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Iraq

Harry Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list contracts in excess of £500,000 his Department has entered into in connection with Iraq since the beginning of 2003; on what date each was entered into; whether the civilian contractor in each contract had military connections; what the nationality of each civilian contractor was in each case; what each contract was for; whether each contract was awarded following competitive bidding; whether work was wholly carried out in Iraq; and what estimate he has made in each case of the comparable cost of similar work carried out in the UK. [61481]

Mr. Ingram: I will place three lists of contracts in the Library of the House. The first shows works contracted by the Multi-National Division (South-East) Civil Secretariat with total value in excess of £500,000, and wholly carried out in Iraq, from 2003, detailing the company, service provided, and date each contract was entered into. Second are those contracts let by the Defence Communications Service Agency for and in support of British operations in Iraq. And third are those contracts placed for movement of freight or personnel by air or surface means, awarded following competition. Two of these contracts (DTMA/CB/0803 and DTMA/CB/0813) were let for air support entirely within Iraq/surrounding area. Two further contracts (DTMA/CB/0703 and DTMA/CB/0720) were let specifically for aeromedical tasks between Cyprus and the UK. The remaining movement contracts were placed for the transport of freight/personnel mainly between the UK/Europe and Iraq/Gulf States in support of Op TELIC. Comparable costing for these is inappropriate. Further details are not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence on which dates since February 2006 (a) he and (b) his Ministers have visited British soldiers injured in Iraq; and what locations were visited on each occasion. [80693]

Des Browne: Defence Ministers frequently visit members of the armed forces injured in Iraq. Since February Defence Ministers have visited injured personnel on four occasions as follows:


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Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what average time has elapsed before inquiries into the deaths of British service personnel in Iraq have commenced. [80141]

Des Browne: The information requested is not held centrally and can be obtained only at a disproportionate cost. However, the Service Police initiate an investigation immediately they are notified of the death of any member of the armed forces in Iraq. Wherever possible, it is their policy to issue an Initial Case Report within 24 hours of notification unless prevented by operational circumstances.

Missile Defence

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the role is of the Missile Defence Centre within his Department; and if he will make a statement. [79950]

Des Browne: The UK Missile Defence Centre was opened by the former Minister of State for Defence Procurement on 18 July 2003. It provides the primary technical interface between the UK and the US Governments in this area of research and development. The centre is jointly resourced by Government and Industry, and will act as a showcase for the specialist expertise and equipment which UK Industry has to offer to the US Missile Defence programme. The MDC also facilitates the exchange of information on the evolving US system, to inform the technical advice provided to policy makers.

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions the UK Government has had with the US authorities on acquiring ballistic missile defence (a) technology and (b) equipment from the US. [79951]

Des Browne: We have had no recent discussions with the US about the acquisition, in the form of purchase or ownership, of ballistic missile defence technology or equipment. We continue to work closely with them on co-operative technology programmes through the UK Missile Defence Centre.

Private Members’ Bills

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Private Members' Bills were drafted by his Department in each Session since 1997; and which subsequently received Royal Assent. [78852]

Mr. Watson: None.


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Royal Military Police

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the terms of reference were of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary’s thematic review of the Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch; what the target date is for completion; and what arrangements he plans to make for publication. [79880]

Mr. Ingram: The terms of reference for the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) inspection of the Royal Military Police (RMP) Special Investigations Branch (SIB) are as follows:

The inspection of the RMP SIB started on 1 April 2006 and the HMIC is due to provide a report by 31 July 2006.

The final report will be published, both in hard copy and on the HMIC website.

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the merits of bringing the Royal Military Police Special Investigations Branch under the oversight of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. [79881]

Mr. Ingram: The Royal Military Police (RMP) Special Investigations Branch (SIB) has a minimal interface with the general public in comparison to their civilian counterparts. As a result, complaints by third parties unconnected to the armed forces about the conduct of the RMP (SIB) are far less likely to occur. We do not therefore consider it appropriate for the RMP (SIB) to be brought under the oversight of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

However, a comprehensive redress of complaints system exists for all service personnel, including service police personnel, who wish to complain or express a grievance about any matter related to their service. Improvements were proposed under the Armed Forces Bill which included a redress panel system where panels would include an external, independent member for certain types of complaints, and an external reviewer focusing on process, delay, fairness, and the effectiveness of the procedure, and providing recommendations for improvements where necessary. Further to the Deepcut Review, we plan to extend the role of the external reviewer, renamed the Service Complaints Commissioner, who would have statutory powers to receive a complaint or allegation from a service person, family or other third party, to place it in the hands of the chain of command and to be notified
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of the outcome. The Commissioner would have direct access to Ministers and would publish an annual report on the complaints process.

