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Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what circumstances political clearance is required by UK forces in Afghanistan before engaging in military action. [67537]

John Reid: The Chief of Defence Staffs Directive, along with secondary directives and the Rules of Engagement, provide the political guidance and clearance under which UK forces operate in Afghanistan.

Clearance for a particular course of military action is delegated down to the lowest appropriate level.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what evidence he has of co-operation between Afghans engaged in the opium trade and insurgents. [67538]

John Reid: There are reports that Taliban have been encouraging Afghan farmers to grow opium poppy and offering protection to farmers against eradication of their poppy crop. I am not however aware of conclusive evidence of a direct link between drug traffickers and the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan, although both benefit from instability.

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether UK armed forces in Afghanistan have authority to seek to prevent insurgents and terrorists crossing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. [67540]

John Reid: Responsibility for the security of national borders rests with the Pakistan and Afghanistan security forces respectively. I am withholding details of authorised support by UK forces for border operations as it would risk operational security and could endanger the lives of our forces.

Children's Services

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many nursery and creche places are provided for people working in his Department; what charges are made for the provision of such services; and what other facilities are provided for the children of employees of his Department. [67370]

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Mr. Touhig: The Ministry of Defence provides the following childcare support for its civilian and military employees:

Within MOD responsibility for childcare is delegated to the main budget areas. Initial funding can be from a variety of sources:

The business case then determines how much direct or indirect subsidy the MOD gives.

MOD nurseries are usually run by contractors, as commercial enterprises. Charges vary and competitive rates occur where indirect subsidies in the form of a peppercorn rent are provided. In addition about 10 per cent. of the nurseries offer direct subsidies, which can reduce the fees by around a third. Some play schemes also receive direct subsidies.

MOD's four voucher schemes provide employees with varying amounts of support, ranging from a flat rate £50 for after school care and £75 for pre-school care per month in Liverpool to around a third of actual costs on a sliding scale for the registered care of their choice in Glasgow, Rosyth and for DSTL staff. These schemes offer the advantage of supporting parents to make their own choices about where and what type of childcare support they want for their child. In total the four voucher schemes cost the Department circa £30,000 a month.

No further information regarding the charges to parents and MOD's contribution towards the costs of childcare schemes is held centrally and it could be provided only at disproportionate cost.


Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether his Department pays a contract premium to civilian people who face daily risks when trying to deliver the reconstruction effort in troubled parts of Iraq; and if he will make a statement. [66767]

John Reid: All defence contracts in Multi-National Division (South East) are subject to a rigorous application procedure to ensure that we obtain the best value for money. The decision on whether or not to pay contract workers a risk premium is entirely a matter for the individual companies concerned.
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Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence under what conditions civilian personnel serving in Iraq are eligible for the Operation Telic medal. [67775]

Mr. Touhig: The Iraq medal is a Ministry of Defence medal. Civilian personnel serving in Iraq are eligible to receive the medal, provided they are sent to Iraq by the Ministry of Defence; work in direct support of the military, and meet the stipulated eligibility criteria.

Rules of Engagement

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the Rules of Engagement or equivalent instructions for troops engaged in (a) counter-insurgency, (b) counter-terrorism and (c) peacekeeping operations indicating the (i) similarities and (ii) differences between them. [67536]

John Reid: Rules of Engagement (ROE) govern the use of force by UK forces. ROE are provided for all operations and tailored to the specific task and operational environment to ensure a proportionate response to events. It is a long-standing policy that we do not release the details of ROE. To do so could hand an advantage to opponents and prejudice the safety and capabilities of UK forces.

Troop Deployment (Iraq/Afghanistan)

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many UK troops in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan have been (i) injured in action, (ii) not in action and (iii) removed from active duty as a result of illness or disease. [66281]

John Reid: The best centrally available records for TELIC casualty statistics are published on the Ministry of Defence website:

Work is underway to collate casualty statistics for Afghanistan. As my right hon. Friend, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, made clear in his answer of the 27 February 2006, we have undertaken to provide casualty statistics for Afghanistan from 1 January 2006 to the same conventions as Iraq. I will write to my right hon. Friend when it is complete, and place a copy of my letter in the Library of the House.


Antisocial Behaviour

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland were found to be in breach of antisocial behaviour orders during 2005. [68103]

Mr. Hanson: The relevant authorities have notified the Northern Ireland Office of two persons being found in breach of their antisocial behaviour orders during 2005.

Community Differentials

Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether any taskforces have been
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established to tackle disadvantage in (a) Protestant and (b) Catholic working class areas in the last five years. [66384]

Mr. Hanson: The information is as follows.

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