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24 May 2006 : Column 1810W—continued

The term 'non-public sector entities' has been taken to refer to all UK and foreign owned private companies and firms with whom the MOD contracts. It includes all subsidiaries and individual units of a company and is therefore not organised by holding company. A listing aggregated to holding company could only be provided at disproportionate cost due to the high volume of work required to map the changing corporate structure and ownership of large defence suppliers on a yearly basis.

The listings exclude all public sector bodies as listed in the “Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2005” including all Government Departments, Agencies, Trading Funds, Non departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) and Government Owned Contractor Operated (GOCO) entities.

Payment of grants, credits and subsidies under statutory obligations for which the Ministry of Defence is responsible are out of the scope of this question.


Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions the Government have had with BAE Systems regarding the conversion of Eurofighter to land on the Royal Navy's two new aircraft carriers. [70272]

Mr. Ingram: The necessary actions have been and will continue to be undertaken to ensure that we have the necessary contingency plans for the JSF project. However, we are not prepared to go into the detail of what our contingency plans are.

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Falklands War Medal

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to amend the criteria to enable the Falklands War Medal to be awarded to those who served on RMS St. Helena in support of the UK Government; and if he will make a statement. [72547]

Mr. Watson: The eligibility criteria for the South Atlantic Medal 1982 were carefully and extensively considered at the time. There are no plans to review these criteria.

Gulf War Syndrome

Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many cases of Gulf War Syndrome have been accepted by his Department as being well-founded; [72396]

(2) how many (a) service personnel, (b) former service personnel and (c) civilian personnel have lodged a claim with his Department for Gulf War Syndrome. [72397]

Mr. Watson: In a decision welcomed by the Ministry of Defence, a Pension Appeal Tribunal (PAT) found that Gulf War Syndrome was a ‘useful umbrella term’ to cover accepted conditions which are causally linked to the 1990-91 Gulf Conflict but that Gulf War Syndrome does not exist as a ‘discrete pathological entity’, or in other words as a recognised disease. A written statement was published on 24 November 2005, Official Report, columns 128-29WS, setting out our position on this issue. We do not hold figures for those claiming ‘Gulf War Syndrome’ but since the PAT decision the umbrella term has been applied in six cases.

The latest figures, as at the end of December 2005, show that about 3,025 veterans whose time in the armed forces includes service in the Gulf were in receipt of a war disablement pension for any condition for which an award would be payable. In addition, at that date, 2,515 such veterans had received a gratuity for disablement assessed at under 20 per cent. There will be some overlap between those figures, as some individuals will have received first a gratuity and then a pension. The figures include awards for both Gulf-related and non-Gulf-related injuries or illnesses, as our records do not distinguish the origin of the disablement (including awards where Gulf War Syndrome is appropriate as an umbrella term). The claimants are former members of the armed forces. Serving members of the armed forces are not covered by the War Pension Scheme but they and MOD) civilians are covered by other occupational schemes.

In addition, some 2,000 veterans, dependents and civilians have notified the MOD of their intention to claim common law compensation for Gulf War Syndrome or Gulf illnesses but as yet the claimants’ solicitors have served no writs or claims of sufficient detail for the Department to be able to start considering these claims.

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Iraq (Nuclear Programme)

Mr. Keith Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the proliferation risks associated with the former Iraqi nuclear programme; and if he will make a statement. [69166]

Des Browne [holding answer 8 May 2006]: Saddam Hussein ended the Iraq nuclear programme in 1991 following the Gulf war. The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) concluded that although Saddam clearly assigned a high value to the nuclear work that had taken place up to the 1991 war, the programme had ended and the intellectual capital had decayed in the succeeding years. In the comprehensive report of the special advisor to the director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's WMD, issued in September 2004 and finalised in April 2005, the ISG identify two residual risks—the proliferation of equipment and material, and the proliferation of knowledge.

In the 1990s IAEA inspectors identified, collected or destroyed all the key dedicated equipment and materials remaining from the pre-1991 nuclear weapon programme. The ISG concluded that the remaining dual-use nuclear equipment does not pose a proliferation risk, provided the Government remains in control of such equipment.

The ISG also concluded that the risk of (proliferation from scientists passing on information and knowledge is small. It emphasised that the numbers concerned are in fact far less than Saddam had previously led the international community to expect and that such individuals, despite Saddam's efforts, had not maintained their knowledge base/skills as a result of the sanctions regime.

The UK Government agreed with the conclusions in the ISO report and, in response to the risk of proliferation from scientists passing on information and knowledge, has been holding workshops to help Iraqi scientists to apply for civilian employment.

Joint Strike Fighter Programme

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in discussions with the United States on the joint strike fighter programme in March and April 2006. [69674]

Mr. Ingram: I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made in my answer of 10 May 2006, Official Report, column 284-85W, to the hon. Member for Bolton, North-East (Mr. Crausby).

Nuclear Weapons

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence against which countries the UK nuclear deterrent has been targeted since the demise of the Soviet Union. [71990]

Des Browne: Since May 1994, the UK’s nuclear missiles have not been targeted at any country.

