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8 May 2003 : Column 846Wcontinued
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Government has to undergo a Joint Rapid Reaction Force exercise to demonstrate the capability of medical services; and if he will make a statement. 
Dr. Moonie: Joint Rapid Reaction Forces exercises are designed to practise joint, including medical, capability. Medical personnel took part in Exercise Saif Sareea II in autumn 2001, and in Exercise Joint Venture 02 in May 2002. Medical personnel have also recently demonstrated their capability in operations in Iraq. Several further joint exercises are planned for 2004.
Mr. Ingram: Within the United Kingdom, terrorism is a crime and is therefore the responsibility of the police. The Home Office are the lead Government Department for terrorist matters and the Department for Transport for transport issues. The terrorist threat in UK waters, as in the UK itself, is kept under constant review. The Royal Navy has a number of graduated response options available to assist the civil authorities in the protection of merchant shipping in UK waters,
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depending on the level of threat. These range from routine advice and guidance to merchant shipping to more proactive measures, including RN support to the Police, HM Customs and Excise or other civil power, if necessary. Forces available are drawn from those routinely tasked with the maintenance of the integrity of UK waters. In addition, specialist Ministry of Defence elements with dedicated maritime counter terrorist roles are kept at high readiness.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British service personnel are deployed or stationed in (a) Germany, (b) Northern Ireland, (c) Bosnia, (d) Kosovo, (e) Cyprus, (f) Sierra Leone, (g) Afghanistan, (h) the Gulf region, (i) Turkey, (j) Gibraltar, (k) Belize, (l) Kenya, (m) Brunei and (n) Canada. 
Mr. Ingram: The approximate numbers and locations of armed forces personnel deployed on operations and other military tasks or stationed in the locations specified, as at 1 April 2003 (unless specified otherwise) are shown as follows.
(17) As at 27April 2003.
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Navy vessels and land-attack aircraft in a conflict occurring after the withdrawal of the Sea Harrier in 2006; 
Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if his Department will assist Landmine Action in their discussions with the government of Sri Lanka on the non-use of anti-personnel mines. 
Mr. Ingram: The Government is fully committed to the universalisation of the Ottawa Convention. My officials are in regular contact with Landmine Action, and we support their efforts to encourage non-States Party, including Sri Lanka, to sign up to the Convention.
Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of British troops are on active deployment; if he will make a statement on the levels of commitment; and what plans he has to reduce the number of deployments. 
Mr. Ingram: The figures for the average number of personnel from each Service deployed on Military Tasks overseas for the quarter ending 31 March 2003, the most recent comprehensive figures available, are shown in the table. The figures do not include personnel either
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preparing for or recovering from deployments on Military Tasks. They also exclude personnel on duties in the United Kingdom such as firefighting.
|Number||Percentage of trained strength|
|Navy (inc. Royal Marines)||8,091||21.5|
The Department's plans for reducing deployments were set out in the Written Ministerial Statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 30 April 2003, Official Report, column 15WS.
Mr. Ingram: All Royal Navy vessels have a scheduled withdrawal date at some stage in the future when their capability is replaced by another platform. The listed Royal Navy vessels have been withdrawn from the Fleet but their final destination has yet to be determined:
HMS Boxer: replaced by Type 23 Frigates
HMS Brave: replaced by Type 23 Frigates
The Ministry of Defence routinely considers changes to the Defence programme to ensure the required level of capability is maintained to meet its current and contingent operations. Improvements currently planned for the Fleet, introducing more modern and capable vessels as replacements for scheduled outgoing capability are:
Four Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) vessels are scheduled to enter service between 2004 and 2005, replacing four existing Landing Ship Logistic (LSL) vessels that have completed their planned service lives.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the capacity of Iraqi civil society to participate in the rebuilding of Iraq; and if he will make a statement on the measures being taken to foster Iraqi participation in the future governance of Iraq. 
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Mr. Mike O'Brien: The role of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) is to help facilitate the rebuilding of Iraq. A series of meetings (which began in Nasiriyah and Baghdad) will draw together Iraqi consensus from a broad range of opinion in order to establish an Iraqi Interim Authority in four weeks time. It will be for the Iraqis themselves to decide the shape of their future government. It is too early to predict when elections can be held and Iraqi self-governance attained.
Mr. Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimates he has (a) made and (b) received of the number and sterling value of (i) antiquities, (ii) cultural artefacts and (iii) works of art which have been looted from Iraq since coalition forces occupied the country. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: It is too early to make any accurate assessment. The Director of Research of the Iraq Museum provided information on some items which have been looted from the Museum to a seminar of professionals at the British Museum on 29 April.
Mr. Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the United Nations regarding the security of antiquities and works of cultural value remaining in Iraq. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: We are talking to our partners on the UN Security Council about this issue with a view to ensuring that it is not overlooked when sanctions are lifted. We will be arguing for language which calls for member states to facilitate the return of any stolen artifacts and impose a moratorium or other prohibitions on trade in Iraqi artifacts until their provenance can be established.
Mr. Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has had with the United Nations concerning export criteria on (a) works of art, (b) items of cultural value and (c) antiquities in Iraq, in the event of the lifting of trade sanctions; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: We condemn the illicit trade in Iraqi antiquities. We are therefore working to ensure that Iraq's cultural assets are respected when sanctions are lifted; and we are discussing with other Security Council members the best way of restricting the export of these assets. Under the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property we and other signatory countries have an obligation to prevent the import of stolen Iraqi antiquities.
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Mr. Mike O'Brien: Coalition forces are working on plans for a programme of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDK). This will concentrate on processing former Iraqi military personnel for integration into the new Iraqi National Defence Force. Those deemed unsuitable will be returned to civilian life, unless they face criminal investigation.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about what co-ordination there has been with the United Nations regarding the future governance of Iraq. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: We are in close touch with members of the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General about various aspects of our policy on Iraq. These include exploring a UN role in the political process leading to the emergence of a new Iraqi Government.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment his Department made of civilian infrastructures and what plans were made for the restoration of essential services in Iraq, prior to military action; and if he will make future plans publicly available. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: The US led Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) has with UK support taken the lead in restoring essential services. Prior to the conflict the Government recognised the need to provide early post-conflict relief and allocated £210 million for rehabilitation projects in Iraq. Future plans will be made public, as they become available.
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether journalists operating in Iraq for British publications and broadcasting outlets have to have permission from General Jay Garner to carry out their reportage in Iraq. 
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to authenticate documents claimed to have been found in Baghdad by journalists working for British-based publications that purport to establish a link between the former Iraqi Government and Al-Qaeda terrorists. 
Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he had with the former Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, between 1 January and the day he surrendered. 
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organisations are included in all stages of preparation for the Iraqi interim authority and the preparation of a new Iraqi constitution. 
Mr. Mike O'Brien: We are seriously exploring the option of holding an Iraqi women's conference to produce representatives. The UK funded "Towards Freedom" television channel will soon be transmitting programmes to encourage women to participate in this process. Our military on the ground and our secondees in the Coalition's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) are aware of their responsibilities under Resolution 1325. A gender expert from the Women's Equality Unit at the Department for Trade and Industry will soon join ORHA to focus on these issues.
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