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Forces' Medical Services

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what shortfalls obtain against the establishment targets for field hospitals for (a) medical officers and (b) support staff; and if he will make a statement. [97770]

Dr. Moonie: When not deployed on operations regular field hospitals exist with a basic unit establishment of 105 personnel. This enables the unit to function on an administrative and training basis only. For shortfalls against the peacetime establishment, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 22 January 2003, Official Report, column 326W to the hon. Member for North Essex (Mr. Jenkin).

When the decision is taken to deploy a field hospital on operations it is then moved onto a war fighting establishment by augmenting staff from the Regular Army and Reserve Forces, as appropriate. A decision on the exact level of establishment required is operation

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specific, and is dependent on the intended role of the unit, and the number of beds it is expected to provide. As such, there is no standard or target.

Field Hospitals are therefore deployed, in terms of both medical officers and support staff, at full strength.

Industrial Action

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many working days were lost owing to industrial action by staff in (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) non-departmental public bodies in 2002. [101510]

Dr. Moonie: One working day was lost as a result of strike action in the Ministry of Defence in 2002. This occurred in April and was action taken by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union and Prospect. On the same day members of Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union took strike action for 3.5 hours.

Any other industrial action short of a strike is not recorded in terms of days lost.

The MOD is committed to working in partnership with its trade unions and makes every effort to avert industrial action of any kind.

Landmines Act (Prosecutions)

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British servicemen have been prosecuted under the Landmines Act 1998. [102246]

Mr. Ingram: None.

Medical Care

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent on private medical care for members of Her Majesty's forces in each of the last five years. [80793]

Dr. Moonie: Expenditure on the referral of Service personnel to private healthcare providers in each of the last five years is shown in the table:

£ million

Financial yearCost

(3) As at November 2002


The referrals were made to a number of private healthcare providers, under both contractual and ad hoc arrangements.

A small number of referrals to private healthcare providers were made by the Army Training and Recruitment Agency in 2000, but no financial information regarding these referrals is available.

Some £3K of the expenditure recorded in 2000–01 relates to referrals made by the RAF to local healthcare providers in 2000–01 and 2001–02, but expenditure cannot be separated for each financial year.

Middle East (Health Advice)

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 10 February 2003,

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Official Report, column 511W, on Middle East (Health Advice), what record is kept of health promotion advice given to individuals deploying to the Gulf. [99983]

Dr. Moonie: Health promotion advice is given to service personnel as part of routine pre-deployment briefings. No central record is required for such briefings, although local records may be kept for administrative purposes.

Ministerial Meetings

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent meetings he has had with Defence Ministers from (a) Poland, (b) the Czech Republic, (c) Hungary, (d) Bulgaria, (e) Romania and (f) the Slovak Republic. [101960]

Mr. Hoon: I met the Defence Ministers of Hungary and Poland in the margins of the NATO Informal Ministerial Meeting in Warsaw in September 2002. I met my Czech and Slovak counterparts for bilateral discussions in the margins of the NATO Prague Summit (21–23 November 2002). My most recent bilateral meeting with my Bulgarian counterpart was in June 2002 in Bulgaria. I met the Romanian Defence Minister on 23 January 2003 in London.

Northern Ireland

Mr. Dodds: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many soldiers are based in Northern Ireland; and from what regiments. [102315]

Mr. Ingram: The number of Army personnel, under the command of the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland (GOC NI), and stationed in Northern Ireland on 18 February 2003 is 12,566.

The GOC NI also has under his command troops who are based in Great Britain but who can be called to the Province as and when required.

Apart from 25 Engineer Regiment, the Northern Ireland Combat Service Support Regiment, 15 Signal Regiment, six Regiment Royal Military Police, five Regiment Army Air Corp and the three Home Service battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment, which are permanently based in Northern Ireland, the following resident battalions are currently based there on accompanied tours of roughly two years:


Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the new long-term partnering agreement concluded with QinetiQ announced on 3 March 2003, Official Report, columns 77–78WS. [101992]

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Dr. Moonie: No. At present, it would not be appropriate to place a copy of the long-term partnering agreement in the Library of the House, because it remains commercially sensitive. I am therefore withholding this information under Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

RAF Pilot Training

Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he last visited the Vale of York to discuss training of RAF pilots; and if he will make a statement. [101644]

Dr. Moonie: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence visited Royal Air Force (RAF) Linton-on-Ouse in the Vale of York on 6 March, when he attended the annual dinner of the Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron. I understand that he discussed a variety of subjects with those present.

Servicemen (Salary Abatement)

Mr. Sayeed: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether an abatement was made to the salary of servicemen in each of the armed forces between 1973 and 1975; and if he will make a statement. [102079]

Dr. Moonie [holding answer 10 March 2003]: No abatement was applied to the annual recommendations submitted to the Prime Minister by the Armed Forces Pay Review Body between 1973 and 1975, although the review body would have been obliged to observe the constraints imposed by the statutory controls on pay increases, in force between November 1972 and July 1974, as well as the subsequent guidelines of the Social Contract.

While not an abatement to service pay, in formulating its recommendations the review body would have applied an adjustment, where appropriate, to the comparator salaries used as the basis for officers' and warrant officers' pay during this period to take account of the relative benefits of the armed forces pension scheme. No similar adjustment was required to be made at that time in respect of comparator salaries for other ranks because most service personnel at this level did not complete the necessary 22 years' service then required to qualify for a pension.


Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what policy his Department has adopted on smoking in the workplace. [100949]

Dr. Moonie: The Ministry of Defence's aim, in line with wider Government policy, is to create a non-smoking working environment in so far as it reflects the wishes of staff. This requires surveys to be undertaken and the wishes of staff to be established, unless smoking is prohibited, for operational reasons, in specific areas. Detailed guidance on this policy is promulgated in the Department's Health and Safety Handbook Joint Service Publication 375, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House.

The policy is under constant review to reflect current Health and Safety Commission/Executive guidance.

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