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Funding (Cadets)

Mr. Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will increase the level of funding for the Army, Air and Sea Cadets. [132999]

Mr. Spellar: This year the total budget for the Cadet Organisations is £58.3 million. This direct funding demonstrates our commitment to the cadet organisations. The cadet organisations also benefit from MOD money through non-case support in the form of the use of MOD vehicles and certain facilities within the MOD estate, flight experience in operational aircraft, and the use of sailing craft and small powered craft by the Sea Cadets.

Falkland Islands

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the (a) annual cost and (b) current role of British forces in the Falkland Islands. [134960]

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Mr. Spellar: The role of the British Forces in the Falkland Islands is to demonstrate the United Kingdom's continued commitment to the islands and uphold the right of the islanders to self determination.

In respect of the annual cost of the Falkland Islands Garrison I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 18 July 2000, Official Report, column 104W to the hon. Member for Lewes (Mr. Baker).

Accommodation (Service Personnel)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the standard of accommodation for British service men and service women deployed in (a) Kuwait, (b) Kosovo and (c) the Falkland Islands. [134962]

Mr. Spellar: RAF personnel in Kuwait are accommodated on the Kuwaiti Air Force base at Ali Al Salem. The UK receives extensive Host Nation Support from the Kuwaiti Government which is carrying out a major series of improvements to both the living and working accommodation at the base.

Living and working accommodation for the vast majority of our personnel in Kosovo is provided at 13 Temporary Field Accommodation Camps. These provide temperature controlled, hard-walled living accommodation, with adjacent toilets and ablution facilities, kitchen and dining facilities; laundries; headquarters; office facilities and specialist workshops and stores. In addition, welfare and recreation facilities have been provided. Temporary Field Accommodation has been welcomed by our troops and we believe it to be the best field accommodation in the Balkans.

The latest survey of grading for condition of living accommodation in the Falkland Islands shows that all families quarters and the majority of the single living accommodation units are in good condition, with over 15 years of residual life, although improvements to fire prevention and heating systems are necessary in the short-term.

Kuwait

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what military assistance Britain is giving to Kuwait. [134961]

Mr. Spellar: The UK provides extensive military assistance to Kuwait. Our bilateral co-operation programme covers a wide range of activities across the defence spectrum. The 47 strong British Military Mission (BMM) which is permanently based in Kuwait provides advice and support to the reform of the Kuwaiti armed forces. We are helping to develop the Kuwaiti Flying Training School and continue to lend our support to the Kuwait Staff College. Members of Kuwait's Navy, Army and Air Force are represented on training, including flying training, and staff courses in the UK. We are working hard also to examine proposals to help the Kuwaitis develop their own defence doctrine and continue to explore potential avenues for practical military exercises.

The British defence industry continues to bid competitively to support the modernisation of the Kuwaiti armed forces. The Kuwait Programme Office is a dedicated integrated team, which is fully funded by the Kuwaitis and is responsible for setting up government to

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government arrangements covering the procurement of defence equipment from British contractors. Current projects include the Desert Warrior, Sea Skua and servicing of the Hawk as well as the Tucano Training aircraft.

The UK contributes 11 service personnel to UNIKOM which monitors the UN defined border and demilitarised zone between Iraq and Kuwait.

Kosovo

Mr. Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on KFOR's efforts in preventing ethnic cleansing of Serbs in Kosovo. [133096]

Mr. Spellar: Currently KFOR estimates that the Serb community in Kosovo numbers between 80,000 and 100,000. Three out of four KFOR soldiers are dedicated to patrolling, manning checkpoints and mounting border controls. Each multinational brigade allocates an average of 400 personnel to tasks specifically linked to the protection of minorities and significant KFOR forces remain assigned throughout Kosovo to the protection of patrimonial sites on a 24 hours a day basis.

When KFOR arrived in Kosovo in June 1999 there was a weekly murder rate of 50. Now this figure is down to an average of five per week. The KFOR assessment is that the majority of crime is no longer ethnically motivated.

In the UK controlled sector of central Kosovo, KFOR troops have been doing pioneering work with UNMIK and NGOs to improve conditions of life and work there for the Serb community. Our troops have undertaken initiatives to provide permanent and mobile vehicle check-points in sensitive areas, watch towers to allow farmers to work in fields, random patrolling, raids on the houses of hard-liners and much more. With such initiatives under way, we hope to establish a measure of security both for the Serbs still present in Kosovo and for those who will feel confident enough to return. In addition, we are working to encourage Serb returns to villages in the central area of Kosovo.

Avro Vulcan B.2 XH558

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department is giving assistance to the Return to Flight campaign for Avro Vulcan B.2 XH558. [134337]

Dr. Moonie: It is Ministry of Defence policy that public funds should not be used to subsidise private ventures of this kind, however worthy.

Army Overstretch

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on Army overstretch over the past three years. [134415]

Mr. Spellar: Two key measures of overstretch in the Army are the percentage of the Army committed and deployed on operations and the time interval between deployments.

Commitment levels, which include preparation for and recovery from deployments, have fluctuated over the past three years, peaking in June 1999 during the height of the

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Kosovo campaign at 44 per cent. Since then they have declined steadily to the current level of 22 per cent. 15 per cent. of the Army is deployed.

Average unit tour intervals in the Army have also improved over recent years. While in some specialist areas these 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.

Armed Forces (Disabled Recruitment)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the recruitment of disabled people for front-line duty with the armed forces. [134919]

Mr. Spellar: The armed forces are required to maintain the highest possible level of combat effectiveness and to be able to undertake military operations anywhere in the world at very short notice. It is not therefore possible to recruit those with a disability into the armed forces which are exempt from the employment provisions (Part 2) of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Hunter-killer Submarines

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of when each of the Royal Navy's nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines will return to sea. [134929]

Mr. Spellar: Until the inspection programme currently under way to assess each of our nuclear powered hunter-killer submarines is completed, it is not possible to finalise the repair programme or to quantify the operational implications.

British Military Communications (Kosovo)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the monitoring of British military communications during the Kosovo campaign by (a) Serb forces and (b) the Kosovo Liberation Army. [134916]

Mr. Spellar: Yugoslav armed forces do have an electronic recognition capability, designed primarily for tactical use. This capability has been publicly acknowledged by the Yugoslav armed forces. We assumed that they made use of this capability during the Kosovo campaign. We have no evidence to suggest that the KLA had any such developed capability.

Sorties (Iraqi Targets)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many sorties have been flown involving the discharge of weaponry against Iraqi targets since the end of the Gulf War. [134926]

Mr. Spellar: Between 1 August 1992 and 19 October 2000, UK aircraft released ordnance over Iraq on 50 days.


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