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Army Deployments

40. Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the five largest deployments of British forces abroad. [1222]

Mr. Ingram: As of 28 June 2001, the five largest operational deployments of UK service personnel overseas are: the UK contribution to NATO operations in Kosovo; the UK contribution to NATO operations in Bosnia; the UK contribution to coalition operations in the Gulf; the UK's training, advisory and assistance team in Sierra Leone and the UK contribution to UN operations in Cyprus.

Personnel Shortfalls

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the shortfall of service men in (a) the Army, (b) the Marines, (c) the Royal Navy and (d) the RAF; and to what extent the shortfall is supplemented by the Territorial Army. [2140]

Mr. Ingram: The shortfalls in the trained strength of the armed forces as at 1 May 2001 are shown in the table. Column 3 shows the extent to which the shortfalls were being ameliorated by the use of Volunteer Reservists (e.g. the Territorial Army) and Regular Reservists:

ShortfallFTRS(3)Remaining shortfall
Royal Navy1,042476566
Royal Marines37551342

(3) This includes Limited Commitment (LC) and Home Commitments (HC) Full Time Reservists serving in the RAF.

Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) is a new form of reserve service introduced by the Reserve Forces Act 1996. This legislation enables reservists to be employed on a wider variety of tasks than previously. This change has been particularly well received by personnel of the Reserve Forces and is being well used. It should be noted that both members of the Volunteer Reserve Forces, such as the Territorial Army (TA), and members of the Ex-Regular Reserve Forces (i.e. ex-Regulars who have left full-time service) can undertake FTRS.

Reservists also contribute to enduring operations such as the Balkans and Sierra Leone by volunteering to be called out for permanent (i.e. mobilised) service, normally six-month tours. At present some 500 reservists are called out into permanent service. Although this further contribution by the Reserve Forces helps to relieve the Regular Forces shortfalls, it is short-term and does not count against the manpower strengths and requirements of the Regular Forces.

9 Jul 2001 : Column: 365W

HMS Sheffield

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what instructions were given to the official stenographer relating to amending evidence given by witnesses at the inquiry into the sinking of HMS Sheffield; and if he will make a statement; [R] [2339]

Mr. Ingram: On 4 May 1982, HMS Sheffield was lost in action in the Falklands with the loss of 20 lives; 26 other members of the crew were injured. Our sympathies of course lie with the survivors from HMS Sheffield and with the families of those who lost their lives or suffered injury. In accordance with normal naval procedures a Board of Inquiry fully investigated the incident. I am confident that the original Board of Inquiry was conducted to the highest professional standards and there would be no useful purpose in reopening this tragic incident.

Following the Board of Inquiry and after giving due consideration to the findings, in September 1982, the then Commander in Chief Fleet concluded that it was not appropriate to take disciplinary action against any member of the crew of HMS Sheffield.

Much of the information put before the Board of Inquiry was, and remains, highly classified and I am withholding it under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Assess to Government Information which relates to defence, security and international relations.

Instructions to the official stenographer would have been recorded in the Transcript of Evidence of the Board of Inquiry, but unfortunately, in the time available, I regret it has not been possible to trace the file containing the Transcript of Evidence. I will write to the hon. Member on that point when I have further information and a copy will be placed in the Library of the House.

Stun Grenades

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the international code is for identification of the country of origin on munitions, with particular reference to stun grenades. [1120]

Mr. Ingram: NATO uses the fifth and sixth digit of the NATO Stock Number (NSN) as an identifier of the country of origin (or manufacturer) of munitions. The NSN appears on the packaging of munitions and not necessarily on the munitions themselves.

9 Jul 2001 : Column: 366W

Fertility Treatment

Ms Atherton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proposals he has to extend fertility treatment to service personnel and their families. [2401]

Dr. Moonie: Fertility treatment is not provided by the defence medical services, although contributory causes would be investigated and treated in accordance with normal medical practice. Service personnel seeking fertility treatment would need to obtain it through the national health service (NHS), or privately if they were prepared to meet the cost.

The policy on the provision of fertility treatment in the NHS is under review. When new guidelines are issued to health authorities, the Ministry of Defence will consider what changes, if any, are necessary to our current policy on the provision of fertility treatment for Service personnel.


Mr. Frank Field: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of his Department's report on bullying published in 1973–74 and on infantry bullying of young recruits published in 1990–91. [2790]

Mr. Ingram: Officials are in the process of retrieving the relevant reports. Once this has been completed I will write to my right hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Menwith Hill

Mr. Galloway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance has been (a) asked for and (b) given to the US Government in transferring US personnel from Bad Aibling to Menwith Hill; and if he will make a statement. [2789]

Mr. Ingram: My officials have discussed with the US authorities the transfer of some US personnel to RAF Menwith Hill following the closure of Bad Aibling in Bavaria. Current plans are that this will result in a temporary small net increase in staff numbers at RAF Menwith Hill over the next year. The personnel transferred in will be absorbed in existing operations, and do not represent any new mission being established in the UK.

Tanker Replacement

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the engines which will power the rival bids on the tanker replacement programme. [2582]

Dr. Moonie: Two consortia submitted bids for this PFI project on 3 July, so our evaluation of their proposals is at an early stage. Many details of the solutions offered are commercially sensitive and will remain so at least until we make a final investment decision around mid-2002. However, both bidders are content for it to be known that the aircraft currently specified in their bids are powered by Rolls-Royce engines.

9 Jul 2001 : Column: 367W

Defence Aviation Repair Agency

Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) civilian and (b) military personnel were employed by DARA at RAF St. Athan on 1 July. [3090]

Mr. Ingram: On 1 July 2001 DARA employed 523 service personnel and 2,344 civilian at RAF St. Athan.

MOD Housing (Gosport)

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) acquisitions and (b) disposals of MOD housing are (i) in hand and (ii) planned in the Gosport constituency. [2828]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has no current plans to provide new service family accommodation in the Gosport constituency. Fifty-one officers' quarters are to be provided at Seafield Park, Fareham as part of a joint Bath, Bristol, Seafield Park Private Finance Initiative (PFI). A decision has also been taken to begin a second Portsmouth PFI to provide 126 officers' and 35 other ranks' quarters. The precise location of this second PFI provision, ie whether it will be in the Gosport constituency or elsewhere in the Portsmouth/Gosport area, has yet to be determined.

In the current financial year 29 properties in Old Rowner are to be returned to their owner, Annington Homes. Decisions have not yet been taken regarding any possible disposals for 2002–03 and beyond.

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