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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 5 June 2003


York Minster

Hugh Bayley: To ask the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, representing the Church Commissioners, what plans the Church Commissioners have for York Minster Library; and if he will make a statement. [116917]

Mr. Bell: This Library does not belong to the Church Commissioners but I am sure the Chapter are aware that the sale, loan or other disposal of any item of architectural, archaeological, artistic or historic interest vested in them requires approval under the Care of Cathedrals Measure.

As this is a statutory procedure, I would not wish to prejudge whatever decision might be made either by the Fabric Advisory Committee or by the Cathedrals Fabric Commission on any such application.


Cluster Munitions

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cluster munitions have been used in Iraq by the (a) United States and (b) United Kingdom armed forces. [116815]

Mr. Ingram: As at 28 May 2003, British forces have used in the region of 66 air delivered cluster bombs and in the region of 2,000 extended range bomblet shells in Iraq. We do not comment on the number of munitions used by other nations.

Manning Control Points

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what plans he has to (a) suspend and (b) terminate the use of manning control points; and if he will make a statement; [116147]

Dr. Moonie: A wide-ranging review of soldiers' career structures and terms of service is presently under way. This will include consideration of the continued utility of manning control point reviews as a structural control mechanism. In the meantime, against the background of current Army manning shortfalls, there are no plans to conduct any manning control point reviews in the next 12 months.

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Military Deployments

Mr. McGrady: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many military personnel have been employed in Northern Ireland in each of the last five years. [115072]

Dr. Moonie: The number of Armed Forces personnel (Army, Navy and RAF), under the command of the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland (GOC NI), deployed in Northern Ireland for the last five years is set out in the table below:

As at AprilNumber of Armed Forces Personnel

The GOC NI also has under his command troops that are rear-based in Great Britain that can be called forward to the Province as and when required. In addition other troops can be made available to the GOC NI from Land Command if required, for example during the marching season.

Reserve Forces

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 21 May 2003, Official Report, column 785W, on reserve forces, what is being done to remedy the shortfall of reservists; what assessment he has made of the reasons for the difference in the level of shortfall in the three services; and if he will break down the shortfall by (a) rank and (b) branch. [116487]

Dr. Moonie: The Volunteer Reserve Forces run vigorous recruiting campaigns to meet their requirements for manpower each year. The approaches they adopt reflect their differing requirements. The Territorial Army recruits continuously throughout the year, with a surge effort in the spring. Local radio, press and regional events are used, as well as campaigns combined with the Regulars. The Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Auxiliary Air Force recruit on a unit basis, with budgets specifically allocated for this purpose. The Royal Auxiliary Air Force recruits on an ad-hoc basis as and when vacancies arise.

The level of shortfall in each of the Volunteer Reserve Forces varies. Each has different requirements and looks for different skills, which affects their recruitment. The Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marine Reserve and Royal Auxiliary Air Force are smaller, and recruit for a specialised reserve. They therefore have limited opportunities that arise in specific parts of the country where units are based. As a larger organisation, the

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Territorial Army has a nationwide footprint and uses general, as well as specialist, skills. We will be examining whether we can use the experience of Operation TELIC to see if there are lessons to be identified that may aid recruiting across the reserves.

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I am unable to provide the figures requested for shortfall by rank and branch for any of the Reserve Forces. Information is available for the TA on shortages by specialism. This is given in the following table (as at 1 April 2003):

Establishment StrengthFTRS andPercentage
Royal Armoured Corps1551,1611261,007186100
Royal Artillery2482,8232442,61211096
Royal Engineers3472,9082492,13548488
Royal Signals4994,7273893,69226781
Army Air Corps321254472174
Royal Army Chaplains Department8706701088
Royal Logistic Corps6256,6384093,8991,29477
Royal Army Medical Corps3,5332,9681,4522,41590573
Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers1221,530981,14824698
Adjutant General Corps73359512647991
Royal Army Veterinary Corps14080057
Intelligence Corps1134376132312192

Information for the Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marine Reserve and Royal Auxiliary Air Force is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Royal Irish Regiment

Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will halt the disbandment of the three home battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment over the next three years; and if he will keep each battalion fully operational after April 2005. [116963]

Dr. Moonie: There is no timetable for disbandment of the Home Service Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment, as the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland made clear in a statement on 28 May to all the personnel under his command.

Territorial Army

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence in which campaigns Territorial Army units have served since 1990; and what proportion of reservists (a) is committed and (b) was committed in (i) 1990 and (ii) 1997. [116665]

Dr. Moonie: Territorial Army units have served in the following operational theatres since 1990:


The proportion of reservists committed to operations is as follows (as at 1 May 2003):

Royal Naval Reserve10
Royal Marine Reserve13
Territorial Army10
Reserve Air Forces48

Figures for previous years are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Unexploded Ordnance

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what resources his Department has allocated for the clearance of unexploded ordnance in Iraq. [116816]

Mr. Ingram: Currently there are some 200 United Kingdom personnel involved in the clearance of unexploded ordnance in Iraq, and many more are engaged in the process of marking and securing sites for clearance.

War Widows

Matthew Green: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what practices have been in place in the last 10 years to inform war widows of their right to backdate their war widows pension. [116064]

Dr. Moonie: A war widows pension may be awarded where death is due to service in the armed forces. There are no time limits for claiming a pension but as a result the onus is normally on the war widow to claim. The commencement date of any resulting award depends on the individual circumstances of the claim. There is no right for a war widows pension to be backdated, for instance, where she has failed to claim from an earlier date.

The normal rules provide that where death is in service or a claim is made within three months of death a war widows pension may be paid from the day after death; otherwise, a pension will be paid from the date of the claim or application for review as the case may be. Similar provision applies to the restoration of a war widows pension on the death of a second or subsequent husband.

In certain specified circumstances a pension may be paid from a date earlier than that provided for by the normal rules where, for instance, a widow has been prevented from claiming a pension because of ill health.

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