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29 Nov 2005 : Column 333W—continued


Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what estimate she has made of the (a) number of children taught to swim in each of the last 10 years and (b) proportion of teenagers who can swim. [32057]

Mr. Caborn: Figures on the number of children taught, or able, to swim are not collected centrally.

Swimming and water safety are a compulsory part of the national curriculum for physical education. By the end of key stage 2, pupils should be taught to swim unaided for a sustained period of time over a distance of at least 25 metres.

In 2000, an Ofsted report on swimming in schools at key stage 2 found that 83 per cent. of pupils could swim the 25 metre standard.
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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment the security forces have made of who carried out the recent bombings in Kabul; and if he will make a statement. [32212]

Mr. Ingram: Investigations into who carried out the recent attacks involving ISAF troops in Kabul are ongoing.

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many provisional reconstruction teams the UK is leading in Afghanistan; where they are based; and what other help the UK is extending through its military commitments to provisional reconstruction teams. [32214]

Mr. Ingram: The United Kingdom leads the provincial reconstruction team in Mazar-e Sharif in North West Afghanistan. In addition, the United Kingdom leads the Forward Support Base and the Quick Reaction Force, both also based in Mazar-e Sharif, that support all the international security assistance force's provincial reconstruction teams across Northern Afghanistan.

Apache AH-64

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the naval application of the Apache AH-64; and whether funds have been set aside for maritimisation. [32196]

Mr. Ingram: In line with the future maritime operating concept, the Apache AH Mkl is required to operate in support of amphibious forces during ship to shore operations. Extensive ship-borne trials have taken place on HMS Ocean and RFA Argus during which flying and deck operating limits were determined, and maritime modifications, including enhanced corrosion protection, were assessed. These trials have shown that Apache can be operated safely and effectively from these platforms. A declaration of maritime initial operating capability is expected at the end of December 2005. Funding for further trials has been set aside in the equipment plan. However, the benefit of full conversion of the entire Apache fleet is currently being assessed.

AWE Aldermaston

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 November 2005, Official Report, column 1259W, on AWE Aldermaston, when he was first informed that the original estimate was inadequate. [27853]

John Reid: I became aware of the need for additional investment at AWE Aldermaston shortly after my appointment as Secretary of State for Defence. As far as the Ministry of Defence is concerned, when the initial AWE management and operation contract (which became effective on 1 April 2000) was awarded to AWE Management Ltd., it was recognised that a detailed analysis would be required to establish the levels of investment necessary to sustain the minimum capability required to support the policies described in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review. This process, which included conducting studies, investment appraisals, capability
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assessments, contract negotiations and a process of departmental and ministerial approvals, was completed in July 2005.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 3 November 2005, Official Report, column 1259W, on AWE Aldermaston, how much of the £1 billion will be spent on (a) increased costs for the continuous running project, (b) new facilities at Aldermaston, with particular reference to the proposed new laser and (c) other areas of expenditure; and if he will make a statement. [27855]

John Reid: As I made clear in my written statement to the House on 19 July 2005, Official Report, column 59WS, the purpose of this additional expenditure at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) is to maintain the effectiveness and safety of the nuclear deterrent through an additional investment in key skills and facilities. Of the total forecast expenditure at AWE between now and the end of 2007–08, around 45 per cent. is capital costs, principally on new facilities including the new Orion laser, and around 55 per cent. is operating costs.

Iraq (US Casualties)

Mr. Robathan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many casualties United States forces have suffered since 1 January 2005 in the proposed Tactical Area of Responsibility that British forces will take over next year. [31386]

Mr. Ingram: As I made clear in my written statement on 14 November 2005, Official Report, columns 41–42WS, no final decisions have yet been made on the area of responsibility that British forces could take over next year.

Overseas Recruitment

Adam Price: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what expenditure has been incurred in relation to overseas recruitment for the armed services in each of the last five years. [29622]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 17 November 2005]: Employment in the Regular armed forces is open to citizens of Commonwealth countries and Republic of Ireland nationals as well as British citizens; all applicants are given equal consideration and all have to meet the same basic entry standards. The armed forces do not actively recruit overseas with the exception of Gurkhas from Nepal. However, in recent years the Royal Navy and the Army have sent selection teams to some Commonwealth countries at the specific request of the Government concerned, and only then when evidence suggests that there is sufficient interest among the local population to merit a visit. The selection teams screen out those who are not thought capable of meeting the full entry standards, to save them the cost of an abortive trip to the UK to undergo the recruitment process. The costs incurred as a result of the selection team visits were as follows:
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Financial year£

1. Figures are rounded to nearest £100.
2. FY2005–06 details show the position at the mid-year point.

Gurkha recruitment policy is completely different to that for the Regular armed forces. The travel costs incurred as a result of a selection team from the UK visiting Nepal during the final selection process to assist the in-country recruiting team in its final selection of approximately 230 Nepalese to join the Brigade of Gurkhas each year and approximately 150 to join the Singapore Police (for which we get compensation) were as follows:
Financial year£

Figures are rounded to nearest £100.

RAF Bases

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what savings were achieved by transferring maintenance work for (a) Harriers and (b) Tornados to RAF main operating bases; and where this money will be reinvested. [29226]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 21 November 2005]: Changes have been made in the way RAF Harrier aircraft are supported. Primarily these changes relate to the concentration of aircraft maintenance, including Harrier GR7 to GR9 upgrade, at RAF Cottesmore, and the introduction of more effective and efficient processes. Together these will deliver savings of £44 million over financial years 2005–06 to 2008–09. Similar changes in the way RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft are maintained and upgraded are in the process of being implemented at RAF Marham. This will significantly streamline the overall logistics footprint for the Tornado GR4 fleet which in turn will contribute to the £2 billion of efficiency savings to be delivered as part of the MOD's logistic transformation programme.

All cash savings are re-allocated within the Defence Programme in accordance with Defence priorities.

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