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9 Mar 2006 : Column 1692W—continued

Astute Class Submarines

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the Answer of 27 February 2006, Official Report, columns 7–8W, on Astute class submarines, what the reasons are for (a) the increases in cost and (b) the delay in delivery; and if he will make a statement. [56226]

Mr. Ingram: The increase in costs and delay to the delivery of the Astute programme stem primarily from problems that arose from the application of Computer Aided Design (CAD) techniques. Due to the complexity of the programme, the benefits that CAD was envisaged to provide were more difficult to realise than either MOD or the contractor had assumed. These problems were addressed with the contractor and an agreement, placing incentives on the company to perform, was negotiated and a contract amendment signed on 17 December 2003.

Child Support Agency

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many deductions of earnings requests were received from the Child Support Agency by each of the armed forces in the most recent three years for which figures are available; and how many requests were complied with (a) in full and (b) in part by each service. [55260]

Mr. Touhig: The table records the numbers of Deductions from Earnings Requests (DER) processed by the Armed Forces Personnel Administration Agency (AFPAA) for Service personnel in each of the three Services for the three years 2003–2005.
 
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Deductions from earnings

RNArmyRAFTotal
2003541236531343
20041051667711843
200521116981352044
Total37046012595230

Statistics for the number of requests that were applied in full and in part are not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. However, DERs are only applied less than fully if to do so would reduce a Service person's pay below the established Minimum Rate of Pay. Since DERs are applied before deductions for any other reason relatively few are applied less than fully.

Dr. Pugh: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria the Department used in taking the decision on how to treat Child Support Agency claims on service personnel in relation to deduction of earnings. [56481]

Mr. Touhig: Service personnel are not subject to deduction from earnings orders because they are already subject to deductions from earnings for a variety of reasons under other legislation. In practice, the Ministry of Defence applies deductions from earnings requests in exactly the same way as orders, subject to ensuring that such deductions do not reduce a service person's pay below the established minimum rate of pay. Deductions from pay for child maintenance are applied before any other deductions. The MOD has an understanding with the Child Support Agency for administering deductions from earnings requests.

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what impact the deployment of Defence Science and Technology Laboratory staff to Iraq has had on the work of the Laboratory in the UK. [44187]

Mr. Ingram: Supporting operations, including those in Iraq, is one of DSTL's principal roles: since its formation in 2001 the laboratory has continuously supported a wide range of operations both overseas and for homeland security. This capability is based on DSTL's ability to draw on the entire organisations S&Tbase to provide the best advice and solutions. Supporting operations is afforded a high priority, and the short-notice and fluctuating nature of the demand means that it has to be managed in consultation with DSTL's MOD customers.

Defence Vetting Agency

Mr. Lancaster: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to improve the Defence Vetting Agency's basic security check. [49748]

Mr. Ingram: The Defence Vetting Agency operates within guidelines set by the Cabinet Office, and constantly seeks ways to improve the vetting process. The DVA is at the forefront of Government security vetting process and working practice improvements and is taking a strong lead in the development and introduction of e-vetting. The introduction, this year, of a suite of new scannable security application forms is a first step towards a solution to allow vetting subjects to
 
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complete and submit security clearance applications using the internet, leading to a much more efficient process.

Discharged Personnel (Social Housing)

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his assessment is of the ability of service personnel (a) in each service and (b) of each rank to afford (i) a mortgage and (ii) privately-rented accommodation on discharge. [56369]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 6 March 2006]: The ability to afford mortgage repayments or rental chargesobviously depends on individual circumstances. Because of this, a detailed assessment of affordability by rank and service cannot be made. However, we provide an excellent pay and pension package for service personnel, together with extensive advice on housing options and an interest-free loan scheme.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the housing needs of (a) Army, (b) RAF and (c) Royal Navy personnel on discharge. [56377]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 6 March 2006]: Housing needs are reflected in schemes such as long service advance of pay and advice provided through the Joint Services Housing Advice Office. The Defence Housing Strategy is being reviewed as part of the Defence Living Accommodation Strategy (DLAS), which provides a comprehensive approach with a focus on private housing options to meet societal changes and the smooth transition to civilian life.

Eurofighter

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the (a) reliability and (b) suitability of the computer system installed on Eurofighter jets. [53743]

Mr. Ingram: The Typhoon has a substantial number of inter-linked computers, all of which are tested individually, as sub-systems, and as an entity during aircraft acceptance. The ability of the individual computer systems to provide computing power for the other systems if they malfunction means that Typhoon systems are inherently very reliable, safe, and suitable for the operation of this aircraft.

Gershon Review

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the implications of the Gershon Review for staffing levels in the Defence Export Services Organisation. [56730]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 7 March 2006]: Staffing levels in the Defence Export Services Organisation are regularly reviewed as part of normal management procedures. Posts saved in 2005–06, and any further posts saved in the next two financial years, will contribute to the departmental target for civilian and military manpower reductions that was agreed in the 2004 Spending Review, following the Gershon Review of Public Sector Efficiency.
 
