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Eurocorps

31. Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the United Kingdom to participate in the Eurocorps. [133015]

Mr. Hoon: There are no plans for UK forces to form a permanent part of the Eurocorps. The UK provides a liaison officer to Headquarters Eurocorps. Additionally, during its successful deployment to Kosovo, where it formed the kernel of the Headquarters commanding the force of around 45,000 troops deployed in KFOR III, the UK provided 62 augmentees to HQ Eurocorps, as did other KFOR nations who are not contributing members of the Eurocorps.

Territorial Army

32. Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the strength of the Territorial Army. [133016]

Mr. Spellar: The latest available official figures give the strength of the Territorial Army as 40,667.

Efficiency Savings

33. Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a list of the 100 financially most significant efficiency savings measures for the financial year 1999-2000, with a brief explanation of each measure. [133017]

Mr. Hoon: Information held centrally on the financially significant efficiency measures for financial year 1999-2000 has been provided to the House of Commons Defence Committee and is therefore covered by Parliamentary privilege. I have written to the hon.

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Member separately to provide what information I can, and a copy of my letter has been placed in the Library of the House.

UN Deployments

35. Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he has made to the UN about improving its defence capability in cases where UN deployments (a) involve and (b) do not involve British troops. [133019]

Mr. Hoon: The UK worked closely with the UN Secretary-General's expert panel during the preparation of the recently published Brahimi Report on reforming UN Peace Operations. Key proposals in the Report aimed at strengthening the UN's defence capability include enhancing early warning mechanisms and information analysis; creating integrated teams for the planning and execution of peacekeeping missions; and improving deployment times and the training and equipping of troops. The Report recommends many of the reforms for which we have argued for some years. They will be of vital importance for all UN deployments including those involving British troops. We are pressing the UN for their speedy implementation.

Precision-guided Bombing Capability

36. Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has to improve the RAF's precision-guided bombing capability. [133020]

Mr. Spellar: The intention to procure an interim precision guided bombing capability for the Royal Air Force as quickly as possible was announced on 24 July. Since then, we have selected Raytheon Systems Corporation to supply the RAF with Enhanced Paveway bombs, subject to the successful completion of contractual negotiations. These bombs will make use of Global Positioning System technology to strike targets accurately in all weather conditions and are expected to be in service with RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft by October next year. This capability will be supplemented by an additional all weather precision guided bombing system that we are currently planning to introduce in 2006.

Tropical Diseases

39. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to ensure that rapid reaction forces are adequately protected against the common tropical diseases before they leave the UK. [133023]

Mr. Spellar: It is the Ministry of Defence's policy that all service personnel should be up to date with routine vaccinations and that members of the Joint Rapid Reaction Forces should be up to date with certain additional vaccinations, depending on their degree of readiness. Personnel deploying to high risk areas should receive further vaccinations specific to the risks they face. Other aspects of medical preparedness will depend on the role of the deploying forces and the geographical location to which they are deploying. The role of commanding officers in maintaining medical and other aspects of preparedness of their personnel for military operations has recently been emphasised through the chain of command.

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Personnel

40. Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed services personnel there were on 1 May 1997; what the current numbers are; and if he will make a statement. [132989]

Mr. Spellar: As at 1 May 1997 the trained strength of the armed forces was 196,857 although there were plans in hand at that time to reduce the trained requirement.

Since then the trained requirement of the Naval service and the RAF has been reduced by about 7,800, reflected in the reduction in trained strength. The Army requirement increased by some 3,000 as a result of SDR.

On 1 September 2000, the trained strength of the armed forces was 189,470.

We aim to reach broad manning balance in the Naval service in Financial Year 2002-03 and in the Army in Financial Year 2004-05. The RAF is in broad manning balance but this masks surpluses and, more importantly, deficits in a number of branches and trades, e.g. shortfall of fast jet pilots, navigators, engineering and medical officers.

Procurement

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to improve the effectiveness of the equipment supplied to the armed forces. [133021]

Mr. Hoon: It is vital that our Armed Forces are properly equipped and we are determined to ensure that the right equipment is available at the right time. We have in hand a large equipment programme to radically improve the equipment of the Armed Forces. For example, the new Type 45 destroyer will carry the world-class Principal Anti-Air Missile System; Challenger 2, which is currently being brought into service, will be the best-protected main battle tank on the modern battlefield; and the Meteor missile will allow Eurofighter to engage multiple and manoeuvring targets simultaneously, at greater range than before, in all weathers, day or night, and with a greater level of survivability.

Since taking office we have radically improved the Ministry of Defence's procurement processes. We have transformed the former Defence Procurement Executive into the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA), and created the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO). The DLO has provided the opportunity to take a new, joint approach to the delivery of logistics support to the Armed Forces. Within the DPA and the DLO we have completed the roll out of 138 Integrated Project Teams (IPTs), to manage specific equipment projects through their procurement and in-service lives, continually searching for ways to improve its operational effectiveness and its efficiency. And within the Ministry of Defence Central Staff we have established an accountable customer who provides, for the first time, a single focus responsible for taking forward planning decisions based on capability need.

We have introduced a whole life approach to equipment acquisition focused on long-term operational effectiveness and cost, and streamlined our management structures and processes. Incremental acquisition is used where appropriate to keep up with rapidly emerging technologies and reduce risk. We are also investing more, and earlier,

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to reduce procurement risk. With industry's close involvement, this should result in better project definition (and cost estimating).

Measures to sustain and maintain the Smart Procurement initiative are being taken forward under the title 'Smart Acquisition', recognising the through-life nature of the business.

Posthumous Awards

Mr. Barnes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will introduce a provision for the automatic award of a posthumous medal for British soldiers killed in action; and if he will make a statement. [133010]

Mr. Hoon: It has been a long-standing practice in this country that those killed while on campaign or operational service automatically qualify for the relevant campaign medal, which is presented to their next of kin. In this way, the deaths of many of those members of our armed forces who are killed in action are already recognised by the award of a medal.

The institution of new medals is approved by Her Majesty The Queen, based on the advice submitted to Her by the interdepartmental Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals. There are currently no plans to institute a new medal for personnel killed in action. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence is however considering the whole question of recognition of those who die while serving in the armed forces.

Site Disposals

Mr. Hawkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations he has had about site disposals in the Surrey Heath constituency, with special reference to (a) the continuing development of the Alma-Dettingen barracks site in the Surrey Heath constituency, (b) the future of the Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut and (c) the future of the Staff College site, Camberley. [132987]

Dr. Moonie: Since the sale of Alma Dettingen Barracks to Barratt Homes there have been no further consultations. There have also been no consultations over the future of Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut or that of the Staff College Camberley.


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