF6,7,8

Regular Reserve

10,330

33,390

360p

Volunteer Reserve

2,110

35,300

1,460 p

1 Source of naval service regular reserve data is Director Naval Career Management (DNCM)-Reserves. Source of naval service volunteer reserve data is Fleet Commander Maritime Reserves (CMR).

2 Naval service regular reserve figure includes personnel serving on full-time reserve service (FTRS). Naval service volunteer reserve figure excludes FTRS.

3 Army volunteer reserve figure includes group A & B, mobilised TA and Officer Training Corps, but excludes non-regular permanent staff (NRPS) and FTRS.

4 Army reserves figures are for trained and untrained personnel. This is to ensure consistency with official reserve national statistics and for ease of comparison with the TA requirement which comprises both trained and untrained personnel.

5 Army regular reserve figure includes mobilised regular reserve, but excludes long-term reserve, pensioners and Regular Army reserve of officers (RARO).

6 RAF reserve figures are for trained and untrained personnel, as it is currently not possible to split RAF reserve personnel by training indicator.

7 RAF reserve (RAFR) figure is for active RAFR only; it does not include those who have left the service and have reserve liability. The figure comprises FTRS, additional duties commitment (ADC) personnel, part-time personnel and sponsored reserves. The latest available figure including non-active RAFR personnel is 7,790; this is based on data at the 1 April 2006 situation date.

8 RAF volunteer reserve figure includes mobilised volunteer reserve and FTRS.

Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

p denotes provisional. Due to the introduction of a new personnel administration system for RAF, UK Regular Forces and FTRS, RAF data are provisional and subject to review.

In the process of answering this Question, it was found that a previous Answer which I gave on 8 November 2006 (Official Report, col. WA 164) to a similar Question was incorrect, for which I apologise. The correct figure for the naval service regular reserve for 1 September 2006 was 10,390. It should also be noted that the Army and RAF figures included in that Answer were for both trained and untrained strength. Due to the deployment and movement of personnel changing continuously, it is not possible to say how many personnel will be abroad on 15 December.

Aviation: Aircraft Noise

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of the number of children whose learning is negatively affected by aircraft noise; and [HL395]

Whether they have made an assessment of the conclusion published in the Lancet in 2005 regarding the negative effects of (a) road traffic, and (b) aircraft noise on children's cognition; and, if so, whether they will take steps to ensure that aircraft noise does not have a negative impact on children's education in (i) schools; (ii) play areas; and (iii) homes. [HL397]

The Government have not made an assessment of the number of children whose learning might be negatively affected by aircraft noise. However, under Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise, the Government will be making strategic noise maps for major airports, major roads, major railways and agglomerations by June 2007. Based on these maps, action plans will be drawn up to manage and reduce noise and its effects as necessary.

The Government part-funded the European Commission fifth framework research project, Road Traffic and Aircraft Noise and Children's Cognition and Health (RANCH). Details of the findings of this project can be found at www.wolfson.qmul.ac.uk/RANCH_Project/ and were published in the Lancet in 2005. This research is a valuable part of the evidence base for developing policy on noise.

Gatwick and Heathrow are required to provide acoustic insulation under powers in the Civil Aviation Act 1982. The Government do not monitor voluntary schemes run by other airports. However, the UK's 30 major airports are publishing master plans that, alongside their development proposals, include current and future proposals for noise mitigation.

Crime: Rape

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many persons who have completed a sentence for rape have been exonerated following new evidence being accepted as to the original allegation in each of the past five years. [HL322]

No statistical data are kept in relation to the number of instances where the Court of Appeal Criminal Division has found a conviction for rape unsafe in these circumstances.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many persons imprisoned for rape have been released from prison following the withdrawal of accusations of rape by their accuser in each of the past five years. [HL323]

No statistical data are kept in relation to the number of instances where a person imprisoned for rape has been released following a finding in these circumstances that the conviction was unsafe.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Poaching

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they are making to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo about the country's declining hippopotamus population due to poaching.[HL504]

We have lobbied the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Government on their duty and international obligations to protect all their wildlife. We have also reminded the DRC authorities that wildlife populations bring sustainable development and economic benefits, especially for establishing a viable tourism industry. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Jim Knight, visited Virunga National Park in September 2005 and personally lobbied the Congolese Minister of the Environment. We will continue to raise with the DRC Government their duty to protect their wildlife. We also frequently urge the DRC Government to do more to control the activities of the militia groups that are reportedly killing wild animals including hippos in eastern DRC.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made, or received from the appropriate international organisation, of the impact of poaching on wildlife populations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[HL505]

Poaching of wild animals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been seriously exacerbated by the beginning of armed conflict in DRC in 1996. Researchers from academic institutions and non-governmental organisations believe that several species, including hippopotamus, rhinoceros, elephant and okapi, are under threat from poaching. The recently reported killing of wild animals including hippos by militias in eastern DRC has left hippopotamus populations at dangerously low levels, according to academics. We continue to press the Congolese authorities to do more to prevent poaching of wildlife and remind them that the country will not be able to pursue sustainable development or prosper economically if it does not protect its wildlife.

Gulf War Illnesses

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Statement by Lord Drayson on 19 October (WS 87-88), when the findings of the Vaccines Interactions Research Programme into the health effects of the combinations of vaccines administered to troops involved in the 1990-91 Gulf War first became known to the Ministry of Defence. [HL24]

The Vaccines Interactions Research Programme consisted of three studies. The findings of these studies have been published in stages through the life of the programme. Information on when findings were reported to the independent panel that oversaw the programme (which included veterans’ representatives) and to the Ministry of Defence is given below.

