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The Solicitor-General: CPS Cambridgeshire finalised 15,122 defendant cases in the magistrates courts in 200405. A conviction rate of 85.6 per cent. (against a national average of 80.8 per cent.) was achieved. The discontinuance rate in the magistrates court was 9.5 per cent. against a national rate of 12.5 per cent. The rate of unsuccessful outcomes, which includes discontinuances, cases dismissed after trial and other disposals, as a percentage of completed cases in the magistrates court was 14.4 per cent. (against a national percentage figure of 19.2 per cent.).
CPS Cambridgeshire finalised 1,259 defendant cases in the crown court. A conviction rate of 81.2 per cent. was achieved (against a national average of 75.8 per cent.). 9.9 per cent. of Crown court cases resulted in a judge ordered acquittal or discontinuance, compared with a national figure of 14.2 per cent. The rate of unsuccessful outcomes, which includes judge ordered acquittals, acquittals after trial and other disposals, as a percentage of completed cases in the Crown court was 18.8 per cent. (against a national percentage figure of 24.2 per cent.).
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the cases since 1997 in which all proceedings are complete where (a) military and (b) civil prosecutions have been brought against UK service personnel in respect of actions carried out on active service; what the (i) verdict and (ii) sentence imposed was in each case; and how many cases against UK personnel involving prosecution for actions carried out on active service are underway. 
Dr. Julian Lewis:
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the degree of liability for prosecution in respect of actions carried out by UK service personnel on active service when hostilities involving the United Kingdom (a) have and (b) have not been formally declared; 
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(2) to what extent and in what respects the applicability of the law on armed forces conflict is affected by whether the United Kingdom is combating (a) another country and (b) stateless insurgents and terrorists; 
(3) by what means the chain of command in the UK armed forces protects service personnel on active service from prosecution arising from mistakes made in the course of combat; and whether such measures are affected by the existence or otherwise of a formal declaration of hostilities. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 2 February 2006]: The chain of command protects service personnel by ensuring that they are properly trained and equipped, understand their duty and are deployed appropriately. Members of HM armed forces are always subject to military law, which comprises the criminal law of England and Wales and specified disciplinary offences. Court-martial proceedings will only take place after a decision to prosecute by the relevant service prosecuting authority who acts independently and objectively, after consideration of the available evidence.
Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements (a) are in place and (b) will be made in future for the embedding of journalists with United Kingdom armed forces in Afghanistan. 
Mr. Ingram: There are currently no embedded" journalists with UK armed forces in Afghanistan. As with other operational deployments, the Ministry of Defence will put in place appropriate arrangements to facilitate media access as outlined in 2MOD Working Arrangements With The Media For Use Throughout The Full Spectrum of Military Operations", more commonly known as The Green Book". This access will range from dealing with journalists who have travelled independently to the area, to MOD-organised visits for news and non-news media.
These arrangements agreed between the MOD and representative media organisations, were put in place following the experience of the Falklands Campaign, and have recently been revised in full consultation with the media following the most recent experience in Iraq and elsewhere. The Green Book is available on the MOD website.
Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether the (a) Harmony Guidelines and (b) Department public service agreement target 4 related to separated service will be breached as a result of troop deployments to Afghanistan. 
Although it is likely that the United Kingdom's planned deployment to Afghanistan in 2006 will result in a breach of the Harmony Guidelines in some areas, overall we judge that the impact on readiness for future operations is manageable.
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As the Ministry of Defence Public Service Agreement makes clear, the Department's ability to achieve Harmony Guidelines, including separated service assumptions, is dependent upon the level of operational activity the armed forces are asked to undertake, and must be taken together with other assessments to provide a comprehensive picture of the Department's performance.
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) C-130 Hercules, (b) Tristar, (c) VC-10 and (d) C-17A Globemaster aircraft British forces have; and how many of each are fit for purpose. 
Mr. Ingram: The following table shows the number of C-130 Hercules (K and J variants), Tristar, VC10 and C-17A Globemaster aircraft that are planned to be in service with the RAF at the end of the present financial year (financial year 200506). Aircraft are deemed Fit For Purpose (FFP) if they are available for tasking within a 24 hour period. Aircraft are not available for tasking if they are undergoing scheduled maintenance, modification programmes or any other unforeseen rectification work that can arise on a day to day basis. The figures do not reflect the fact that an aircraft assessed as not FFP may be returned to the front line at very short notice to meet the operational need.
|Numbers of aircraft FFP (average to date financial year 200506)(12)|
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the average number of operational flying hours an RAF (a) C-130 Hercules, (b) Tristar, (c) VC-10 and (d) C-17A Globemaster aircraft was in each of the last 12 months. 
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department has taken to help armed forces members strengthen their family relationships and avoid divorce; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Touhig: The Ministry of Defence pursues a range of policies aimed at helping personnel achieve a better balance between their work and their personal lives, where this can be done without affecting operational effectiveness. Our long term strategies seek to reduce pressure by lengthening tour intervals, improving career development and, through our future basing strategy delivering improved family stability throughout consecutive tours. We also provide access to a wide range of welfare services, where service families can go for advice and support at all times. We maintain close links with mediation and support organisations such as RELATE to help ensure that additional specialist support is made available whenever required.
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