Previous Section Index Home Page

Honours, Decorations and Medals

Mr. Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the roles and responsibilities of (a) Ministers and (b) officials in the process for determining eligibility for the award of the General Service Medal for a period of military service. [84934]

Mr. Spellar: The qualifying criteria for the award of clasps to the General Service Medal and General Service Medal 1962 are laid down in the appropriate Command Paper. Ministers have no responsibilities in the process of determining eligibility for these awards. Officials in the appropriate medal office are responsible for determining individual eligibility by comparing a person's Record of Service against the criteria published for the award of the medal and the relevant clasp.

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 212

Mr. Healey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what are the terms of reference of the Committee of Honours, Decorations and Medals; [84936]

Mr. Spellar: The Committee on the Award of Honours, Decorations and Medals is an official committee that reports directly to the Queen. I have therefore asked the Chairman of the Committee, Sir Richard Wilson, to write to the hon. Member with the information sought, and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.


Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what occasions the Prime Minister's Press Secretary has attended meetings in his Department at which ministers, officials and senior officers have been formulating policy on Kosovo. [85379]

Mr. George Robertson [holding answer 25 May 1999]: The Prime Minister's Press Secretary has attended a number of meetings in my Department, as the Prime Minister or I have required.

Military Discipline

Mr. Stinchcombe: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to review military discipline for 15 to 18 year olds. [85496]

Mr. Doug Henderson: The UK does not recruit any personnel under the age of 16--and then only when an individual has completed his or her compulsory secondary schooling.

Discipline procedures in all three of the Armed Forces are kept under review at all times and amended as necessary. Major changes which require amendments to primary legislation are normally affected by the quinquennial Armed Forces Acts, which continue in force the three Service Discipline Acts (SDAs)--the Army Act 1955, the Air Force Act 1955 and the Naval Discipline Act 1957--and which include any amendments to reflect changes to civilian law over the preceding five years. Where there is a need, however, changes can be made by other legislative means. It is my Department's policy to preserve consistency as far as appropriate, practical and sensible, between civilian and military law; this applies equally to measures concerning those under the age of 18.

Pensions (Taxation)

Mr. Coaker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress made in discussions between his Department and the Inland Revenue regarding repayment of tax on pensions awarded prior to 31 March 1973 which have been reclassified. [85614]

Mr. Doug Henderson: The MOD is working closely with the Inland Revenue on the repayment of tax for the 179 Army pensioners identified as having had tax incorrectly deducted from their invalidity pension. The

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 213

affected pensioners will all receive a full refund of the tax wrongly paid since their discharge, together with a repayment supplement reflecting the interest which might have been accrued on the amount of tax wrongly paid. The repayment of tax is being processed in three stages: the first stage, the repayment of the current year's tax, has been completed; the second stage covers the period 1994-95 to 1997-98 for which records are held and repayments for this period will be made shortly. The final stage, which covers the period from the individual's discharge date to 1994, is more difficult to calculate as records of pension and tax paid are not held and therefore need to be recreated. This work is under-way and repayment will be made as soon as possible.

RAF Quedgeley

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the current status of the land that formerly constituted RAF Quedgeley. [85883]

Mr. Spellar: The areas formerly known as Sites 2, 4 and 6 and were sold on the open market during the latter part of 1997 and early 1998. That area of RAF Quedgeley known as Main Site was placed on the market in November 1997 and a preferred purchaser, Manor Farm Consortium, has been identified. Contract for Sale negotiations are now in hand.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with local councils and residents over the future of RAF Quedgeley during the last year. [85884]

Mr. Spellar: My Defence Estate officials have maintained close contact with both the County and Gloucester City Councils over the future of RAF Quedgeley. The City Council also jointly funded a feasibility study with MOD which made recommendations on appropriate forms of development for the re-use of the Main Site at Quedgeley.

Agents acting for my Department were also invited to make representation at the Gloucester County Structure Plan Examination in Public in September 1998. My officials also attended, and supported the City Council's aspirations for residential and employment uses on the site.


Mr. Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will reply to the letters dated 4 February and 4 May from the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton to the Minister for the Armed Forces in respect of the playing fields amenity at the site known as ABRO Old Dalby. [86112]

Mr. Spellar: I wrote to the hon. Member on 1 June.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the current operational life of (a) Sir Bedivere, (b) Sir Geraint and (c) Sir Percivale. [85959]

Mr. Spellar: It is planned to pay off RFA Bedivere in 2011, following an extension to her service life as a result of the recent Ship Life Extension programme. RFAs Sir Geraint and Sir Percivale have not been subject to

8 Jun 1999 : Column: 214

similar life extension programmes and are expected to be withdrawn from service in 2003 and 2004 respectively, when they are due to be replaced by new vessels.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the cost and timescale for the Service Life Extension Programme for (a) Sir Bedivere, (b) Sir Geraint and (c) Sir Percivale; and when contracts will be let. [85956]

Mr. Spellar: The Ship Life Extension Programme of RFA Sir Bedivere started in November 1994 and completed in June 1998, at a cost of £68.8 million. In the light of experience gained from this work, the decision was taken not to pursue similar life extension programmes on either RFA Sir Geraint or on RFA Sir Percivale. It is planned that these two vessels will be replaced by new ships in 2003 and 2004 respectively.

Porton Down

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 14 May 1999, Official Report, column 215, on Porton Down, what was the date of the Minister of Defence Procurement's visit. [85555]

Mr. Spellar: My noble Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement visited Porton Down during his term in office between September 1976 and May 1979. The diaries from that period do not record the exact date of the visit.

Trained Personnel

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the shortfall in numbers and percentage of trained personnel for the (i) Royal Navy, (ii) Army, (iii) Royal Air Force and (iv) Royal Marines. [85915]

Mr. Doug Henderson: The shortfall in numbers of trained personnel against the trained requirement as at 1 April 1999 (the latest figures available) is:

Royal Navy1,352 (3.9%)
Army(7)6,089 (5.9%)
Royal Air Force1,263 (2.4%)
Royal Marines520 (8.1%)

(7) The Army figure is for UK Regulars; it does not including Gurkhas or Royal Irish Regiment (Home Service). The Gurkha trained strength is 3,374, and trained requirement is 2,882, making a surplus of 492

Next Section Index Home Page