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Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 15 July 2004


Aluminium Powder/Barium

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has authorised the dropping of (a) aluminium powder and (b) barium in UK airspace by (i) UK aeroplanes and (ii) US aeroplanes. [179456]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 June 2004]: No.

Army (Redress of Grievances)

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 28 April 2004, Official Report, column 992W, on army (redress of grievances), how many soldiers who submitted a redress since 1997 made complaints of bullying of the 18 cases outstanding since April 2001; how many are complaints involving alleged bullying; and if he will make a statement. [179876]

Mr. Caplin: The Ministry of Defence does not hold complete records dating back to 1997. However, during the period 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2004, 27 complaints were submitted within the Army in which allegations of bullying were made.

Of the 18 complaints still pending since April 2001, none alleges bullying.

Army Recruitment

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of each regiment of the British Army on the latest date for which figures are available had been recruited from (a) Fiji, (b) other Commonwealth countries and (c) foreign countries. [183209]

Mr. Caplin [holding answer 12 July 2004]: Figures for individual regiments are not available, however, the percentage for each Arm/Service of the British Army on the 1 June 2004 which had been recruited from (a) Fiji and (b) other Commonwealth countries is as follows:

ARM/service(a) FIJI(b) Commonwealth(1)
H CAV RAC1.20.1
R Signals0.50.4
Scots Division4.50.0
Queens Division3.50.9
Kings Division3.80.7
POW Division3.10.6
Light Division1.90.5
R Irish (GS)5.50.0
AG Corps (Pro)0.10.0
AG Corps (SPS)2.51.3
CA Mus0.00.3

(1) Recruits from St. Vincent since April 2002 and St. Lucia since April 1999

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No individuals have been recruited from (c) foreign countries.

Diego Garcia

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 27 May 2004, Official Report, column 1840W, what the reason is for the Royal Military Police post established at Diego Garcia. [178781]

Mr. Hoon: Some 40 British Service personnel, including one from the Royal Military Police, are permanently stationed in Diego Garcia, where they undertake a variety of customs, policing, and security related duties.


Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the need for interoperability of ammunition for naval guns between the Royal Navy and major Allies' navies; and what assessment has been made of the cost implications of interoperability. [183143R]

Mr. Ingram: No specific studies have been undertaken in this area. However, in the Type 45 Land Attack Lethality Package work conducted last year, interoperability of ammunition was recognised as a potential benefit both in the allied naval and United Kingdom land environments.

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made of the long-term requirements of guns for the Type 45 Destroyer. [183144R]

Mr. Ingram: Ministry of Defence staff are presently conducting an assessment into the future Naval Fire Support (NFS) requirements of the Fleet in order to support the MOD's expeditionary strategy as outlined in the Defence White Paper of December 2003. This assessment will take into account the need to provide an enhanced NFS system to the Type 45 destroyer as well as other platforms in the Fleet. The six type 45 destroyers on order have all been programmed to receive the 4.5" Mk8 Mod1 gun system.

Mr. Kevan Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what additional capability will result from the improvements to the 4.5" Mk8 Mod1 gun; what the projected cost of improvements is; and what alternatives have or are being explored. [183145R]

Mr. Ingram: Improvements to the 4.5 Mk8 Modl gun system are aimed both at increasing its reliability and extending its range, by around 30 per cent., through the introduction of improved ammunition. An engineering update programme is under way concerning
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the design and construction of the mount to remove obsolescence, to improve reliability and maintainability and to reduce the quantity of hazardous materials and fluids. At present, six ships have been upgraded, with the majority of the remaining gun-fitted ships to follow in the near future. Early results have shown significant improvements in reliability as a result of this upgrade. The modified guns are designated 4.5 Mk8 Mod 1 and, on the basis that the programme is to improve reliability, it is wholly funded by In Service Support funding.

The new improved ammunition was introduced during April 2004.

Incremental improvement to the gun system is constantly being explored and studies to assess improvements in accuracy (improved data input), range (improved ammunition) and lethality (larger calibre systems) are being investigated.


Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 22 March 2004, Official Report, column 547W, on Iraq, when he will write to the hon. Member in response to questions (a) 154477, (b) 154488 and (c) 158861. [177583]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 7 June 2004]: To provide the information requested, it is necessary to scrutinise every unit record produced during operations in Iraq. This is a considerable task and, although we have devoted all available resources to the work and it has been on-going for a number of weeks, it remains some way from completion. I will write when I am able to respond substantively to the hon. Member.

