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25 Apr 2002 : Column 423W
unexploded ordnance is removed from the sites of Army training exercises in Kenya once the exercises are completed. 
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the exchange of fire between ISAF forces and members of the Afghan police force which took place on the night of 12 April. 
Mr. Hoon: On the night of 12 April, two observation posts in west Kabul manned by solders from 1 Royal Anglian Regiment came under fire from 3040 men. During the subsequent exchange of fire, most of these men fled on foot; seven were detained and disarmed. Five of these were dressed in police uniforms, one in combat fatigues and one in civilian clothing. All were handed over to the Afghan Interim Administration in accordance with the Military Technical Agreement.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the medical manning and retention review examining the Defence Medical Services to be completed; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: The medical manning and retention review is due to be completed in time to inform the Ministry of Defence paper of evidence to the Armed Force Pay Review Body for the 2003 pay round. The overall aim of the review is to propose effective policies for medical and dental officers, covering both remuneration and other issues, that will help to achieve a satisfactory manning balance, and, thus, delivery of the required Defence medical outputs.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force are claiming (i) working families tax credit and (ii) children's tax credit; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: Statistics regarding the number of service personnel currently claiming children's tax credit are not held as applications are made by the individual direct to the Inland Revenue. The number of service personnel currently claiming working families tax credit is as follows:
|Working families tax credit(8)|
|Royal Air Force||345|
(8) An employer will usually be expected to take responsibility for paying tax credits 14 days after a notification is sent by the Inland Revenue (IR) for weekly paid employees, and 42 days after notification is sent in all other cases. The IR pays tax credits up to the point at which the employer takes responsibility. Consequently, the statistics provided will not include those personnel in receipt of working families tax credit direct from the IR.
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Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel with children in the (a) Army, (b) Royal Navy and (c) Royal Air Force are earning under £92.90 per week; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: No armed forces personnel, irrespective of their married or parental status, receive as little as £92.90 per week (or £4,830.80 per annum). The minimum rate of pay recommended by the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) in their 2002 report, accepted by the Government, was £8,997 per annum for Army new entrants under 17. The minimum rate of pay for all adult service personnel recommended by the AFPRB was £10,778 per annum.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what contribution his Department has made since July 1998 to the development of national security policies and technical measures to protect against potential vulnerabilities arising from information warfare; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence participates in all relevant Government activities relating to the protection of information systems from electronic attack, including contributing to the National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC).
It is longstanding Government policy not to make detailed comment on the protection measures applied to communications and information systems, or on techniques such as computer hacking, as these could assist potential enemies to penetrate these elements of national security. I am therefore withholding this information in accordance with exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
|North Africa||Sub-Saharan Africa||Total Africa||Total UK defence exports|
(9) It was not possible to breakdown figures for North Africa from the 1996 total.
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Dr. Moonie: Since my statement to the House on 23 January 2002, Official Report, columns 891902, the Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency has been conducting a review to establish more clearly the exact extent of the problem with the mistaken taxation of service invaliding and attributable pensions. This work is not complete, but has revealed that some Royal Navy invaliding and attributable pensions awarded between 1973 and 1999 have also been mistakenly taxed. We will be reviewing all the case files of those who might have been affected and arranging for refunds to be made as appropriate. This will be done as quickly as possible but is expected to take some months given the need to review several thousand pension files. We will also be providing appropriate national publicity to allow those who think they might have a claim to apply for a tax refund.
Our research has not so far revealed any cases where Royal Air Force pensions were wrongly taxed and there is evidence that the RAF has had in place checks which would have uncovered cases where attributable pensions should have been exempt from tax. However, we will include the RAF in our continuing work to ensure that no error is left unidentified.
Our further work to date has confirmed that the problem was more extensive than originally understood but has also shown the complexity of the issues involved as, over time, changes have been made to the organisations responsible for administering the pensions and to the rules governing the schemes. We have therefore concluded that we should set up an internal review, completely independent of the staffs involved, to establish the precise extent of the current problems and to expose any other problems that may exist. This independent review will look across all three services, be launched as soon as possible and is likely to take a number of months to complete. The review team will be headed up by a senior civil servant and consist of staff drawn from the Defence Internal Audit. In order to provide external confidence, the NAO will be invited to validate the procedures. I will report the findings to the House.
The first three key targets apply to projects covered by the Major Projects Report which have passed their Main Gate approval. Key targets 2 and 3 are consistent with goals set in the Department's public service agreement (PSA), adapted to cover cumulative performance. The
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fourth key target relates to improvements in DPA customer satisfaction and the fifth to the costs of running the agency. The key targets are:
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