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Infantry Regiments

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the recruitment figures for each of the Scottish infantry regiments were for each month in 2005; and how many of those who completed their training went to the regiment of their choice. [55909]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 3 March 2006]: The Army does not recruit soldiers into particular regiments but instead recruit to the three infantry career employment
 
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groups (Line, Para and the Guards). While some soldier recruits specify a particular Preferred Capbadge" on enlisting, infantry personnel are not recruited into or allocated a regiment until near completion of their training. Officers are allocated an arm/service/regiment during or on completion of their commission course at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). Therefore the following table shows the gains to the trained strength of the six Scottish infantry regiments in each month during 2003.
Trained intake of officers and soldiers into the Infantry Scottish Division during 2003

Date of flowUnspecifiedRSRHFKOSBBWHLDRSA & SHTotal
2003
January55(15)(15)(16)(15)(15)(16)65
February(15)5(15)(15)(15)5525
March(15)(15)5510(16)1035
April5055(15)5(15)575
May30(15)10(15)(15)(15)555
June5(15)(15)(15)(16)(15)(16)15
July10(15)(15)(15)10(16)(15)25
August(15)1010(15)(15)(15)540
September510(15)(15)10(16)(15)35
October5(15)(15)(15)(15)(15)(15)20
November105101520102090
December1055555(15)45


(15)Indicates a non zero value which is less than 5.
(16)Indicates a value of zero.
Notes:
1.Figures have been rounded to the nearest 5. Totals and sub-totals have been rounded separately and so may not appear to be the sum of their parts.
2.Figures do not include Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS), Gurkhas or Mobilised Reservists. The information relates to the flows of UK Trained Regular Army Personnel in the Scottish regiments, regardless of whether they serve away from the main body of the regiment, this does not include other arms/services attached to the regiments.
3.Soldiers joining the infantry are not allocated to a particular regiment until completion of training at the Infantry Training Centre (Catterick). Officers are allocated a regiment on completion of their commissioning course at RMAS. Therefore the table includes those officers and soldiers who joined the Scottish regiments on completion of training. It will also include direct entries to the trained strength, such as trained re-entrants.
4.The aforementioned figures will include those individuals who have entered the trained strength with an intake code from illegal absence", flowing either from untrained to trained or directly to trained strength. These figures may therefore appear different to other published figures.
5.The table includes an 'Unspecified' Regiment, this is where soldiers have not yet been assigned to a specific Scots Div Infantry Regiment on their Record of Service.
6.RS—Royal Scots , RHF—Royal Highland Fusiliers, KOSB—Kings Own Scottish Borderers, BW—Black Watch, HLDRS—Highlanders and A & SH—Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
7.Figures exclude colonels and above.




It is not possible to determine how many personnel went to the regiments of their choice, as this information is not held centrally on the administration system used in the production of these statistics.

Stewart Hosie: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the recruitment targets were for each division of infantry (a) as at 1 January 2003 and (b) in each quarterly since January 2003; and what percentage of the targets have been met. [55910]

Mr. Touhig [holding answer 3 March 2006]: The Army does not recruit soldiers into Infantry Divisions, but instead recruits to the three Infantry Career Employment Groups (Line, Para and the Guards). Officers are only allocated a Regiment on completion of their Commissioning Course at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). Therefore recruitment figures and targets for Infantry Divisions are unavailable.

The following table shows the gains to the trained strength of each Infantry Division for each quarter since 1 January 2003 to 31 December 2005.
Flows during qtrFootguardsScots DivQueens DivKings DivPOW DivLight DivParaOthersTotal
1 January to 31 March 20039012014013014012010020870
1 April to 30 June 200312014018016018012060401,000
1 July to 30 September 200320010017015016012080301,020
1 October to 31 December 2003150160160170180120100401,080
1 January to 31 March 20041801201401401601104030910
1 April to 30 June 20041501601601501501006030970
1 July to 30 September 2004130120170130180704030870
1 October to 31 December 2004140140130170130907020890
1 January to 31 March 200590606060704060(17)440
1 April to 30 June 2005110140140130160905020830
1 July to 30 September 2005130100110110110807020720
1 October to 31 December 20057011090110110904020640




(17)Indicates a value of zero or rounded to zero.
Notes:
1. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 10. Totals and sub-totals have been rounded separately and so may not appear to be the sum of their parts.
2.Figures do not include Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS), Gurkhas or Mobilised Reservists. The information relates to the flows of UK Trained Regular Army Personnel in the Scottish Regiments, regardless of whether they serve away from the main body of the Regiment, this does not include other Arms/Services attached to the Regiments.
3.Soldiers joining the Infantry are not allocated to a particular Regiment until completion of training at the Infantry Training Centre (Catterick). Officers are allocated a Regiment on completion of their Commissioning Course at RMAS. Therefore the table includes those officers and soldiers who joined the Scottish Regiments on completion of training. It will also include direct entries to the trained strength, such as trained re-entrants.
4.The above figures will include those individuals who have entered the trained strength with an intake code from illegal absence", flowing either from untrained to trained or directly to trained strength. These figures may therefore appear different to other published figures.
5.POW Div=Prince of Wales Division.
6.'Other' includes, Royal Irish (General Service), Regular Army Gurkha Officers etc.
7.Figures exclude Colonels and above.





 
9 Mar 2006 : Column 1697W
 


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