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4 Feb 2003 : Column 171W—continued

Civil Contingency Reaction Force

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the recruitment targets for the new Civil Contingency Reaction Force are; and when he expects them to be reached. [95180]

Mr. Ingram: We are planning on the basis of up to 500 volunteers from existing Volunteer Reserve personnel being accepted for each of the fourteen Civil Contingencies Reaction Forces by 31 December 2003.

Patrick Mercer: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what interim measures have been put in place in advance of the introduction of the new Civil Contingency Reaction Force. [95182]

Mr. Ingram: The Civil Contingencies Reaction Forces are a means of expanding the existing capacity of the Armed Forces to respond to requests for assistance from local authorities and the emergency services. No interim

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measures were therefore required. Recruiting among Volunteer Reserve personnel has started and all CCRFs could already deploy sub-units if necessary. Their capability will build up as recruiting and training proceeds.

Deepcut Barracks

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reason the civilian medical practitioner at Deepcut Barracks was suspended in March 2000; at what salary the practitioner was retained; what payments have been made to the practitioner subsequently; and for what reason the officer responsible decided not to advertise for a full time replacement. [94714]

Dr. Moonie: For reasons relating to confidentiality and the provisions of the Data Protection Act, it is not Ministry of Defence policy to release or discuss information relating to an identifiable individual without that individual's consent. I am also withholding details in accordance with Exemption 12, Privacy of an Individual, of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information. The Civilian Medical Practitioner post at Deepcut was advertised once the Ministry of Defence was in a position to do so, but two recruitment campaigns have been unsuccessful. A military medical officer will, however, fill the post in February 2003.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the employment agencies used to provide locum civilian practitioners at Deepcut Barracks; what payments were made to each agency; how many weeks each locum civilian practitioner remained at the Barracks; and how many locum civilian practitioners and agencies have made complaints against (a) officers and (b) others at the Barracks since March 2000. [94715]

Dr. Moonie: The following Agencies have provided locum civilian medical practitioners at Deepcut Barracks since March 2000, and have been paid the stated amounts:

AgencyAmount (£)
CB Locums1,961,15
Locums UK14,000.80

In addition, a number of non-agency locums have been employed within this period; total payments in these cases have amounted to £148,575.90.

The majority of locum CMPs remained at the Barracks for one or two weeks, with one staying for five weeks and a small number only for two days.

There has been a complaint from one locum doctor in the period in question. This is against both officers at the barracks and others (including other locums).

Drug Tests (Military Barracks)

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the result was of statistical analysis of random drug tests at Deepcut and Catterick Barracks in each year since they were first introduced. [94718]

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Dr. Moonie: The Army does not store the required data in a format that enables the information to be easily scrutinized. As it will take some time for officials to extract the data required, I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Forces Accommodation (Portland)

Jim Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the freehold for the Hardy accommodation blocks at Portland was in the Department's ownership when they were sold. [95328]

Dr. Moonie: Forty percent freehold land at the Hardy Blocks, Portland, was in the Ministry of Defence's ownership when they were sold.

Friendly Fire

Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what precautions have been introduced when UK service personnel are deployed with foreign forces to reduce the risk of casualties from friendly fire. [94137]

Mr. Ingram: It is standard practice, when deploying with the United States or other allied forces, to engage in thorough consultation and planning to ensure that clear and reliable Combat Identification measures are prepared. The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts published a report in 2002 on Combat Identification in which they said in relation to our deployment last year to Afghanistan with US forces:

"The Ministry of Defence has taken care when deploying troops to Afghanistan to ensure that the risk of fratricide was minimised through dialogue with American forces regarding tactics, techniques and procedures. Liaison through the two countries enables the respective chains of command to define areas where respective forces operate and to determine how the global positioning system is operated. There is scope for similar dialogue with countries other than the United States for other operations." (56th Report 2001–02 para 14).

In relation to possible operations in the Gulf, we are working closely with allies to establish robust arrangements on Combat Identification that maximise interoperability and we will acquire additional equipment in time for any potential conflict to enable our forces to operate effectively alongside coalition forces.

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment of combat identification has been made in relation to reducing the risk of friendly fire. [95251]

Mr. Ingram: We assess that combat identification, which comprises the three elements of situational awareness, target identification and tactics, techniques and procedures, serves to minimise the risk of fratricide. We continue to review and update our combat identification capability, as required.

Mr. Hepburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions his Department has had with (a) the US Government and (b) other NATO allies regarding combat identification and friendly fire. [95252]

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Mr. Ingram: Ministry of Defence officials have frequent contact with their counterparts in the US Department of Defense on combat identification, which serves, to improve combat effectiveness and minimise the risk of fratricide. Discussions on combat identification have also recently taken place with the US and with other NATO allies in NATO's Identification Sub-Committee 7, which last met on 15–17 January 2003, and in the context of the 5-Power National Armament Directors International Co-operative Opportunities Group (comprising France, Germany, Italy, UK, US), which last met on 13–14 January 2003.


Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which RAMC units will be deployed in support of the task force being deployed to the Gulf; what their last three operational tasks were, and the length between them; and if he will make a statement. [93471]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 28 January 2003]: There are no RAMC units. Personnel from the RAMC, and other Army Medical Services, contribute to medical units as appropriate.

On current planning the following medical units will deploy on Op TELIC: 1 Close Support Med Regiment (reinforced with a Squadron from 3 Close Support Med Regiment); 16 Close Support Med Regiment; 4 General Support Med Regiment; 5 General Support Med Regiment (with elements of 3 Close Support Med Regiment). These Regiments were formed between 1999 and 2000, and since that date there have been no regimental level, operational deployments.

It is also planned that 22 Field Hospital, 33 Field Hospital and 34 Field Hospital will deploy as part of Op TELIC. None of these has deployed as a fully formed unit since Op GRANBY, in 1991.

HMS Sheffield

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) original cost and (b) annual operating cost is of HMS Sheffield. [94573]

Mr. Ingram: The cost of HMS Sheffield's construction, including all weapon systems and equipment, was £159 million.

Her annual operating cost; including manpower, fuel and port visits, depreciation and cost of capital is assessed to be £35 million. This is an annual average figure based on direct costs charged for financial year 2001–02, which was the last full financial year prior to her decommissioning in November 2002. In addition, during 1992 HMS Sheffield underwent a planned docking period for routine repair work. While the exact cost of the period is no longer available, it is estimated that it would have cost some £5 million to £6 million, based on other similar work at the time. In 1996, HMS Sheffield underwent a major refit at a cost of about £15.9 million. This was her last major upkeep period.

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