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21 Feb 2005 : Column 249W—continued

Gulf War-related Illnesses

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 29 November 2004, Official Report, column 354, on Gulf War-related illnesses, if he will provide further details on the funding for the research programme on Gulf veterans' illnesses; which institutions are undertaking the research; and how the funding to carry out the research will be allotted. [215710]

Mr. Caplin: The Ministry of Defence receives independent advice on its programme of research into whether the health of Gulf veterans has been adversely affected by their service in the 1990–91 Gulf conflict from the Medical Research Council (MRC). We will consider funding any proposal for research which has been formally considered and approved by the MRC.

Studies which we have already funded (in whole or part) are:
Epidemiological study of Mortality/MorbidityUniversity of Manchester
Epidemiological study of Reproductive HealthLondon School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Vaccines Interactions Research ProgrammeDefence Science and Technology Laboratory (with independent academic support) and National Institute for Biological Standards and Control
Systematic literature review of researchUniversity of Wales/University of Bristol
Neuromuscular symptoms in Gulf veteransKings College
Testing for Squalene in vaccinesIndependent Laboratory
Paraoxonase workManchester Royal Infirmary and Kings College
Anthropological study into Gulf War Syndrome"PhD student at University College London
Longitudinal study of changing health in Gulf veteransKings College
Cancer StudyUniversity of Manchester

21 Feb 2005 : Column 250W

We have also co-operated with epidemiological and clinical studies of UK veterans sponsored by the US Department of Defense and conducted by Kings College. Moreover, a number of research papers on the health of those veterans attending the Gulf veterans' Medical Assessment Programme have been published. In addition, further research into Gulf veterans' illnesses recommended by MRC following their review of the subject in 2003 is in various stages of progression.


Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what obstacles have been encountered in training and equipping British soldiers in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [214723]

Mr. Ingram: We have identified and responded to a number of lessons with regard to training and equipping of British Soldiers in Iraq. These are detailed in our comprehensive report 'Operations in Iraq—Lessons for the Future', which is available in the Library of the House.

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the United States Pentagon about the cause of the Hercules crash in Iraq. [217157]

Mr. Hoon: The investigation team has spoken to in-theatre personnel, including US military personnel as appropriate, in order to help them ascertain the cause of the crash.

Ministerial Travel

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list overseas trips he and his departmental Ministers have made on official business or using official transport, since 1997, broken down by date. [211870]

Mr. Caplin [holding answer 31 January 2005]: Since 1999, the Government publishes, on an annual basis, the total costs of all ministerial overseas travel and a list of all visits by Cabinet Ministers costing in excess of £500. Copies of the lists are available in the Library of the House

All ministerial travel is undertaken fully in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.
21 Feb 2005 : Column 251W

Ministerial Visits

Mr. Hayes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 11 January 2005, Official Report, column 376W, on ministerial visits, whether on any occasion the flight returned to the United Kingdom with unused passenger capacity. [216512]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 10 February 2005, Official Report, column 1631W. On the June 2004 return military flight from Basra to the United Kingdom all vacant seats on the aircraft were made available to Ministry of Defence personnel.


Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many cases of MRSA have been recorded in Ministry of Defence hospitals since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [216398]

Mr. Caplin: The majority of secondary care for armed forces personnel is now provided at Ministry of Defence Hospital Units (MDHUs) which are based within NHS Trust hospitals around the UK. MRSA numbers are now monitored by the Infection Control Teams of each NHS Trust under the direction of a Consultant Microbiologist, not the MOD. The Department therefore does not hold these records. Royal hospital Haslar is currently an exception to this.

Since April 2001 it has been run in partnership with Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. The number of cases of MRSA at Royal hospital Haslar are only available from the year 2000. Due to reasons of medical confidentiality, numbers are not broken down below five.
Royal hospital Haslar:

Number of cases

(79) Less than five cases.

The Ministry of Defence currently has two military hospitals at its permanent overseas bases in Cyprus and Gibraltar. Records for these bases are only held for the last five years and less than five cases of MRSA have been recorded. Those cases recorded have been transferred in from other hospitals and no new cases of MRSA have been identified in either hospital in this period.


Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will withdraw the minute, dated 20 January, concerning the gifting of non-lethal military equipment to the Government of Nepal; [217326]

Clare Short: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will reconsider his decision to gift military equipment to Nepal in response to the actions by the King of Nepal since the departmental minute was tabled on 20 January. [217071]

21 Feb 2005 : Column 252W

Mr. Ingram: In light of the recent events in Nepal, the Government have decided to withdraw the minute relating to the gift of military equipment pending a full review of our policy with regard to the provision of military assistance and equipment to Nepal. We are naturally extremely concerned about these events and we are currently consulting with our international partners on a co-ordinated response. I will write to my right hon. and hon. Friends when this review has developed.

New Aircraft Carrier

John Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the physical integrator for the new aircraft carrier project; [213997]

(2) what assessment his Department has made of the ability of Kellogg Brown and Root to perform the role of physical integrator for the new aircraft carrier project. [213996]

Mr. Hoon: I refer my hon. Friend to the Written Statement I made to the House on 8 February 2005, Official Report, columns 74–75WS, and my letter of 7 February 2005.

New Recruits

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what mechanisms his Department uses to promote the importance of physical fitness to new recruits in training. [215174]

Mr. Caplin: All potential applicants and new recruits are given pre-joining fitness booklets and/or shown videos which include information and advice on how to prepare for the pre-selection fitness test that they must pass.


Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the total expenditure by his Department on (a) advertising and (b) advertising and publicity was in (i) 1996–97, (ii) 1997–98 and (iii) 2003–04; and what the estimate of cost of each will be in (A) 2004–05, (B) 2005–06, (C) 2006–07 and (D) 2007–08. [211678]

Mr. Caplin: Details of the Ministry of Defence's expenditure on advertising and publicity are included in the annual Departmental Performance Reports, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. For 1996–97 the information is shown on page 49, Cm 3781 and for 1997–98 the information is shown on page 49, Cm 4170.

Expenditure on advertising, and advertising and publicity, is now included in figures for publicity and recruiting, and a detailed breakdown is not available. For 2003–04, costs of publicity and recruitment were £53.6 million. We have no estimate for publicity and recruitment expenditure for the current year; expenditure in future years has not yet been decided.

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