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Mr. Touhig: The Ministry of Defence recently issued a revised policy to the armed forces which set them challenging targets to address the literacy and numeracy needs of their personnel. The policy makes clear that achievement must be evidenced by the gaining of a nationally recognised qualification and all support must work towards this end. Work is continuing to examine how the policy can be extended to meet the needs of the MOD civil service but meanwhile is being promoted through online advice and its network of learning and development advisers.
The MOD continue to support the gaining of qualifications by making testing opportunities as easily available as possible. Personnel are able to access national tests readily at many of the Department's network of electronic learning centres, within UK and in overseas garrisons.
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Mr. Touhig: Applications for World War II medals are currently being processed within 12 months of receipt. However, applications for the terminally ill and veterans who are over 90 years of age are given priority and processed immediately. Towards the end of this calendar year, by which time the bulk of Suez Canal Zone Medal applications will have been assessed, more resources will become available to meet the continuing demand for World War II medals.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the current situation is with regard to the sale of patrol boats by British Aerospace to Brunei; to what extent the UK Government underwrote the deal; whether the Government played a part in resolving the dispute over the deal; whether a cost to the Government have been incurred; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: This is a matter for the parties to the contract, BAE Systems and the Government of Brunei. The United Kingdom Government have been encouraging the parties to reach agreement, but it would be inappropriate to comment on the progress of the discussions. For commercial reasons, it is the Government's practice not to comment on whether it has underwritten any such contract. The Royal Navy, with the agreement of both parties, last year undertook an independent study of the progress of the programme. The costs of the short study were met by the Ministry of Defence.
John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many RAF personnel have been transferred in 2005 from front line squadrons to work in the Harrier Maintenance Facility on the Joint Upgrade and Maintenance Programme; and how many volunteered to do so. 
Mr. Ingram: In September 2005, 34 RAF personnel were temporarily transferred from front line squadrons to work in the Harrier Maintenance Facility on the Joint Upgrade and Maintenance Programme (JUMP). On current plans, this temporary transfer will end in March 2006.
Mr. Ingram: The QinetiQ 1 balloon was a QinetiQ sponsored project and did not involve any funding from Ministry of Defence. It is an operational matter for the company; questions should be referred to the company's chief executive.
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many infantry Territorial Army privates have served in Iraq since March 2003; and what proportion they are of the total Territorial Army contribution. 
Mr. Touhig: Since March 2003 some 1,275 infantry Territorial Army (TA) privates have served in Iraq in an infantry role, which represents approximately 12 per cent. of the total TA contribution. This figure does not include members of the TA who have an infantry cap badge but were deployed in a non infantry role, as individual reinforcements. Information relating to these individuals could be provided only at a disproportionate cost.
Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his latest estimate is of the cost of the (a) Swan Hunter-built vessels and (b) BAE Systems-built vessels which form part of the Landing Ships Dock (Auxiliary) project. 
Mr. Ingram: The current contract values for the costs associated with the build of the Swan Hunter vessels is £236 million and £176 million for the BAE Systems vessels. The Swan Hunter contract includes £62 million for the provision of Lead Yard Equipment and Services in support of the construction of the two BAE Systems ships, and £11 million for initial spares provisioning for all four ships. Both companies have indicated likely cost increases to their programmes, and as these are subject to commercial discussions between the Ministry of Defence and the companies. I am unable to give further details at this time.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many call centres were run by his Department and its agencies in (a) 200304, (b) 200405 and (c) 200506 to date; and how many and what proportion of calls (i) were handled by an adviser, (ii) were received but abandoned and (iii) received an engaged tone. 
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list formal consultations being sponsored by his Department and its agencies; and what the (a) commencement date and (b) deadline for responses is in each case. 
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