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Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements he intends to make in relation to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme and compensation to ensure that (a) a beneficiary is guaranteed five years' worth of payments notwithstanding earlier death and (b) lump sum payments to give effect to such guarantee are not taxed at a 35 per cent. rate. 
Mr. Caplin: The decision of the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme includes a provision to allow a lump sum payment to a spouse or partner of up to five years' pension payments, less the lump sum received on retirement and pension payments up to the date of death, if a member dies after retirement but within five years of the pension coming into payment. The Government propose in "Simplifying the taxation of pensions: the Government's proposals", published on 10 December 2003, that such payments should be taxed at 35 per cent. The Ministry of Defence will be considering the benefit proposal further in the light of the taxation arrangements.
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 19 January 2004]: Army combat arms training has been taken to encompass individual training for all personnel at Phase 1 (initial) training (which will include individuals who go on to serve in non-combat arms), and individual training at phase 2 (specialist) and phase 3 (career and development) training for personnel serving in the Royal Armoured Corps, the Royal Artillery, the Infantry, and the School of Army Aviation. LAND Command undertakes collective training for the whole Army but cannot identify specific costs associated with such training for combat arms. The sums shown include an element for HQ Admin costs etc., which cannot easily be separated out, but exclude all salary costs of trainees, which are accounted for separately. The figures are as follows:
|February 2004 (projected)||31.573|
|March 2004 (projected)||31.225|
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Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many army musicians were obliged to down-rank on transferring to the Guards regiments from other regiments; and what effect this down ranking will have on these soldiers' pensions. 
Mr. Caplin: Transfer to bands of the Guards Division is voluntary. Seventeen army musicians who volunteered to transfer and are still serving accepted reversion to the rank of Musician as a condition of transfer. Reversion in rank has not been a condition of transfer since April 2003.
Reversion in rank may affect an individual's pension award. Rank for the purpose of assessing pension entitlement is calculated by taking the highest paid rank held for an aggregate of two years or more during the last five years reckonable service.
Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he will provide a substantive reply to the letter from the hon. Member for Totnes of 24 November 2003 about Mrs. Iris Griffiths of Kingsbridge and the Defence Export Services Organisation, which was acknowledged by his Department on 2 December 2003. 
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) civilian and (b) service posts in his Department in Gibraltar will be (i) transferred to the private sector and (ii) removed. 
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Mr. Ingram: Headquarters British Forces Gibraltar is currently evaluating the most cost-effective method of delivering janitorial, catering and transportation services. Although under review, at this stage no decisions have been made to transfer posts to the private sector.
Routine local resource management plans are to make a reduction of 23 civilian and one service posts, over the next four years. We envisage that this will be achieved by a combination of natural wastage and voluntary early retirement.
Mr. Caplin: Each service records, on individual pay and personnel documents, the marital status of its personnel using different marital categories. Analysis of marital break-ups and divorce rates is carried out on an ad hoc basis by analysing changes to the marital status of personnel.
Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the application of standards in the UN Basic Principles on the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials for law enforcement duties conducted by UK military personnel in Iraq. 
Mr. Ingram: The practices adopted by United Kingdom military personnel in Iraq are consistent with the UN Basic Principles for the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials, despite the fact that we are operating in circumstances rather different from those in which it was intended to be applied.
Mr. Ingram: In exercising their constabulary powers the Royal Military Police (RMP) are independent of the Army's chain of command. At the conclusion of any RMP investigation, a report together with supporting evidence is submitted to the appropriate commanding officer and to the Army Legal ServicesALS. ALS will then advise the commanding officer whether there is a prima facie case for disciplinary action. In serious cases, ALS will advise the commanding officer on the procedure for referral to a higher authority and, if appropriate, on to the Army Prosecuting AuthorityAPA. The APA is statutorily independent of the chain of command. The independence of the APA was confirmed in the European Court of Human Rights in the Cooper Case last December.
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withholding information regarding their contents under Exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the contracts let to private contractors for the supply and support of UK troops in Iraq, stating in each case the nature and value of the contract; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 19 January 2004]: I am withholding the information requested in accordance with Exemption 7 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information as it is commercial in confidence.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 8 January, Official Report, column 453W, on Iraq, when the Iraq Survey Group is to make its final recommendations. 
At present we have 73 containers, 0.76 per cent. of the original amount, unaccounted for. It is expected that the next information update from theatre will identify the locations of the majority of these containers and that they will either be in transit or have been re-tasked.
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It is stressed that it is unusual to lose a container totally. It is far more likely that it would have been re-tasked or returned and that a delay has occurred in getting the relevant information back to the Defence Container Management Service.
Mr. Caplin: Although we do not hold figures for the number of people leaving the Army Medical Services Territorial Army (AMS TA) overall, I can confirm that 240 Professionally Qualified Officers, from Role 3 reserve medical units (field hospitals) have left the TA over the last 12 months. This represents approximately 13 per cent. of these units. Very few of these individuals gave Operation Telic, or the risk of mobilisation, as their primary reason for leaving. Over the same period, approximately 300 people joined the same units.
In addition to United Kingdom forces the following nations currently contribute a combined total of around 5,200 personnel to the Multinational Division: Italy; Denmark; Norway; Netherlands; Czech Republic; Portugal; Romania; New Zealand; Lithuania; Japan and Iceland.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment his Department has made of the failure rate of the bomblets in the cluster munitions his Department purchased from BAe Systems in 2003; whether the use of these munitions in Iraq has contributed to the assessment; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: No cluster artillery shells purchased from BAe Systems in 2003 were used in Iraq during Operation Telic. The ammunition used during Operation Telic was from a procurement made in 1996. No assessment of cluster artillery shells was carried out in Iraq.
However, each batch of these munitions procured is subject to acceptance proof firing. This requires a statistically viable sample of each batch to be fired and monitored. The area is then searched by the manufacturer's Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel to identify and report any bomblet failures. All ammunition lots we have procured have met the requirements. Other testing involves a random sample of the Self Destruct Fuze being independently tested by the manufacturer prior to assembly. Again, all these fuzes have met the requirements.
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