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16 Feb 2006 : Column 2204W—continued

Tour de France

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will make a statement on the benefits to the UK of staging the grand depart of the 2007 Tour de France. [52402]

Mr. Caborn: The Tour de France is the world's largest annual sporting event. Transport for London who have been leading this project on behalf of the Mayor of London assess that there will be a number of benefits to the UK as a result of London winning the right to host the 2007 grand depart. These include a range of sporting benefits, such as a nationwide increase in cycling participation, an improvement in the health of the nation to help to combat obesity and enhancing the UK's reputation as a host of major international sporting events.

It is also expected the tour will generate an immediate economic benefit of an estimated £70 million through increased visitor numbers over the three day period.

Union Flag

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport under what authority the Department issues rules for flying the Union Flag on Government buildings; why such displays are limited to 18 days a year; and if she will make a statement. [52304]

Mr. Lammy: The Department for Culture, Media and Sport is responsible for issuing the rules for hoisting the Union Flag on Government buildings. The rules are approved by the Queen on advice from the Department.
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The Union Flag is flown on Government buildings to mark the Birthdays of members of the Royal Family undertaking official duties and specific national events including Remembrance Day, Europe Day, St. George's Day, Her Majesty's Accession and Wedding Day. The Union Flag is also flown on other occasions not listed in the rules, for example for State Visits, by special command from Her Majesty.

There are no plans at present to change this. However individuals and local authorities and other organisations can fly the Union Flag whenever they wish, subject to compliance with local planning requirements.



Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) nurses, (b) doctors and (c) dentists will accompany the deployment to Afghanistan. [50359]

Mr. Ingram: The medical element of the deployment to Afghanistan has been structured to satisfy the operational requirement. On current plans it will include 70 nurses, 21 doctors and three dentists. These will be supported by a further 79 medical staff and 107 support personnel. This requirement will be kept under review.

UK forces will also have access to multinational medical facilities based in Afghanistan.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the authorities in (a) Iran and (b) Pakistan on reducing the flow of (i)drugs, (ii) arms and (iii) unauthorised people from Pakistan to Afghanistan. [50360]

Dr. Howells: I have been asked to reply.

We have an ongoing dialogue with Iran and Pakistan on such issues. Our ambassador in Kabul most recently discussed these issues during a visit to Islamabad in February 2006. In May 2005 Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials met representatives of the Afghan and Iranian Ministries of Foreign Affairs in Kabul for trilateral consultations on counter-narcotics co-operation and regional economic co-operation. The Afghanistan/Pakistan/US Tripartite Commission regularly addresses a range of common security issues. Over 3.5 million refugees have returned to Afghanistan since 2001, the huge majority from Iran and Pakistan.

Aircraft Cannibalisation

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 30 January 2006, Official Report, column 29W, on aircraft cannibalisation, how many (a) C-130 Hercules, (b) Tristars, (c) VC-10s and (d) C-17A Globemaster aircraft have been taken out of service as a consequence of cannibalisations in each of the last three years. [51789]

Mr. Ingram: Cannibalisation is a recognised method of the removal of serviceable part(s) from an aircraft which is already unserviceable or due to enter scheduled engineering servicing, during which time the
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cannibalised parts will not be required. Only in exceptional circumstances would a serviceable aircraft be cannibalised.

In 2005, there were five instances where serviceable C130J Mk 5 aircraft were cannibalised to satisfy an immediate spares requirement for a C130J Mk 4 (stretched) aircraft as these were more appropriate for the operational task required at the time. For the C130K there were no instances of cannibalisation of serviceable aircraft in 2005. Records for both C130 J and K aircraft are not held for 2003 and 2004. Although information is held on the number of cannibalisation occurrences for Tristars, VC-10s and C-17A Globemaster aircraft, it does not record whether the losing aircraft was serviceable, unserviceable or in scheduled maintenance.


Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many rounds of ammunition were dumped because of quality issues in the last 12 months and from which (a) country of origin and (b) company such ordnance was supplied. [49175]

Mr. Ingram: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 25 January 2006, Official Report, column 2129W.

Disability (Armed Forces)

Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps the Government are taking to ensure the housing needs of former members of the armed forces who are disabled are met; and if he will make a statement. [49146]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

Members of the armed forces who are disabled may apply for housing to any local authority, and may also seek accommodation from a Registered Social Landlord. Housing authorities are responsible for setting their own allocation policies and procedures. However, they must ensure that their allocation scheme is framed so as to give reasonable preference to certain categories of persons, including people who need to move on medical and welfare grounds. Legislation has recently been amended to make clear that medical and welfare" includes grounds relating to a disability. In addition, some Registered Social Landlords specialise in housing people with disabilities; while others have been set up with the intention of housing ex-forces personnel.

Local authorities also provide a wide range of support services to help disabled people maintain independent lives in their own homes providing care services, aids, equipment and adaptations. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister contributes to the funding of these services through the payment of Supporting People programme grant to local authorities, which may be spent by the local authority on a range of housing related support services, and under the Disabled Facilities Grant scheme.

There is provision within the War Pensions Scheme to pay grants towards the cost of adapting the home of a severely disabled war pensioner where the need arises
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because of the pensioned disablement. This payment may be paid in addition to any local authority grant which might be made.

Service Leavers receive comprehensive briefings on housing and financial matters before returning to civilian life, including, if appropriate, advice from the Joint Service Housing Advice Office. In addition, the Veterans Agency provides a single point of contact within the MoD for veterans and their dependants seeking help and advice on a range of issues including housing.

Drug Seizures (Royal Navy)

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the major incidents of drug seizures by Royal Navy warships in each year since 1997; and if he will make a statement. [50576]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 15 February 2006]: Details of major drugs seizures carried out by the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary since 1997 are outlined in the table:
DateDrug seizures
April 1997HMS York4 tonnes cannabis
June 1997HMS Edinburgh3 tonnes cannabis
June 1998HMS Monmouth2 tonnes cannabis
September 2001HMS Coventry1 tonne cocaine
May 2003HMS Cumberland3.6 tonnes cocaine
July 2003HMS Iron Duke1.3 tonnes cocaine
October 2003HMS Manchester RFA Wave Knight1.1 tonnes cocaine
November 2004RFA Wave Ruler1.8 tonnes cocaine
January 2005RFA Wave Ruler1.8 tonnes cocaine
January 2005RFA Wave Ruler1.7 tonnes cocaine
October 2005HMS Cumberland1.9 tonnes cocaine
October 2005HMS Cumberland RFA Wave Knight1.3 tonnes cocaine
February 2006HMS Southampton RFA Grey Rover3 tonnes cocaine

This list includes only seizures over 1 tonne in weight. It does not include seizures in the Caribbean before 2000, for which data is not available. It also does not include drugs jettisoned by traffickers as a result of Royal Navy intervention.

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