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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 24 July 2000


Welsh Guards

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if the 1 Battalion Welsh Guards has REME support for their Saxon vehicles; and how many of them are (a) operational and (b) unserviceable; [128475]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 3 July 2000]: 1 Battalion Welsh Guards has Reme support for its Saxon vehicle holdings. As at 18 July, 23 vehicles were operational and 12 waiting to be repaired. The Regiment is issued with the Clansman combat net radio and although three mobile telephones are held for duty personnel, there is no intention to supplement Clansman holdings with mobile telephones.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will reply to the questions of the hon. Member for Ludlow tabled on 12 June (refs 126192, 126190, and 126191). [129404]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 6 July 2000]: I replied to the hon. Member on 17 July 2000, Official Report, column 10W.

Mr. Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions he deposited papers in the Library in response to parliamentary questions tabled to his Department between 19 October 1999 and 20 April. [131231]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 20 July 2000]: The Ministry of Defence deposited papers in the Library in response to parliamentary questions on 160 occasions between 19 October 1999 and 20 April 2000.

Departmental Payments

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of correctly presented bills were paid by his Department in (a) 1998-99 and (b) 1999-2000 within 30 days of receipt of (i) goods and services, (ii) a valid invoice and (iii) other agreed payment terms. [130042]

Mr. Spellar [holding answer 11 July 2000]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet (Mr. Burgon) on 23 July 1999, Official Report, columns 677-78W.

The Department is currently collating this information for 1999-2000 and this will be made available to the House shortly.

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Army (Complaints)

Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the average length of time for the processing of complaints to the Army Board and Her Majesty the Queen. [130745]

Dr. Moonie: The average time taken from first submission of complaint by the individual to his or her Commanding Officer to promulgation of the Army Board determination of those cases in the system over the last 12 months (from 1 June 1999 to 31 May 2000) is 82 weeks. 72 per cent. of all cases are decided below Army Board level and consequently take far less time to resolve. After the individual has received the Army Board determination and decides to petition the Sovereign, further legal advice is sought and a report prepared for the Army Board and subsequently the Secretary of State for Defence. The Secretary of State is responsible for putting the petition to Her Majesty. The length of time taken for the process varies very significantly from case to case reflecting the relative difficulty and complexity and the need for the Army Board and the Secretary of State to deal personally and carefully with each case. In the six cases submitted to Her Majesty in the 12 months from 1 June 1999 to 31 May 2000 the time taken from the original determination by the Army Board to submission varied from 30 months to eight months.

We recognise the problem delay causes in the processing of Redresses of Complaint. The Chain of Command has been provided with clear guidance explaining that every effort must be made to resolve complaints as swiftly as possible and at the lowest possible level, in the interests of good management, efficiency and justice. The Army General Administrative Instructions dealing with Redresses of Complaint have also been amended to ensure that the message is clearly understood by all involved.

Future Basing Plans (Army)

Mr. Olner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future basing plans for the Army. [131152]

Mr. Spellar: I am now able to give details of our plans for the future basing of units following the Strategic Defence Review restructuring. Since my predecessor published outline basing proposals last year, we have discussed the implications of these changes with the local authorities concerned. We have also, as part of our commitment under SDR to put the environment at the heart of decision making, subjected our proposals to a rigorous examination as part of the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the whole of the SDR. The SEA has confirmed that the Army's plans for barrack redevelopment, which flow from the relocation and re-roling of units, are unlikely to have major effects on the environment. Where a potential impact has been identified we have either already changed our plans accordingly or plan to take the necessary action to address the problem as part of our detailed development proposals.

The changes from the outline proposals announced last year are not in themselves substantial. However, they do provide the Army with a firm basis on which to plan for changes in the roles of units and their parent formations

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and for a number of relocations of units, all of which are necessary to bring about a more balance operational and training cycle.

