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Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to his answer of 19 December 2005, Official Report, column 2341W, on HMS Sheffield, what the timetable is for completion of the departmental review of HMS Sheffield; and what the reasons are for the length of time being taken for the review. 
The Departmental review is still ongoing but is expected to be completed by spring. Once it is complete I will write to the hon. Member to advise him
13 Feb 2006 : Column 1584W
of the timetable for releasing documents relating to the Board of Inquiry into the loss of HMS Sheffield into the public domain. The BOI report and its associated annexes runs to over 3,000 pages and its disclosure raises many complex issues, including the duty of care to the crew and next of kin, and the need to protect personal data under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998. Of necessity, therefore, the review that is in hand is a lengthy process.
Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 31 January 2006, Official Report, column 318W, on identity cards, whether his Department has finalised its estimates of the cost of using the Identity Cards Scheme to support the services which it oversees. 
Mr. Touhig: The payment of incapacity benefit is a matter for the Department for Work and Pensions. Former service personnel who are incapable of working due to an illness or injury caused by service before 6 April 2005 may receive an unemployability allowance from the Ministry of Defence and are precluded from receiving incapacity benefit. Any personnel categorised as medically downgraded are still on the Ministry of Defence pay roll and would not be eligible for incapacity benefit.
Mr. Ingram: At the peak of the UK troop commitment in Iraq, there were some 46,000 British forces personnel committed to Operation Telic. The figures in the following table record the numbers deployed (rounded to the nearest hundred) on the last day of each month since then. Around 15 per cent. of the troops on Operation Telic will be stationed outside Iraq, supporting the operation from aboard ships, or from airfields or other bases outside the country.
|As at end (date)||Troops on Telic|
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 9 February 2006]: There are three types of body armour used on Operation Telic. Enhanced combat body armour has been standard issue for all troops. Over 3,000 sets of enhanced personal protection equipment (known as 'Kestrel') have been issued to 'top cover' sentries. Following recent successful trials, the first 200 of over 9,000 sets of the improved performance body armour ('Osprey') have been despatched this month, with the remainder due in theatre by May.
Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions the UK has had with the US Administration in the last six months on (a) the cost of and (b) technology transfer in relation to the Joint Strike Fighter project. 
The United Kingdom's contribution remains fixed at $2 billion for the current system development and demonstration phase of the programme. There is regular dialogue with the United States Administration on the potential costs of the follow-on sustainment phase of the programme and technology transfer. The US Administration are aware of our requirements for the necessary Joint Strike Fighter technical information to meet our sovereign requirements. These will need to be satisfied before we are able to commit to the next phase of the project.
13 Feb 2006 : Column 1586W
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) which military explosives will continue to be manufactured in the United Kingdom following proposed closures of former Royal Ordnance factories; 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 9 February 2006]: As set out in the Defence Industrial Strategy, we aim to retain a substantive and flexible capability in the final stages of the general munitions manufacturing process, specifically fill, assemble and pack. We do not, however, consider it necessary to retain all aspects of bulk explosives manufacture in the UK; although we do intend to retain a capability in the manufacture of Polymer Bonded Explosives (PBX) for artillery ammunition and demolition explosives on shore. PBX will continue to be manufactured at the BAE Systems Land Systems (BAES LS) facility at Glascoed following implementation of the company's recently announced rationalisation plans.
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 9 February 2006]: As set out in the recently published Defence Industrial Strategy the MOD's long-term plans for general munitions are being taken forward through Project MASS (Munitions Acquisition, The Supply Solution), which seeks to ensure long term security of supply for general munitions and deliver value for money.
Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of work being carried out at the former Chorley Royal Ordnance site for his Department's contracts. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 9 February 2006]: BAE Systems Land Systems is responsible for the security of supply of items currently manufactured at Chorley and will remain so after the closure of the site. Detailed plans on how they intend to achieve this without impacting on their delivery of existing contracts have been provided to MOD and we remain confident in their ability to do so. These plans are, however, commercial in nature and it would not be to the benefit of the company or MOD to release them.
Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the formal visits undertaken by official Opposition spokespersons which were funded by his Department over the last two years. 
|Date of visit||Member of Parliament||Place visited|
|*1718 December 2003||The right hon. Nicholas Soames MP||Accompanied Minister of State for the Armed Forces to Iraq|
|2 March 2004||The right hon. Nicholas Soames MP||HQ Brussels|
|4 March 2004||The right hon. Nicholas Soames MP||RAF Cranwell|
|17 June 2004||Paul Keetch MP||Hereford Cocktail Party|
|1 July 2004||The right hon. Nicholas Soames MP||Tidworth|
|6 July 2004||The right hon. Nicholas Soames MP||PJHQ|
|17 November 2004||The right hon. Nicholas Soames MP||Defence Procurement Agency|
|2223 November 2005||The right hon. Michael Ancram MP||Afghanistan|
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