These proposed arrangements will now be subject to the full process of parliamentary scrutiny in the context of the remaining stages of the Armed Forces Bill’s passage through Parliament.

Mrs. Humble: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training is available to members of the Royal Military Police in the conduct of European Convention of Human Rights Article 2—compliant investigations into an overseas death in barracks. [79884]

Mr. Ingram: Members of the Royal Military Police (RMP) Special Investigation Branch (SIB) follow standard police investigative procedures and receive training that conforms to UK Home Office standards, modified to take account of the Military Criminal Justice System. As such, both their training, either basic or continuation, and their investigative techniques, are compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Culture, Media and Sport

Biodiversity

Mrs. Moon: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps her Department plans to take to monitor the extent to which public bodies which report to her comply, from October, with their duty to conserve biodiversity in exercising their functions, under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. [74406]

Mr. Woodward: Under section 40 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, all public bodies have a duty to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity in the exercising of their functions. There is no statutory obligation on Departments to monitor the extent to which public bodies comply with this duty. However, we understand DEFRA is working with a wide range of partners to develop guidance for public bodies to support the implementation of this duty and will involve all relevant Departments on the development of guidance.

Correspondence

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the average cost to her Department was of replying to a letter written (a) by an hon. Member and (b) by a member of the public in the latest period for which figures are available; and how much of that sum is accounted for by (i) officials’ time, (ii) cost of stationery and (iii) postage costs. [80469]

Mr. Lammy: The information requested is not recorded and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.


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The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the performance of Departments in replying to Members/peers correspondence. The report for 2005 was published on 30 March 2006, Official Report, columns 76-78WS.

Departmental Finance Directors

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what the (a) name, (b) professional and academic qualifications and (c) relevant experience are of the finance director of her Department. [80091]

Mr. Lammy: My Department’s finance director is Nicholas Holgate. He has a degree in economics and is an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. His relevant experience comprises 18 years’ employment in HM Treasury, including three years as head of strategy, finance and purchasing.

Horse Racing

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what steps her Department is taking to enable the Government to meet their manifesto commitment to end their financial involvement in horse racing. [80844]

Mr. Caborn: The Government's 2005 manifesto commitment with regards to horse racing stated,

My Department is pursuing a closed sale of the Tote to a consortium of racing interests.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what consultation (a) has taken place and (b) is planned on the extension of the horse racing levy beyond 2009; and with whom. [80845]

Mr. Caborn: No decision has been taken to extend of the Horserace Betting Levy beyond 2009, although the matter is under consideration by my Department following the publication of the phase two report of the Future Funding of Racing Review Group, Chaired by Lord Donoughue of Ashton.

In order to inform this consideration the Review Group subsequently produced a further report (a copy of which has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses) aimed at identifying improvements that could be made to the Levy Board's operation. The group received submissions from:


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Should the Government decide to extend the levy beyond 2009 further consultation will be carried out.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to her statement of 18 March 2005, Official Report, column 29WS, on funding of horse racing, what progress has been made in working with football leagues to develop solutions to the funding difficulties arising from a judgment by the European Court of Justice. [80846]

Mr. Caborn: I have met with representatives of the premier league, football leagues, Scottish football leagues on a number of occasions to discuss the impact of the European Court of Justice’s ruling on database rights.

I understand that a deal is now under negotiation between Football Dataco, which licenses football fixture data, and British bookmakers which I am optimistic will provide guaranteed funding for the football leagues in the short to medium term.

Internet Gambling

Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what representations she has received from gambling addiction support and campaign groups on problem gambling on the internet. [80852]

Mr. Caborn: We have received a number of representations from gambling addiction support groups, faith groups and others about problem gambling and the internet.

We are engaged in regular discussions with these bodies via my Department's Gambling Act Implementation Community Liaison Group.

Public Consultations

David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 14 June 2005, Official Report, column 1223W, on consultations, what mechanisms are in place to ensure value for money in public consultations. [80758]

Mr. Lammy: In order to ensure that consultation is as effective as possible, my Department follows the Government’s code of practice on consultation. By following the code i.e. carrying out comprehensive
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consultation and taking on board the views of those likely to be affected and the views of experts, the Government are more likely to meet its policy objectives. Following each formal consultation, the DCMS is obliged, under the code, to give feedback regarding the responses received and how the consultation process influenced the policy in question.


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