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Gulf Veterans

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what funding has been received by the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme in each year since 1993. [64762]

Mr. Touhig: Information on the funding of the Gulf Veterans' Medical Assessment Programme (GVMAP) from 1993 is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, for the financial year 2005–06 the cost of running the GVMAP was in the region of £150,000. This figure included accommodation, staffing and patient travel costs.

Land Assessment (Cotswolds)

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his planned land quality assessment programme is for sites within the Cotswold District. [64649]

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Mr. Touhig: The Ministry of Defence is committed to a programme that will achieve a minimum of a phase one desk-top land quality assessment for all of the defence estate in the United Kingdom by the end of 2007.

There are no sites of particular concern in the Cotswold area.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on how many of his Department's sites within the Cotswold District land contamination assessments have been undertaken; and what the findings were in each case. [64650]

Mr. Touhig: This information is not held centrally and will take time to collate. I will therefore write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his communication strategy is for providing information to the public on sites of concern in the Cotswold District, with particular reference to Aston Down; and what steps his Department has taken to prevent public access to such sites. [64651]

Mr. Touhig: As the Ministry of Defence does not have any sites for concern in the Cotswold District there is no need for a communication strategy for any site in the area.

With regards to Aston Down a communication strategy was developed by MOD together with the current site owners. This reflected specific public interest in the site.

There is a presumption in favour of public access to the defence estate, wherever this is compatible with operational and military training uses, public safety, security, conservation and the interests of our tenants. Aston Down was sold in February 2002 and public access is a matter for the new owners.

Ministry of Defence Stores

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 20 January 2006, Official Report, column 1650–1W, on Ministry of Defence stores, why no financial recoveries were received in the first half of the financial year 2000–01. [65219]

Mr. Ingram: [holding answer 24 April 2006]: From October 1999, the process for pursuing such financial recoveries was de-centralised within the Ministry of Defence. During a period of transition to the new process, no recoveries were notified centrally as being attributable to the first half of 2000–01. To gather the information on recoveries made during this period could only be done at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Nick Pope

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 18 April 2006 to Question 63392, on Mr Nick Pope, if he will list the persons employed since 1994 to investigate unidentified aerial phenomena. [65363]

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Mr. Touhig: Mr Pope was succeeded in post in July 1994 by Miss Kerry Philpott who filled the post until October 1998. This post was vacant for a period and the task of examining reports of unidentified aerial phenomena to establish whether they contained anything of defence significance was covered by a member of support staff, Miss Gaynor South, until the post was filled by Mr Adrian Nash in January 1999. Mr Nash left the post in October 1999 and these duties were again covered by Miss South until the present incumbent of the post, Mrs Linda Unwin, took up office in February 2000.

Submarines (Pollution)

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 19 December 2005, Official Report, column 505W, on Southampton Docks, what assessment he has made of the environmental impact of the Z berth in Southampton hosting a visit from a Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine, with particular reference to reactor cooling water discharges; and if he will make a statement. [64785]

Mr. Ingram: The discharge of reactor coolant water from RN nuclear-powered submarines at Z berths is not permitted. These submarines are operated in accordance with the relevant environmental protection legislation, national and international treaties and protocols. The environmental impact of their presence at a Z berth is therefore no greater than that for a commercial ship.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) Environmental Sciences Department monitors the level of radioactive pollution on foreshores close to the locations of Z berths as part of its wider marine environmental survey programme, and the findings are published annually.

Trial Bishop Report

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make the Trial Bishop report available to members of the Defence Select Committee; if he will place a copy of the report in the Library; and if he will make a statement. [65099]

Mr. Ingram: The Trial Bishop report contains information that if released could prejudice the safety and security of UK armed forces. Therefore it would not be in the public interest for a copy of the report to be placed in the Library of the House at this time. I will consider a separate request from the Defence Committee in the usual way.

Ulster Defence Regiment

Mr. Donaldson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will consider establishing a fund to support the widows and children of Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers who lost their lives as a result of terrorist violence in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. [65930]

Mr. Ingram [holding answer 25 April 2006]: The possibility of establishing an Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) widows' fund on the basis that they were disadvantaged compared with similar RUC widows was examined by the Ministry of Defence, culminating in a comprehensive analysis in July 2005.
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This study indicated that post-1974 UDR widows were no worse off than their RUC counterparts and most are somewhat better off. The pre-1974 widows of part-time soldiers were slightly worse off when their main pension and compensation benefits are compared to that of their counterparts. However, the comparison did not take into account a number of other factors. For example, armed forces occupational widows pensions are paid for life and war widows pensions and special payments are paid tax-free and disregarded when calculating income-related and housing benefits. If these factors were taken into account case by case, the UDR widows would generally not be worse off than their RUC counterparts.

Should there be any individual hardship cases, those concerned would be eligible for assistance either from the UDR Benevolent Fund or through the Royal Irish Regiment Welfare Staff, but there are no plans to establish a separate fund on the lines suggested.


Construction Industry Training Board

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills whether Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) funding for on-site assessment and training in construction will be subject to the full oversight of the committees and board of the CITB; and if she will make a statement. [65753]

Phil Hope: CITB-ConstructionSkills funding for the On-Site Assessment and Training Programme (OSAT) is provided through its annual grants scheme which I can confirm is subject to the scrutiny of CITB Board and its relevant sub-committees.

Mr. Prisk: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions her officials have had with officials of the Construction Industry Training Board on future initiatives on on-site assessment and training. [65754]

Phil Hope: The On-Site Assessment and Training Programme (OSAT) underpins the construction industry's drive to qualify the whole of its site work force and is a key component of the Sector Skills Agreement published in 2005 by CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Sector Skills Council covering the construction industry.

The aim of the programme is to qualify 250,000 adults to Level 2 through this route, with almost 62,000 achievements to date and over 29,000 registrations in 2005. Future projections are stretching, and to achieve the aim of a fully skilled construction work force it is important that OSAT remains a key focus for the industry and for the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), who plan and fund all post-16 provision of publicly funded training.

OSAT is one of only a small number of LSC funding priorities, and my officials have recently been in discussion with colleagues from both the LSC and CITB-CS to ensure that OSAT remains central to LSC planning and that the programme is effectively supported and funded.
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