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Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has had in the last five years regarding the issue of a medal for those who saw active service in Egypt between 1951 and 1954. 
Dr. Moonie: Within the last five years, the Ministry of Defence has received a number of representations from hon. Members and the general public on the subject of a retrospective campaign medal for service in the Canal Zone during the period 1951 to 1954. From available records it has been determined that the Ministry of Defence has received at least two parliamentary questions for oral response, 16 parliamentary questions for written response (including this one), 340 letters from MPs on behalf of constituents and recorded as ministerial correspondence, seven early-day motions, two Adjournment debates, nine letters to a Defence Minister from other than an MP, which were answered direct by him or on his behalf by his office and 300 letters from members of the public which were variously addressed to the Prime Minister, a Defence Minister, or to Her Majesty the Queen and were answered by an official on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. It should be noted that a number of MPs have written to the Ministry of Defence on this subject on more than one occasion and a small number of veterans have written many times.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his plans for the support, amphibious and battlefield rotorcraft procurement. 
Dr. Moonie: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin) on 8 November 2001, Official Report, column 378W.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many formal notices his Department has received in the last year from the Parliamentary Ombudsman expressing an intention to carry out an investigation; and in respect of each notice how long it took to respond. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 27 November 2001]: Information on the outcome of statutory investigations which were concluded during 200001 are set out in the Parliamentary Ombudsman's Annual Report for 200001, copies of which are available in the Library of the House, or on the Parliamentary Ombudsman's website at www.ombudsman.org.uk/pca/document/par01/index.htm
Between 1 April 2001 and 31 October 2001, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has received one new statutory statement of complaint from the Parliamentary
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Ombudsman. The MOD responded to this case within the time scale requested by the ombudsman. The time taken to respond was 24 working days.
A formal notice regarding a matter in the War Pensions Agency was sent to the then Department of Social Security in March 2001. Following transfer of responsibility for the War Pensions Agency, the MOD will be responsible for responding to any observations the ombudsman makes in his report.
Mr. John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to introduce further measures to monitor DARA's ability to control the agency's progress in improving turnaround times. 
Mr. Ingram: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Bryant) on 23 October 2001, Official Report, column 110W. There are currently no plans to introduce further measures to monitor DARA's performance.
Mr. Burns: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many and what proportion of letters received by his Department between 20 June and 20 July were replied to (a) in under 15, (b) in under 20, (c) in under 30, (d) in under 40 and (e) in over 40 working days; 
Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence does not record centrally the total number of letters it receives. However, between 20 June and 20 July 2001, the Department received 478 pieces of correspondence from hon. and right hon. Members, Members of the European Parliament, Members of the devolved legislatures and Peers, which received substantive replies from Ministers as follows:
|Number of working days||Number of pieces of correspondence||Percentage replied to|
Ministers also received 662 pieces of correspondence for answer from members of the public during this period.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the work of the Services Families Taskforce. 
Mr. Ingram: The Service Families Taskforce was set up in 1999 to deal with service family issues that were outside the control of the Ministry of Defence (MOD). It is headed by a Ministerial Group which last met on 15 November. I also meet with representatives of service families twice a year to discuss areas of concern. The
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Service Families Taskforce has been involved in a wide range of issues since its conception. The main areas of progress over the last year are:
(a) The MOD is being consulted by the Department of Health in the drafting of new Adoption legislation to ensure that service families will not be disadvantaged.
(b) We have resolved the problems that some service families had encountered, as a result of the payment of local overseas allowance, in claiming working families tax credit on return to the UK from an overseas posting.
(c) We have resolved the problems that some service spouses had encountered, due to the interpretation of residency status, in claiming Child Support Agency payments when on an overseas posting.
(d) Discussions are taking place with the Department for Education and Skills, and with local education authorities, to see what measures can be taken to improve the schools admissions process for service families.
(e) Discussions are taking place with the NHS Waiting and Booking Team on the problems service families face when transferring between NHS trust areas.
(f) Discussions are taking place with the Department for Work and Pensions to identify any problems service families have faced in the claiming of benefits while on overseas postings.
(g) Since 1 April 2001 service spouses have been able to open Stakeholder pensions while on an overseas posting.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has been informed by his United States counterpart of the locations in which cluster bombs have been used by US armed forces in Afghanistan. 
Mr. Ingram: We are aware of the targets struck by US cluster bombs in Afghanistan.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the US Defence Secretary over the use of cluster bombs. 
Mr. Hoon [holding answer 27 November 2001]: I speak to the US Defence Secretary regularly on a number of issues.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the closest operational NATO (a) air base and (b) port available to UK forces to Gibraltar is; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 26 November 2001]: The closest Allied air base to Gibraltar that would be available to UK Gibraltar-based aircraft is Beja in Portugal. The closest Allied port available to UK Gibraltar-based forces is Lisbon, although Portima~o, also in Portugal, could be used for smaller ships.
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Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what additional operational restrictions are imposed on (a) Royal Navy and RFA Ships, (b) RAF Aircraft and (c) UK troop deployments (i) on visits to and (ii) returning from Gibraltar; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 26 November 2001]: There are restrictions on the direct transit of Royal Navy and FRA ships from Gibraltar to a Spanish port or from a Spanish port to Gibraltar. RAF aircraft on visits to and from Gibraltar are not permitted to over-fly Spanish territory with Gibraltar as the destination or as the airport of departure. UK troops on duty are not allowed across the border from Gibraltar to Spain.
Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) armour piercing and (b) hard target penetrator warheads containing depleted uranium have been tested in Wales in each of the last 10 years. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 27 November 2001]: No depleted uranium rounds have been tested in Wales in each of the last 10 years.
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