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26 Nov 2002 : Column 178Wcontinued
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the average expected wear time is for a pair of standard issue (a) combat boots and (b) desert boots; and what the actual wear time was for (i) combat boots and (ii) desert boots in each year since 1997; 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 November 2002]: We expect combat boots to last for about 24 months and desert boots to last for about six months. Combat trousers are expected to last for about 18 to 24 months for light use and about four to six months for heavy use. Central records are not held on actual wear times, but the life expectancy depends on the conditions in which they are worn and how the item is maintained.
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many complaints he has received in the last 12 months from infantry soldiers regarding the quality of (a) combat boots, (b) combat trousers, (c) sleeping bags and (d) tents. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 November 2002]: In the last 12 months the Ministry of Defence has received, from armed forces personnel, a total of 30 complaints regarding combat boots, 15 complaints regarding combat trousers, no complaints regarding sleeping bags and three complaints regarding tents. These comments provide valuable feedback as we continuously seek to improve the products we provide.
Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many infantry soldiers own their own (a) boots, (b) sleeping bags and (c) tents. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 November 2002]: Service personnel are issued with the clothing and equipment required to carry out their jobs, whatever the environment. We do not maintain records on the number of infantry soldiers who have their own boots, sleeping bags and tents.
Mr. Brazier : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times his Department has changed supplier for (a) combat boots and (b) combat trousers since 1997; and what the reasons were for the change. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 November 2002]: Since 1997 the Ministry of Defence has made the following number of supplier changes:
Cold Wet Weather BootsNo changes.
Desert Combat BootsOne change.
Combat TrousersConsolidated from five supplies to one.
Desert Combat TrousersOne change.
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Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many pairs of combat trousers were available to an infantry company every three months in each year since 1996; and how many are available now. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 November 2002]: Each service man receives a standard issue of three pairs of combat trousers, and these are replaced as required. Units are issued with replacement stocks in line with the number of soldiers they have. Additional stocks can be ordered if this proves necessary.
Mr. Flook: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to equip service men with suitable personal kit for deployment to the middle east in (a) winter months, (b) spring months and (c) summer months. 
Dr. Moonie: The safety and well-being of all service personnel is paramount at all times and they are issued with the clothing and equipment required to carry out their jobs, whatever the environment.
Mr. Todd: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether a formal mechanism will be made available for the public to register their views on missile defence with his Department. 
Mr. Hoon: Members of the public are welcome to write to the Ministry of Defence with their views on missile defence. I intend to publish shortly some discussion material as an aid to public debate.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when (a) RFA Wave Ruler and (b) HMS Bulwark will enter service. 
Dr. Moonie: RFA Wave Ruler is expected to enter service in March 2003.
On the basis of current information HMS Bulwark is expected to enter service in 2004. However, the exact date is under review with the company, BAES Marine.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of each of Her Majesty's armed forces have died through parachute accidents in (i) Great Britain, (ii) Northern Ireland, (iii) Germany and (iv) other overseas postings in each year since 1990; and what rule procedural changes have been brought about as a result of Board of Inquiry reports. 
Dr. Moonie: Since 1990, 11 members of the armed forces have died as a result of parachuting accidents. To ensure that Service personnel confidentiality is not compromised, it has been necessary to group the data by cause and year, and by location and year, in the following tables:
No deaths have occurred in Northern Ireland or Germany.
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Boards of Inquiry into military parachuting are conducted by the RAF, who have responsibility for conducting and regulating all military parachute training by members of the armed forces.
There have been six completed Boards of Inquiry into these deaths. One Board of Inquiry is not yet complete, one death is pending a decision as to whether a Board of Inquiry is appropriate and the status of one is unknown. As two deaths involved personnel who were parachuting while off duty, Boards of Inquiry were not conducted.
The following procedural changes have been introduced as a result of these Boards of Inquiry:
(b) Regulations and advice governing carriage of knives by parachutists and safety boat personnel have been amended.
(c) Regulations have been amended to make it mandatory for all parachutists using square parachutes to carry hook knives.
(d) Regulations governing the preparation of the parachutist's personal weapon have been amended to reduce the possibility of rigging lines snagging on the weapon.
(e) Pre-descent briefings to parachutists have been amended to include an explanation of the reasons for adopting a good position on exit from the aircraft.
(f) Pre-descent emergencies briefing to parachutists has been amended to include actions to be taken in the event that the handle, which cuts away the main parachute and activates the reserve, becomes dislodged from its retaining pocket on exit from the aircraft.
(g) Guidance on writing air instructions has been amended to ensure that instructions reflect the full nature of the activity to be undertaken.
(h) Syllabus of training and pre-descent emergencies briefing to parachutists have been amended to warn parachutists that the harness may ride up on deployment of the main parachute.
(i) Syllabus of training and pre-descent emergencies briefing to parachutists have been amended to instruct parachutists to make visual identification of main parachute cut-away pad and reserve parachute handle before cutting away the main parachute and operating the reserve.
(j) The incident reporting system was amended to fall under the auspices of the Inspectorate of Flight Safety (now Defence Aviation Safety Centre).
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(k) Syllabus of training and pre-descent briefings to parachutists have been amended to include action to be taken on encountering turbulence close to the ground.
(l) Pre-descent emergencies briefings to parachutists amended to include the possibility of turbulence when winds are at the higher end of the permitted range.
(m) Syllabus of training and pre-descent briefings to parachutists amended to emphasise the minimum operating height of the handle, which cuts away the main parachute and activates the reserve, through better use of visual stimuli.
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Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people have left the armed forces by premature voluntary release in each of the past 15 years; and what the 10 most commonly cited reasons given for premature voluntary release are. 
Dr. Moonie [holding answer 25 November 2002]: The number of trained UK regular personnel who have left the armed forces by premature voluntary release/retirement is as follows:
|Financial year||Naval Service officers||Naval Service other ranks||Army officers||Army other ranks||RAF officers||RAF other ranks||Officer total||Rank total||Total|
There is no single reason why individuals decide to leave the services and reasons are not necessarily the same across all three services, but some common reasons can be gleaned. These are as follows:
Current and future job satisfaction;
Wish to take up another career;
Better employment opportunities outside;
Separation from family.
For the Naval Service from the Ratings Notice Giving Survey 200102, the following are the most common reasons listed in order of importance as to why people leave the service: The desire to live at home; Wish to take up another career; To marry/raise a family; Ability to plan long term; Time spent on mundane tasks; Level of job satisfaction experienced; Extent of family disruption; Pay in general; Always intended to leave after a number of years. The Army routinely carries out a survey of leavers. The six most frequently cited reasons for leaving the Army given by leavers are identified below.
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