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Mr. Caplin: An internal information campaign will begin at the end of this month. This will be linked with the publication of a revised Defence Council Instruction providing full information and practical help on how to register, and explaining the various voting options available for the service community.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many administrative discharges have taken place under Queen's Regulation paragraph (a) 9.398, (b) 9.403, (c) 9.404, (d) 9.405, (e) 9.411, (f) 9.412, (g) 9.413 and (h) 9.414 since 1997. 
|Date of flow/outflow code Queen's Regs.||Grand total|
The bulk of the United Kingdom's military forces in Afghanistan serve with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). They help to maintain security in Kabul, and, through our Provincial Reconstruction Teams, aid the expansion of the Afghan Government's authority across the north-west of the country and facilitate Security Sector Reform and reconstruction. Separately, we have deployed a detachment of six Harrier GR7 aircraft to Kandahar to provide Close Air Support and aerial reconnaissance to both coalition and ISAF forces. Finally, we provide staff officers to support the coalition headquarters in Kabul.
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|Royal Air Force||1,150||170||1,310|
Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the three services he expects to be (a) serving abroad and (b) deployed on front-line duties between 24 December and 2 January 2005; what percentage of the trained strength of each force this represents; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Caplin [holding answer 9 December 2004]: The following table gives the numbers of personnel on Operations as at 20 December 2004, and the numbers serving overseas, but not on operations as at 1 December 2004. It is not anticipated that the figure for personnel deployed on operations will change significantly over the Christmas period. The numbers of personnel serving overseas, but not on operations, is likely to be significantly smaller over the Christmas period, as personnel in Germany and Cyprus, for example, may chose to take their leave back in the UK.
|Service||Number deployed on Operations||Number serving overseas not on operations||Percentage of trained strength|
|Royal Air Force||1,750||3,200||10e|
Sir Menzies Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what provision he has made to ensure that those members of the armed forces serving abroad and deployed on front-line duties between 24 December and 2 January 2005 are able to maintain family contact over that period; and if he will make statement. 
[holding answer 9 December 2004]: Personnel deployed on operations are supported by either the Operational Welfare Package (OWP) or by
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Local Overseas Allowance (LOA). The vast majority of personnel serving overseas, receive the OWP. The OWP provides 20 minutes of publicly funded telephone calls per week. This amount will be supplemented by a further 20 minutes for the Christmas week. In addition, personnel may purchase unlimited additional time through a standing arrangement with the service provider. Furthermore, under the OWP personnel are entitled to free internet access, which includes the ability to send and receive e-mails. Personnel serving in locations where the OWP has been granted receive free aerogrammes ('blueys') delivered by the British Forces Post Office (BFPO). A concessionary rate postal service also exists for letters and packets weighing up to 2kg sent from the UK mainland or BFPO addresses. Lastly, between 17 November and 15 December 2004, family members were entitled to send, free of charge, an unlimited number of packets weighing up to 2kg to Service personnel serving in overseas operational theatres.
LOA is a non-taxable allowance designed to meet the additional costs associated with communication (both verbal and written) from distant or remote locations not covered by OWP arrangements. The LOA reflects the actual costs of such communications from the location concerned.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what (a) regulations and (b) procedures are applicable in the (i) Army, (ii) Royal Navy and (iii) Royal Air Force, following the death in service of individual personnel aged under 18 years of age, governing contacting (A) next of kin and (B) parents. 
Mr. Ingram: The three Services have similar casualty notification regulations and procedures. All Service personnel complete an Emergency Contact form in which they nominate the person or persons to be contacted initially in the event of death or serious injury. In the case of under-18s this would usually be the parents although the choice rests with the individual. In the event of death of an under-18, should the individual have nominated an Emergency Contact who is not the next of kin, the Services would always ensure additionally that the next of kin is informed. The Services aim to inform next of kin and nominated contacts as swiftly and as sensitively as possible.
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