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7 Nov 2005 : Column 98W—continued

Departmental Staff (Literacy and Numeracy)

Mr. Gibb: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what methods of assessment of (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills are used as part of the recruitment process by employees of his Department. [23761]

Mr. Touhig: The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force presently use bespoke numeracy and literacy assessments as part of the recruiting process. Both then utilise a nationally recognised literacy and numeracy assessment tool during initial training. The Army uses the Basic Skills Agency's paper-based literacy and numeracy tests during the recruiting process and is currently assisting the DfES to develop new literacy and numeracy initial assessment tools. It is intended to use the new DfES assessment tool, once available, in the recruiting process across all of the armed services from 1 April 2006.

Assessment of the literacy and numeracy skills of recruits to the Ministry of Defence civil service may form part of the educational qualifications required or be part of a competency-based interview.

Parliamentary Questions

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he intends to make substantive responses to the questions about the future aircraft carriers tabled by the hon. Member for New Forest East for answer on 27 October 2005, references (a) 21707, (b) 21706, (c) 21705, (d) 21704 and (e) 21703. [25044]

Mr. Ingram: I replied to the hon. Member on 2 November 2005, Official Report, columns 1068–69W.
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Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many trainers NATO member states have contributed to training the Iraqi Security Forces; and if he will make a statement. [23041]

John Reid: All 26 NATO countries have agreed to provide support to the NATO Training Mission-Iraq by providing personnel, equipment or funding to train the Iraqi Security Forces in and outside Iraq. There are 166 NATO personnel in Iraq assisting with training and equipping the Iraqi Security Forces under the auspices of the NATO Training Mission-Iraq.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many units of the Iraqi Security Forces are able to conduct counter-insurgency operations without support from the multi-national forces; [23044]

(2) how many Iraqi (a) ground combat battalions and (b) military and special police forces are conducting operations against insurgency; and if he will make a statement; [23046]

(3) if he will make a statement on progress in recruiting and training of the Iraqi (a) army, (b) special operations force, (c) strategic infrastructure battalions, (d) navy, (e) air force, (f) police service, (g) special police forces, (h) special police commandos, (i) mechanised police, (j) public order police, (k) emergency response unit, (l) border forces and (m) highway patrol; [23119]

(4) what estimate the (a) Coalition and (b) Iraqi Government has made of the total combined force structure for the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of the Interior in Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [23126]

John Reid: As part of the Coalition force in Iraq, the United Kingdom's area of responsibility is in Multi-National Division (South East). The US has oversight of all Coalition forces in Iraq and it collates all Iraqi Security Force training figures through the Multinational Security Transition Command—Iraq.

All the requested information is available in the United States Report to Congress, Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq". A copy of this report can be found on the internet at

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which body within the Iraqi Government is responsible for recruitment and vetting of Ministry of the Interior employees; and if he will make a statement. [23045]

John Reid: Overall responsibility for recruitment and vetting of Ministry of Interior personnel rests with the Human Resource Administration Department in the Ministry of Interior. The Department comprises two sections—one responsible for dealing with enlisted personnel and the other with officers.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the number of Iraqi instructors is who have completed the Train the Trainer course organised by the NATO Training Mission in Iraq. [23050]

John Reid: The NATO Training Mission-Iraq (NTM-I) is helping to build the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) by providing training and advisory support. To
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date 283 Iraqis have been trained by NTM-I which includes 24 Iraqi students who received their diploma to become staff college instructors.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what proportion of time British troops deployed in Multi National Division in Iraq spend in (a) barracks and (b) on patrols; and if he will make a statement; [23311]

(2) how many (a) routine British armed forces patrols and (b) joint patrols with Iraqi police forces have been undertaken in Iraq in Multinational Division South East in each month since January; and if he will make a statement. [24581]

Mr. Ingram: The frequency of patrols in Multi National Division (South East) is a matter for local operational judgment and is contingent on the circumstances UK forces find themselves in at any given time. The tasking levels for personnel in theatre are kept under constant review by commanders on the ground.

We do not hold figures on the amount of time UK forces in Iraq spend on patrol or in barracks. UK troops patrol regularly, both independently and with Iraqi forces. We do not comment on the number of patrols they carry out for reasons of force protection.

Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British Army vehicles are in operation in Iraq; and how many are fitted with electronic countermeasures. [24526]

Mr. Ingram: For reasons of operational security, it is not Government policy to make public details of the military capability—including specific countermeasures— deployed on operations.

Irish Regiments (Posthumous Pardons)

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to questions 24129 and 24125 when the Government received the submission of the Irish Government requesting that consideration be given to granting posthumous pardons to 26 soldiers of Irish regiments executed in the great war for cowardice or desertion; on what date discussions were held between the two Governments; and when he expects to announce the UK Government's response. [25619]

Mr. Touhig: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe on 2 November 2005, Official Report, column 1086W, and to the answer I gave on 2 November 2005, Official Report, columns 1070–71W. There have been both formal and informal contacts with the Irish Government on this subject since their first approach in December 2003, offering our assistance before their report was written and keeping them informed of progress on our response, which we will wish to discuss with them before any announcement is made.

Joint Combat Aircraft

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he expects to have available appropriate naval operating platforms for the joint combat aircraft (JCA) by the time that the United Kingdom's allocation of the JCA is ready to enter service. [24572]

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Mr. Ingram: The joint combat aircraft programme remains coherent with the future carrier programme. We intend to introduce the joint combat aircraft progressively, with the expectation that the naval platforms required to operate the aircraft will be available when the joint combat aircraft achieves its in-service date.

Married Quarters

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many new build units in the married quarters estate are planned by his Department in each of the next three years; and how many houses this will replace from the existing married quarters estate. [23323]

Mr. Touhig: The following new build married quarters are planned in England, Wales and Scotland between now and 2008–09:
Number of new builds

Financial yearPortsmouth 2MarchwoodCredenhillGlencorse

(34) Replacing 14 demolished stock
(35) Replacing 22 demolished stock

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Department's married quarters are empty; what proportion of this represents his Department's management margin required for managing changes; and if he will make a statement. [23324]

Mr. Touhig: 7,905 married quarters are currently empty. The Ministry of Defence aims for a management margin of 10 per cent. Using overall stock levels, this would result in a management margin of some 4,900. The present excess is the result of a number of ongoing studies into future basing requirements and quarters are being held pending decisions.

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