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7 Jun 2005 : Column 466W—continued

Project Connaught

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects work to begin on the re-provisioning of military facilities in Aldershot under Project Connaught. [1119]

Mr. Touhig: Contract negotiations are proceeding with Aspire, the Preferred Bidder for Project Allenby/Connaught. On current plans we would expect construction in Aldershot to start early in 2006.
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Scottish Infantry Regiments

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he has undertaken a review of the proposed mergers of the Scottish infantry regiments since taking up his position. [1499]

Mr. Ingram: No. The changes to the infantry announced by the previous Defence Secretary last year are part of a wider restructuring of the Army. These changes represent the right way forward for the Army; they will make it more robust and resilient, and better able to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Service Personnel (General Election)

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the UK armed forces were stationed in Iraq during the general election; and how many were provided with (a) proxy and (b) postal votes. [902]

Mr. Touhig: There were approximately 9300 1 service personnel in Iraq, or overseas in support of operations in Iraq, on land and at sea, in May 2005. It is not possible to determine how many service personnel used a proxy to exercise their vote and how many applied for and used a postal vote.

Territorial Army

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many Territorial Army soldiers mobilised under section (a) 54 and (b) 56 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 since 1 March 2003 have not been deployed to an overseas operational theatre; [1246]

(2) how many Territorial Army soldiers have been mobilised under section (a) 52, (b) 54 and (c) 56 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 since 1 March 2003; [1247]

(3) whether it is his policy to mobilise members of the Territorial Army under sections 54 or 56 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to occupy United Kingdom-based posts left vacant by members of the regular Army on operational services overseas. [1273]

Mr. Touhig: I can confirm that since 1 March 2003: there have been no Territorial Army (TA) soldiers mobilised under Section 52 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996; some 500 TA soldiers have been mobilised under Section 56; and some 9,820 TA soldiers have been mobilised under Section 54. Of the soldiers mobilised under Section 54, some 290 personnel have not deployed to operational theatres and these include: enablers at the Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre; unit and welfare support staff, who provide a vital liaison role in the home bases of TA units, whose members have been mobilised and deployed; movement control specialists at the Air and Sea Ports of embarkation; Intelligence Analysts; staff officers working in direct support of operations but based in the United Kingdom, and Royal Engineers providing Explosive Ordnance Disposal support in the UK. In addition, it is possible for individuals to be mobilised to fill posts left vacant by members of the regular Army serving on operations. However, in general it is our policy to use Reservists contracted on Full Time Reserve Service terms to fill such posts.
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Tomahawk Missiles

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the practicability of (a) fitting and (b) retro-fitting Type 45 destroyers with tactical Tomahawk missiles. [1556]

Mr. Ingram: The Defence Procurement Agency conducted an assessment in 2004 of the potential to fit tactical Tomahawk missiles to the Type 45 destroyer. This assessment was one of a number carried out from time to time to consider alternative options for delivering best value military capability. Although this assessment confirmed the practicability of either fitting or retro-fitting Tomahawk missiles it remains the position that there is currently no requirement for the Type 45 to be fitted with them.


Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether it remains his policy that the decision to replace Trident with the next generation of the strategic nuclear deterrent will be taken before the end of this Parliament. [1553]

John Reid: The December 2003 Defence White Paper (Cm 6041, paragraph 3.11) indicated that it was likely that decisions on whether to replace Trident would be needed during this Parliament. As I said on 18 May 2005 during the Foreign Affairs and Defence Debate on the Gracious Speech, Official Report, column 247, that continues to be the case.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what preliminary assessments his Department has made of the relative merits of (a) extending the life of Trident and (b) replacing Trident with an entirely new system. [1555]

John Reid: We have previously made clear that, in advance of decisions on whether to replace Trident, which are likely to be needed in this Parliament, we will continue to take appropriate steps to ensure that the range of options for maintaining a nuclear deterrent capability is kept open. We have not yet made an assessment of the relative merits of such options. We previously indicated on 30 June 2004, Official Report, column 358W, that we routinely undertake studies into the optimum operational life of key defence capabilities, including the Trident system, and that these have included concept studies on options for platforms to carry the Trident missile in the longer term.


Block Grant (Wales)

Ian Lucas: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what sum has been reported to Her Majesty's Treasury as total public expenditure within the assigned budget by the (a) former Welsh Office and (b) National Assembly for Wales in each year since 1997, for the purposes of assessing the block grant for Wales under the Barnett formula. [1282]

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Mr. Des Browne: Details of calculation of the block grant payable to the Welsh Assembly Government and its relationship with Total Managed Expenditure in Wales can be found in the Wales Office Annual Report.

Customs and Excise

Mr. Beith: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what changes have been made in the duties carried out by the Customs and Excise officer in Berwick-upon-Tweed in respect of (a) customs duties and (b) immigration; and where that officer is to be based. [1164]

Dawn Primarolo: The Revenue and Customs officer based in Berwick did, until recently, spend approximately one third of his time on customs work, including some agency work on behalf of the immigration service.

The nature of this work has changed in recent years and over 90 per cent. of customs clearance at the frontier now takes place immediately, thanks to the very large increase in electronic trading. Fiscal control is increasingly carried out by inland audit. general customs detection activity in the Berwick area is intelligence led, according to risk, and this activity is now covered by a flexible team based in Newcastle, who are also responsible for mandatory examinations.

There were a number of meetings with the trade to explain the changes and resolve early teething problems, including one in February 2005 attended by trade representatives from Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Revenue and Customs are entering discussions with the immigration service, who will need to make alternative arrangements to cover their activities in Berwick.

The Custom House at Berwick closes on 21 June 2005. The officer has been provided with facilities in Revenue and Customs' building in Alnwick. Following the changes in duties outlined above, the officer will be working on taxation (VAT) duties, supporting the trading population in the area (this work has in fact been a considerable proportion of his duties for the last 12 months).


Mr. Meacher: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many persons are taxed on the basis of incomes of over £1 million a year before allowances; and how many were taxed at that level on that basis in each of the last 10 years. [1601]

Dawn Primarolo [holding answer 6 June 2005]: The information is given in the table as follows:
Number of taxpayers with total income of at least £1 million

Number: thousand
Income taxpayers

(6) Estimates based on Survey of Personal Incomes
(7) Estimates based on the 2002–03 Survey of Personal Incomes projected forward in line with Budget 2005 assumptions.

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