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14 Nov 2005 : Column 898W—continued


Criminal Offences

Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the criminal offences created in legislation sponsored by his Department between May 1997 and the end of April 2005, broken down by Act. [28258]

David Cairns: The Scotland Office was formed on 1 July 1999 and has sponsored two pieces of primary legislation between then and the end of April 2005, the Sunday Working (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Scottish Parliament (Constituencies) Act 2004. Neither Act created criminal offences.



1. Mr. Flello: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the impact of British armed forces' presence in Afghanistan on the supply of heroin to the UK. [27264]

John Reid: First let me extend my condolences to the family and friends of Lance Corporal Steven Sherwood of the Royal Gloucestershire Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment who was killed in a shooting incident at Mazar-e-Sharif last month, and to the family and
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friends of Sergeant Christian Hickey of the 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Basra last month.

British forces are in Afghanistan to deny terrorists a base by helping the Government to develop their democracy, security, and economy. If the economy is to thrive we must help the Afghan Government to tackle the narcotics trade which also feeds 90 per cent. of the heroin supply in the UK. This is in the interests of both our countries.

My right hon. Friend the Minister for the armed forces has today issued a statement on contingency planning for phase three of ISAF.

Deepcut Barracks

12. Meg Hillier: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the release to Parliament of the review by Nicholas Blake QC into the deaths of young soldiers at Deepcut. [27275]

Mr. Ingram: Nicholas Blake's plan is to publish his report before Christmas; if that proves to be impracticable, the report will be published in January. When I announced that Mr. Blake would conduct the review I confirmed that his report would be published in full, together with my response to it.


13. Mr. Davidson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to ensure a regular supply of defence work for the shipbuilding industry. [27276]

Mr. Ingram: A joint and detailed view of the forward maritime programme is being developed with industry. This has been done in order to create a potentially more balanced and stable industrial demand within affordability and capability constraints. The detail will be refined as work continues to develop a strategy to sustain key industrial capabilities and to improve efficiency in the United Kingdom maritime sector.

Arctic Convoys

15. Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will discuss with the Prime Minister further recognition of those who served in the Arctic convoys. [27278]

Mr. Touhig: The Government have the greatest respect for all those who served at sea during the Second World War, whether they were transporting the supplies to or from the United Kingdom or protecting the sea lanes. Their gallant efforts and their many sacrifices have not been forgotten.

On 7 March 2005, the Prime Minister announced the introduction of a new Arctic Emblem, which could be worn as a unique addition to medals. There are no plans to seek further recognition.


16. Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on trends in recruitment for the armed forces. [27279]

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Mr. Touhig: In the first five months of this financial year the armed forces gained 6,190 new recruits from civilian life. This represents 32 per cent. of the recruiting target and is comparable to the position at the same point in the last financial year.

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent measures have been taken by the Defence Recruiting Committee to promote recruitment from members of minority ethnic groups; and what targets for minority ethnic recruitment have been set for each of the services. [26273]

Mr. Touhig: The Defence Recruiting Committee, through its Diversity Recruiting Sub-Committee, undertakes many and varied recruiting and outreach activities to promote recruitment from minority ethnic groups.

All three services have specialist Diversity Action Teams aimed at promoting armed forces careers. These teams continue to engage with all ethnic minority groups to raise awareness of service careers and to improve representation. Religious leaders from minority faiths have been appointed to act as advisers on matters of religious requirements and to ensure that personnel from minority faiths receive appropriate pastoral and spiritual care.

The Specialist Recruitment Teams continue to concentrate their efforts on high ethnic minority population areas, especially Greater London, and to create new and build on existing ethnic minority community partnerships. These partnerships involve links with secondary schools, local/borough councils, community organisations, religious organisations, employment groups, youth centres, festival organisers and the ethnic media.

The recruiting goal for this financial year is for each service to increase incrementally the proportion of UK ethnic minority recruits by 0.5 per cent. above last year's goal. To this end, the financial year 2005–06 goals are: naval service 3.5 per cent.; Army 3.9 per cent.; RAF 3.6 per cent.

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the minimum entry criteria are for recruitment into the armed services. [26277]

Mr. Touhig: Details of the basic entry eligibility criteria can be found on each Service's careers website. The website addresses are:

Cadet Forces (Kettering)

17. Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the contribution made by cadet forces in Kettering constituency. [27280]

Mr. Touhig: Like all members of the cadet forces, the cadets in Kettering make a positive contribution to their local community through being actively involved in local events and supporting both local and national charities and local community projects.
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Royal Regiment of Scotland

18. Gordon Banks: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence If he will make a statement on the progress made to date on the formation of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. [27281]

Mr. Ingram: The Royal Regiment of Scotland will be formed from the current battalions within the Scottish Division around March of next year. The amalgamation of the 1st Battalion The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) with the 1st Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers will occur later in the same year.

The new cap badge of the Royal Regiment of Scotland was announced during the Edinburgh Military Tattoo on 16 August and symbolises a distinctive Scottish identity. The final decisions on the basing, regimental headquarters and dress of the Royal Regiment of Scotland are still being considered.

Defence Industrial Strategy

19. Mr. Borrow: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consultation his Department undertook in preparing the defence industrial strategy. [27284]

Mr. Touhig: The Defence Industrial Strategy is a top priority for the Government and is designed to ensure that the capability requirements of the UK armed forces can be met, now and in the future. Work is progressing apace, with the intention to publish before Christmas. In conducting the work, we have been taking the views of a very broad spectrum of stakeholders, including industry at many levels.

Reserve Forces

20. Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the manning levels of the reserve forces. [27285]

Mr. Touhig: Based on our current plans, manning levels in the reserve forces are sufficient to support current and future operations.

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