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8 Nov 2004 : Column 545W—continued



Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress with the A400M procurement; and how many countries have expressed interest in purchasing the aircraft. [194621]

Mr. Ingram: A contract for the development and production of the A400M aircraft was signed with Airbus Military (AM) on 27 May 2003 on behalf of the partner nations. The UK off-take is 25 aircraft out of a total 180. The contract milestones are being achieved.

The participating nations within the programme are Germany, France, Turkey, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and United Kingdom. Portugal and Italy participated during the preparation stage but withdrew before MOU/Contact signature. While a number of other countries are potential customers for A400M, none of them have expressed formal interest.

Air Depth Maintenance

Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the consultation period on the future locations of air depth maintenance support announced on 16 September expires. [196210]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 4 November 2004]: The Trade Union consultation period on the preferred way ahead on End-to-End Logistics Air Depth Support ended on 27 October.

Aircraft Carriers

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which US companies have been invited to bid for (a) management and (b) construction work on the
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project for the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers since the appointment of BAE Systems and Thales to lead the project. [194315]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 28 October 2004]: Since the start of the Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) Assessment Phase in 1999, and the subsequent announcement of the alliancing strategy in January 2003, both BAE Systems and Thales UK have involved a number of US companies, including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon. As part of implementing the alliance strategy, we are currently running a competition to select the company best placed to fulfil the role of physical integrator (PI). The PI would be expected to provide a management role to co-ordinate the ship building aspects of the carriers, which will be acquired in line with the current Government policy of building warships for the Royal Navy in the United Kingdom. Six companies were invited to submit proposals including Bechtel and KBR, an operating segment of the Halliburton Company.

Armed Forces (Work with Children)

Sue Doughty: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances military personnel (a) are and (b) may in future work with children; and if the Government will ensure criminal records checks are made on members of the armed forces who interact with children. [196440]

Mr. Ingram: There are a number of circumstances where military personnel, in the course of their duty, may be involved with children. In the main, but not exclusively, they are the medical services, some legal staff, welfare and families staff, Padres, cadet and youth training teams, recruitment staff, cadet instructors and administrative staff, and Service community police. In all instances Service personnel appointed to these posts undergo a criminal records check to an appropriate level of disclosure.

Armed Services (Voter Registration)

Mr. Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to promote registration to vote amongst service personnel. [196097]

Mr. Caplin: The Ministry of Defence issues a Defence Council Instruction explaining the procedure for registration. Assistance is provided to personnel, especially those overseas, and personnel are notified of all parliamentary elections. We are also considering the use of other media to promote registration.

Army (Specialists)

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Army's (a) present and (b) anticipated strength against establishment is in (i) Signals, (ii) Logistics, (iii) Engineers and (iv) Intelligence. [194381]

Mr. Caplin: The Army's strength against establishment as at 1 September 2004 in the Corps requested is set out as follows.
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Royal Corps of Signals8,8508,630
Royal Logistic Corps15,54016,200
Corps of Royal Engineers8,7709,160
Intelligence Corps1,3801,410

1. The present establishment relates to the last trained requirement published figure contained in Tri-Service Publications 3 and 4.
2. Both sets of figures are for UK trained regular army and therefore exclude Gurkhas, Full Time Reserve Service Personnel, the Home Service Battalions of the Royal Irish Regiment and mobilised reservists. The figures also exclude those with the rank of Colonel and above who are held against "staff" strength and requirement.

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Army Strength

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many infantry are (a) on operational tour, (b) training to go on operations and (c) on recreational and training tour. [194389]

Mr. Ingram: There are currently (a) seven Infantry Battalions and one Infantry Company deployed on operations and; (b) seven Infantry Battalions training for operations. In answering part (c) of the question, I have assumed that the hon. Member is referring to Infantry Battalions on overseas training exercises, of which there is one. Details can be found in the following table:
Infantry Battalions deployed on operations

Iraq1st Battalion The Black Watch, 1st Battalion The Duke of Wellington's Regiment,
1st Battalion The Welsh Guards, 1st Battalion The Scots Guards
Northern Ireland (roulement battalion)2nd Battalion The Light Infantry
Afghanistan1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment
Bosnia1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards
Falkland Islands1st Battalion The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment
(Company Level Deployment)

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Army personnel recommended the reduction of three battalions from two divisions. [196219]

Mr. Ingram: Advice on all aspects of Army organisation, management and structure is put to Ministers by the Executive Committee of the Army Board, the senior official committee of the Army. It is chaired by the Chief of the General Staff and its membership comprises: the Second Permanent Secretary, the Commander in Chief Land Command, the Adjutant General, the General Officer Commanding Northern Ireland, the Quartermaster General, the Master General of the Ordnance.

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions he has consulted retired field marshals about (a) proposed changes to the Army and (b) operational matters. [196460]

Mr. Ingram: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has not consulted retired Field Marshals on either issue.

Canberra Aircraft

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many accidents there have been during the service life of the Canberra that have (a) been the direct or indirect result of training for emergency situations and (b) taken place during asymmetric approaches or landing simulating engine failure; and how many civilian casualties have occurred as a result of those training accidents. [195173]

Mr. Ingram: We only hold verifiable statistical data on Canberra accident rates dating from 1974. Since then, the RAF has lost 12 Canberra aircraft in accidents, at a rate of 0.35 per 10,000 flying hours. Of these, three were attributed to training for emergency situations. Of the three losses in emergency training, all were during the take off or overshoot phase while simulating engine failure. During the same period there have been over 100 incidents involving Canberra aircraft where engines have had to be shut down during flight.

Three civilians were killed and six injured as a result of a training accident in 1977.

Mr. Bellingham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to provide (a) improved ejection seats and (b) a flight simulator for the (i) operational and (ii) training aircraft used for training in emergency situations for Canberra PR9s. [195174]

Mr. Ingram: There are no plans to update the ejection seats or to develop flight simulator training for the Canberra. Modifications to Canberra ejection seats would take up to four years to develop and embody, exceeding the planned Canberra out of service date of 31 March 2006.

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