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Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library copies of his Department's monthly financial submissions to the Treasury's general expenditure monitoring system for the second half of 2005-06. 
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times an Army Air Corps (a) Lynx and (b)
Gazelle needed a component (i) repaired and (ii) replaced in each of the past three years. 
Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what (a) (i) vehicle armour and (ii) infantry protection has been issued and (b) tactics have been implemented to protect the UK's armed forces against improvised explosive devices; 
Mr. Ingram: We are not able to detail our counter-improvised explosive device (IED) measures, as disclosure would or would be likely to prejudice the security of our armed forces. British Forces deployed on operations are equipped with a range of protective procedures and equipment. We co-operate fully with our coalition partners to counter the threat posed by IEDs.
Mr. Ingram: The removal of serviceable parts from one aircraft for use on another is a routine and temporary measure to ensure that the maximum number of aircraft (which are safe, reliable and capable of performing their designated tasks) are available to the front line.
|(1 )Figures include PR9 and T4. (2 )Figures include Nimrod R1 and Nimrod MR2. (3) Estimated for Nimrod Rl. (4) Records for 2003 are incomplete (reporting anomalies).|
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many times an RAF (a) VC-10, (b) Tristar, (c)
Hercules C-130J, (d) Hercules C-130L and (e) C-17A Globemaster aircraft needed a component (i) repaired and (ii) replaced in each of the past three years. 
Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the availability of medical staff in the (a) Royal Navy, (b) Royal Marines, (c) Army and (d) Royal Air Force; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Watson [holding answer 15 May 2006]: The Defence Medical Services (DMS) are responsible for the delivery of deployable medical operational capability in support of UK military operations and for providing health care to UK Service personnel to ensure they are fit for task and ready to deploy when needed.
Operational medical support required by UK troops deployed on operations is designed to be the most appropriate and robust to enable the commander to complete his mission. This is determined by a rigorous medical estimate of the military tasks to be undertaken. DMS manning requirements are regularly assessed with the aim of ensuring that we have sufficient medical staff to meet these key military requirements.
Manning levels in the DMS vary across different specialities and Services. In some areas we are very well manned, whilst in others we are experiencing shortfalls. However, there is no question of British forces being deployed on military operations without appropriate medical support. Manning shortfalls are being continually addressed through a package of remunerative and non-remunerative measures.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent on constructing a new search and rescue hangar at RAF Leconfield; what he expects the total final cost will be; and if he will make a statement. 
Des Browne: The UK is fully committed to its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, including those on disarmament under Article VI, and has made significant disarmament steps since 1992. For example, the UK has given up both the nuclear Lance missile and artillery roles we undertook previously with US nuclear weapons held under dual-key arrangements, along with our maritime tactical nuclear capability, so that Royal Navy surface ships no longer have any capability to carry or deploy nuclear weapons. In 1998, the UK withdrew and dismantled the last air-launched nuclear weapon, the Royal Air Forces WE117 nuclear bombs. The dismantlement of the last remaining Chevaline (Polaris) warheads occurred in April 2002, so that Trident is now our only nuclear weapons system.
In all, there has been a reduction of the UKs operationally available stockpile of nuclear weapons to fewer than 200 warheads, representing a reduction of more than 70 per cent. in the potential explosive power of our nuclear forces since the end of the cold war. Only one Trident submarine is on deterrent patrol at any one time and that submarine is normally on several days notice to fire and its missiles are not targeted at any specific country.
In addition, the UK announced in 1995 that we had stopped the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, and we continually press for negotiations to begin on a fissile material cut-off treaty at the conference on disarmament in Geneva. We have also been more transparent about our nuclear and fissile material stockpiles, publishing an historical account of plutonium stockpiles, along with an account of our highly enriched uranium earlier this year.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with (a) the United States and (b) other states on fulfilling disarmament obligations under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. 
