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2 Nov 2004 : Column 216W—continued

HMCS Chicoutimi

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on what date HMCS Chicoutimi was handed over to the Royal Canadian Navy; and whether problems were identified on the sea trials before docking at Campbell Town on 25 September. [191618]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 15 October 2004]: HMCS Chicoutimi (ex HMS Upholder) was handed over to the Canadian Department of National Defence on 2 October 2004.

Sea trials of any vessel are intended to prove the performance of the vessel and identify any defects in systems and equipment. The trials conducted on HMCS Chicoutimi were in this respect no different from any other. At the time of the handover there were no known defects affecting ship safety.

HMS Royal Oak

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether HM Government plans to designate of HMS Royal Oak as a war grave. [194805]

Mr. Ingram: The term "war grave" is reserved for those graves on land which come under the ambit of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The Ministry of Defence considers the wreck of HMS Royal Oak to be a military maritime grave. The Protection of Military Remains Act (PMRA) 1986 allows protection from unauthorised interference to be afforded to wrecks that were in military service when lost. Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 1761 designated HMS Royal Oak (among others) as a controlled site within the meaning of the Act.
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Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 7 September 2004, Official Report, column 1176W, on Iraq, when the 11 October 2003 International Committee of the Red Cross working paper was passed to (a) UK service personnel and (b) officials of his Department. [189289]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 16 September 2004]: The 11 October 2003 International Committee of the Red Cross working paper was passed to MND(SE) by the Americans in October 2003. Nothing in the report merited it being passed to officials in the UK, and we have no record of this being done at the time. A copy of the report was sent to officials in the UK in August 2004.

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the Public Accounts Committee's report on the quality and supply of kit for British forces in Iraq. [191662]

Mr. Ingram: The formal response to the Public Accounts Committee report on Operation Telic is due to be published on 11 November 2004. This response will address the Committee's recommendations and conclusions on the quality and supply of equipment for British forces in Iraq.

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which category of reservists are being called up to serve in Iraq; what the criteria are for calling up particular reservists; how long they will be serving in Iraq; whether all the reservists being called up have the same status; and whether, after the completion of their Iraq tour, they are eligible to do another tour of Iraq on their return. [193955]

Mr. Caplin [holding answer 26 October 2004]: Members of the Volunteer Reserve, Regular Reserve and Sponsored Reserve have and continue to be mobilised to support operations in Iraq. A number of trades, the majority from the Army, are required. All reservists must meet the required medical standards and be suitably trained for the role they are to perform before they are accepted into full time service. Generally a tour in theatre will last seven months (some nine months in total if pre-deployment training and post operational leave is included), although some specialist reservists may serve a shorter term. Once mobilised they remain reservists, but have the same status and are treated exactly the same way as their regular counterparts. The amount of time a reservist can be mobilised is limited by statute. Therefore, whether an individual reservist may serve another tour in Iraq (or on any other operation) will be dependent on the length of their initial deployment.
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Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) British Army soldiers and (b) Royal Air Force airmen are involved in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit in Iraq. [194167]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 1 November 2004]: As at 24 October there were 70 members of the UK armed forces, 57 soldiers and 13 airmen, who make up the Explosive Ordnance Disposal units deployed on Operation Telic.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the length of time it will take UK forces moving into the American sector of Iraq to become communication-compatible with US forces. [194386]

Mr. Ingram: Throughout their deployment to the North Babil province the Black Watch battlegroup will be able to communicate with US forces in the area.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what information he has received from (a) his United States counterpart and (b) the International Atomic Energy Agency on the disappearance in Iraq of 380 tons of special high explosives; and what threat assessment he has made of the danger posed to British forces in Iraq from this material, were it to be obtained by hostile forces. [194912]

Mr. Hoon: I was first informed of the disappearance of these high explosives on 25 October 2004, when a copy of a letter written by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency was passed from the UN Secretary General to the President of the Security Council.

In terms of the threat to British forces, insurgents have acquired explosives from a number of sources. Given the amount of explosives that were already in Iraq, and the fact that the missing explosives seem to have been removed over a year ago, our overall threat assessment has not changed.

Medical Downgrading

Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many (a) officers and (b) other ranks in each service were medically downgraded as unfit for front line duties at April 1 in each of the last five years; in how many cases (i) the downgrading was attributable to service and (ii) the injuries were (A) temporary and (B) permanent; and if he will make a statement. [183346]

Mr. Caplin [pursuant to the reply, 19 October 2004, Official Report, c. 593W]: I regret that part of the table contained some inaccuracies. The table details the revised footnote. Information on whether medical downgradings have been attributable to Service cannot be provided due to disproportionate cost.
UK regular forces medically downgraded

July 2001
April 2002
Other Ranks

2 Nov 2004 : Column 219W

April 2003
April 2004
Other Ranks

n/a = Denotes note available
— = notes zero or rounded zero
(33) Data for medically downgraded personnel within the Royal Navy and Royal Marines are not available before April 2003.
(34) Army Officer data are not available from April 2001 due to a coding error. This error has now been rectified and new data should be available from August 2004 ( July position).
(35) The Army do not split medical downgradings by Permanent/Temporary.
(36) RAF totals include Officers and Other Ranks classed as "other".

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