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16 Jun 2006 : Column 1518W—continued


Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development how much bilateral aid the United Kingdom is providing to the Republic of Senegal in 2006-07; and how much he expects to be channelled via the European Union. [78069]

Hilary Benn: The UK Government have no bilateral assistance programme with Senegal nor plans to establish one. The UK provided £4.9 million in 2004-05, mainly comprising debt relief and purchases of private equity investments.

DFID assistance is mainly channelled through the EC and other multilateral agencies. The EC allocated €227 million to Senegal from EDF9 funds for the period 2002-07. Given the attribution of assistance channelled through the EC, it is not possible to predict accurately what the UK share will be in 2006-07.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in the Republic of Senegal. [78397]

Hilary Benn: Localised food insecurity is reported in several parts of Senegal, particularly the poorest Casamance region which is badly affected. Here it has been made worse by fighting in Guinea-Bissau between Senegalese separatist rebels and the Guinea- Bissau army. The World Food Programme estimates that approximately 2,100 people fled the fighting into Casamance, living with family and friends in the city of Ziguinchor. Given the region's limited resources and potentially high flows of additional refugees and displaced people, humanitarian vulnerability and food insecurity could increase if the fighting does not end soon.

Written Answers to Questions

Friday 16 June 2006


Air Manufacturing Sector

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his strategy is for minimising any adverse impact on the UK air manufacturing sector arising from the proposals within the Defence Industrial Strategy. [76614]

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to minimise the impact of the Defence Industry Strategy in reducing air sector jobs; and if he will make a statement. [76955]

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what steps the Government are taking to minimise any adverse impact on air sector jobs that may result as a consequence of the proposed re-structuring and rationalisation proposed in the Defence Industrial Strategy; [77537]

(2) what steps the Government are taking to maintain UK capability within the air sector. [77538]

Mr. Ingram: The Defence Industrial Strategy identified that once Typhoon and the Joint Combat Aircraft have been introduced into service, there is no requirement for a new-design manned aircraft beyond our extant plans although future procurements of uninhabited and/or manned platforms are envisaged. The consequent long term decline in new programme work is expected to lead to a significant rationalisation of the UK defence aerospace business. That is why MOD is negotiating with BAE Systems on the terms of the business rationalisation and transformation agreement required to facilitate the effective sustainment of the industrial skills, capability and technologies—wherever they may be in the supply chain—that will be important to our ability to operate, support and upgrade our fast jet combat aircraft through life. We aim to work with the company during 2006 to agree the way ahead—and to implement it from 2007.

The MOD is also planning to invest in UAV Technology Demonstrator Programmes (TDP) to better understand technologies that are likely to play an important role in this future military capability. The investment should also help sustain aerospace engineering and design capabilities in the UK, providing further assurance of our ability to operate and support our future fixed wing aircraft. We expect to be in a position to announce the commencement of the TDP later this year.

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Army Personnel (Working Hours)

Mr. Peter Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many hours were worked per week on average at each regular trained junior rank in the Army in (a) 2004-05 and (b) 2005-06. [77130]

Mr. Watson: The Defence Analytical Services Agency (DASA) carry out a continuous sample survey of working patterns which provides an estimate of the average working hours per person, per week, for each service, but the sample is insufficient to report on average working hours at the level of detail requested.

The results of the 2004-05 survey gave an estimate of an average of 46.7 “hours worked” per week for all regular trained junior ranks in the Army. Data for 2005-06 are not yet available.

“Hours worked” includes time spent carrying out normal work, secondary duties, compulsory fitness training, organised sports and representational activities, but excludes meal and tea breaks and time spent on call. The figures are not therefore comparable to calculations of “hours worked” in civilian professions.

Atomic Weapons Establishment

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the projected capital costs are for the refurbishment of the A-90 and A-45 buildings at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston; [76766]

(2) how much is allocated to each new building project (a) under way and (b) planned in the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston site development strategy. [76772]

Des Browne: Mature costings are not available for these facilities and disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the projected capital costs are for replacement buildings to house the Core Punch Facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston. [76770]

Des Browne: A number of options are under consideration. Mature costings are not available and disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice commercial interests.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the replacement hydrodynamic testing facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston will be complete. [76771]

Des Browne: A number of options are under consideration regarding the replacement hydrodynamics testing facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment. Completion dates are dependent on the option selected.

