30 Oct 2001 : Column: 563W

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 30 October 2001



Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of the retrospective recognition of pre-1975 military service for pension purposes. [10433]

Mr. Ingram: Before 1975, and currently, pensions were awarded to Service personnel who completed at least 22 years' reckonable service (or 16 years' reckonable service in the case of officers). Gratuities were awarded to those who did not qualify for a pension but had completed 12 years' reckonable service (or nine years in the case of officers).

It has been the long-standing policy of successive Governments that changes to improve benefits from public service pension schemes should normally be implemented from a current date for future service only.

In the case of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme, in order to calculate the precise cost of awarding pension rights retrospectively, my Department would have to identify and assess the potential entitlements of all service men who left service before April 1975 without completing enough service to qualify for a pension. There are probably several hundred thousand if not more than a million former service men in this category. An accurate estimate could, therefore, be provided only at disproportionate cost.

None the less, we can be clear that the cost of awarding pensions retrospectively would be considerable. In addition, such a retrospection could not be applied solely to former service men, and would require a change for all public service pension schemes.

Service Accommodation

Peter Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the overall standard of Single Living Accommodation. [9796]

Dr. Moonie: The condition of Single Living Accommodation has been examined in detail to underpin decisions on the major investment programme announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 14 March 2001, Official Report, column 600W, in particular the Single Living Accommodation Modernisation prime contract which we plan to award by the end of 2002. Recent surveys indicate that roughly half of the Single Living Accommodation is sub-standard. The Ministry of Defence's objective is to improve all Single Living Accommodation to single bedrooms with en suite shower, wash hand basin and toilet facilities. To this end, an additional £1 billion worth of investment is planned over the next 10 years.

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Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress he has made in publicising and demonstrating assistance offered to veterans of the armed services by central and local government. [10215]

Dr. Moonie: Since my appointment as Minister for Veterans' Affairs on 14 March significant progress has been made in publicising and demonstrating the aims of the Veterans' Initiative. The Ministry of Defence has established a Veterans' Affairs Secretariat and I have chaired two meetings of the Veterans' Forum comprising the Confederation of British Service and Ex-Service Organisations (COBSEO) executive committee members, and officials from Government Departments with an interest in veterans' affairs. I also chaired the first meeting of the Forum in Plenary session on 16 October, which was attended by 158 delegates from veterans' organisations, welfare providers and pressure groups. The Plenary programme included a presentation from the DTLR's National Housing Federation which gave veterans advice on how to get the most out of the "Supporting People" initiative currently being taken forward by local government. The Veterans' Forum has fully endorsed the Strategic Action Plan to take forward the Veterans' Initiative and I will now present the plan to my ministerial colleagues at the Veterans' Task Force on 6 November.

A short press release was issued after each forum meeting and minutes of forum and task force meetings, including a copy of the Strategic Action Plan, have been widely circulated among the veterans' community and are available on the MOD website: http://www.mod.uk/vau

Chinook Helicopters

Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list (a) by date and (b) by aircraft serial number, all incidents of uncommanded flight control movements in Chinook helicopters since 1 January 1999; and what their cause was. [10638]

Mr. Ingram: Uncommanded movements are defined as an unusual movement of flying controls or rotors that are not caused by pilot inputs.

The table lists the incidents of uncommanded flying control movements in Chinook helicopters since 1 January 1999 and their determined causes.

Uncommanded flying control movements in Chinook aircraft since 1999

DateTail number Cause
12 MarchZA712Faulty AFCS
17 MarchZA718Faulty DASH actuator and directional gyro
20 AprilZD983Directional gyro out of tolerance
29 AprilZH775Faulty AFCS and directional gyro
14 June ZA718Faulty directional gyro
29 July ZA718Faulty AFCS and directional gyro
29 OctoberZA711Faulty directional gyro
18 NovemberZA711Faulty directional gyro
6 January ZA714Faulty AFCS
6 JanuaryZA718Faulty AFCS
11 February ZA682Faulty vertical gyro
4 April ZA682Faulty DASH actuator gear assembly
5 AprilZA679Faulty DASH actuator
5 AprilZA684Faulty directional gyro connector
30 May ZA710Faulty AFCS
24 JulyZA679Faulty AFCS and DASH actuator
5 August ZA674Faulty cables to AFCS
9 November ZA671Faulty vertical gyro
12 NovemberZA671Faulty AFCS
17 JanuaryZH777Units replaced following pitch oscillations
1 March ZA709Faulty directional gyro
1 May ZA674Faulty directional gyro
24 MayZA680Faulty lower control actuators
5 JulyZD981Faulty attitude indicator

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Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list each occasion on which pilots have temporarily lost control of RAF Chinook helicopters during an uncommanded flying control movement. [10637]

Mr. Ingram: No such instances have occurred. Aircrew have retained full control of the aircraft whenever an uncommanded flying control movement has taken place by successfully mitigating the effects of the control movement.

Defence Spending

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his estimate is (1) of the level of UK defence spending as a share of UK gross domestic product for each year from 1973–74 to 2002–03; and if he will make a statement; [10493]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 29 October 2001]: Following the introduction of resource accounting and budgeting (RAB) in the Ministry of Defence on 1 April 2001, future financial planning, management and reporting is conducted on the new resource basis.

UK defence spending as a share of the UK GDP from 1973–74 to 2000–01

Financial yearPercentage GDP

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Using defence based figures announced in the 2000 spending review, defence budget expenditure is expected to represent the following share of GDP for 2001–02 and 2002–03.

Financial yearPercentage GDP

Sovereign Bases

Mr. Hague: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the status of Sovereign Bases under UK law. [10502]

Mr. Ingram: The legal status of the UK Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus is as set out in the Cyprus Act 1960 and the 1960 Treaty of Establishment. Under the Act, the Sovereign Base Areas were retained as UK sovereign territory when the Republic of Cyprus achieved independence.

Frigates and Destroyers

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the predicted total number of frigates and destroyers will be in the Royal Navy after the final type 45 destroyer comes into service. [10116]

Mr. Ingram: On current plans and based on the outcome of the Strategic Defence Review, the number of frigates and destroyers in service after the final type 45 destroyer comes into service will be 32.

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