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Mr. Ingram: As the Secretary of State's principal adviser on Royal Air Force issues the Chief of the Air Staff has direct access to Defence Ministers whenever he requires and Defence Ministers regularly meet him in a variety of forums.
21.Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to ensure that the pensions of employees at RAF Cosford are protected as part of the defence training review. 
Mr. Touhig: In order to be awarded the Defence Training Review contract, the winning Bidder must provide a pension scheme with broadly comparable benefits to existing pensions available to employees at RAF Cosford.
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the number of (a) families and (b) organisations with an interest in RAF Innsworth under the Crichel Down Rules relating to compulsory purchase; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Touhig: The RAF Innsworth site has not been declared surplus to MOD requirements. For that reason, it would be premature and entail possibly unnecessary costs to embark on any detailed Crichel Down investigations at this stage. Consequently we have as yet made no assessment of how many interested parties there might be.
15. Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what Ministry of Defence land and assets in the Vale of Clwyd he has recently disposed of; and what further plans he has to dispose of land and assets in the Vale of Clwyd. 
Mr. Touhig: No sites are planned for sale this year or have been sold within the last year. The last sale of surplus MOD property in the area of Clwyd was in August 2003 when part of the Moel Y Parc training area, near Mold was sold.
Mr. Ingram: The security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is stable. The EU-led operation there continues to provide a safe and secure environment. In Kosovo the situation is stable, but an increase in tension is possible as the final status talks are launched. NATO's KFOR continually monitors the security situation, and is in a strong position to react to any possible threat.
17. Mr. McGovern: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what developments there have been in relations between Anglo-Russian defence establishments since the awarding of Russian medals to UK submariners. 
John Reid: We already have regular contact with the Russian Federation Ministry of Defence and armed services at several levels across a wide variety of defence matters. The highly successful role played by the Royal Navy and its contractors in the recent rescue of a Russian mini-submarine recognised by President Putin's award of medals to our people on 5 October will help cement these relationships.
I visited Afghanistan between 30 September and 3 October to meet United Kingdom civilian and military personnel, senior Afghan politicians and senior officers from both NATO and the
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US-led coalition. I visited Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kandahar and was impressed at each location by British forces' exceptionally high morale, by their effectiveness in delivering security and stability in Afghanistan and by the warmth of the support for British forces from ordinary Afghans.
Mr. Ingram: I am aware that the production of initiators at BAE Systems site at Chorley has been suspended since an incident at the site in March this year. We are, however, confident in the company's ability to maintain security of supply.
20. Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he last discussed with the Chief of the Defence Staff the availability and preparedness of the armed forces for sustained deployments. 
Mr. Ingram: Between April 2005 and June 2005 some18 per cent. of all regular forces were deployed on operations or other military tasks. This figure does not include personnel preparing for operations or recovering from operations.
Information on activity levels is published routinely in the MOD annual report and accounts and the quarterly MOD public service agreement performance reports; these are available on the Ministry of Defence's website.
As at 7 October 2005, 3,794 Suez Canal Zone campaign medal applications were awaiting assessment. Applications are cleared within six months of receipt. As at 7 October 2005, 8,054 Iraq Medal applications were awaiting assessment. Applications are cleared within three months of receipt. Although Op Telic 1 applications are not recorded separately, once they are identified they are given priority and processed in a significantly shorter period.
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John Reid: The vote on the Iraqi constitution is testimony to the courage and fortitude of the Iraqi people in seeking a democratic future. It is likely, however, that terrorists will continue their attempts to disrupt the political process in Iraq. Coalition forces whose presence is supported by the Iraqi Government and mandated by the United Nations will continue to work closely with Iraqi Security Forces to provide and enhance security over this period.
Mr. Ingram: The Ministry of Defence contributes to the strengthening of African peace-building capabilities by training and advising various African armed forces in peace support operations. We do this through permanently-deployed and short-term training teams in key countries. Around 120 British armed forces personnel are based in sub-Saharan Africa to assist in these tasks, this figure does not include our network of defence attache"s.
Mr. Touhig: We are currently considering options for the future, building on the success of the first Veterans' Awareness Week held between 4 and 10 of July this year. I will make an announcement as soon as we have taken a decision on the way ahead.
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