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16 Feb 2006 : Column 2207W—continued

Halal Meat

David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to ensure that serving members of the (a) Army, (b) Navy and (c) Royal Air Force who are Muslim are offered halal meat. [52035]

Mr. Touhig: In accordance with the United Kingdom legislation and Government guidelines, HM forces cater for all personnel irrespective of gender, race, religious belief, medical requirements and committed lifestyle choices.

Halal meat is purchased from approved sources, as and when there is an identified need. Additionally, to ensure that serving Muslims are appropriately fed when on operations, the Ministry of Defence provides a halal variant of its Operational Ration Pack.
16 Feb 2006 : Column 2208W

Merchant Fleet

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the number of merchant (a) ships and (b) seafarers available to provide strategic support at times of national emergency. [51299]

Mr. Ingram: Historically, the number of merchant ships, including militarily useful vessels, and seafarers is monitored by the Department for Transport. Currently, for movement by sea, strategic support is provided to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) through the Private Finance Initiative Strategic Sealift Service, which comprises up to six British flagged Roll-On/Roll-Off vessels, manned by British officers and crews.

Should, during a national emergency or on any other occasion, demand for sealift exceed the capacity of the Strategic Sealift Service, suitable merchant ships would be chartered from the commercial market to fulfil the requirement. Over the past five years experience has shown that there is sufficient merchant shipping available to meet the needs of the MOD.

Mr. Brazier: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the (a) names and (b) flags of merchant shipping chartered or used by his Department in each year since 2000. [51300]

Mr. Ingram: The information requested has been placed in the Library of the House. The list mainly comprises dry cargo and Roll-On/Roll-Off vessels, however, information on specialist ships chartered during financial years (FY) 2004–05 and 2005–06 (to date) is included. Information on specialist ships chartered during earlier years is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Military Explosive

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence from what source tri amino trinitro benzene will be obtained following the planned closure of the Royal Ordnance Factory, Bridgwater. [51582]

Mr. Ingram: Decisions on sourcing tri amino trinitro benzene are principally a commercial matter for BAE Systems Land Systems.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what sales of military explosive from the Royal Ordnance Factory, Bridgwater have been made to the United States in each of the last five years; and what representations have been made to his Department by the United States concerning the future of the factory. [51583]

Mr. Ingram: The sale of military explosives by BAE Systems Land Systems to the USA is a commercial matter for the company. No representations have been made by the United States Government to the MOD concerning the future of BAE Systems Land Systems' Bridgwater facility.

Residual Vapour Detectors

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which company manufactured the 4,000 sets of residual vapour detectors used in Operation Telic. [52436]

16 Feb 2006 : Column 2209W

Mr. Ingram: Records are no longer held of which manufacturer originally supplied the 4,000 Residual Vapour Detector kits held in central stock for Operation TELIC. However, all 4,000 kits were refurbished by Richmond Packaging Limited under a contract awarded in February 2003.

RFA Argus

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 8 February 2006, Official Report, column 1240W on the Joint Casualty Treatment Ship, whether the possibility of not replacing RFA Argus has been ruled out. [51586]

Mr. Ingram: No decisions on the future provision of a deployed maritime medical capability will be made until the review of the Joint Casualty Treatment Ship programme has been completed, and the results considered in the Ministry of Defence's next planning round.

Royal Navy

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what average number of days was spent at sea by Royal Navy service personnel in (a) 2005, (b) 1995 and (c) 1985. [51412]

Mr. Touhig: This information is not held centrally in the format requested. I will write to the hon. Member with the information that is available and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Senior Officers

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) air commodores and (b) air marshals were on the active list in the RAF in each year since 1997; and what the total strength of the RAF was in each year. [50182]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 13 February 2006]: The numbers of Air Commodores and Air Marshals on the active list in the Royal Air Force each year since 1997 and the strength of the RAF in each year are shown in the following table.
Air CommodoresAir MarshalsTrained strengthUntrained strengthTotal strength
April 1997905054,2002,67056,870
April 1998905052,6803,17055,840
April 1999804051,7603,45055,210
April 2000805050,9903,72054,720
April 2001905049,8503,85053,700
April 2002804048,9104,09053,000
April 2003805048,5404,70053,240
April 2004805048,7404,65053,390
April 2005804048,8503,02051,870
December 2005704047,4702,18049,640

1. Personnel on the active list of the RAF are those currently serving who have completed phase one training. Additionally, former Marshals of the RAF, Chiefs of Air Staff and Vice-Chiefs of Defence Staff who have retired are included on the active list. This accounts for between five and 10 over the period.
2. Air Marshals includes the ranks of Air Vice-Marshal, Air Marshal and Air Chief Marshal.
3. Regular Strengths exclude full-time reserve service and Mobilised Reservist.
4. All figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. Figures ending in 5 have been rounded to the nearest multiple of 20.

16 Feb 2006 : Column 2210W


Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his estimate is of the number of ships to be built under the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability programme; and if he will make a statement. [50578]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 15 February 2006]: I refer the hon. Member to the Written Ministerial Statement I gave on 14 February 2006, Official Report, column 74WS. The Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability project is still in the early stages of its Assessment Phase and it is therefore too early to say how many ships will be built or what the final designs and specifications for these vessels might be. We will use the assessment phase to look into the potential options before any decisions are made at the main gate investment point.

Territorial Army

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the Territorial Army (a) establishment and (b) strength is for (i) 2nd lieutenants, (ii) lieutenants, (iii) captains, (iv) majors and (v) lieutenant colonels. [50933]

Mr. Touhig: The strengths of the requested Territorial Army (TA) Officer ranks are shown in the following table. The TA establishment is not defined by individual rank.
Strength of TA Officers as at 1 January 2006

2nd Lieutenants590
Lieutenant Colonels350

1. Figures include TA and Mobilised TA.
2. Figures exclude non-regular permanent staff (NRPS) and full-time reserve service (FTRS).
3. Figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

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