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11 Feb 2003 : Column 627Wcontinued
Dr. Evan Harris: To ask the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, representing the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission what work the Electoral Commission is undertaking to develop policy on the consistency of the rules governing the Boundary Commission with particular regard to the question of parity of size for parliamentary constituencies. 
Mr. Beith: None. The Electoral Commission has no responsibility for this matter at present. Section 16 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 provides for the functions of the Boundary Commissions to be transferred to the Electoral Commission, but these provisions have not yet been implemented.
Mr. Simmonds: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the international security assistance force in Afghanistan; what reports he has received on military confrontations between that force and Afghan rebels in the past six months; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: I receive regular reports on the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul. While there have been some security incidents, under the excellent leadership of Turkey the ISAF has supported the Islamic Transitional Authority in improving the security and stability of the Afghan capital.
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Mr. Ingram: A RN frigate or destroyer has provided a permanent presence in the Gulf as part of the Armilla Patrol throughout the past year, as it has done continually since 1980 when the Armilla Patrol commenced. This task is currently being met by HMS Cardiff, with support from the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker RFA Bayleaf. HMS Richmond is scheduled to relieve HMS Cardiff in theatre on 9 March 2003.
Mr. Ingram: HMS Grafton was on-station in the Caribbean Area of Responsibility (AOR) between 8 August to 3 December 2002. HMS Grafton returned to the United Kingdom on 13 December, handing over Atlantic Patrol Task (North) duty to HMS Iron Duke on 19 December. HMS Iron Duke deployed for the Caribbean on 23 January 2003. When not on station, the ship allocated to APT(N) was held at a maximum 14 days notice. Throughout the period in question, the duty RFA APT(N) tanker has remained on station providing a permanent presence in the Caribbean AOR.
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the potential of the British Military Powerboat Trust for raising public awareness of the (a) role and (b) history of UK coastal forces. 
Mr. Ingram: While no formal assessment has been made of the potential of the British Military Powerboat Trust, the Ministry of Defence is always looking for ways to raise public awareness of our military heritage.
We have good contacts with a number of charitable organisations and preservation societies who are dedicated to the preservation and restoration of historical military equipment, such as the British Military Powerboat Trust.
As an example of this, the 200102 edition of "Broadsheet"the annual magazine of the Chief of the Naval Staffincluded a two-page article highlighting the work of the British Military Powerboat Trust. Copies of the magazine are available from the Ministry of Defence.
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Mr. Ingram: Security checks are carried out for the United Kingdom crews of the Joint Rapid Reaction Force Roll-On/Roll-Off ferries provided to the Ministry of Defence under the PFI arrangement. Such crews are required to be Royal Navy Sponsored Reserves. Special measures are taken when there are any security considerations and these can include the placing of a United Kingdom military escort party on-board chartered commercial vessels.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the cost of reimbursement of the Registration Fee and Congestion Charges for Service Personnel at Wellington Barracks. 
Dr. Moonie: The number of personnel accommodated at Wellington Barracks who have cars is assessed to be around 300. On this basis the estimated annual cost of the reimbursement of the Congestion Charge and the Registration Fee is approximately £42,000. Since most are basic rate tax payers this figure would attract Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions of some £15,000, paid centrally by the Ministry of Defence.
Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department will reimburse Service Personnel accommodated in publicly funded accommodation within the Congestion Charging Zone the tax payable on the benefits in kind; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: Service Personnel who occupy publicly funded accommodation within the Congestion Charging Zone will be reimbursed Congestion Charge costs for one vehicle only. Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions will be met centrally by the Ministry of Defence.
Mr. Ingram: The figures from 199091 to 200102 are for outturn expenditure. From 200203, outturn expenditure is not yet available. These figures are therefore spending plans for the period. In year additions, such as the net additional cost of operations, are excluded from spending plans. Spending plans are therefore lower than actual outturn expenditure.
Total defence expenditure figures are published annually by the Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA) in UK Defence Statistics, and prior to 1992, were reported in Volume 2 of the Statement on the Defence Estimates. Spending plans for 200306 are reported in the Defence Investment Strategy 2002.
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|Outturn expenditure(200102 prices(1))||Spending plans(200102 prices(1))|
(1) Adjusted using HM Treasury GDP deflator at market prices as at 23 December 2002.
(2) Figures from 200102 onwards are on a Stage 1 Resource Accounting basis. The figures are not directly comparable to the cash based figures which precede them.
(3) From 200304, Departments will be controlled on a full Resource Accounting and Budgeting basis. The total figure is the sum of the separate resource and capital Departmental Expenditure Limits, net of depreciation.
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