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14 Jun 2006 : Column 1232W—continued

Criminal Offences Legislation

Mr. Clegg: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the criminal offences created in legislation sponsored by his Department since April 2005, broken down by Act. [76900]

Mr. Watson: The Ministry of Defence has sponsored no primary legislation since April 2005 and has, therefore, created no criminal offences.

Dartmoor National Park (Firing Ranges)

Mr. Steen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which dates were advertised in advance for live army firing in the Dartmoor National Park for the years ending (a) 31 December 2003, (b) 31 December 2004 and (c) 31 December 2005; on what dates firing actually took place on each of the firing ranges in the Dartmoor National Park in those years; and if he will make a statement. [76703]

Mr. Watson: I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.


Mr. Dunne: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed forces personnel returned from Iraq in 2005 diagnosed with (a) mental health and (b) physical conditions which required (i) hospital and (ii) rehabilitation treatment in the UK. [72498]

Mr. Watson: Our records show that 732 armed forces personnel were aeromedically evacuated from Iraq in 2005. Of these, 666 were diagnosed with physical conditions, and 309 of them were treated at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine at Selly Oak, Birmingham, which is the Ministry of Defence's main receiving hospital for aeromedically evacuated personnel. The others were transferred to other NHS hospitals or referred to community-based care for ongoing treatment. We are unable to determine precisely how many of these patients required hospital treatment or were discharged at the airhead for ongoing care in the community as the relevant database does not contain this information. To provide this information, individual patient records would have to be consulted, and this could only be done at disproportionate cost and with the patient's permission.

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Determining the number of personnel who returned from Iraq with a mental health condition is not straightforward. Sixty six personnel were aeromedically evacuated in 2005 specifically because they were diagnosed as suffering from a mental health condition, but the number who were diagnosed, after their return, with psychological problems as a result of their service in Iraq is greater than this. The Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA) was notified of 727 personnel who were referred to the MOD's Departments of Community Mental Health in 2005 with possible mental health problems and subsequently identified as having a psychiatric disorder related to their service in Iraq at any date from 2003. It can also be difficult to determine the underlying causes of some mental health problems, some of which could be caused by a combination of other life events that occurred before or after service in Iraq.

MARS Programme

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he plans to ensure that vessels in the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability programme will be constructed by United Kingdom shipyards. [77390]

Mr. Ingram: As indicated in the Defence Industrial Strategy, UK yards and other UK suppliers will be given every opportunity to compete for this shipbuilding work and should see it as a challenge and an opportunity to demonstrate world-class performance. With the high planned workload on CVF and Type 45, the complex warship design and integration capabilities that we intend to sustain in the UK will remain healthy for some years.

New Technologies (Research)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the Department's budget was spent researching new technologies in the last period for which figures are available. [76808]

Mr. Ingram: The overall spend on research in relation to overall defence spending is available in the UK Defence Statistics 2005 publication. Table 1.1 ‘Defence Expenditure/Budget 2003-04’ of the publication displays the net Defence budget as some £31 billion. Table 1.7 ‘MOD Research and Development Expenditure 2003-04’ records the net budget spent on research as £574 million.

Parliamentary Ombudsman

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list those occasions when the recommendations of a report from the Parliamentary Ombudsman were (a) rejected and (b) partly rejected by his Department since 1997. [76257]

Mr. Watson: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer which my noble Friend Lord Drayson, the
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Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, gave in another place on 3 May 2006, Official Report, House of Lords, column WA87.

Public Consultations

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many public consultations his Department undertook in the last 12 months; and what the cost was (a) in total and (b) of each consultation. [70615]

Mr. Watson: The Ministry of Defence undertook 13 public consultations in the last year.

To obtain the cost of the 12 consultations carried out by Defence Estates (DE)—the Ministry of Defence agency with responsibility for the defence estates—would incur disproportionate costs, but it is likely to be in the thousands.

The thirteenth public consultation was carried out by the Met Office, which is a trading fund of the Ministry of Defence. The total estimated cost in terms of man hours for this consultation was £120,000.

In addition, the Ministry of Defence carried out 10 consultation meetings with local government elected representatives and officials relating to proposed RAF projects within local areas. The total cost of these consultation meetings, on a capitation rate basis, was less than £10,000.

Public Transport (Incentives)

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what incentives are available to encourage members of his staff to use public transport for travelling to and from work. [75104]

Mr. Watson: The Ministry of Defence (MOD) encourages the use of more sustainable travel as part its work on sustainable development. MOD offers staff interest free loans to purchase bicycles and public transport season tickets for commuting to and from their place of work. Subject to meeting our business needs the MoD also allows staff to stagger their working hours if that will assist them using public transport before or after the rush hour.

