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11 Jan 2006 : Column 663W—continued

Far Eastern Civiliam Prisoners of War Compensation Scheme

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will ensure that the review of the far eastern civilian prisoners of war compensation scheme announced on 12 December considers whether the bloodlink criterion amounts to racial discrimination. [39437]

Mr. Touhig: The birthlink" criterion is used to determine eligibility for the civilian element of the ex-gratia payment scheme for former far east prisoners of war and civilian internees; it is based on the place of birth (in the UK) of the individual or one of his or her parents or grandparents and not on a specific racial or bloodlink" criterion. The question of whether use of this criterion resulted in racial discrimination is currently the subject of appeals by both the Secretary of State and the claimant (Mrs. D Elias) against a High Court decision on a case brought by a former civilian internee. The outcome of the legal proceedings will determine whether use of the criterion amounts to racial discrimination. The review that I outlined in my statement on 12 December 2005, Official Report, column 1119, will examine whether consistent eligibility criteria were used to determine eligibility for civilian internees; it will not address whether the scheme was discriminatory. The Department has accepted, however, that it should have reviewed the operation of the scheme under the terms of section 71 (1) of the Race Relations Act 1976; we are currently considering the appropriate timescale for undertaking this review but do not consider that it could sensibly be completed until the legal proceedings referred to above have been completed.


Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) Merlin, (b) Lynx and (c) Sea King helicopters operated by the Royal Navy are held in attrition reserve; and for what reasons they are held. [39177]

Mr. Ingram: Attrition reserve aircraft are held to allow the required fleet size to be maintained throughout the service-life of the platform. This policy is designed to
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avoid the prohibitive costs that would be incurred if orders for single aircraft were to be made after the main production run was complete. Once a platform enters Service, fleet sizes may be changed and thus the numbers of aircraft classified as attrition reserve" may also change.

There are currently five Merlin, one Sea King and no Lynx helicopters held in attrition reserve. In addition to the one Sea King representing attrition reserve, there are 34 aircraft in storage which are provisionally allotted for disposal. Until the disposal point is reached these are also available for recovery if required.

Joint Strike Fighter

Mr. Bone: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the contract for the F35 joint strike fighter includes all the accompanying software, with particular reference to faults analysis software. [40924]

Mr. Ingram: The United Kingdom is a level 1 partner in the F35 Joint Strike Fighter programme and UK requirements are embedded in the contract. This includes all the software required to operate and maintain the aircraft, perform diagnostics and analyse faults.

Military Establishments (Incidents)

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he has taken to ensure that guidance on police primacy in investigating serious incidents at military establishments is circulated outside the police community. [26304]

Mr. Ingram: Guidance on 'The Reporting and Investigation of Crime and Other Disciplinary Offences in the Ministry of Defence, Armed Forces and Defence Estates in the United Kingdom' is contained within Defence Council Instruction (DCI) General 117/03.

The DCI, which is widely available in the MOD outside the police community, gives comprehensive and clear guidance to Commanding Officers/Heads of Establishment, the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP), the Service Police and others on police primacy and jurisdiction of all offences committed on and off military establishments.

The MDP also has a Protocol with the Home Department Police Forces (HDPF) which covers, among other things, primacy of investigations. This protocol is currently being renegotiated to include the Service Police.
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These documents have been supplemented by a further protocol between my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and the Association of Chief Police Officers, which reinforces the fact that primacy for investigating all deaths (and serious injury likely to prove fatal) of any person occurring on or in military establishments in the UK rest with the Chief Officer of the HDPF under whose jurisdiction the incident occurs.

Guidance has also been drafted which provides advice to non-police Service personnel regarding the action to be taken on discovering a serious incident. This guidance provides specific advice regarding crime-scene preservation and the reporting of incidents to the relevant police agencies that have primacy for dealing with the matter. This advice is currently in the final stages of the staffing process and will be disseminated widely in the very near future.

Ministerial Travel

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent in each year from 1 May 1997 on ministerial travel, broken down by (a) provision and running costs of vehicular transport, (b) first class travel by rail, (c) standard class travel by rail, (d) first class travel by air, (e) club or equivalent class travel by air and (f) economy class travel by air. [27662]

Mr. Touhig: All ministerial travel is undertaken in accordance with the rules set out in the Ministerial Code and Travel by Ministers, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

Within the Ministry of Defence, the ministerial car for the Secretary of State is provided by the Government Car and Despatch Service and all other ministerial cars are provided internally.

For Ministerial cars provided by the Government Car and Despatch Service, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office (Mr. Murphy) has asked Roy Burke, Chief Executive of the Government Car and Despatch Agency (GCDA) to write to the hon. Member with details of the costs of ministerial vehicles provided to Departments in 2004–05. Copies of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

For information for the financial years 2000–01 to 2003–04, I refer the hon. Member to the letters from the chief executive of the GCDA to the hon. Member for Buckingham (John Bercow) of 10 January 2005 and to the then hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Howard Flight) of 13 September 2003. Copies of these letters are available in the Library of the House.

For ministerial cars provided internally by the Ministry of Defence, the aggregate direct costs for each year since 1997 are as follows:
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It should be noted that the costs relate to the total expenditure incurred for each vehicle and include some costs incurred while supporting departmental staff other than Ministers. It is not practicable to break out the details, and they could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

For overseas travel by Ministers, since 1999 the Government have published an annual list of all visits overseas, costing £500 or more during each financial year, undertaken by Cabinet Ministers. The Government have also published annually the cost of all Ministers' visits overseas. Copies of the lists are available in the Library of the House. These report information for the financial years 1995–96 to 2004–05. Information for 2005–06 will be published as soon as it is ready after the end of the current financial year.

Information about other ministerial travel is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Troop Deployments

Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK troops he expects to be based in Northern Ireland at the end of 2006. [40316]

Mr. Ingram: As at the 30 November 2005 there were some 9,500 armed forces personnel (Navy, Army and RAF) stationed in Northern Ireland. I expect this number to reduce during 2006 as the armed forces move towards the permanent military garrison of no more than 5,000 by 1 August 2007, envisaged in the revised Annex to the Joint Declaration published by the Government last year. A structured plan for the reduction will be published by 31 March 2006.

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