The Headquarters of 12 Mechanised Brigade has formed in Aldershot and that of 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester. Aldershot Garrison will house enhancements to 101 Logistic Brigade, including 10 Transport Regiment RLC which will move from Colchester, and the lighter elements of 12 Mechanised Brigade. We intend to keep the overall position in the Garrison under review as Project Connaught, the PPP Project, develops.

Tidworth Garrison will accommodate an additional armoured regiment, armoured infantry battalion and engineer regiment, required for 12 Mechanised Brigade. Sixteen Close Support Medical Squadron will be moved out of Tidworth to be incorporated into three Close Support Medical Regiment, in Catterick. We are still considering the most appropriate location for the additional artillery regiment, which we originally planned to accommodate in Larkhill. Project Allenby, the PPP Project, is currently scoping the potential for this regiment to be based in Tidworth or Bulford Garrison instead, as part of its overall strategic look at the operational requirement.

Catterick Garrison will accommodate a number of additional units and enhancements as follows: an additional field workshop will form part of five Battalion REME. Eight Transport Regiment RLC will be enhanced and its fuel handling capabilities rationalised. Three Close Support Medical Regiment, which provides medical support to three (UK) Division, will also be based in Catterick. It will incorporate 24 Close Support Medical Squadron, which is already based in Catterick, 16 Close Support Medical Squadron, which will move from Tidworth, a new close support medical squadron and an evacuation squadron.

Thirty-eight Engineer Regiment in Claro Barracks, Ripon will be enhanced by the addition of a Close Support Squadron. However the nine very heavy tracked bridge laying vehicles with which the Squadron will be equipped could cause a high environmental risk to the cultural heritage in Ripon town centre, and undesirable traffic congestion. We have therefore decided to locate these vehicles at Cambrai/Megiddo Barracks, Catterick.

Colchester Garrison will be the main garrison for 16 Air Assault Brigade, although the aviation regiments and one of its infantry battalions will be based elsewhere and the engineer regiment will be located at Woodbridge. Two parachute regiments and a parachute artillery regiment will be based in Colchester, replacing the existing airmobile units.

The 4th armoured reconnaissance unit will be based in Stanley Barracks, Bovington. Dalton Barracks, Abingdon will house additional sub-units for both 3 Close Support Regiment RLC and 4 General Support Regiment RLC.

Some moves are already taking place (such as that of two parachute battalions from Aldershot to Colchester with a corresponding move of two infantry battalions from Colchester to form part of the new 12 Mechanised Brigade). Most unit relocations will however have to await the preparation and refurbishment of accommodation, which

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will be spread over a number of years, and the usual Notice of Proposed Development process. In carrying out this work we shall take every opportunity to provide our military personnel with the sort of modern, efficient, good quality accommodation which they deserve.

Overseas Service Personnel

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many United Kingdom service personnel are serving overseas, broken down by country. [130768]

Mr. Spellar: As at 1 April 2000, the latest date figures for which are available, 39,560 armed forces personnel were serving overseas (this does not include Naval personnel afloat). The three Services collate data on location of personnel slightly differently and this has determined the presentation of the breakdown by country, as follows:

Mainland Europe29,213
Former Yugoslavia6,307
Mediterranean, near and Middle East5,180
Mid East/Gulf270
Saudi Arabia618
Far East288
Diego Garcia38
North America1,417
South Atlantic1,428


1. The 'Elsewhere' figure is made up predominantly of Army personnel including Service Attaches and loans and exchange personnel in the following countries: Andaman Islands, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Indonesia, South Africa, Egypt, Fiji, Ghana, India, Jamaica, Malawi, Malaysia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Tongan Islands, Tanzania, Singapore, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Albania, Brazil, China, Congo, Columbia, French Overseas Territories, Guatemala, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Lebanon, Lithuania, Thailand, Angola, Mozambique, USSR.

2. In addition to Service Attaches and loan and exchange personnel, 'Miscellaneous' covers small groups deployed in the relevant region.

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