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23 Jan 2006 : Column 1712W—continued

British Infantry

14. Stephen Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the adequacy and availability of British infantry to fulfil additional urgent deployments. [44081]

Mr. Ingram: Our plans ensure that we have forces of appropriately high readiness, including the Infantry, in place to meet urgent contingent operations.

Military Equipment (Complaints)

15. Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will make a statement on the complaints by troops concerning military equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan. [44082]

Mr. Ingram: Our troops are among the best in the world at what they do and I am determined that they should continue to receive the equipment they need to carry out the tasks they are given.

In general, our equipment continues to perform well in extremely demanding environments and the number of complaints we receive from troops reflects this. Learning from experience is a vital element in achieving this aim. This is why there is an established system for collating information about the performance of military equipment on operations. This provides valuable feedback from the front line enabling rapid action to be taken to correct defects and to improve reliability.


16. Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will make a statement on the training the UK is giving to Iraqi security forces. [44083]

John Reid: The United Kingdom is engaged in a number of training initiatives with the Iraqi security forces in Multi National Division (South East) and in Baghdad to enable the Iraqi Government to progressively take on responsibility for security.

18. Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many mobilised reservists are deployed in Iraq in each of the three services. [44085]

John Reid: There are currently around 700 reservists deployed in Iraq. This figure comprises: over 650 Army reserves; 28 Royal Air Force reserves; and 20 Royal Marine reserves.

19. Mr. Ingram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will make a statement on the location of new regimental headquarters. [44086]

Mr. Ingram: As the hon. Member may be aware, there is an ongoing study into the future of infantry regimental headquarters. It is too early to speculate on what the outcomes of this review will be, but we expect to make a decision in the spring.

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 19 December 2005, Official Report, column 2342W, on Iraq, what are the names of the individuals suspected of being responsible for the deaths of the six members of the Royal military police. [44128]

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Mr. Ingram: It would be inappropriate to provide this information. The release of such information could prejudice the central criminal court of Iraq's ongoing investigation.

Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many neurologists were employed by his Department in 2003; and how many were deployed with Operation Telic. [44218]

Mr. Touhig: In 2003, two neurologists were members of our Reserve Forces, one of whom was deployed as part of a neurosurgical team from 1 March to 18 May 2003.

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what studies have been undertaken by his Department of the effects of depleted uranium on (a) Coalition forces, (b) Iraqi forces and (c) civilians in Iraq since May 2003; and if he will make a statement. [44461]

Mr. Ingram: Information on the Ministry of Defence Depleted Uranium research programme was announced to the House on 14 March 2002, Official Report, columns 1179–80W. A more detailed description of the research has been published on the Departmental website ( In addition to this, in June 2003, MOD scientists completed a preliminary technical assessment of a number of Iraqi tanks thought to have been struck by DU rounds. Very low levels of DU were found in the vicinity of and on the tanks. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given in another place by my noble Friend the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Defence (Lord Bach) on 26 May 2004, Official Report, column196WA. Biological monitoring has also been carried out on several hundred UK troops and civilians involved in operations in Iraq. No DU was detected in anyone other than a small number of personnel who received shrapnel injuries in an incident involving friendly fire.

This research is not specifically directed at examining the effects on Iraqis as the health of the Iraqi people is primarily the responsibility of their Government. However, as announced in the House on 29 January 2001, Official Report, column 61W, in relation to operations in the Balkans, the UK will provide help and advice to assist the relevant authorities to decide what action, if any, is needed. This also applies to Iraq. As part of this commitment, MOD has provided United Nations Environment Programme with information on its use of DU munitions in Iraq in 2003 and with a report of its monitoring activities in June 2003.

Defence Training

20. Mr. McFadden: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent representations he has received on the future of defence training; and if he will make a statement. (44087)

Mr. Touhig: The Defence Training Review is a complex programme with many stakeholders and interested parties. I have received many representations but as I have said in previous replies, a rigorous evaluation of bid proposals is currently under way.
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Landing Ships Dock (Auxiliary) Project

21. Philip Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent progress there has been on the Landing Ships Dock (Auxiliary) project; and if he will make a statement. [44088]

Mr. Ingram: The Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliary) project continues to make progress towards the completion of the four bay class vessels. RFA Mounts Bay, the first ship built by BAE Systems in Glasgow, was accepted off contract on 15 December 2005 and is now undergoing her capability trials in readiness for meeting her in-service date in late 2006. Build and testing continues on the remaining three ships.

Joint Combat Aircraft Project

22. Mr. Jack: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he last discussed the UK's participation in the joint combat aircraft project with his US counterpart. [44089]

Mr. Ingram: Regular discussions take place at all levels with the US Administration on all aspects of the joint combat aircraft project. Ministry of Defence and other Ministers continue to raise project issues during their discussions with key members of the US Administration.

Future Aircraft Carriers

23. Mr. Quentin Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the new aircraft carrier programme. [44090]

Mr. Ingram: As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 14 December, we have taken major steps forward in our plans for the Future Aircraft Carriers.

We have completed the detailed assessment work and have committed to the £300 million demonstration phase.

An innovative shipbuilding strategy has been agreed which is central to our Defence Industrial Strategy with separate super blocks" built at four yards and final assembly at Rosyth.

This will create and sustain some 10,000 jobs in the United Kingdom.

We are on course to provide the UK armed forces with the largest and most powerful warships ever constructed in the UK, and an expeditionary capability unparalleled outside of the US.

Mr. Sanders: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects orders to be placed for the two CVF aircraft carriers; and if he will make a statement. [43632]

Mr. Ingram: Plans to acquire two new future aircraft carriers (CVF) are progressing well following the transition into the Demonstration Phase announced on 14 December 2005. The Demonstration Phase will deliver a mature design, provide more detailed cost definition, reduce risk and produce a contractual framework that will allow a decision to be made to commit to manufacture.
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