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Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to issue interceptor body armour to troops on operational deployments, with particular reference to (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: Interceptor body armour is the protection system used by US forces. UK body armour systems offer similar levels of ballistic stopping power, and we have no plans to acquire the interceptor equipment. As with all equipment, we keep personal protection equipment under continuous review.
Mr. Touhig: Defence Estates (DE) is currently responsible for some 49,000 Service Families Quarters in England, Wales and Scotland. Of these, around 43,000 are seen as long-term core stock aspiration and it is DE's intention to reduce its holdings to that number.
The United Kingdom completed its destruction of its stockpiles of anti-personnel mines in October 1999 and only retains a number of anti-personnel mines under Article 3 of the Ottawa Convention for the development of, and training in, mine detection, mine clearance, or mine destruction techniques. Under the Ottawa Convention, the UK is also required to clear all anti-personnel mines from its territory by March 2009. The only UK territory affected is in the Falkland Islands. Discussions have taken place with the Government of Argentina to agree a joint feasibility study, including a field survey of the Islands. A decision on how to proceed will be made once the results of the feasibility study are known.
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|Financial year||Officers||Other ranks||RAF total|
|10 year average||410||3,110||3,520|
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 18 October 2005]: Continued investment in science and technology will remain critical if we are to develop and sustain effective capabilities in the face of new and emerging threats. Technical excellence is fundamental to providing the major enabling support to front-line operations and to underpin the competitiveness of our national defence industry.
The Defence Science and Technology Board will ensure that we get the right investment balance between sustaining in-house expertise and developing new technology in our supplier base. A well-structured policy of collaboration between MOD, industry and academia allows us to focus on commonly-identified technology development areas, improves risk reduction and maximises our ability to incorporate world class technologies developed in the UK into the equipment we buy.
We have launched four Defence Technology Centres in areas of high priority for MOD and industry. They are jointly funded by MOD, industry and academia to carry out research at the basic science level. This is then exploited by each partner for their own purposes.
Further information has been published in Delivering Security in a Changing World", the Defence White Paper of 2003 (Cm 6269) and in the MOD Departmental Plan 200509 under Future Capabilities chapter. Copies of these are in the Library and can be found on the MOD internet site at www.mod.uk.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 21 October 2005,
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Official Report, column 1251W, on Skynet, how bandwidth is measured; and what units of measurement other than megahertz his Department has used. 
Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to increase the proportion of food for the armed services which is sourced in the UK; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 7 November 2005]: Under the terms of Article 30 of the Treaty of Rome, which prohibits quantitative restrictions on imports between member states and all measures having equivalent effect, the Ministry of Defence must treat fairly and evenly all potential EC product suppliers. However, the MOD's contracted food supplier, '3663', is specifically required to source British products whenever they are competitive and when they meet the required quality standard. MOD is working with Defra and industry to establish ways in which British producers can become more competitive. The Meat and Livestock Commission has chaired a forum involving MOD, '3663' and farming union representatives. These meetings have been highly productive and through them, the MOD has increased volumes of British meat purchased at competitive prices and of a quality standard consistent with the requirements of the British armed forces.
Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how frequently (a) the Armed Forces Policy Strategy Group, and (b) the Tri-Service Welfare Working Group have met in the past 12 months; and what conclusions each forum has reached on the merits of the creation of an in-house (i) magazine and (ii) website to address welfare issues at training establishments. 
Mr. Touhig: I assume my hon. Friend is referring to the Accommodation, Families and Welfare Policy Steering Group that meets four times a year; and reporting to it a Tri-Service Welfare Working Group which meets three times a year. Their remit does not take into consideration creation of an in-house magazine or website to address welfare issues at training establishments, which remain single service responsibilities.
Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the terms of reference are of the tri-service review into the provision of welfare support in the armed services; what external bodies have been involved in the compilation of the final report; and if he will place the outcome of the review in the Library. 
Mr. Touhig: The review into the provision of welfare support to the greater Service community was established to identify best practice and the potential for its application across the three Services. The following have been identified as key issues that will receive specific attention:
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