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Written Answers to Questions

Monday 20 June 2005


Armed Forces (Recruitment)

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many people from Coventry, South were recruited into the armed forces in the last period for which figures are available. [4823]

Mr. Touhig: Information is not held in the form requested. The number of personnel recruited into the armed forces as other ranks from applications registered by Coventry armed forces careers office during financial year 2004–05 was 214. Broken down by service the numbers recruited were:
Naval Service31

Information on officer recruits is not available on a regional basis.

Army Recruitment Campaign

Lynne Featherstone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the cost was of the latest promotional campaign to encourage people to join the Army, separately identifying the cost of (a) DVDs, (b) VHS tapes and (c) television advertising; and if he will make a statement. [4657]

Mr. Touhig: The Army Recruiting Group is responsible for marketing recruitment for the Regular Army, the Territorial Army, Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College, and the Army Cadet Force and it runs a number of campaigns throughout the year. For this financial year, the total TV advertising budget to encourage potential officers and soldiers into the Regular and Territorial Army is £14.1 million. In addition, the budgeted cost of fulfilling individual requests for information as a result of this advertising is £1.274 million, which includes £474,000 for the cost of materials such as DVDs, videos and publications.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what circumstances have led to the proposed publication of the Government files on the sinking of the Belgrano in 1982. [2056]

John Reid: There are no current plans to release the Government files on the sinking of the Belgrano in 1982.
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Civil Servants

Dr. Cable: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what value for money procurement savings were identified and what reduction in civil service posts occurred in his Department in 2004–05. [4541]

Mr. Ingram: HM Treasury's Public Service Agreement 2002 target to deliver £3 billion of value for money gains in central civil Government through the Office of Government Commerce does not include procurement by the Ministry of Defence.

In Budget 2005 the Chancellor announced a headcount reduction of 12,500 posts by the end of 2004–05, towards the Government's target of a gross reduction of 84,000 civil service posts, including military posts in administrative and support functions. On the Office for National Statistics definition of a civil servant and on a full-time equivalent (FTE) basis, the number of civil servants employed by the Ministry of Defence fell by 790. In addition, the number of local employed civilians overseas (excluding those employed in operational areas) fell by 420 FTE, giving a total civilian contribution of 1,210 FTE towards the Government's target.

Computer Facilities

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what computer facilities are provided within individual battalions for (a) officers and (b) non-commissioned officers to perform their duties. [3257]

Mr. Touhig: Every Army unit has access to computers and officers and non-commissioned officers have access to such facilities where their role requires it. The Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) programme is currently being introduced and will further enhance capability and accessibility of computer systems by early 2007.

Defence Training Review

Peter Viggers: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons his Department was not permitted to make an in-house bid for the Defence Training Review. [4711]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 15 June 2005]: The Ministry of Defence's contracting strategy for the Defence Training Review rationalisation programme, which has been developed with the MOD Private Finance Unit and the Treasury, has confirmed the suitability and probity of PFI/PPP as the procurement route.

This strategy includes a public sector comparator which has been developed on the basis of how the Department would proceed if the PFI/PPP was not available. While it has the associated detail of an in-house bid, the capital investment required means that it is unlikely to be practical or affordable as a delivery option, particularly as it would not provide the flexibility, performance discipline and risk transfer envisaged by the partnering option.

Disabled Access

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether all buildings occupied by his
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Department in the Greater London area are fully accessible by disabled people; and if he will make a statement. [2353]

Mr. Touhig: The majority of MOD occupied buildings in central London are fully accessible by disabled people. Elsewhere within the Greater London area a lesser proportion of buildings have such access.

Under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995 there are two aspects to consider in respect of access to premises for disabled people: one as an employer and the second as a service provider. As an employer it is MOD policy, in accordance with Part II of the DDA, to make adjustments where any arrangement or physical feature of MOD occupied premises places a disabled employee at a substantial disadvantage compared to a non-disabled employee, if it is reasonable to take such steps taking into account all the circumstances of the case. MOD policy also complies with Part III of the DDA where it considered itself to be a service provider, and reasonable adjustments have been made where it was considered necessary in relation to the physical features of MOD occupied premises to overcome physical barriers to access by members of the public.

EU Defence Co-operation

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Government will be contributing to the (a) production of the EU Force Catalogue and (b) subsequent production of the Progress Catalogue. [5360]

John Reid: The Government will be contributing to both.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the dates of each EU Battlegroup Generation Conference in the last two years were; who attended each conference; what dates are planned for further such conferences; and who is expected to attend. [5361]

John Reid: The first EU Battlegroup Generation Conference took place on 11 May this year. The next (re-titled 'EU Battlegroup Coordination Conference') will take place in November this year on a day as yet undetermined. We expect one such conference to take place every six months.

The first conference was attended by representatives from all 25 EU member states, Bulgaria and Romania as accession states, and Norway as a third- country participant in the Battlegroups initiative. We expect future conferences to be attended by all member states, accession states, and third-country participants. The United Kingdom was and will be represented by a small team of Ministry of Defence officials.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which UK representatives attended the International Military Co-operation conference on 11and 12 October 2004 in Wassenaar; and whether the Government agreed to work through any project groups to improve European military capabilities. [5362]

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John Reid: A small team of officials from the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office attended the conference, at which the Government did not enter into any agreement.

In 2003 EU member states decided unanimously to create European Capabilities Action Plan Project Groups to address recognised shortfalls in European military capabilities in relation to the overarching Headline Goal capability improvement process.

The United Kingdom sends a representative to 11 of the 14 groups. We will review representation as changes to these groups are implemented following a May 2005 evaluation report by the European Defence Agency.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what commitment the Government made at the EU Military Capability Conference on 22 November 2004 in Brussels; and if he will make a statement. [5382]

John Reid: The Government committed to providing as EU Battlegroups one national Battlegroup and one joint Battlegroup with the Netherlands (based on long-standing co-operation in the UK/Netherlands Amphibious Force). The national Battlegroup would be on standby for the first six months of the Initial Operational Capability period (January-June 2005); the joint Battlegroup would become available from 2007 for the Full Operational Capability period.

Our current commitment is that one of these Battlegroups will be on standby in the second half of 2008 and the other in the first half of 2010. The UK contributions will be drawn from our Joint Rapid Reaction Force as appropriate at the time.

Together with other EU Defence Ministers, the Government also agreed a declaration on European military capabilities which has been made available in the Library of the House as part of the presidency report on European Security and Defence Policy given by the July-December 2004 presidency of the Netherlands.

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Government have given a commitment (a) to support and (b) to join the establishment of a European Gendarmerie Force. [5383]

John Reid: The European Gendarmerie Force is a multilateral initiative by France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal to create between them a joint paramilitary police force which could be made available to EU, NATO, UN or OSCE operations.

In September 2004 the participating countries signed a five-nation Declaration of Intent and briefed others on the initiative. My predecessor welcomed it as a cooperative attempt to improve European capabilities, not least by making gendarmerie-style forces more rapidly available for such multinational operations.

Since the United Kingdom does not have paramilitary police, the question of participating in the initiative does not apply.

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