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Pest Control (Iraq)

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the companies which have received contracts from his Department for pest control in the south-east region of Iraq. [71518]

Mr. Watson: The Ministry of Defence has two contractors who provide pest control services to military bases in South Eastern Iraq as part of their operation and maintenance contracts. They are:

Promotion Boards

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many promotion boards have been held in his Department in each of the last five years. [70616]

Mr. Watson: We currently have no centralised system for tracking the numbers of staff obtaining substantive promotion in the Ministry of Defence. To provide the information sought would require asking TLBs to trawl their records to ascertain how many promotion boards have been held. This could be done only at disproportionate cost.

Each year, we hold two Assessment and Development Centres (A and DC); one for staff seeking promotion to Band D (EO), the first of which was held in May 2005; and one for B2 (Principle) grade, the first of which was held in 1993.


Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will include a web link and contact details for the Ex-Service Fellowship Centre on the Homeless and Need Help “page on the Veteran” Agency website. [72285]

Mr. Watson [holding answer 22 May 2006]: The web link and contact details for the Ex-Service Fellowship Centre have been included on the “Homeless and Need Help” page on Veterans Agency website.

Communities and Local Government

Child Protection

Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 3 May 2006, Official Report, column 1630W, on sex offender vetting, if she will introduce vetting procedures for local councillors on the Sexual Offenders Register who have access to schools and vulnerable people; and if she will make a statement. [71382]

Mr. Woolas: We have no plans to introduce procedures of the sort suggested. Existing measures
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provide that, where offenders are considered to pose a risk of harm, impositions and restrictions may be imposed on them, which can prevent their access to schools and vulnerable people.

Congestion Charging

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what estimate the Government have made of the total revenue raised from congestion charge fines in England in the most recent year for which figures are available. [70720]

Dr. Ladyman: I have been asked to reply.

The Government make no such estimates. The congestion charge schemes in London and Durham are the responsibility of the Mayor of London and Durham county council respectively. Individual drivers who evade the applicable congestion charge on the Dartford Crossing may be subject to prosecution, but the Government do not keep a central record of any fines imposed by the courts for these offences.


John Bercow: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when he will reply to the letter of 21 March from the hon. Member for Buckingham. [66668]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has no record of receiving the hon. Member’s letter of21 March 2005. Officials have now obtained a copy of the letter from the hon. Member and a reply has been sent today.

Home Information Packs

Michael Gove: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what estimate he has made of the number of transactions in the residential property market where the lender will require a separate valuation inspection following the introduction of home information packs. [64944]

Yvette Cooper: I have been asked to reply.

The Home Condition Report and the associated certification arrangements for Home Inspectors have been developed in consultation with industry to ensure that lenders can have confidence in the report, and that it contains the information they need to generate valuations for mortgage purposes without the need for a further inspection report in the majority of cases. The HCR is far more extensive than the surveys on which most valuations are based. Lenders are already moving to automated valuation models. Even in cases where lenders believe additional information is needed we would expect the HCR to cut the costs of the valuation process.

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Local Government Funding

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what total amount of Local Government grant is affected by the use of mid-year population data. [72954]

Mr. Woolas: The 2006-07 and indicative 2007-08 Local Government Finance Settlements, announced in the House on 31 January 2006, included the use of sub-national population projections as the dominant data drivers of population. Mid-2004 population estimates were also used within wider indicators used in the calculation of top-ups in the formulae for these settlements.

Population data are used throughout the distribution system. Both the population projections and mid-year estimates are used in Relative Needs Formula indicators. Population projections are also used to determine the Relative Needs Amount, Relative Resource Amount and Central Allocation as these are calculated on a per head basis. The distribution of formula grant is also affected by the social and economic characteristics of an area, a council’s relative ability to raise council tax, and floor damping.

Adam Afriyie: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what steps the Government plans to take to ensure local authorities do not experience funding shortfalls from under-estimates of the level of migration in their mid-year population estimates. [72955]

Mr. Woolas: The Local Government Finance Settlements for 2006-07 and 2007-08 were laid before the House on the 31 January 2006 and the settlement for 2006-07 was agreed on the 6 February 2006.

For formula grant allocations, the DCLG use the best data available on a consistent basis for all authorities that are available at the time. For population, these are the 2003-based population projections and mid-2004 population estimates published by the Office for National Statistics. The population projections have been used as the dominant driver for population in the formula, while mid-year estimates of population have been used as a component of indicators used in the calculation of top-ups.

The DCLG protect all local authorities from detrimental changes to their grant allocation through the floor damping mechanism, which is a component of the formula grant distribution system.

Minister for Women

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how much the Parliamentary Secretary for Women and Equality will be paid per year. [70582]

Hilary Armstrong: I have been asked to reply

In line with the rate of pay for parliamentary secretaries across Government, the salary of the Parliamentary Secretary for Women and Equality is currently £29,786 and will increase to £30,081 from1 November.

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Ministerial Visits (Accommodation)

David Simpson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what discounts are available in relation to hotel accommodation used by (a) civil servants and (b) special advisers in his private office. [69053]

Angela E. Smith: I have been asked to reply.

Some hotels offer a reduced rate for those on government business. My private office staff travelling on official business use these when available.

Regional Government

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how the regional sustainable development round tables will be funded. [70709]

Ian Pearson: I have been asked to reply.

Regional sustainable development round tables are resourced by regional bodies which are members of their round tables, including regional development agencies, Government offices and regional assemblies.

In April 2006, the Government launched “Securing the Regions’ Futures” to strengthen regional deliveryof sustainable development. In this publication Government recognised the role of round tables and committed to contributing to a two-year programme of regional sustainable development activities which each round table puts forward.

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