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|Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment||324||312|
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|9th/12th Royal Lancers||358||353|
|2 Royal Tank Regiment||460||447|
|Royal Dragoon Guards||451||459|
|Household Cavalry Regiment||421||412|
|Queen's Royal Hussars||451||300|
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|Joint Nuclear Biological and Chemical Regiment||200||196|
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration the Armed Forces Pension Scheme review has given to using additional voluntary contributions as a means of making specialist pay pensionable; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence plans to introduce a facility to enable all serving personnel to make additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) through deductions from pay, to enable them to "top up" their pension benefits where they have scope to do so under Inland Revenue rules. This would also be available for those on specialist pay. As we made clear in our consultation document on the current review of the Armed Forces Pension Scheme, published in March of last year, we are also considering the option that MOD, as employer, might fund part of the costs of AVCs in respect of specialist pay. The decision will depend on whether or not this is judged to be a reasonable and cost-effective way of improving recruitment and retention. A decision on the review is expected later this year.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for an education campaign to enable armed forces personnel to make informed judgments on the Armed Forces Pension Review Body's conclusions. 
Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence is in the process of developing a multi-media communications package which we plan will comprise booklets, letters, factsheets, internet material, personal forecasts, presentations and roadshows designed to enable all serving military personnel to make a timely and informed judgment about the relative merits of the current Armed Forces Pension Scheme and the anticipated new scheme.
24 Jan 2002 : Column 994W
the three final years of a serviceman or woman's service when determining pensionable pay; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: In the Ministry of Defence's consultation document on the Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) Review, the MOD indicated the intention to move to a final salary scheme and the possibility of basing the pension on the best year's salary in the three years before retirement. In response to views expressed during the consultation, we are currently considering whether we might introduce a mechanism to provide an uplift for inflation under the new AFPS.
Mr. Ingram: The Army sixth form college will remain at its current Welbeck home until at least September 2005. Following detailed examination during the Defence Training Review, it has been decided to expand the college to include students from the RAF, Royal Navy and the civil service. A public-private partnership (PPP) project is currently under way to deliver the requirements of the Defence sixth form college, and this will be judged against a benchmark site at a former Army Barracks at Garats Hay near Loughborough. I must stress that the private sector is not constrained by this benchmark, and tenderers will be given the opportunity of selecting an alternative site to provide the facilities and services. It is too early to say where the college will ultimately be sited.
Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the change in the shortfall in the official complement of the Army was between (a) 1 May 1997, (b) 1 May 2001 and (c) the latest date for which the figure is available. 
|(a) 1 May 1997||4,933|
|(b) 1 May 2001||6,761|
|(c) 1 December 2001||6,169|
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he takes to ensure that activities undertaken by US forces operating in the UK are consistent with the terms of the European convention on human rights; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 22 January 2002]: US forces operating in the UK are a visiting force, and as such are subject to the NATO Status of Forces agreement of 1951, which requires a visiting force to respect the law of the host nation. Our legislation recognises the European convention on human rights.
24 Jan 2002 : Column 995W
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list (a) those non-EU European NATO member countries and other EU applicant countries who have offered contributions for improving European military capability and (b) those countries whose offer has been (i) accepted and (ii) rejected; and if he will make a statement. 
Republic of Cyprus
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress made by the EU/NATO working groups on (a) the preparation of an EU/NATO security agreement, (b) the setting of capability goals, (c) the preparation of an agreement on the modalities for EU access to NATO assets and capabilities and (d) the definition of permanent arrangements for future EU/NATO consultations in times of crisis and non-crisis; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: Work between the EU and NATO continues in all the areas mentioned. An interim security agreement is in place. Discussions continue on details of a permanent arrangement. NATO experts have been closely involved with EU colleagues in work to elaborate and identify the capabilities required for the Headline Goal. The EU's capability action plan will be implemented in close co-operation with relevant NATO initiatives. We have made good progress towards agreement on EU access to NATO assets and capabilities, although arrangements are not yet finalised. Permanent consultation arrangements between NATO and the EU were defined at Nice and have been implemented satisfactorily. Consultation and transparency between the two organisations have been very good.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to take an initiative within the European Union to improve the arrangements for the participation of non-EU allied countries in the ESDP in order to create an associate status for the countries concerned; and if he will make a statement. 
24 Jan 2002 : Column 996W
The Nice European Council agreed a substantial set of provisions governing consultation with these countries and arrangements for their participation in EU-led operations. These arrangements already provide for a high level of participation by our non-EU European allies in ESDP.
Mr. Ingram: I anticipate that the number of UK forces involved in Operation Fingal, the UK contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), will reduce substantially when the UK command of the ISAF ends in mid-April 2002.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his European counterparts regarding the Belgian initiative of drawing up a White Paper on European security by submitting a WEU contribution on the repercussions of countering the threat that international terrorism poses for collective defence; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: Discussions were held during the Belgian Presidency of the EU with a view to commissioning the EU Institute for Security Studies to produce an academic overview of member states' defence policies. This work will be taken forward under the Spanish Presidency.
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