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Mr. Ingram: We currently have some 360 shore-based personnel deployed in Sierra Leone, and we will maintain our presence at that level over the period of presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May 2002. We are also contributing 15 military observers and seven headquarters staff to UNAMSIL, the UN operation in Sierra Leone. The cost of the deployments, excluding the provision of equipment to the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF), was £16.9 million in the last financial year, and is estimated to be around £30 million in the current financial year.
On the current situation in Sierra Leone, I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave in the House on 11 February, Official Report, columns 1516 to the hon. Member for Faversham and Mid-Kent (Hugh Robertson) and the right hon. Member for North-East Hampshire (Mr. Arbuthnot).
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the increase in other ranks applications to the three services in 200001 which has not led to entries; and if he will make a statement. 
25 Feb 2002 : Column 700W
|Conversation Rate (per cent.)||34.3||32.0||37.6|
|Conversion Rate (per cent.)||40.6||40.9||36.7|
|Conversion Rate (per cent.)||22.3||20.0||22.8|
(6) Figures for 200002 only cover the period up to 31 December 2001
The figures demonstrate the conversion rates of applicants to intake has remained reasonably constant for the Naval Service and for the RAF. The change in conversion rate for the Army is associated with the introduction of an enhanced selection scheme aimed at reducing wastage during initial training. Only those assessed at Recruit Selection Centres as having more than a 90 per cent. chance of passing Phase 1 training are now selected. The higher quality of recruits ensures that final output to the field army (ie. the gains to the trained strength) remains largely the same despite the smaller intake.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to review his policy with respect to making long-service advance of pay for house purchase available to the Royal Navy at the age of 23 and to the Army and RAF at the age of 35. 
Mr. Ingram: The table shows the average interval between six-month unaccompanied tours broken down by individual corps over a 12-month period, as at 31 December 2001, the most recently available information.
|Royal Armoured Corps||15|
|Royal Logistic Corps||24|
Tour intervals are calculated on the basis of deployments of six months. The latest average unit tour interval in the Army is consistent with the Strategic Defence Review target of 24 months. However, there are variations between units within the Arms, with some units not achieving the SDR target.
25 Feb 2002 : Column 701W
Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence gave on 12 December 2001, Official Report, column 860W, to my hon. Friends the Members for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) and for Coventry, South (Mr. Cunningham).
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many budget holders have not received budgets for the 200203 financial year which take full account of the costs of Pay 2000; and if overspend on this item will be an allowable expense. 
Mr. Ingram: Individual regiments are not capped with regard to recruiting, but their priority for recruiting effort will vary dependent on their manning position at any particular time. The Army is currently recruiting to all employment areas.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had regarding the possibility of the EU taking over Amber Fox in Macedonia; and if he will make a statement on his assessment of this development. 
Mr. Hoon: I have had a number of discussions about the future of Operation Amber Fox. The Macedonian Government have invited NATO to extend the mandate of Task Force Fox for a further three months from 25 March 2002, with an option to extend for a further three months beyond that. NATO has accepted the invitation and Germany will continue to lead the operation. Therefore Task Force Fox remains a NATO mission.
Mr. Swayne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel in receipt of service attributable invalidity pensions incorrectly paid tax but had the mistake rectified by the Army Pay Office in Stanmore before the case of Major Perry was identified. 
25 Feb 2002 : Column 702W
Dr. Moonie: The Army Pensions Office at Stanmore was closed in 1983 and the pension work transferred to the Army Pensions Office in Glasgow. To establish the number of service personnel in receipt of service attributable invaliding pensions who incorrectly paid tax, but had the mistake rectified by the Army Pay Office at Stanmore, would require a manual search of all pension files where awards were made before 1983. This could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Ingram: The development of new accommodation facilities at Kirkcudbright Training Camp will take place in three phases. We had hoped that Phase 1 of the new accommodation would be completed by the end of March 2003, but the restrictions on access to the site caused by the outbreak of foot and mouth disease prevented the survey and other preparatory work being carried out, and it is unlikely that this work will be completed until the end of October 2003. We estimate that Phase 2 will be completed by the end of 2007, and the final phase by the end of 2009.
Mr. Bercow: To ask the President of the Council if he will list the (a) conferences, (b) seminars, (c) workshops, (d) exhibitions and (e) press conferences which have been sponsored by his Department and which took place on non-departmental premises in each of the last four years, giving the title, purpose, date and cost of each. 
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