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DEFENCE

Defence Logistics Organisation

1. Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress in establishing the Defence Logistics Organisation. [132984]

34. Mr. Paul Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress in establishing the Defence Logistics Organisation. [133018]

Mr. Spellar: Since my last reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South (Mr. Cunningham) on 17 April 2000, Official Report, column 365W the Defence Logistics Organisation has made further progress to improve logistics support to our armed forces. Over the past six months, the DLO has successfully provided uninterrupted support to operations in Kosovo, East Timor, Mozambique and Sierra Leone while creating the new joint organisation. The DLO has also launched a number of major business initiatives designed to release resources for reinvestment in front line capability, and to achieve the strategic goal to reduce the DLO's output costs by 20 per cent. by 2005.

Army Regiments

5. Laura Moffatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many regular army regiments were (a) abolished and (b) amalgamated as a result of (i) "Options for Change" and (ii) the Strategic Defence Review. [132988]

Mr. Hoon: As the result of "Options for Change" a total of 12 regular army regiments were disbanded and 26 were amalgamated. No regular army regiments were disbanded or amalgamated as a result of the Strategic Defence Review; indeed two engineer regiments, disbanded following "Options for Change", were reformed.

Army Operations

16. Mr. Ennis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what percentage of the Army is committed to, preparing for, or recovering from operations. [133000]

Mr. Spellar: Some 22 per cent. of the trained Army is committed to Operations. This figure includes units preparing for, deployed on and recovering from operations. Of these, 15 per cent. of the trained Army is currently deployed on operations.

There has been a significant reduction in commitment levels over the past year, particularly since the height of the Kosovo campaign in July 1999 when the commitment

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level reached a peak of 44 per cent. The current level of commitment is below that inherited from the previous Administration.

Average unit tour intervals in the Army have also decreased over recent years and while in some specialist areas tour intervals remain at around 12 months, our latest assessment of the average time between unit tours across the Army for this year is around 30 months, the best figure for at least five years.

Apache Attack Helicopter

19. Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the Apache attack helicopter will enter into service. [133003]

Mr. Spellar: The Apache attack helicopter is on schedule to enter service in December this year, when the ninth aircraft is delivered. This date has not altered from when the Apache prime contract was placed in 1996 and its achievement will be a significant milestone on the road to the Army achieving the operational availability of the first squadron of Apaches in late 2002.

C-17 Transport Aircraft

23. Mr. Barry Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the in-service date is for the first of the RAF's new C-17 transport aircraft. [133007]

Mr. Hoon: On 2 September, we signed a contract for the lease of four C-17 aircraft for a period of seven years. On current plans, the aircraft should be available and working-up from next summer onwards to be ready to support the Joint Rapid Reaction Force by the end of the year. The In Service Date is December 2001.

Married Quarters

24. Mr. Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Government have to improve the condition of married quarters for service personnel. [133008]

Mr. Spellar: The Ministry of Defence is giving priority to ensuring that Service families are accommodated in good quality, modern houses, not only for the present well being of the families but also as encouragement to retention and recruiting. Through the Defence Housing Executive, the Department has a full programme of refurbishment and rebuilding in place to improve the condition of its core housing stock over the next five years.

Aircraft Carriers

25. Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total value is of the contracts awarded to date for the design of the future generation of aircraft carriers. [133009]

Mr. Hoon: Two contracts, each potentially worth up to £30 million, for work to investigate options for the design of the future aircraft carrier have been awarded to BAE Systems and Thomson-CSF Naval Systems.

In addition a number of parallel contracts, worth up to a further £3 million, have been placed with DERA and the US Authorities for a variety of support tasks.

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Fitness Levels

27. Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will meet Ministers at the Department for Education and Employment to discuss the possibility of creating a new deal option to help young unemployed people attain fitness levels required for employment in the armed forces. [133011]

Mr. Spellar: The armed forces already contribute to the New Deal scheme and to the personal development of young people. The Services work closely with New Deal personal advisers and the further education colleges, to identify what self-development is required to make young people more confident and self-reliant. The armed forces provide "Taster Days" for those young unemployed people wanting to learn more about service life.

Each Service also runs personal development courses for young people:




In addition, the armed forces launched the "Skill Force" youth initiative on 5 September, as a contribution to the Government's efforts to deal with social exclusion. The services have deployed two teams of trained instructors into a total of six schools in the Newcastle and Norfolk areas, where the initiative is being piloted. The instructors are delivering key skills training to children who have been disapplied from part of the national curriculum and who are in danger of disaffection. There is an element of physical training involved with Skill Force. Although this is not a recruiting initiative, Skill Force will make the 15-16 year old participants fitter than they otherwise would be, and improve their chances of passing basic training if they do decide to join the armed forces.

Discussions are now being held between departments to determine other ways in which the armed forces can help to deliver the Government's policies on social exclusion.

Ethnic Minorities

29. Mr. Woolas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made by each of the three armed services in meeting their targets for recruitment among Britain's ethnic minorities. [133013]

Mr. Spellar: The ethnic minority recruiting goal for 2000-01 is 4 per cent. For the period from 1 April to 1 September this year, 2.2 per cent. of the armed forces intake from the British labour market came from the British ethnic minority communities. Although short of the 4 per cent. goal, the figure represents an improvement on achievement levels for the corresponding period for

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the last financial year, which stood at about 1.8 per cent. If this improvement continues for the rest of the financial year, it would indicate that ethnic minority recruitment into the armed forces is moving in the right direction.

Ethnic minority recruiting levels broken down for each Service for the period are:




Single Living Accommodation

30. Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Government have to improve armed forces single living accommodation. [133014]

38. Mr. Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Government have to improve armed forces single living accommodation. [133022]

Mr. Spellar: Improving the retention of armed forces personnel is a high priority for the Department. Poor single living accommodation has been identified as a cause of dissatisfaction among Service personnel; improving accommodation could, therefore, have a positive impact in helping to address retention problems.

Action is being taken, however, to improve single living accommodation. By 2005 over 12,000 bedspaces will have either been built or refurbished.


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