Burghfield Facility

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of plans to build a new assembly/disassembly facility at Burghfield. [76765]

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Des Browne: A number of options are still under consideration for the maintenance of assembly/disassembly facilities at AWE. No decisions have yet been taken.

Defence Export Contracts

Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assistance his Department is giving to British defence companies in helping them to secure export contracts; and if he will make a statement. [76954]

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what practical assistance the Government are offering to BAE Systems to help secure export contracts. [77536]

Mr. Ingram: The Defence Export Services Organisation (DESO) co-ordinates Government support for the export of the products and services of the UK defence industry. DESO brings overseas customers and UK suppliers together and provides an integrated approach to markets. In addition DESO provides professional military support, including demonstrations of equipment being considered by customers and organises visits to the UK by senior government and military personnel from overseas.

Defence Medical Services

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department has taken to improve the Defence Medical Services since 1997. [76640]

Mr. Watson: In 1997 the Government announced a foreign policy-led strategic defence review (SDR) to reassess Britain’s security interests and defence needs and consider how the roles, missions and capabilities of our armed forces should be adjusted to meet the new strategic realities.

The resulting report, in July 1998, placed a great emphasis on the deployability of our forces, including the requirement to ensure that our armed forces are properly supported in the field—a key aspect of which is the provision of timely, modern and effective medical support.

A medical quinquennial review (MQR) which reported to Parliament in April 2002 developed detailed proposals for the effective delivery of deployable operational medical capability and appropriate, timely health care to maximise the availability of service personnel for deployment.

The MQR identified a need for a much stronger focus on delivery of key outputs, with responsibilities for both central and single service authorities. It recommended new managerial tools (including an annual DMS service delivery plan and a DMS management board) to achieve this.

The MQR also advocated a further strengthening of the partnership between the DMS and the NHS. This was achieved through the MOD and Department of Health signing a formal concordat (in September 2002) at ministerial level and, at official level, the establishment of a MOD/NHS partnership board to oversee effective co-operation.

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The MQR also rationalised the existing medical agencies as follows:

In terms of improvements to DMS treatment facilities, the DMS no longer run separate military hospitals. The decision was taken to close them because they no longer had sufficient patient volume and case mix to develop and maintain the skills of our medical personnel to the appropriate operational and NHS standards. We created Ministry of Defence hospital units located within NHS hospitals at Birmingham, Derriford, Frimley Park, Northallerton/Middlesbrough, Peterborough and Portsmouth. They provide the most effective way of giving the UK armed forces patients access to the latest advances in medical treatment and the major recent investments in NHS facilities. The integration of service personnel throughout the NHS trust also enables DMS staff to take advantage of NHS expertise and to maintain their own clinical skills in an active, up-to-date environment.

We have also introduced regional rehabilitation units (RRUs). A total of 12 RRUs have been established within the UK, with similar facilities in Germany and Cyprus, to provide assessment and treatment of musculo-skeletal disorders. They were introduced to alleviate pressure on the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court and to provide more accessible regionally-based facilities. Patients are referred from unit medical facilities, where the simpler injuries would be diagnosed and treated. The benefit is that patients are assessed and treated in a timely fashion and receive the optimal high quality treatment and rehabilitation to maximise functional outcome and return to operational fitness when this is clinically possible. Specifically, the RRU system leads to reduced overall patient waiting times, earlier access to diagnosis and therefore quicker treatment and patient monitoring throughout the rehabilitation programme on an individual basis by physiotherapists and remedial instructors at the RRU. For example, most patients who undergo a simple knee arthroscopic procedure are currently being returned fit for task within four months, and patients who undergo an anterior cruciate ligament repair procedure are being returned fit for task in about seven months.

