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Service Personnel (Recognition on Retirement)

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to recognise formally the contribution made by armed forces personnel at the point at which they retire from active service. [25357]

Mr. Ingram: All service personnel can qualify for a long service and good conduct medal after 15 years of exemplary service, with a bar awarded after a further 15 years. Other medals are awarded to those who have distinguished themselves through exceptional service or bravery. There is no single arrangement in the armed

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forces for recognising service at the point of retirement though all three provide a certificate of the qualifications gained in service and, subject to the satisfactory completion of service, a character reference which can be used in seeking further employment. Those completing at least five years' service are also entitled to resettlement training which increases in recognition of greater length of service. As part of the Veterans' Initiative, and in cooperation with representatives of the veterans' organisations, we are also looking at the feasibility and merits of a "Veterans' Identity Card" which would allow recognition (and real benefits) of the special status of those who have given service to the country in the armed forces.

Fair Trade

Mr. Lazarowicz: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to encourage participation by his Department in Fair Trade Fortnight from 4 to 17 March. [33539]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is in touch with the Department for International Development which leads on this issue and which is providing £120,000 to the Fair Trade Foundation over three years (2001–03) in support of its efforts to target new groups through its annual fair trade fortnight campaigns. We do not, however, have plans for direct participation in the event.

Defence Expenditure

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what UK defence expenditure was in each of the last 10 years, broken down by region and expressed as expenditure per head of population. [33951]

Mr. Ingram: A breakdown of defence expenditure by region is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, I have tasked my officials to examine the data held to see if a broad indication of regional expenditure can be provided.

Information on UK defence expenditure for each of the last 10 years, and as expenditure per head of population, is outlined in the table.

Total UK Defence expenditure (£ million)(1)UK mid year resident population (£000)(2)UK Defence expenditure/head (£)

(1) UK defence expenditure figures are the "Adjusted Defence budget" taken from table 1.3 of UK Defence Statistics 2001. The figures are VAT inclusive and at current prices. The "Adjusted Defence Budget" takes account of major definitional changes in defence spending and of major transfers of responsibility to and from Government Departments to provide figures on a consistent basis. Figures exclude receipts from the sale of the married quarters estate that were appropriated onto the defence votes.

(2) UK mid-year population estimates are taken from table 2.1 of the Office for National Statistics' "Monthly Digest of Statistics—January 2002".

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Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what continuing role he plans for the armed forces in Afghanistan. [34041]

Mr. Hoon: We have made our campaign objectives clear, including to bring Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda to justice and to ensure that the link between Afghanistan and terrorism is broken for good. The United Kingdom is also contributing to, and currently leading, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul.

So far, some 1,700 British troops have deployed to Kabul out of a total of about 3,500 troops from 15 countries. Although we plan to hand over command of the ISAF by the end of April and reduce the number of British troops involved, we will continue to contribute to the force. We will also continue to support the Coalition's efforts under Operation Enduring Freedom to deal with the surviving al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants in Afghanistan.

TSC 503 Satellite System

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the introduction of the TSC 503 satellite system. [34400]

Dr. Moonie: The UK's TSC 503 satellite system provides a transportable satellite communications ground terminal system compatible with UK Skynet, NATO and US military satellites.

The TSC 503 terminal system has a significantly increased data transfer capability compared to the current SATCOM terminals.

So far, about half the terminals have been delivered and training of service personnel is taking place. Full operational capability is planned by the end of this year.

Army Establishment

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the Army is manned to peace establishment. [34491]

Mr. Ingram: The strength of the whole Army (as at 1 January 2002) is around 94 per cent. of the current peacetime unit establishment requirement.

British Forces Post Office (Afghanistan)

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 28 January 2002, Official Report, column 13W, on Afghanistan, if he will publish the reduced rates under the BFPO number registered for parcels to be sent to Afghanistan; and what is the average number of deliveries of post per month to BFPO numbers relating to Afghanistan. [35818]

Mr. Ingram: The BFPO numbers applicable to operations in Afghanistan are BFPO 767 Muscat and BFPO 768 Thumrait, BFPO 761 Shalalah having closed on 21 January.

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Mail is flown from the UK to Muscat six times per week whence it is carried by road, a two hour journey, to Thumrait. Mail for Kabul is then flown from Thumrait daily by the Royal Air Force. A total of 1,000 kg per day is despatched to Muscat and 475 kg per day forwarded to Kabul. As this is a recent service monthly averages are not available.

A full parcels service (up to 30 kg) is not available, but small packets up to 2 kg are sent at a maximum cost of £6.56.

Premature Voluntary Release

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many PVR applications have been made by personnel from (a) 5, (b) 11, (c) 25, (d) 43 and (e) 111 Squadrons in each of the past five years. [35652]

Mr. Ingram: The number of applications for premature voluntary release from the RAF Air Defence Squadrons, in each of the last five years is shown as follows:

5 Squadron
11 Squadron
25 Squadron
43 Squadron
111 Squadron

(3) Figures up to 1 January 2002

Departmental Bodies (Security)

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what action will be taken against those departmental bodies which fail to take adequate security measures in their establishments. [35609]

Dr. Moonie: Depending on the circumstances of the case, a range of informal, formal, administrative, disciplinary and even criminal options would be considered and pursued as appropriate.

A range of control processes is in place to ensure that adequate security measures are taken. There is a regime of security surveys, inspections and audits operating in the Ministry of Defence. Standards and policy are set centrally, with advice and guidance provided to departmental bodies to enable them to carry out their security responsibilities.


Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) establishment pilot posts and (b) pilots there are in (i) 5, (ii) 11, (iii), 25, (iv), 43 and (v) 111 Squadrons. [35651]

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Mr. Ingram: The table details the number of established pilot posts and the number of pilots there are in 5 Squadron, 11 Squadron, 25 Squadron, 43 Squadron and 111 Squadron. These figures are as at 31 December 2001.

SquadronEstablishmentCurrent manning

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