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer to the question reference 174620, on Iraq (detainees), what prompted the issuing of new verbal instructions and an amended Standard Operating Instruction on 30 September 2003. [182358]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 5 July 2004]: Military commanders became aware that the practice of hooding could be harmful to prisoners, especially if it was applied inappropriately. They judged that these concerns outweighed the military justification for the continued use of hooding as a means of blindfolding, and that the most prudent, immediate response was to introduce a ban. The incident that gave rise to these concerns has been the subject of an investigation.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 28 June 2004, Official Report, column 142W, on what date he was first informed (a) that two British intelligence officers had participated in the interrogation of a hooded Iraqi prisoner and (b) that the Prime Minister had disclosed this information to the Intelligence and Security Committee. [182921]

Mr. Ingram: My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister copied his letter to the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee to the Defence Secretary on the 25 May 2004. The intelligence personnel concerned were not members of the armed forces. We are not aware of any instances where the armed forces interrogators have used hooding as an interrogation technique.
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Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 12 July 2004, ref. 174620, if he will place a copy of the original Standard Operating Instruction on the Policy for Apprehending, Handling and Processing of Detainees and Internees in the Library. [184426]

Mr. Ingram: I am withholding this information in accordance with Exemption 1a of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information which relates to defence, security and international relations.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether an agreement was reached between coalition partners on the degree to which coercion would be permitted to be used on prisoners of war and other detainees taken into custody in Iraq during Operation Telic and the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq; and what discussions he has had with his United States counterpart on this matter since 8 May 2003. [175067]

Mr. Ingram: Coercion of prisoners of war, internees and detainees is specifically prohibited under the terms of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols. Allegations of coercion by other members of the coalition is a matter for those nations concerned, and the US Government have already launched an investigation.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to ensure that the prohibition of (a) torture and (b) any other form of ill treatment is respected by (i) coalition forces, (ii) Iraqi police and (iii) other official forces involved in detaining suspects. [166998]

Mr. Ingram: Members of the United Kingdom armed forces are liable under both UK and international law for their conduct while on operations in Iraq. As such, military personnel are fully informed of their responsibilities and obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law, not only through training received prior to deployment, but also through specific Standard Operating Procedures. All UK military personnel deploying to Iraq receive an Aide Memoire card on the Law of Armed Conflict, which clearly states that prisoners, detainees and civilians must be treated with dignity and respect, and must not in any way be subject to abuse, torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.

Any credible allegations of abuse by UK forces are investigated. Allegations made against other coalition nations are a matter for them. Members of Iraqi security services, including the Iraqi police and Iraqi Civil Defence Corps, are subject to Iraqi criminal law. They are controlled by the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, who have issued them with a code of conduct.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the standard procedure for (a) de-briefing and (b) recovery from trauma for British soldiers returning from Iraq is; [183180]

(2) whether all British soldiers returning from Iraq are assessed for mental health problems; and how long after arrival back in the UK mental health assessments take place; [183181]
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(3) what provisions are in place to address the mental health needs of soldiers who have been to Iraq. [183193]

Mr. Caplin: Service personnel, both Regular and Reservist, returning from current operations in the Gulf undergo a two to three day period of 'normalisation'. During this period, they receive a post-deployment briefing package. This package includes two leaflets and a presentation, covering post traumatic stress reactions, and the problems that may be encountered on returning home to families and friends. Personnel also receive guidance on who to consult (including their commanders, padres, social workers or medical officers) if they experience post traumatic problems. Commanders also receive training on how to identify signs that an individual may be experiencing problems in order that they can encourage them to seek help.

There is no mandatory mental health assessment for Service personnel returning from current operations in the Gulf, it is considered that the detection of mental health problems is not best served by a standardised 'one size fits all' assessment process as such conditions can manifest over a period of time and affect individuals in different ways. Therefore, an enforced assessment could, in the longer term, be potentially counter productive.

Mental health assessments and any treatment required is carried out according to individual needs.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with his US counterpart on the mental health status of troops returning from Iraq. [183196]

Mr. Caplin: Defence Ministers have had no discussions with their United States counterpart on the mental health of Service personnel returning from Iraq.

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