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Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much the UK has contributed to the development costs of the Joint Strike Fighter; and what further pre-delivery payments will be required. 
Mr. Ingram: No specific sorties were planned in support of Operation Spear although three RAF Tornado GR4s on routine patrols were tasked to respond to calls for assistance from US forces during the operation. UK aircraft did not expend any weapons in support of Operation Spear. We do not comment on rules of engagement for reasons of operational security.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his Answer of 15 June 2005, Official Report, column 442W, on the Royal Navy, what the expected out-of-service date is for the Lynx Mk 3/8 helicopter. 
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his timescale is for responding to the National Audit Office report on military preparedness; what form his response will take; and if he will make a statement. 
John Reid: The Ministry of Defence welcomes the National Audit Office report on Assessing and Reporting Military Readiness which concludes that the MOD has a good system for reporting the readiness levels of the armed forces, an increasingly good understanding of the risks to readiness and good plans in place to mitigate these risks.
We are already taking forward work in the areas covered by the NAO's recommendations for further technical improvements in our internal risk management arrangements and in the public reporting of readiness under our public service agreement. Information on the readiness of our armed forces is routinely available on the MOD website at www.mod.uk and this shows that at the end of March no forces were reporting critical weakness which would make it impossible to deploy them on new operations if required. The National Audit Office reports to Parliament. The Department will respond to any recommendations that the Public Accounts Committee might make, if they choose to do so, in due course.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria were used when deciding whether to replace the 1stBattalion King's Own Scottish Borders at Omagh when they conclude their term as the Omagh Resident Battalion in August 2006. 
The decision not to replace the 1stBattalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers at Omagh when they conclude their term as the Omagh Resident Battalion in August 2006 was based on the assessment by the General Officer Commanding (Northern Ireland) and Chief Constable Police Service
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of Northern Ireland (PSNI) of the improving security situation. It reflects the increasing success of the PSNI in dealing with the threat from terrorism without routine military support.
The Army remains committed to providing the support that the PSNI requires to counter the threat from terrorism and to prevent potential public disorder, and will continue to keep force levels in Northern Ireland under regular review.
Mr. Ingram: In the highly unlikely event of a nuclear incident, in accordance with the independent national regulations, the Radiation Emergency Preparedness and Public Information Regulations (REPPIR) 2001, the city of Portsmouth is covered by a detailed emergency plan (PORTSAFE) for which the local authority (Portsmouth city council) is responsible. This is available locally in public libraries and can also be obtained by contacting the Portsmouth city council emergency planning officer.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the memorandum of 13 July 2001 from Mr. Alan Mayers of the Department's Far East Prisoners of War Group to Mr. John Hardy, Army Historical Branch, which states that race was included as a deciding factor in the eligibility criteria for the compensation scheme. 
Mr. Touhig: This document was a statement by one official in 2001. It did not and does not represent the view of the Government. The question of whether theapplication of one of the eligibility criteria of the ExGratia Payment Scheme for Far East Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees may have constituted race discrimination is the subject of judicial review proceedings.
Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2004 in the Cabinet Office concerning the Far East Prisoners of War Compensation Scheme which agreed that the eligibility criteria should define UK nationals as civilian internees who were British at the time of their incarceration. 
Mr. Touhig: There was no meeting of the inter-departmental working group in the Cabinet Office on 22 November 2004 to discuss the Ex Gratia Payment Scheme for former Far East Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees and it is assumed that this question relates to the meeting held on 22 November 2000. The question under consideration at that meeting was whether eligibility relied on an applicant having been British at the time of internment or at the time of making a claim under the Ex Gratia Payment Scheme. The decision taken was that the relevant date was the time of captivity and that any subsequent change of nationality did not affect eligibility.
Mr. Keetch: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the (a) class and role, (b) date of entry into service, (c) expected date of removal from service and (d) average annual cost of maintenance over the period of service is of each ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary; and if he will make a statement. 
|Ship||In service date||Expected out of service date(1)||Class||Role|
|Argus||1988||2020||||Aviation Training Ship and Primary Casualty Reception Ship|
|Diligence||1984||2014||||Forward Repair Ship|
|Gold Rover||1974||2009||Rover||Small Fleet Tanker|
|Fort George||1994||2019||Fort||Fleet Replenishment Ships|
|Sir Tristram||1967||2006||Sir||Landing Ship Logistic|
|Wave Knight||2003||2028||Wave||Fleet Tanker|
Detailed records of the cost of maintaining each ship over its entire service are not held. However, the average cost of maintenance is estimated at £3.5 million per annum for each vessel. This includes maintenance on operational vessels, defect rectification, post design work, stock consumption and small packages of
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upkeep. In addition an element has been included to reflect the cost of scheduled refits, which are generally undertaken on a five yearly basis for each vessel.
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