Study of the interaction between anthrax and pertussis vaccines in mice: interim findings reported March and November 2001, and September 2002; final findings reported December 2003.

Study of potential adverse health effects of a combination of vaccines with and without pyridostigmine bromide in the marmoset: pre-study dose determination phases reported March 1999 and September 2000; interim findings reported November 2001, September 2002 and May 2003; main findings reported January and April 2004; supplementary/final findings reported May 2005.

Study of sickness absence records in multi-vaccinated staff from DSTL Porton Down: preliminary findings reported December 1999 and September 2000; final findings reported November 2001.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 1 November (WA 34) on Gulf War illnesses, on what date they first became aware of the research at Wright State University in Ohio into autonomic dysfunction following low-level sarin exposure and its possible relevance to illnesses among British veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War. [HL128]

Wright State University issued a press release about its research in early October 2005. As set out in my Answer of 1 November 2006 (Official Report, col. WA 34), we will review the findings in the final paper when it is published.

NHS: Non-medical Consultants

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What has been the cost of non-medical consultants to the National Health Service in each year since 1997. [HL282]

This information, collected since 2001-02 for the NHS in England, is shown in the table.

1998-99 (£)

1999-2000 (£)

2000-01 (£)

2001-02 (£)

2002-03 (£)

2003-04 (£)

2004-05 (£)

Dental

21,642,531

25,211,460

23,621,857

27,368,585

32,656,449

31,760,839

33,536,000

Nurse

-

-

-

14,310,887

14,660,935

24,822,813

25,303,000

England

21,642,531

25,211,460

23,621,857

41,679,472

47,317,384

56,583,652

58,839,000

Source: Annual financial returns from 1998-99 to 2004-05

Olympic Games 2012

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they intend to publish their budget for the 2012 London Olympic Games. [HL65]

We expect to be in a position to release information about the overall construction budget for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games next year, when it has been agreed. In the mean time, the budget for 2007-08 is in preparation.

Railways: Disabled Passengers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make representations to train operating companies providing a service into or from King's Cross station to encourage them to reinstate the level of customer service offered to disabled passengers. [HL180]

All train operating companies provide assistance to disabled passengers in order to meet their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. We understand that neither GNER nor First Capital Connect has made changes to their procedures on the provision of assistance to disabled passengers at King’s Cross station, though current building works at King’s Cross, requiring the relocation of certain facilities, may have caused some inconvenience to passengers.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the carers of disabled passengers are insured should an accident occur when assisting the passenger in alighting the train using the disabled ramps provided by the station. [HL181]

The positioning and removal of boarding ramps at stations should only ever be carried out by station or on-train staff. Passengers who are injured while boarding or alighting from a train may be able to sue the operator for compensation. Operators are required under the terms of their licences to hold public liability insurance for the purpose of limiting their exposure to such claims.

Russia: President Putin

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they authorised the criticism of the President of the Russian Federation by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr Peter Hain, on the BBC's “Sunday AM” programme on 26 November; and what assessment they have made of the impact of those criticisms on diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation. [HL403]

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister and other Ministers have repeatedly underlined our concern about some aspects of human rights in Russia. The Russian authorities are aware of these views.

Transport: Heavy Goods Vehicles

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Davies of Oldham on 27 November (WA 28), what recent studies they have carried out of the costs associated with the use of heavy goods vehicles on the road network; and what were the results of these studies. [HL417]

In terms of a comprehensive and wide-ranging measurement of the relative external costs of heavy goods vehicles on roads when compared to other modes, the Department for Transport and the devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales use a measure called “sensitive lorry miles”. The current values for “sensitive lorry miles” have been in use since May 2003 and were based on a wide range of detailed research that was available at the time. This potentially gives the most complete view of the impacts of the external costs imposed by HGVs. Further information is available on the department's website at www.dft.gov.uk/stellent/groups/dft_freight/documents/page/dft_freight 039741.pdf.

Other government studies have covered individual components within the valuations, such as the recent Stern report. Defra also recently published research into food miles and sustainability using various data sources to indicate the external costs of the different modes along food supply chains. The Defra report is available at http://statistics.defra.gov.uk/esq/reports/foodmiles/default.asp.

Trees

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the maximum possible penalty in cases in which (a) one tree is subject to a tree preservation order; (b) 10 such trees are destroyed; and (c) more than 10 such trees are destroyed.[HL464]

The maximum penalty, in the magistrates' court for unlawfully destroying a tree protected by a tree preservation order is a fine of £20,000. The maximum penalty in cases where 10, or more than 10, trees are destroyed is £20,000 per tree. Alternatively, cases may be pursued in the Crown Court, where the fine is unlimited. In determining the level of any fine, both courts are required to have regard to any financial benefit that accrues as a consequence of the offence.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, when trees that are subject to a tree preservation order are unlawfully destroyed, planning permission for building development that would not have been granted if the trees had survived can then be granted subject to any other conditions being fulfilled.[HL465]

Any application for planning permission must be determined in accordance with the development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The unlawful destruction of protected trees does not automatically render land suitable for development. Under Section 206 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the landowner is under a duty to plant replacement trees at the same place. These trees are automatically protected by the original tree preservation order. This duty to replace the trees, if enforced by the local planning authority, would be material to its consideration of a separate application to develop the land.