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2 Dec 2002 : Column 483W—continued

Prague Summit

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what agreements were reached at the Prague NATO summit which will increase the defence spending of European members of NATO. [84875]

Mr. Hoon: Agreement was reached at Prague on enhancing NATO capabilities-through the Prague Capabilities Commitment, the new NATO Response Force, and a streamlined Command Structure-all of which will have resource implications for Allies.

Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what impact the conclusions of the NATO summit in Prague on 21 and 22 November have had on the Government's policy that no ESDP operation should take place until permanent relations between the EU and NATO have been established. [84877]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon Member to the answer I gave earlier today.


Mr. Keith Simpson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons he has estimated the RAF experienced difficulties in maintaining the required levels of overall force element readiness. [84531]

Dr. Moonie: As stated in the Ministry of Defence Performance Report for 2001–02, the difficulties the Royal Air Force experienced in maintaining required levels of overall force element readiness were largely due to manpower shortages in some areas of employment, along with some equipment shortfalls. The RAF met its operational requirements in the period 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002.


Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the original cost of the refurbishment of his Department's main building; and what the current estimated cost is. [84543]

Dr. Moonie: The costs to the Ministry of Defence will be some £55 million per annum at March 2000 prices over the 30 years of the Public-private Partnership contract. This encompasses the short-term decant arrangements, as well as the long-term provision of a wide variety of services to both the redeveloped main building and the Old War Office building. A fixed price has been negotiated for this PFI project, and only agreed changes to the requirement or deductions for non- performance will have any impact on the cost. To date, the cost has remained unchanged.

Royal Navy

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he is taking to address the shortage of trained Royal Navy personnel identified in his Department's Performance Report. [84532]

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Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence's Performance Report 2001–02, paragraph 81, identified a number of shortages in trained personnel. The overall shortage at the end of that year, of 4.3 per cent. in the trained strength against the requirement, had been reduced to 2.9 per cent. by 30 September this year. This has been the result of excellent recruiting performance, a firm control over the requirement and slow but positive progress to reduce outflow. Our efforts in these three areas will of course continue, together with the more flexible use of manpower resources including selective extensions of service, use of full-time reservists and the implementation of the TOPMAST project to reform manpower management. Turning to the specific shortfalls mentioned in the report, although recruiting of Lynx and Sea Harrier pilots is satisfactory, shortages are caused by outflow, and this is being addressed by implementation of the recommendations of the Aircrew Retention Review. For submarine branch personnel, a number of measures are in hand to improve both recruiting and retention. Recruiting for Royal Marines Other Ranks is healthy and retention has recently improved, but we are continuing work on retaining experienced junior ranks.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) the target and (b) the actual recruitment figures were for Royal Navy personnel in each of the past five years. [84371]

Dr. Moonie: The target and recruitment figures for the Royal Navy in each of the past five years are as follows:

YearTargetActual Recruitment
2002–035,060 2,470(1)

(1) Figures quoted are intake as at 1 October 2002 and are rounded to nearest 10.

Service Deaths

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many and what proportion of victims of suicide and self-inflicted death in Her Majesty's armed forces were involved at the time of their death in disciplinary proceedings (a) as a witness and (b) facing charges; and how many of these victims had (i) gone AWOL and (ii) sought or received counselling in the six months prior to their death. [83813]

Dr. Moonie: Given the small numbers of suicides and self inflicted deaths in the armed forces each year, I have concluded that release into the public domain of the information requested would breach the rules of anonymity and confidentiality for the families of the individuals concerned. I am therefore withholding the information under Exemption 12 (Privacy of an Individual) of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many boards of inquiry have been established to examine deaths in each of the HM armed services since 1990; what statistical information is compiled about the work of the boards; and in what

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form the recommendations of the boards are (a) collected and (b) communicated to officers who may need to act upon them. [84872]

Dr. Moonie: The information requested is not immediately available. I will, therefore, write to my hon. Friend and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Service Personnel

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of those discharged from the armed forces for the use of controlled substances could be liable to an enforced call-up to reserve forces. [82122]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 25 November 2002]: There are no foreseeable circumstances that would necessitate the call-out of former Service personnel discharged for the misuse of controlled substances.

Single Service Doctrine

Mr. Keith Simpson : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Department's (a) military and (b) civilian personnel are dedicated to working on doctrine. [84526]

Mr. Ingram: Across the Ministry of Defence there are four organisations whose responsibilities include leading on the development and production of Joint or single-Service doctrine. These are:

Within each of these organisations a number of personnel are dedicated to working on doctrine. (We have taken dedicated to mean their primary or full time role). The figures for each organisation are:

Additionally, the Joint Services Command and Staff College has one military officer established for doctrine work.

Within the Army, some doctrine work is carried out at a lower level, and each of the nine Arms and Services Directorates has one retired officer and one civilian clerk established for doctrine work, i.e. 18 staff.

This gives a total of 23 military and 31 civilians.


Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken since 1997 to provide suicide prevention and suicide awareness training programmes for members of Her Majesty's armed forces. [83812]

Dr. Moonie: There are no training programmes aimed specifically at suicide awareness or prevention within the services, but throughout their careers Officers and NCOs receive specialist training including programmes

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on welfare and management of personnel. Naval General Training has a number of instructional elements addressing deliberate self-harm and suicide, and related subjects such as coping with occupational stress; and the Royal Navy has produced guidance to personnel on the management of cases of deliberate self-harm. The Army also publishes a pamphlet on suicide awareness and prevention in a simple but useful format that is issued to all Commanders and NCOs. In addition all Army recruits are issued with a handbook which informs them of the welfare support available to them. During initial training all RAF recruits receive briefing on welfare issues including stress management.

Available statistics indicate that the incidence of suicide within the services is broadly compatible with that in the population at large. However, all three services regard even a low rate to be too high and take the issue of suicide and its prevention very seriously. Measures are in place, both within and independently of the chain of command, to enable vulnerable individuals to seek help.

Each service has its own particular systems for providing welfare support but a common theme in relation to the responsibility for prevention of suicide is the direct involvement of the Chain of Command, from Commanding Officers downwards. The services aim to provide a range of support options for those who may be vulnerable to suicide, and to ensure free and unfettered access at all times. This covers a wide range of issues including money, alcohol/drugs, marriage or domestic problems and work pressures. Since 1995 the support has included free confidential telephone lines manned by trained personnel who are able to offer counselling over the phone.

Commanding Officers are assisted by specific individuals and agencies with skills and training that can help. These include Medical Officers, Chaplains, Unit Welfare Officers, the Naval Personal and Families Service, the Army Welfare Service and external organisations and charities contracted for the provision of specific services. Among these are the WRVS, RELATE (marriage guidance counsellors), the Samaritans and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association—Forces Help (SSAFA-FH).

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