Des Browne: The UK holds regular discussions with the US and other states on a wide range of security and international issues including the fulfilment of obligations under all articles of the NPT. The fulfilment of obligations under Article VI has most recently been discussed in a multilateral format at the United Nations Disarmament Commission in New York, last held between 10 and 28 April 2006, and at the standing Conference on Disarmament in Geneva earlier this year.
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether UK nuclear scientists are involved in the research and development of new US nuclear weapons, with particular reference to the Reliable replacement warhead. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the (a) present and (b) future role of Trident, with particular reference to the potential development of a low yield warhead. 
Des Browne: The Governments policy on nuclear weapons remains as set out in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR) (Cm 3999) and the 2002 SDR New Chapter (Cm 5566). The UKs nuclear weapons have a continuing use as a means of deterring major strategic military threats and they have a continuing role in guaranteeing the ultimate security of the UK. We would only ever contemplate their use in extreme circumstances of self-defence.
Des Browne: The United Kingdom Government would be prepared to use nuclear weapons only in extreme circumstances of self-defence. We would not use our weapons, whether conventional or nuclear, contrary to international law.
A policy of no first use of nuclear weapons would be incompatible with our and NATOs doctrine of deterrence. We have made clear, as have our NATO allies, that the circumstances in which any use of nuclear weapons might have to be contemplated are extremely remote. Our overall strategy is to ensure uncertainty in the mind of any aggressor about the exact nature of our response, and thus to maintain effective deterrence.
Des Browne: We have not undertaken a detailed assessment of this hypothetical situation, as we have no
reason to believe that the withdrawal of US technical support for Trident is remotely likely. However, we anticipate that, in this highly unlikely scenario, the main impact on the UK would be in terms of the cost of maintaining the system rather than on its operational effectiveness.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans his Department has to reduce the pension entitlement of widows of servicemen following a successful compensation claim for death in service. 
Mr. Watson: It has been the policy of successive governments, applied to all public sector schemes and in accordance with common law principles, that an individual cannot receive double payment for loss of earnings and support where such compensation has been awarded by two different routes for the same incident. The Ministry of Defence has no plans to change that policy.
The armed forces occupational pension schemes pay death benefits regardless of whether the death was caused by service. This standard level of widows pension is not reduced by any common law compensation award.
Where the death of the serviceman has been caused by service in the armed forces, the widow may receive compensation. Where the cause of death was on or before 5 April 2005, this would be by way of a War Widows Pension under the War Pensions Scheme (WPS). This pension is paid in full. In addition, an enhanced rate of widows pension under the occupational pension scheme may be paid, which includes an element for loss of earnings and support. It is only this final element that may be affected by a common law compensation settlement, where that settlement also includes an element for loss of earnings and support.
Where the cause of death was on or after 6 April 2005, the widow may receive compensation under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), which replaces both the WPS and the enhanced elements of the occupational scheme. Because the AFCS benefits will normally be paid before any common law compensation settlement, arrangements are in place to reduce the common law compensation instead of seeking to claw back the AFCS benefit that would already be in payment.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what involvement British officials have had in the (a) collection and analysis of data gathered by and (b) operation of US predator unmanned aerial vehicles; 
(2) what information (a) he and (b) his officials have received on the use by US forces of predator unmanned aerial vehicles for the purpose of military attacks in (a) Afghanistan, (b) Iraq and (c) Pakistan. 
Mr. Ingram: UK embedded staff regularly receive information on the use by US forces of US predator unmanned aerial vehicles. UK military personnel are mandated, however, to only get involved in the planning or execution of operations that are within UK rules of engagement and/or comply with British domestic and international law obligations. In this manner, UK personnel have only been involved in five unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in Iraq, and one in Afghanistan.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many redress of grievance cases in respect of (a) officers, (b) non-commissioned officers and (c) other ranks in each of the armed forces are outstanding after more than eight weeks. 
|(1 )The RN figures do not differentiate between non-officer categories.|
The figures show those cases under consideration now at second or third level where the complaint was originally made more than eight weeks ago. Records are not kept centrally of complaints under consideration at first (commanding officer) level.
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