Additionally, to improve our patient care, in 2005 the MOD set up a Defence Medical Rehabilitation Evaluation Co-ordination Cell to support personnel injured on operations. This improves the co-ordination of care from the point of entry into UK until the individual is returned to full fitness or is medically discharged from the service. It also improves the provision of a clinical assessment and decisions on the most appropriate care from a consultant-led multi-disciplinary team.

With regard to mental health care, an independent review of mental health care provision to the armed forces, undertaken by a leading consultancy in the field,
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recommended that out-patient care be provided in regional departments of community mental health (DCMH) and in-patient care be contracted out to a suitable independent or NHS provider. We have 15 DCMHs across the UK plus satellite centres in Cyprus, Germany and Gibraltar. The Priory Group won the competition to provide in-patient care. Patients can now be admitted much closer to their home or base.

The MOD recently announced a new mental health care initiative for recently demobilised reservists, which will include the opportunity for a dedicated mental health assessment by appropriately qualified members of the DMS. Details of the programme will be confirmed later this year, including the location(s) at which the assessments will be provided, and the date on which the service will commence.

In terms of operational improvements, DMS support to the deployed force has benefited from investment in modern equipment designed to meet the specific needs of deployed medical capability; this uplift in capability has included the development and deployment of a telemedicine capability, digital imaging, CCAST (critical care aeromedical evacuation support team) and haemostatic products. These improvements have been backed by improved operational training, doctrine and through the lessons learnt process.

There are also three current projects which will contribute significantly to improvements in the DMS:

First, the Managed Military Health System for Force Generation project (MMHS) was conceived to improve the pan-DMS management and delivery of health care (medical and dental) to the armed forces and other entitled personnel. MMHS has the threefold aim of maximising the number of armed forces personnel ‘fit for task’, contributing to deployed medical operational capability and improving morale in the DMS. The scope of the MMHS project is to cover the UK non-deployed medical capability only, but many of the changes expected from it will beneficially impact on health and health care provision across the MOD including the overseas Commands.

Second, the director general medical operational capability project (DG Med Op Cap) has been set up to determine how to optimise the delivery of medical capability to support operations and ensure the process will deliver continual quality assurance and improvement in clinical output. The intended outcome of this project is the delivery of properly trained personnel with the right equipment and sustainability, to meet the requirements of the front line commanders-in-chief in the most effective and efficient manner.

Third, the defence medical information capability programme (DMICP) is a major business change programme enabled by IT which will provide an integrated health care information system across the DMS, and will also link to the NHS’s major new national programme for IT. DMICP will provide many benefits with the overarching benefit being more service personnel fit for task. It will provide DMS doctors and dentists with immediate access worldwide to complete, up-to-date electronic medical and dental records, supported by the latest clinical decision support software and online reference material, giving greater support to service clinicians, analysts and administrators in all aspects of their work. In April 2006 my predecessor announced the award of
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an £80 million contract which aims to have the first stages of DMICP phased in from the beginning of next year, initially to medical and dental units in barracks, air stations, naval bases, and then, after 2008, on military deployments.

EU Defence

Michael Gove: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what his policy is on the European Defence Agency's plans to create an EU defence research budget; and what contribution the UK will make to such a fund. [73162]

Des Browne: There are no plans for the European Defence Agency (EDA) to create an EU defence research budget. The priority for the Government in relation to the EDA is to increase the amount spent on research and technology within Europe not to centralise these resources. The United Kingdom continues to work with the Agency and partner nations to achieve this aim and to ensure that, through mutually beneficial cooperation, we may leverage the maximum value from the money spent in this important area.

EU INSPIRE Directive

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect of the European Union's INSPIRE directive on the security of Royal Navy vessels (a) in port and (b) on deployment. [77794]

Des Browne: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 15 June 2006, Official Report, columns 1384-85W, to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth).

Fylingdales Radar Complex

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions his Department has held with the US Administration on updating the radar complex at Fylingdales; and if he will make a statement. [77465]

Mr. Ingram: Since the Government agreed in 2003 to the US request to upgrade the early warning radar at RAF Fylingdales, officials have had regular and frequent discussions with their US counterparts about the progress of the upgrade; this continues to be the case.

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