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Sick Leave

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many days of sick leave were taken in his Department last year; how many related to employees suffering (a) stress and (b) other mental health problems; and what the cost was to his Department. [56484]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 14 May 2002]: The latest published data are in the Cabinet Office annual report "Analysis of Sickness Absence in the civil service" for the year 2000 which shows the average number of working days lost per staff year among non-industrial staff. The figure for Ministry of Defence is 8.8 days. MOD's own records show that during 2000 4.1 per cent. of days lost were due to mental disorders (stress-related) and 6.6 per cent. were due to mental disorders (non-stress related). The overall cost of sick absence was some £22 million. These figures exclude MOD Trading Funds. MOD is committed to improving the health and well being of its civilian staff and has programmes in hand to reduce the number of working days lost through sick absence and work-related injury and illness.

Gurkhas

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Gurkhas have accompanied postings; what plans he has to expand the Gurkha units; and what recent discussions he has had with the Prime Minister of Nepal about Gurkha pensions. [57028]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 16 May 2002]: There are currently 906 Gurkha personnel in accompanied service postings.

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There is a requirement to recruit 230 Gurkhas per year to maintain present force levels. While there are no plans to increase Gurkha strength, we continue to look at ways to best deploy this manpower.

The issue of Gurkha pensions was, however, raised briefly by the Nepalese Prime Minister at the end of a meeting I attended with the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for International Development on Monday 13 May.

Naval Vessels

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if HMS Sheffield will be returned to operational service in 2004; and if she will continue as an operational warship until the end of the decade. [56699]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 16 May 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 12 March 2002, Official Report, column 874W, to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin). On current plans HMS Sheffield will return to service in September 2004 and will continue in operational service until towards the end of this decade.

EU-NATO Relations

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made towards arrangement of EU access to NATO assets and capabilities; and when the arrangements will be finalised. [57791]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 4 March 2002, Official Report, column 30W.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans there are to assimilate NATO planning structures with the EU. [57790]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 9 January 2002, Official Report, column 827W.

Cadets

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many schools have had cadet forces in each year since 1997. [57807]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

European Security and Defence Policy

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the European Security and Defence Policy procedures testing top level co-ordination and the decision-making procedures of the ESDP bodies will be exercised. [57793]

Mr. Hoon: The EU's first Crisis Management Exercise, under ESDP "CME 02", will run from 22 to 28 May 2002, and is designed to test the EU's structures and decision-making procedures for crisis management. CME 02 is a paper exercise only, involving no forces, and uses a generic scenario. CME 02 should provide valuable lessons for the continuing development of the EU's operational capability.

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Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role the NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe plays within the European Security and Defence Policy. [57792]

Mr. Hoon: In view of his responsibilities for the European Pillar of NATO, D/SACEUR may be invited to meetings of the EU Military Committee, and has been identified as a primary candidate for "operation commander" of EU-led operations. He would also co-ordinate responses to EU requests to NATO for planning support. All these arrangements are subject to finalising agreement on modalities for EU-NATO co-operation.

Iran

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of Iran's missile development programme; and if he will make a statement. [57535]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the Ministry of Defence's "Supplementary Memorandum to the House of Commons Defence Committee: The Ballistic Missile Threat" of 18 March 2002 which was published by the committee on 1 May 2002.

Missile Defence

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representation he has received concerning the future use of (a) Menwith Hill and (b) Fylingdales base for the purpose of anti-missile systems; and if he will make a statement. [57534]

Mr. Hoon: The Ministry of Defence regularly receives representations and inquiries from right hon. and hon. Members and members of the public about the present and potential future use of RAF Fylingdales and RAF Menwith Hill, and other issues related to missile defence.

Defence Council

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what conclusions were reached at the EU Defence Ministers' meeting on Monday 13 May; and if he will make a statement. [57533]

Mr. Hoon: EU Defence Ministers focused primarily on the European Capabilities Action Plan (ECAP) and the Capability Development Mechanism. Ministers concluded that significant progress had been made in these areas, demonstrated by the successful establishment of the ECAP process. Ministers also noted the need to maintain the momentum within the capability improvement process and quickly resolve the remaining issues concerning the Capabilities Development Mechanism. The full conclusions from the General Affairs Council have been placed in the Library of the House.

European Peacekeeping Force

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will identify the units designated by each participant in the European Peacekeeping Force, with total of possible commitments by each country. [57880]

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Mr. Hoon: There is no European Peacekeeping Force. EU member states have declared elements of national forces available to conduct Petersberg Tasks. A summary of member states' offers (the Compendium des Contributions Nationales) has been placed in the Library of the House.

INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Africa

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the assistance being given to (a) Malawi, (b) Mozambique, (c) Zimbabwe and (d) other African countries affected by the current drought. [56422]

Clare Short: The drought has affected several southern African countries. In Malawi my Department has provided £5.1 million in food relief delivered through local non-governmental organisations and £1.12 million has been provided for the purchase of seeds and fertilisers for a winter crop. In Mozambique, together with other donors, we have assisted the Government with agricultural inputs for poor farmers affected by drought. In Zimbabwe we have provided £7.5 million through the UN and through NGOs, largely to feed children and their mothers. We are in contact with national and UN teams assessing the food situation in the region and will consider what further help is required once full details become available.

Work-related Illness

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many employees of her Department retired through work-related ill-health in the last year for which records are available; and what the cost was to the Department. [56095]

Clare Short: Records are not maintained by my Department which enable ill health retirements to be separately identified as work related. However, for the year 2001–02, we had three members of staff who retired with a medical retirement certificate issued by the civil service pension scheme medical adviser. Benefits provided on medical retirement are as set out in the rules of the principal civil service pension scheme and laid before Parliament, and provide for an immediate payment of an enhanced pension and lump sum. Ill health retirement expenditure is met centrally from the Civil Superannuation Vote. For the year ending March 2002, provisional expenditure met from the Vote was £310 million in respect of all civil service cases for which an ill health pension has been awarded. These cases number approximately 67,000 and include those who have formerly been ill health retired but who have now reached and exceeded the normal retirement age.

Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many claims for work-related illness were settled by her Department in the last year for which records are available; and what the cost was in compensation. [56094]

Clare Short: We have had no claims for work-related illness in 2001.

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Mr. Clapham: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how many days of sick leave were taken by employees in her Department in the last year for which records are available; what proportion of those were due to work-related illness or injury; and what the cost was to the Department. [56096]

Clare Short: In 2000, my Department recorded a total of 8,399 days sick absence. The other information requested is not held and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.


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