Previous Section Index Home Page


35. Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his plans to research into scientific, technological and medical issues. [24497]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence has a wide-ranging scientific and technical research programme supported by a budget of around £450 million per annum. A summary breakdown of the two key elements of the programme—the Applied Research Programme and Corporate Research Programme—is available in MOD's Science and Innovation Strategy, recently published on the MOD's website. This document also describes our policy objectives and approach to research investment. There is also some additional medical research undertaken by the services addressing their specific operational needs.

Armed Forces Family Taskforce

36. Ms Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the armed forces family taskforce. [24498]

Mr. Ingram: The service families taskforce was set up in 1999 by the Government to deal with service family issues that were outside the control of the Ministry of Defence. It is headed by a ministerial group which last met on 15 November last year. I also meet with representatives of service families twice a year to discuss areas of concern. The 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:

14 Jan 2002 : Column 53W

Golden Jubilee

37. Mr. Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on military participation in the London celebrations of Her Majesty the Queen's golden jubilee. [24499]

Mr. Ingram: The armed forces, both regular and volunteer reserves, will make a full contribution to the London celebrations of Her Majesty the Queen's golden jubilee, including participation at the service of thanksgiving which will take place on 4 June 2002. The details are being finalised.

Reserve Forces

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the role of the reserve forces in the continuing campaign against international terrorism. [27683]

Dr. Moonie: Since the Call-out Order (16 October 2001, Official Report, column 1132) was signed last October to permit reservists to support the campaign against international terrorism, 74 reservists from all three services have been called out. Reservists have been supporting the operation on other forms of service. We are immensely grateful to all of them. As a further measure to support the current level of operations, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has authorised the compulsory call-out of up to 140 specialist Territorial Army personnel to provide intelligence support to headquarters organisations in the UK and to the UK forces deployed in Afghanistan. This action is fully in accordance with our stated intention as part of the Strategic Defence Review to make our reserve forces more usable, integrated and relevant. We believe that the compulsory call-out will be welcomed by the personnel involved and their employers.

Operation Veritas

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what accommodation is available for air crews deployed on Operation Veritas and based at Muscat; how many (a) aircrew and (b) personnel may be accommodated in one tent (i) on exercise and (ii) on operations; how long each aircrew's shift is; how much sleep each aircrew gets

14 Jan 2002 : Column 54W

between shifts; if an aircrew on different shifts may be accommodated in the same tent; if accommodation at Muscat accords with Group Air Staff Order GASO 9072; and if crews are accommodated in local hotels (A) at his Department's expense and (B) at their own expense. [24374]

Mr. Ingram: Aircrews deployed to the region on Operation Veritas are accommodated in two types of air-conditioned tent. On exercises, the normal occupancy of the first type of tent is up to 24 aircrew, on Operation Veritas the number is under 20. The second type of tent, which is slightly smaller, can accommodate up to 14 aircrew on exercises but on Operation Veritas the occupancy is 10 or lower. During unit handovers numbers have been exceeded for short periods.

Non-aircrew are mainly accommodated in the smaller tents without air conditioning. Where possible non- aircrew on night duty, who need to sleep in the heat of the day, are accommodated in the large air-conditioned tents.

The length of aircrews' shifts varies according to the type of aircraft and sortie flown. The length of time between shifts can also vary but is not usually less than 10 hours. Aircrew on different shifts may be accommodated in the same tent but silence is enforced around tents when personnel are asleep. Deployed personnel are not accommodated in hotels except for those who have been in theatre for over four months and are entitled to a period of publicly funded rest and recuperation.

It is recognised that the living conditions for many of our personnel deployed to the middle east on Operation Veritas are challenging but they are in accordance with operational standards for accommodation. UK forces have successfully risen to this challenge and made a major contribution to the Coalition effort over Afghanistan. However, plans are in place to upgrade the living conditions of all RAF personnel on Operation Veritas by March.

Defence Procurement

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much was spent by his Department on equipment purchased in (a) the UK, (b) the USA and (c) the rest of the world in each of the last 10 years. [25117]

Dr. Moonie: Ministry of Defence equipment expenditure (including VAT and R and D spend) in the last 10 years was:

£ million

YearEquipment expenditure at current prices

(14) This is the 'latest agreed' estimate

14 Jan 2002 : Column 55W

The breakdown between the UK, the US and the rest of the world is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Armed Forces Pension Scheme

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will include members of all United Kingdom part-time forces in the armed forces pension scheme. [25918]

Mr. Ingram: The armed forces pension scheme is an occupational pension scheme providing pension provision for members of the regular armed services. The scheme also provides pensions for members of the reserve forces who serve respectively on full-time or part-time commitments under sections 24 or 25 of the Reserve Forces Act (RFA) 1996.

The scheme does not provide pensions for members of the volunteer reserve forces serving under sections 22 or 27 of the RFA 1996 or for part-time members of the Royal Irish Regiment. This reflects the ad hoc nature of their service. However, those who are not included in the armed forces pension scheme are contracted-in to the state earnings-related pension scheme (SERPS) and are eligible for pension benefits under that arrangement.

14 Jan 2002 : Column 56W

Benefits are available under the attributable benefits arrangements to members of the volunteer forces or their dependants if they are injured or killed as a result of their service, which are comparable to those of their regular service counterparts.

Since 8 October 2001, payroll deduction facilities have been available to enable members of the volunteer reserves to make contributions into the armed forces stakeholder pension scheme which was introduced in response to regulations under the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1998 to provide pensions to cover those who are excluded from the AFPS.

Next Section Index Home Page