RAF Menwith Hill/Fylingdales

Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many (a) US military personnel, (b) US contractors, (c) US civilians, (d) UK military personnel, (e) Ministry of Defence Police Agency personnel, (f) GCHQ employees and (g) UK civilians work at (i) RAF Menwith Hill and (ii) RAF Fylingdales. [76294]

Mr. Ingram: As at 1 June 2006 the figures for RAF Menwith Hill were: 484 US military personnel; 538 US contractors; 458 US civilians, of which 243 are US Department of Defence civillians; 11 UK military personnel; 161 Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency personnel; I am withholding the
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number of GCHQ employees in accordance with Government policy of not commenting on intelligence matters; and 231 UK civilian personnel work at the base.

As of 1 June 2006 the figures for RAF Fylingdales were: one US military personnel; 20 US contractors; nine US civilians; 85 RAF personnel; 104 Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency personnel; there are no GCHQ employees working at RAF Fylingdales; and 37 UK civilian personnel work at the base.

Redress of Grievance Cases

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many redress of grievance cases have been withdrawn in each of the armed forces over the last 12 months. [68516]

Mr. Watson: The number of redress of grievance cases that have been withdrawn(1) having reached higher authority or service board level between 30 April 2005 and 1 May 2006 are shown in the following table. Records of grievances raised and withdrawn at unit level are not held centrally.

Armed force Number

Royal Navy




Royal Air Force


Sexual Relationships (Dismissals)

Derek Conway: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many officers in the armed forces were dismissed for having a sexual relationship with a subordinate in each of the last five years. [67965]

Mr. Watson: Officers would not be dismissed but may be required to resign their commissions or be administratively discharged.

No Royal Navy or Royal Air Force officers have been required to resign for having a sexual relationship with a subordinate in the last five years.

Information for the Army is only available for the last three years and is shown in the following table:









Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines are awaiting disposal; where they are located; and what estimate he has made of the amount of (a) high, (b) intermediate and (c) low-level nuclear material present in each submarine. [76288]

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Mr. Ingram: There are 13 decommissioned and de-fuelled nuclear powered submarines awaiting disposal that are stored safely afloat—seven at Rosyth and four at Devonport (Plymouth). Two other submarines at Devonport are awaiting de-fuelling prior to being stored afloat pending disposal. The spent fuel is the only high-level radioactive material on these submarines.

On leaving naval service each submarine contains approximately 83 tonnes of intermediate-level waste (ILW) and 81 tonnes of low-level waste (LLW). A proportion of the ILW will decay over time to LLW. For example, after 30 years, the quantity of ILW would have reduced to approximately 19 tonnes and the LLW proportionally increased to 145 tonnes.

Typhoon Aircraft

Mr. Gerald Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the key spares shortages are for Typhoon aircraft. [76682]

Mr. Ingram: The spares and support arrangements for Typhoon are being built up as the RAF aircraft fleet grows, and the availability of spares varies from day to day depending on the maintenance that is required.

Communities and Local Government

Best Value Surveys

Richard Burden: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance her Department has issued to councils on the carrying out of Best Value surveys; and if she will make a statement. [75909]

Mr. Woolas: The Department has published detailed guidance for authorities carrying out the Best Value user satisfaction surveys on a dedicated website established for the purpose of administering the surveys.

The website,, serves as a single portal for authorities undertaking the surveys, hosting all materials required and enabling the upload of the data. The Department has been working very closely with the Audit Commission to provide the necessary support to local authorities undertaking the surveys. The Commission is administering the website and providing a helpdesk and the Department is running a series of seminars to field questions on the Best Value surveys.

The website and guidance went live in March 2006 and all authorities were contacted to ensure that they were aware of the publication. All local authorities have either registered on the website or are in communication with the Audit Commission about the surveys; a statement about the availability of the guidance is therefore felt to be unnecessary.

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Citizen Information Project

Mr. Pickles: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will place in the Library a copy of the written communication sent by the Citizen Information Project to her Department on 10 January 2005. [70641]

Angela E. Smith: We have no record of any correspondence received from The Citizen Information Project on 10 January 2005.

Council Tax

Robert Key: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many properties are (a) designated as second homes and eligible for a council tax discount and (b) claiming such a discount in each local authority in Wiltshire. [76983]

Mr. Woolas: The number of properties in Wiltshire designated as second homes and claiming a discount in council tax as at 19 September 2005, the latest date for which figures are available, is shown in the following table.

Number of properties



North Wiltshire






West Wiltshire


Joan Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the merits of using the forthcoming council tax revaluation to encourage energy efficiency and waste reduction. [77035]

Mr. Woolas: In September 2005 the Government announced the postponement of council tax revaluation in England, and have made it clear that they do not expect that revaluation will occur during the present Parliament. The Government await the final report of the independent inquiry into local government by Sir Michael Lyons, which is due to be submitted by the end of 2006, before deciding whether any reforms to the council tax system are required.

Debt Collectors

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether (a) her Department or (b) its (i) Executive Agencies and (ii) non-Departmental public bodies use the services of private debt collectors. [71064]

Angela E. Smith: The Department for Communities and Local Government and its Executive Agencies do not currently use the services of private debt collectors. One DCLG non-Departmental body uses a private debt collector.

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